Solar water heating systems

Using solar panels to heat your water supply can help you to reduce carbon emissions and make savings on energy bills. Find out what types there are and how much they cost to install.

How they work

Solar panels called ‘collectors’ are installed on your roof. They capture solar energy and use it to heat your water, which is kept in a hot water cylinder.

Compared to energy produced by fossil fuels, solar thermal energy is 100% renewable. This means:

  • no harmful byproducts
  • fewer or no carbon emissions

Types of solar panels for water heating

There are 2 types:

  • evacuated tube collector – a panel of glass tubes mounted on roof tiles
  • flat plate collector – a flat panel which can also be attached to roof tiles or embedded in the roof

Flat plate collectors are more durable as they are made of tempered glass. They are also more efficient in cold or cloudy conditions, making them suitable for the UK climate.


Installing a solar water heating system will cost between £4,000 and £5,000.

Installers should be certified by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).

Find MCS-certified installers in your local area.


A solar water heating system is less efficient in colder weather. This means any savings will be moderate during winter.

Typical savings over a year for an average household are between £60 and £70.

Roof space

All solar panels require direct sunlight and should normally be installed on the roof. Your roof should be:

  • owned or legally rented by your company
  • preferably either south-facing or relatively flat
  • structurally sound

Unless you live in a listed building, solar water heating systems do not normally require planning permission.

Business benefits

Advantages for your business include:

  • reliable source of hot water
  • lower energy bills
  • lower carbon emissions

You might be eligible for payments for the heat you generate through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

Other forms of renewable energy

As an alternative to using solar panels you could get a heat pump or a wind turbine.

If you need help designing a suitable energy system for your business, contact one of these certified installers.

If you can’t produce your own energy, you could switch over to a ‘green’ energy tariff with your energy supplier.


Funding is available for businesses looking to install energy efficiency measures. Find out which areas are covered and how much you can get.

Tax benefits

You can receive a discount on CCL (Climate Change Levy) taxes paid to your energy supplier by signing a Climate Change Agreement (CCA).

This is a voluntary agreement with the Environment Agency to reduce energy use and carbon emissions. Find out who is eligible and how to apply.

What’s coming next

Solar power is expected to surpass fossil fuels by 2050 and become the world’s main energy source. As demand grows, solar panels are set to become cheaper and more efficient.

Find out more about switching to renewables

Discover the benefits of switching to electric vehicles (EVs)