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Thermal and Photovoltaic PV are the two types of Solar Panels. Their function is to heat water and generate electricity, respectively. Popularity has grown since the introduction of financial incentives. The range of technology available ensures there will be a suitable solar panel for most requirements.
What is the main difference between the two systems?
Solar thermal is a technology that uses the power of the sun to heat water. Solar thermal uses a solar thermal collector (flat plate panels or evacuated tube panels), which is installed on the roof of the property. Inside the collector a non-toxic freeze proof solar fluid is heated by the sun then pumped through a coiled pipe inside the hot water tank, which in turn heats up the water in the tank. Hot water is then available for you to use in the house and the solar fluid is then pumped back up to the collector, where it is reheated by the sun.
Unlike solar PV, solar thermal systems only require daylight to operate and properly installed systems work all year round even when it is cloudy. In fact, the system will provide you with hot water for approximately 70-80% of the year as the reduced amount of daylight hours during the winter limits production of heat energy.
Solar PV is a different type of technology that uses the power of the sun to create electricity. Direct sunlight falling on the PV panel is converted into a DC electrical current and passed through an inverter to create AC current which can be used in the property.
Any surplus current generated is sent back into the grid and the property owner paid an amount per kW under the Feed-in Tariff FiT rules.
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