What are Solar Thermal Panels?

Ashleigh AngellOctober 8, 20188430

What are Solar Thermal Panels?

While most everyone knows about PV solar panels, what a lot of people don’t realize is that there’s another type of solar panel you can get. It’s called a solar thermal panel, which, instead of turning the sun’s light into energy, it turns it directly into heat. In this article, we will look at the advantages of choosing solar thermal instead of solar PV and help you decide if this is the type of solar panel you’d rather invest in when making the switch to solar.

What are the advantages of solar thermal panels?

Many may think solar thermal panels must just be worse technology because PV panels are so much more popular. However, solar thermal panels offer a lot of amazing advantages.

For starters, they’re actually more efficient. The reason is because heat waves actually have more energy than just the sunlight. On top of that, unlike with PV panels, they don’t have to transform the sun’s rays into energy. The heat is already energy.

They are also cheaper, so you’ll pay less for what is essentially more energy.

Like PV panels, they do, in fact, work even if it’s cold or overcast. Like with PV panels, it’s the UV rays that matter, not whether you can see the sun or not. They also last up to 25 years, just like PV panels. And they have little maintenance, just like with PV panels.

Not only do solar thermal panels have the same benefits as PV panels, but they actually offer more, making them a great choice.

How do they work differently from PV panels?

Because they work in such a similar way to PV panels, you may be wondering how exactly they work that’s different from PV panels. The difference is that these panels absorb heat from the sun and store that heat in a cylinder. Unlike PV panels, which generate energy into an outlet, this process is much more direct, and it’s most often used to heat up rooms and water.

What are the types of solar thermal panels?

There are two main types of panels that you can choose from.

The first type is a flat-plate collector, which are extremely similar to PV panels. They are shaped the same and also go on your roof, except that instead of being transparent glass, these panels are black for absorbing heat. They have a water tank in place of an inverter.

There’s also the evacuated (or vacuum) tube collector type of panel. These are glass tubes you place on your roof that contain the liquid instead of a cylinder. They are super effective in the cold, much more so than the flat-plate collectors, but they are at risk of overheating in the summer because of how well they insulate the heat. These are also far easier to maintain because of the holes between the tubes, which allow things like snow and leaves to fall right through.

Should I get solar thermal or PV?

Really, the choice is up to you. One thing to consider is where your main energy needs lie. If you use a lot of hot water and are often heating up your home, these types of solar energy systems would be great for saving you a ton of money, especially during the winter.

Want to learn more about bringing solar energy into your lifestyle? Check out the HahaSmart blog for all the tips and tricks you need!

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