When you hear the word solar, your mind probably jumps to images of photovoltaic panels. But what about solar thermal? What exactly is the difference between solar photovoltaic and solar thermal? Where does solar thermal fit into the overall picture of renewable energy? Keep reading for answers to these questions and more.
What is Solar Photovoltaic Technology?
Solar photovoltaic and thermal, or PV, technology uses solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity. Just like with solar thermal, the energy from the sun is absorbed by the solar panels and is then converted into usable electricity. There are a variety of different materials used for solar panels, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. The most common materials for solar panels are silicon, copper indium diselenide (CIS), and Gallium Nitride (GaN). The silicon solar panels are the most common, due to cost. CIS panels are more efficient and GaN panels can convert up to 22% of sunlight into energy, making them the most efficient type of solar panels.
What is Solar Thermal?
Solar thermal uses solar panels to convert sunlight into thermal energy. These panels heat up during the day and then release the stored thermal energy at night. Solar thermal panels are often used in conjunction with photovoltaic panels. If it is a sunny day, the photovoltaic panels will power both systems. When the sun goes down, the thermal panels will kick in to keep the house warm. Solar thermal panels can be used to power your entire home or just part of it. The panels can also be used to generate both hot and cold water. Solar thermal panels are often coupled with water-heating systems to provide both electricity and hot water during the day. At night, the system uses the stored thermal energy to warm the water.
A Brief History of Solar Thermal
Solar thermal is the oldest of the two solar technologies, dating back over 30 years. While photovoltaic technology was being developed in the lab, solar thermal was being used in the real world. Solar thermal panels were used to heat water and provide electricity for rural villages in India. These panels were extremely effective, but they were also extremely expensive to manufacture. Solar thermal didn’t make a splash in the United States until the late 1990s. Many early solar thermal systems used the trough technology, which consists of long rows of panels placed in the sun. The trough technology was effective, but it was also very expensive. The panels used to harvest solar thermal energy were also less efficient than their photovoltaic counterparts. Checkout the Ignite Digital services.
Different Types of Solar Thermal Technologies
There are several types of solar thermal technologies out there. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it is important to understand both before deciding which type to go with. Here are the most common types of solar thermal systems: Solar Hot Water Systems – These systems use an array of solar collectors to generate hot water during the day. This water is then stored in a tank where it is used to provide hot water at night. Solar hot water systems are best used in areas with mild climates. Solar Thermal Electric Systems – These systems use solar collectors to generate electricity during the day. At night, the system uses thermal storage to produce power. These systems can provide electricity to a home or a group of homes. Solar Combi Systems – These systems use both solar photovoltaic and solar thermal collectors. They are best used in areas with mild to moderate climates. These systems are a great choice for homeowners who want to take advantage of both technologies.
How Is Solar Thermal Currently Being Used?
Solar thermal currently accounts for less than 1% of all energy generated from solar panels. This number is expected to increase over the next decade, but solar thermal will likely never reach the same levels as PV. Solar thermal panels are best used in mild climates, as they don’t generate enough electricity to power a home during the winter. Solar thermal panels also require more sunlight than PV. If you live in a cloudy area, solar thermal may not be the best option for you.
Final Words: Which Type of Solar Is Best for You?
Solar panels work best in areas that get a lot of direct sunlight. The more sunlight, the more electricity you can produce. The best time to install solar panels is between the beginning of March and the end of April. This is when the sun is most direct. You should also make sure your roof gets at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. If it does, then you can start saving money on your electricity bill by installing solar panels! Click here to know more!