Types of Solar Thermal Systems [2022]

What are Solar Thermal Panels?

These are also known as solar hot water panels or 'collectors'. They work by absorbing the sun's rays to heat water. This hot water can then be used for showers, laundry, and other daily duties. This renewable system will significantly lower your energy use and save you money on your monthly heating bills.

Types of Solar Thermal Systems

There are four different types of solar water heating systems, each with its own technique of absorbing heat... 


Pumps are activated by using external electric power therefore this is not 100% renewable.


Rather than using electricity, it relies on the natural transmission of heat from the sun to circulate hot water. 


The solar panel/collector heats the water directly. The water is heated indirectly by circulating fluid between the rooftop thermal collector and a heat exchanger. The fluid is usually a mixture of water and glycol.

types of solar thermals

Common types of solar thermal systems 

Flat Plate Panels

Flat plate panels have a similar appearance to Solar PV panels. It involves connecting a heat-absorption panel to a series of copper pipes through which water or a transfer fluid runs. This panel is protected by a piece of glass that also serves as insulation.

These collectors supply hot water all year, and if you choose to combine this with other heating sources, they ensure that you have all of the heating and hot water you require. Their greatest output is during the summer, but because they are so efficient, they can provide hot water all year, even when it is forecasted to be cloudy. 

Evacuated Tube Collectors

This type of solar thermal system consists of a number of heat pipes that are all encased in glass tubes. All of the glass tubes have been vacuumed to provide airtight insulation. It is one of the most widely used solar thermal systems across and with a 70% efficiency rate, it is the most efficient and widespread method of solar thermal energy generation.

Thermodynamic Panels

These are designed in a similar way to air-source heat pumps, however, the biggest difference between this and other types of solar thermal systems is that they are not installed on the roof or walls and do not need to face south. The idea behind thermodynamic solar technology is that it works in the same way as a reverse freezer, and it does not use solar radiation to heat heat-transferring liquids.

A thermodynamic system is able to meet up to 100% of a household's heating demands. The reason for this is because it is not dependent on ideal climate conditions to reach its greatest output potential, therefore it is able to generate energy all year.

Solar Thermal Air Collectors

Solar air heaters are mostly used for commercial properties. They can be glazed or unglazed, are mostly used for space heating. They're one of the most efficient and cost-effective solar thermal technologies. To avoid heat loss to the surrounding air, the top sheet of a glazed system comprises a transparent top layer and an insulated surrounding frame and back panel. An absorber plate is used in an unglazed system, and air travels over it as heat is extracted from the absorber.

Do you want to know more about solar thermal systems?

Get in touch with our highly qualified and highly knowledgeable engineers by calling us on 08001182467 or 07717574470. We offer solar thermal installation services throughout York, Harrogate, Malton and Wetherby and if you would like to find out more, send us a message using our contact form and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.