Isn’t Ireland too cloudy for solar panels?
Solar panels rely on sunlight rather than warmth, and Ireland receives more sunlight than it is generally credited for, about 1/3 as much as the sunniest locations on Earth – see Met Eireann – Sunshine. Solar panels can collect some solar energy most of the hours of daylight. A correctly sized system will heat the whole tank to a usable temperature most days in summer, be useful on cold sunny winter days and significantly reduce water heating costs at other times. The performance depends on the relative size of the solar panel and the hot-water cylinder.
Can solar be used for space heating?
Yes, but solar assisted space heating is a much bigger job to install into existing houses, and should really be considered as an integral part of the design of the house. In contrast, to install solar water heating is relatively cheap and non disruptive.
Do I need planning permission for solar panels?
Not any more.
Is any maintenance required?
A solar water heating system is subject to a wider range of temperatures than a normal heating system. However, if correctly installed no regular maintenance is needed. The lifetime of the solar panel tubes is at least twenty years, and tubes are relatively easily replaced; other components e.g. the controller & valves have a life expectancy as good or better. Pumps are probably the most likely to fail, but can also run for many years. If Glycol is being used, it is recommended to replace it every 3 – 5 years, see Control Systems