Solar Thermal vs Solar PV – do you know the difference?

Solar Thermal vs Solar PV – do you know the difference?

Solar Thermal and Solar PV are two very different technologies – but do you know the difference and which is most suitable for your project?

Solar Thermal or Solar PV

In both Solar Thermal and Solar PV systems, panels are installed on the roof of your building. The basic principle behind each type of panel is the same – they absorb energy from the sun and convert it into a useable form. Both allow you to lower your homes reliance on non-renewable energy sources. However, beyond that, the two technologies are in fact quite different.

Solar Thermal panels collect sunlight and turn it into heat that is later transformed into electricity. Solar PV panels use PV technology to capture energy from the sun and directly convert the sunlight into electricity.

Solar PV

Solar PV systems, also known as photovoltaics (PV), capture energy from the sun using photovoltaic cells. PV cells come in a variety of shapes and sizes and do not need direct sunlight to work – this means your Solar PV system can still generate electricity on a cloudy day, which can then be used to run household appliances and lighting.

Most Solar PV systems are made up of panels that fit on top of an existing roof (called an ‘on-roof’ system) but you can also have panels that are incorporated into the roof surface that look similar to a velux window and so are more discreet (called an ‘in-roof’ system).

The advantages include:

• Lowering fuel bills – Sunlight is free, so once you’ve paid for the initial installation, your electricity costs will be reduced
• Environmental Impact – Our expertly designed systems can offer significant reductions in your carbon dioxide emissions
• Reliability – Our Solar PV systems are fully guaranteed and offer a system life of approximately 20 years

With advances in technology, you don’t need to worry about the direction your roof faces. Whilst a south facing roof is optimal, east or west facing buildings only generate about 15% less electricity!

Find out more about Solar PV and what you need to consider.

Solar Thermal

A Solar Thermal system is generally used for water heating. The system uses solar panels which are fitted to either your existing roof, or a new roof, depending on your project. These panels collect heat from the sun and use it to heat water stored within a hot water cylinder. There are two types of solar panel you can install:

• Flat plate system which can be fitted on your existing roof or integrated into a new roof structure
• Evacuated tube system

While the two systems work very differently, the same advantages apply:

• Lowering fuel bills – Sunlight is free, so once you’ve paid for the initial installation, your electricity costs will be reduced
• Environmental Impact – Our expertly designed systems can offer significant reductions in your carbon dioxide emissions
• Reliability – Our Solar Thermal systems are fully guaranteed and offer a system life of approximately 20 years

Find out more about Solar Thermal and what you need to consider.

Which technology should you choose?

So how do you choose between the two technologies and which is the better investment?

Solar Power offers an affordable and cost effective way to generate your own energy. Both Solar Thermal and Solar PV systems are extremely reliable, efficient and allow you to lower both your fuel bills and environmental impact.

Both systems are eligible for government incentives, with Solar Thermal you can claim through the Renewable Heat Incentive, whereas Solar PV receives payments through the Feed In Tariff.

Which one you use really depends on your home and the requirements of your project. Solar PV works especially well in tandem with an air source heat pump, for example.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each system, so it really does depend on your needs. You may want to consider the space on the roof of your building, your budget and what you want to achieve from your solar thermal or solar PV system.

Working with Total Renewable Solutions

Total Renewable Solutions are an MCS accredited supplier and installer of renewable energy solutions. We work with our customers to create a bespoke system that is right for your property and budget and we will advise on the potential running costs and savings of your system based on your unique circumstances.

We can review your property to determine which type of solar hot water or solar power system offers the biggest benefits from both a financial and environmental standpoint. Involving us in your project from the outset means that we can advise on the suitability of different technology options and ensure these are designed effectively into the project.

Get in touch today for a chat with one of our expert team.

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