If you’re asking the question, ‘How many solar panels to heat a house in Ireland?’, you’re not alone. Rising energy costs are making it harder than ever for people to keep their homes warm. The average household gas bill comes to around €1,721 per year. For people who depend on gas for hot water and heating, soaring prices aren’t sustainable. The number of solar panels you would need to heat a house in Ireland depends on many factors, such as energy consumption, age of property, orientation and angle of panels, their performance, and more. Generally, systems vary between 2 kW and 10.8 kW, or, in other words, between 5 and 24 panels.
However, there are other ways to keep your home heated during the colder months. By cutting your dependency on gas and embracing renewable electricity instead, you can safeguard yourself against the rising cost of living. Solar panels have never been more accessible and affordable, with SEAI grants providing substantial savings for those eager to make the switch.
Can Solar Panels Heat a House in Ireland?
Yes, they can certainly contribute to fulfilling a home’s heating needs, is the short answer. To help offset the rising cost of gas, swapping your existing central heating system with electric radiators is something to consider, with FAR Infra Red (IR) being the lowest wattage for heat we recommend. Unlike traditional hydronic radiators, IR heaters are one of the most efficient ways to heat your home. While there’s always some energy loss when using hydronic radiators, that’s not the case here. Every bit of electricity you use is converted into heat.
As well as providing a constant supply of renewable energy, solar panels in Ireland make complete sense for homeowners looking to unlock the potential of an all-electric heating system. Along with faster warm-up times, electric radiators are smart home-compatible, allowing for remote control and zone heating. Focusing heat only where and when it’s needed provides the greatest overlap between your electrical generation and heating requirements.
How Does it Work?
To harness the power of sunlight, you’ll first need to invest in a solar panel array for your property. Thanks to recent interventions by the government, Irish homeowners and businesses are free to place an unlimited number of solar panels on rooftops, limited only by grid regulations and technology limits.
Although planning permissions have been relaxed, you’ll still need to ensure you have sufficient roof space to work with. For example, a standard solar panel system will need around 20 square metres of roof space.
How do solar panels work in practice? Once your system is in place, a solar inverter will change the direct current that sunlight produces into an alternating current that gives you usable electricity. It’s this alternating current that will power your appliances and IR/electric radiators.
However, this isn’t the only way to heat your home with solar panels. Heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular with people looking for greener ways to heat their properties. As with other electricity-dependent appliances, heat pumps can be partly powered by the energy produced by a solar panel array.
While they don’t offset the costs associated with standard gas boilers, they can be used to provide power for any electrical components in the home. Are solar panels worth it in Ireland if you use an immersion heater or hot water cylinder? The answer is yes, with both systems relying on electricity.
How Many Solar Panels to Heat a House in Ireland?
There are many reasons to make the switch to renewable energy and invest in solar panels. With fewer planning permissions and plenty of support available, you can easily mitigate the cost of a large-scale installation.
Thinking about solar panels in Dublin or elsewhere in Ireland? Before making your final decision on a system, you’ll need to figure out how many panels you’ll need. Curious about how many solar panels are needed to heat a home? Below are the things you’ll need to keep in mind when making the right choice.
How Much Electricity Are You Using?
This is an important factor to consider when picking out a solar panel system for your property. Your first port of call should be to check how much electricity you’re using. Ideally, look at your annual usage to get a clear picture of how much electricity you’ll need throughout the year.
In a 3-bedroom property that’s home to 3–4 people, annual electricity consumption is around 4,200 kWh. However, these types of households also typically use 11,000 kWh of gas every year.
In a 1-2 bedroom flat, annual electricity consumption is around 2,900 kWh, with a further 6,900 kWh of gas.
In a much larger household with four or more bedrooms, annual electricity consumption can skyrocket to 5,400 kWh. That’s before you consider the 13,700 kWh of gas used every year.
These figures are only a guideline. Your consumption all depends on how many appliances you’re using. If you use white goods like washing machines and dryers daily, expect your electricity consumption to be far higher than the standard. If you’re saying goodbye to traditional radiators and replacing them with electric ones, you’ll be using far more electricity now that you’ve cut ties with gas. To be clear, due to the low solar output experienced in the winter months when heating demand is at its maximum, the solar will contribute but not independently satisfy the entire heating needs.
Solar Panel Wattage and Production Ratios
Once you have a clear idea of how much electricity you’re using, you’re one step closer to finding out how many solar panels are needed to heat your home. However, you’ll need to pay attention to solar panel wattage to get your answer.
Otherwise known as the power rating, solar panel wattage is a guideline for how much electricity you can expect a solar panel to produce. Everyday panels these days are rated at about 430 watts each.
Orientation and Angles of Solar Panels
Although planning permissions are no longer a concern, orientation and angle can make a huge difference in how many solar panels it takes to contribute to the heat load of a house. Whether you’re looking for solar panels in Limerick or solar panels in Waterford, a south-facing installation is always ideal. A south-facing orientation will make full use of sunlight.
If you’re limited when it comes to south-facing roof space, you can still compensate for the shortfall elsewhere. If you’re having to install solar panels on a north or east-facing rooftop, it’s a good idea to increase the size of your system. This way, you’ll have sufficient electricity to power your everyday appliances as well as an all-electric heating system.
Solar Panel Performance
Ireland receives up to 1,600 hours of sunshine throughout the year. While daylight hours are reduced during the winter months, solar panels are still an effective way to harness renewable energy, no matter where you’re based in the country.
Do solar panels work when it’s cloudy? Even on a very overcast day, solar panels can generate up to 25% of their maximum output. You can compensate for any shortfall by investing in a system with solar battery storage.
Although solar panels are very easy to care for, you’ll want to invest in occasional maintenance to keep your PV system performing at peak efficiency. Familiarising yourself with how to clean solar panels will go a long way toward ensuring your system operates as well as it can.
With proper care and regular servicing, solar panels can perform well for many years. How long do solar panels last? Most panels come with a 12-year warranty, along with a performance warranty of 25 years, but the N-type ranges raise these warranty periods to 25 and 30 years.
Age of Property
While the size of a property can have a big impact on energy efficiency, it’s the age of the building itself that is most important. The vast majority of Irish homes built since 2020 have an energy rating of A or higher. However, the same can’t be said of properties built before this.
Thanks to poorly enforced building regulations and second-rate materials, the energy efficiency of older homes and buildings suffers. Investing in roof, wall, and flooring insulation will ensure you receive full benefit from a PV system and electricity-powered heating.
Ready To Go All-Electric with Solar Panel Installation?
If you dread the arrival of the monthly gas bill, switching to solar panels and renewable energy makes sense. When combined with electric Infrared radiators, solar panels are one of the most cost-effective ways to keep your home warm. However, the electricity produced from them can even be used to power traditional immersion heaters and hot water cylinders.
So, how many solar panels are needed to heat a house in Ireland? You’ll first need to work out your energy consumption, along with the increased demand from your heating system of choice. Once you’ve done that, you can work out how many panels you’ll need. Now that planning permission for the vast majority of installations has been relaxed, you can put a sizable dent in your annual energy bills.