A recent commenter asked this on an old post about installing my solar panel, and I spent a few minutes writing an answer. Rather than keep it buried in a comments thread on a post from years ago, I thought I would copy it here again.
Alison – my most recent solar post is here.
My solar panel generates around £150-worth a year of heat, and so will probably take around 30 years to pay for itself.
New deals are now available that make photovoltaic solar panels, which generate electricity, a more financially viable option.
Whether solar hot water is right for you depends on several factors, including planning to be living in your house for several decades, having a roof that points in the right direction (south!), and having the right kind of boiler – not a condensing boiler that provides hot water on demand, but a system that includes a hot water tank.
The Coalition government is preparing a Green New Deal that will provide advice and finance for greening your house, so it might be worth waiting until the details of that become clearer before making any decisions.
If you live in Notts or Derbyshire and you’d like to talk to someone about solar hot water, get someone to look over your house and check suitability, and get referrals to local people who can install them, give Sungain / Notts Energy Partnership a call on 0115 985 9057.