Solar thermal system lifespan, maintenance and warranties.
How long does a solar thermal system last?
Solar thermal panels have very few moving parts so can last for a long period of time after installation has been completed. They have been around for some time so they are a well understood technology that operates to a very high standard. Choosing a reputable installer through the Renewable Energy Hub can provide you with all the information you need.
It is very possible that a solar thermal system could last as long as twenty years or more and they have been known to last up to thirty years in some cases. The parts are robust and well manufactured but they will also be covered by a manufacturer’s warranty which can be as long as five years and most of the parts can be replaced individually without having to replace the whole system.
A solar thermal system is expected to last more than twenty years and with maintenance should not lose efficiency. You should expect to be supplied with a minimum manufacturer’s warranty of ten years on the collector itself. Your installer should provide you with a materials and labour warranty
Components on a solar thermal system are usually given a much shorter warranty. 2-3 years is fairly standard (component dependant).
The pump for example may need replacing after around ten years although it is a relatively inexpensive component. Other parts that may need replacing are electrical components like the controller. There are different types of solar thermal heater which will require varying types of maintenance and will vary depending on your individual project.
Providing the system has been properly installed, you will have to perform very little maintenance over the system’s life span, however there are a few things that will need periodical maintenance. Such maintenance requirements would be to have the pump fluid pressure checked on a yearly basis as this may need topping up every few years and also to check the PH levels and the replacement of the antifreeze fluid. Most maintenance issues will be dictated by environmental conditions such as the location of the installation and weather conditions.
Some light cleaning of the panels might be required to remove any build-up of dirt, but rain water and the angle of the panel will take care of most of the dirt.
Your installer can advise you further on any general maintenance issues regarding your particular system. Even after maintenance and installation costs, a solar thermal heating system is a great investment offering many benefits not just the obvious savings on your heating bills.
Depending on your system there might be other small parts that will need to be checked in order to keep your system working at full capacity. Some other rare maintenance issues you should watch for are air blocks in the pipe work and antifreeze leaks, but these are unlikely in a properly fitted system and a good installer will cover you against any such problems. You should ask your installer for a quote on maintenance and servicing when enquiring about having a solar thermal system installed.
Solar thermal panel warranty questions for your installer:
Make sure you get the answers to these questions before you commit to the installer suggested system.
- What do I do if one or more of the manufacturers of my components goes out of business?
- Who is responsible for each component? The supplier, manufacturer or installer.
- Does any warranty cover removal, shipping and reinstallation of the faulty part?
- Is the warranty an additional or on-going/recurring cost?
- How long is the warranty/warranties for?
It is also worth mentioning that whilst you can get insurance specifically for your install either to cover the install procedure only or to cover accidental damage or theft of your system, most household insurance policies will cover your system. They will have to be made aware of your system, its value and work out how it affects your policy payment structure.
In terms of warranties these will vary from installer to installer and product to product but should give you comprehensive coverage against any faults with your solar thermal heating system. Most installers will also give you coverage for regular servicing and maintenance checks and the warranties should last a few years. All installers are governed by US legislation and most good installers will have their products tested and accredited. Many accredited installers can be found through our installer search feature.