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Last updated: 25th March, 2024


How to Power Your Boiler with Solar Panels

How to Power Your Boiler with Solar Panels

As more and more people become conscious of their impact on the environment and the ban on the sale of new gas and oil boilers in new homes comes into action in the next four years, one of the biggest questions is: what’s the alternative?

Two of the biggest growing trends right now are combi boilers and solar panels thanks to their great number of benefits. 

Solar panels have become increasingly popular as they can provide significant amounts of ‘free’ energy, helping to cut energy bills.

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Approximately 50% of British households own a combi boiler and 77% of new boilers sold in the UK last year were combis. 

It’s no wonder they’re so popular thanks to their ability to provide instant hot water, and compact size without the need for an additional water storage tank.

This has prompted the heating industry to start developing solutions which allow electric combi boilers to be powered by solar energy, however, there are currently only a few combi boiler models available on the market that are actually compatible with solar thermal systems due to the complexities and challenges involved with combining the two.

What’s So Complicated About Solar Powered Boilers?

Installing the solar panels on the roof is the easy part- it’s managing the solar heating alongside the existing heating system which is proving to be the problem. 

This is because most people tend to utilise their hot water and heating during the mornings and evenings, however, solar energy only lands on the panels during daylight hours, which can be as short as 8 hours during the UK winter months.

Solar Panels Explained

As you can imagine, this creates quite the problem as winter time is when we really need our heating and hot water the most, particularly during the dark and chilly mornings.

In order for solar panels to work effectively at powering a boiler all year round, the hot water heated by the solar energy during daylight hours needs to be saved and stored for later use in an additional hot water cylinder, though this defeats the point of having a nice compact combi boiler that fits neatly into your kitchen cupboard.

But it Can be Done, Right?

Technically, yes, it can be done, however, there are a great number of factors that determine whether or not your solar thermal system can actually be matched with the combi boiler you have installed.

Only some types of boiler accept pre-heated water, whilst 45% of combis do not have the temperature rated components on their incoming side, meaning they cannot accept pre-heated water. 

If your boiler does accept pre-heated water, make sure to check with the manufacturer what the maximum temperature of pre-heating water your boiler can accept is.

If you would like to see more information on combi boilers, take a look at our review of the best combi boilers on the market.

What are the Benefits of Solar Water Heating?

Cut Your Energy Costs

Cut Energy Bills

Once you’ve made the initial payment to have the panels installed, you won’t have to pay anything else, after all, sunlight is free. 

This means your energy bills will be significantly lower each month, making them a worthwhile investment if they are suitable for your home.


Eco Friendly Boilers

Solar hot water heating is a renewable source of energy, helping you to reduce your carbon emissions and do your bit for the planet.

They technically can work all year round with the right conditions and the addition of thermodynamic panels for complete sustainability.

Things to Consider Before Purchasing Solar Panels

Is your home in a sunny location that would allow it to benefit from solar panels? 

Home Suitable for Solar Panels?

You need roughly 5 square metres of roof space faxing East to West through South collecting sunlight in order for it to work effectively.

Do you have the space for an additional hot water cylinder?

If you own a combi boiler, you’ll know that they’re compact and require very little space, however, in order to store hot water with solar panels, you’ll need extra room for the hot water cylinder.

Is your current boiler compatible with solar water heating?

There’s no point investing all that money into solar panels, only to realise they don’t actually work alongside your boiler so make sure to do some research first.

Looking to Lower Your Heating Bills Without Solar Panels?

If your heating bills are becoming surprisingly high, it’s probably because your old boiler is inefficient. 

If you’re in need of a new boiler but don’t fancy the idea of solar water heating, you can still save up to £380 a year by purchasing a brand new, A-rated efficient combi boiler.

Why not get a free, fixed quote on a brand new combi plus installation with iHeat today?

iHeat New Boiler Costs

Boilers can be a daunting purchase for many people as they’re an appliance with a lot of responsibility, providing heat for you and your family is something you want to get right. Boilers aren’t exactly a quickly disposable item either, potentially lasting you a decade.

Effectively, new boiler cost can be split into two segments: the first is the actual boiler itself (unit price), and the second is the cost of the boiler being installed (set up) in your property by an expert engineer. 

Here at iHeat, we want to remove all of this undue stress and make the decision making process of upgrading to a new central heating system, as easy as possible.

Boiler costs can vary depending on a number of factors including their brand, model, fuel, output, warranty, labour and installation type. Typically a new boiler will cost between £1,845 and £3,500, below is a list of average boiler installations offered by iHeat (guide only).

Installation Type

Price (inc VAT)

Combi to combi swap


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System to combi conversion


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New boiler install


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Back boiler to a combi


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System to system


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Frequently Asked Questions

How many solar panels does it take to run a boiler?

The number of solar panels required to run a boiler depends on several factors, including the boiler's power consumption, the efficiency of the solar panels, and the average sunlight hours your location receives. Boilers can vary widely in their power requirements, typically ranging from 3 kW to upwards of 30 kW for larger homes. A standard solar panel might produce around 250 to 400 watts per hour under optimal conditions. Therefore, to power a 3 kW boiler for a few hours a day, you would need a substantial solar panel system, possibly 10-12 panels or more, and a system to convert and store enough solar energy, such as batteries and an inverter.

Can you run heating off solar panels?

Yes, you can run heating systems off solar panels, either directly through electric heating solutions, like underfloor heating, or by using solar energy to power a heat pump or boiler. However, the effectiveness and efficiency of running a heating system on solar power depend on your home's energy requirements, the size of the solar panel system, and the availability of sunlight. Incorporating a battery storage system can also help in utilizing solar power more effectively for heating.

Do I need to tell my electricity supplier I have solar panels?

Yes, you generally need to inform your electricity supplier if you install solar panels. This is because installing solar panels affects your home's electricity system and might allow you to sell surplus electricity back to the grid. Additionally, there are safety regulations and connection standards that must be met, and your electricity provider will guide you through the necessary steps and documentation.

Can you run a boiler on electricity?

Yes, there are boilers designed to run on electricity, known as electric boilers. These boilers are an alternative to gas or oil boilers and can be an efficient method of heating your home and providing hot water, especially if your home is not connected to the gas grid. Electric boilers are usually compact, operate quietly, and require less maintenance than gas boilers.

Can I turn my boiler off to save electricity?

Turning your boiler off can save electricity, particularly if you have an electric boiler or if your gas boiler has electrical controls and components. However, completely turning off your boiler for extended periods (especially in winter) is not advisable as it can lead to frozen pipes and inefficiencies. It might be more energy-efficient to lower the thermostat or use programmable controls to reduce energy use when heating is not needed.

Can I turn my boiler on without electricity?

Most modern boilers, including gas and oil boilers, rely on electricity for ignition, controls, and safety systems. Therefore, they cannot operate without electricity. If your home experiences a power outage, your boiler will not function until the power is restored.

How do I get power to my boiler?

To get power to your boiler, it must be connected to your home's electrical system by a qualified electrician or heating engineer. This connection powers the boiler's control systems, ignition systems, and any pumps or fans required for its operation. For a new installation or if you're moving the boiler to a new location, ensure that a dedicated power supply is safely installed and meets the necessary electrical standards.

Stephen Day profile photo
Article by
Stephen Day | Co-founder
Gas Safe registered and FGAS certified engineer with over 20 years experience in the heating and cooling industry.