Nowadays, with the global pollution and shortage of oil, it is very commendable when some people try to use the more clean, renewable and alternative kinds of energy. After all, every little effort pays. Solar panels can be very useful and economical in the long run, so why not use this free solar energy to supply your house with hot water?
A combi boiler has the advantage of instantly heating water on demand and it does not need a storage tank. It provides mains pressure hot water.
The use of Solar Water Heating (SWH) on the other hand, requires a storage tank, and works with low pressure.
How can you combine both? It is not so difficult to adapt combi boiler to system if you have the right conditions and a good specialist to help you with the installation.
For this combination to be successful, it is required that the hot water tank can take pressurized water and the particular combi can take pre-heated water from the solar panel. If you are not sure, check with the manufacturer because if you go ahead without all the technical information needed, it can end in a big expensive mistake.
Specialized companies provide “modulating” boilers that monitor the water temperature when it enters the system and modulate the flame accordingly. This is the best solution if you are starting from scratch and want to install solar water heating alongside a new combi boiler.
If you already have a combi boiler in your home and would like to adapt a solar water heating system to go along, it is possible –but quite difficult– and needs the help of an expert. One possibility –in this case—would be to have both the combi boiler and the solar panels heat the same water tank. For this you should adapt a thermostat and a heat exchanger to the combi boiler and a separate outlet leading from the combi to the shower and radiators. This way you would still have mains pressure hot water and the boiler would fire full power, which is important for its good functioning.
There are some companies that provide expert heating engineers whom may assist you with your particular situation. If your combi boiler or your solar panels are not compatible and the company doesn´t have the right combination already manufactured, they can always design the right system for you.
See some technical UK associations listed below: