As the desire to live cleaner and greener lifestyles continues to grow, individuals, businesses and governments attempt to harness energy from renewables where possible. The use of solar to produce electricity has proven a popular choice in recent decades.
In light of the new Green Grant that has come into place in the UK, it felt relevant to discuss the distinction between Solar Panels. The Green Grant covers Solar Thermal Panels, but what does that mean exactly?
Many customers wouldn’t know this but there are two types of Solar Panels. Solar PV and Solar Thermal. Both utilise the sun’s energy to produce renewable energy, however through different technologies. Here we’ll take a crash course on solar energy including the key differences between Solar PV Panels and Solar Thermal Panels.
What is solar power?
Solar power is one of the cleanest, cheapest and most plentiful sources of energy on the planet. Simply put, solar power is energy that comes from the sun (in the form of heat and light) that is converted into electrical or thermal energy.
What are Solar PV Panels?
Sunlight moves an astounding distance of 93 million miles before it reaches Earth. The far-travelling sunlight that lands on your solar panels can be transformed into electricity that we use daily, but how?
Solar panels are comprised of smaller units called solar photovoltaic (PV) cells. Solar PV cells convert sunlight into electricity by allowing photons (which are particles of light) to knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity.
This energy can be:
- Used to power all devices and appliances in a property.
- Stored in a solar battery if excess power is generated, to be used when needed or during periods of low sunlight. Such as in the evening or during the night time.
- Moved to the National Grid, making the grid greener and reducing the carbon footprint for an individual, family or business.
Simply put Solar Photovoltaic or Solar PV panels, turns direct sunlight into electricity.
The Advantages of Solar PV Panels
The Disadvantages of Solar PV Panels
What are Solar Thermal Panels?
Solar thermal panels (also known as solar collectors) were the first solar energy products to be commercialised in the UK. These panels use the heat from the sun to produce hot water or steam. Like solar PV panels, these devices are also mounted on your roof to get as much exposure to the sun as possible. The sun’s heat is used to warm the liquid that runs inside the tubes, usually glycol with antifreeze, and this is transported into your water tank ready to use. Installations aren’t complex, and can be added to an existing water-heating system, compatible with both conventional boilers and immersion heaters too.
Simply put, solar thermal panels turn sunlight into heat instead of electricity.
The Advantages of Solar Thermal Panels
The disadvantages of Solar Thermal Panels
Solar Thermal or Solar PV : Which one should you choose?
Both solar thermal and solar PV technology are great types of renewable energy. Capable of providing your home with an environmentally friendly energy solution! Like picking your favourite bar of chocolate, this is a difficult question to answer! While we can’t provide a definite answer, as everyone’s energy needs are different, we can present you with the facts.
While solar thermal is more space efficient and slightly cheaper, solar PV offers better technology development. With ways to store your excess energy, as well as the ability to heat your water. By coupling PV panels with an immersion divertor, they can behave in a similar way to a Solar Thermal Panel. With an immersion divertor being a more cost-effective maintenance free alternative. Also known as an immersion optimiser, these smart device such as an iboost or myenergi eddi, makes all the difference. Providing you with the quickest payback time possible.
This added dual functionality definitely gives Solar PV the competitive edge. What’s more, as Solar PV is the newest of the two technologies, we are constantly seeing new innovation in the market. Including compatibility with Electric Vehicles.