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In Ireland we have an annual solar energy resource available to us which is quite similar to that found in parts of central Europe, including the largest solar market in the EU, Germany. Solar installations will perform very satisfactorily provided care is taken to design your system correctly and installation is completed to a high standard. Solar hot water systems are made up of three main components* :
The solar collector array, either flat plate or evacuated tube
The pumping station, including safety devices
The cylinder, usually a “twin” coil cylinder
The cylinder is a very important part of the system - its job is to provide efficient storage for the free heat the solar collectors have produced. It is often best to install a stainless steel insulated cylinder which generally hold their heat better than standard copper cylinders.
Solar hot water systems are designed to meet a certain percentage of your overall hot water requirement over the year, this is usually 50-60% of the annual hot water requirement, but this can vary depending on economics and hot water requirements. The higher your hot water usage, the more beneficial a solar hot water system will be, as more “free” energy will be used.
Flat Plate Collectors can be mounted “in-roof” or "on-roof" and are visually more appealing than evacuated tubes.
Evacuated Tubes can only be mounted on-roof. Evacuated tubes give approximately 20% more yield per m2 than flat plates.