A solar thermal panel and a solar photovoltaic panel are two types of solar panels. Although they may look similar, they have very different functions. Solar thermal technology produces heat, while solar photovoltaic systems produce electricity.
Solar PV systems can be installed on residential, commercial, and industrial buildings’ rooftop areas.
In this article, we will focus on photovoltaic technology. Discover how solar photovoltaic systems work, learn the secrets of their design and operation, and which system is better: solar panels or photovoltaics?
What Is A Solar Photovoltaics (PV) System?
A solar PV (photovoltaic) system is a green energy solution that uses solar cells to collect solar energy from sunlight and convert it to direct current, DC electricity. This electricity is safe to use once it has been converted to alternating current (AC) by an inverter. Solar PV systems are the ideal sustainable solution for anyone looking to reduce their carbon footprint and utility bills.
An electric power system that generates usable solar power using photovoltaics is called a photovoltaic system (PV or solar power system). It comprises several components, including solar panels for absorbing and converting sunlight into electricity, a solar inverter for converting the output from direct to alternating current, and mounting, cabling, and other electrical accessories for putting the system together. It may also have an integrated battery and a solar tracking system to improve overall system performance.
How Does a Solar Photovoltaics System Work?
PV systems convert light directly into electricity and should not be confused with other solar technologies used only for heating and cooling, including concentrated solar power or solar thermal. A solar array only includes the solar panels that are visible as part of the PV system. It only includes some other hardware, often summarized as a balance of system (BOS).
PV systems range from small rooftop-mounted or construction systems with a few tens to hundreds of megawatts of capacity to large utility-scale power plants with hundreds of megawatts of capacity. The vast majority of PV systems are now grid-connected, with off-grid or stand-alone systems accounting for only a small portion of the market.
Operating silently and without moving parts or environmental emissions, PV systems have developed from niche market applications into mature technology for mainstream electricity generation.
A photovoltaic (PV) system comprises one or more solar panels combined with an inverter and other electrical and mechanical hardware that use energy from the Sun to generate electricity. PV systems can vary significantly in size from a small rooftop or portable systems to massive utility-scale generation planting.
Kinds of Solar Photovoltaics System
There are three main types of solar PV systems.
- On-Grid Solar PV System
- Hybrid Solar PV System
- Off-Grid Solar System
Photovoltaic Solar System Operation
The operation of the photovoltaic system is only theoretically complicated. A photovoltaic panel comprises a cell, a frame, a special glass, and a film. As a result, the photovoltaic panel structure is relatively simple.
When trying to compare the value, consider the strengths and weaknesses of both solutions. Solar thermal collectors, as you may know, are less versatile than photovoltaic systems, which are used to boil water and provide free electricity from sunlight to various electrical devices.
PV materials and devices convert solar energy into electricity. A cell is a single photovoltaic device. Individual PV cells are typically small, producing only 1 or 2 watts. These cells are made of various semiconductor materials and are frequently thinner than four human hairs. Cells are sandwiched between two layers of protection made of glass and plastic.
PV cells are linked in chains to form larger units known as modules or panels to increase their power output. Modules can be used independently or in groups to form arrays. As part of a complete PV system, one or more arrays are connected to the electrical grid. Because of this modular structure, PV systems can be designed to meet almost any electric power requirement, whether large or small.
These systems even include mounting structures that direct panels toward the sun and components that turn the direct-current (DC) electricity generated by modules to the alternating-current (AC) electricity used to power all of your home’s appliances.
California has the largest PV systems in the country, which generate power for utilities to distribute to their customers.
Photovoltaics Vs. Solar Panels
We will start by examining the similarities between solar thermal collectors and solar photovoltaic systems. Because these systems are installed on building rooftops and at ground level using structures explicitly made for this usage, many individuals have questions that need to be answered. Another similarity between the two solutions is that they use solar energy.
Difference Between Photovoltaics And Solar Panels
The two systems absorb solar thermal energy for entirely different purposes.
These two systems are designed similarly.
Solar panels convert solar radiation into heat, whereas photovoltaic panels convert thermal energy into electricity. As a result, these solutions do not compete with one another. The medium provides heat to the exchanger in the form of hot water. Popular solar panels, like photovoltaic systems, operate most efficiently when directed south.
On the other hand, solar thermal collectors have significant limitations because they only operate when it is sunny, resulting in significant heat losses on cold and cloudy days.
Another aspect of the photovoltaic panel’s initial cost must be considered. The type and quantity of cells utilized, the overall system capacity of the photovoltaic system or the amount of the final investment cost is determined by several factors, including the type and number of cells utilized, the total capacity of the photovoltaic system, and the amount of heat the solar thermal collector provides. It’s also worth noting that flat collectors cost less than vacuum collectors, and polycrystalline panels cost less than monocrystalline cells.
Even though both systems are virtually maintenance-free, the operating costs must include the cost of the system’s annual inspection, maintenance, and replacement of used cells or batteries. Money invested in solar panels and photovoltaics may pay off within a few years, depending on the type of system and whether an external subsidy supported the purchase.
Types of Collectors
Due to climate conditions, there are currently two basic types of solar thermal collectors: flat and vacuum.
From the outside, flat photovoltaic collectors resemble PV panels because the solar energy absorber is shaped like a flat metal plate. It is connected to a pipe system from the bottom, through which the medium that heats the hot water stored in the tank circulates. Adequate thermal insulation made of mineral wool is the foundation of the system’s efficient operation.
Vacuum collectors are divided into components placed in separate vacuum pipes. Each pipe is connected to a bus, where the heating medium circulates, transferring the heat from the sun to the water stored in the exchanger.
Material Types of Photovoltaics Panels
The most common question the customer should know about is the PV module types and which kind is available On the market in 2022.
Solar PV is a much newer technology compared to solar thermal technology. There are three main types of solar PV technology available.
They are made of monocrystalline silicon, as the name implies, and their color can range from dark blue to black. They are made by cutting silicon crystals and have distinctive beveled corners. They are distinguished by their high efficiency and resistance to mechanical damage and extreme temperatures.
This panel type is made of polycrystalline silicon, which comprises many monocrystals. It has a light blue color with distinct crystal edges. The cells, on the other hand, are square. Polycrystalline photovoltaic panels are less efficient and less resistant to high temperatures. Nonetheless, they are popular due to their lower cost than monocrystalline modules.
Features of Photovoltaic Systems:
- Operation throughout the year
- Enabling energy independence
- No complicated maintenance is required
- Eco-friendly, renewable energy source.
- Potential for reducing electricity bills.
- They can provide clean, green energy for up to 50 years.
- When compared to solar thermal technology, they have an extremely long lifespan.
- At this time, they can cover roughly 60% of your typical household energy needs.
- They won’t freeze over during the winter and perform excellently in summer.
Solar Photovoltaic System vs. Solar Thermal System
|Solar Photovoltaic System
|Solar Thermal System
|Collect fraction of incident energy
|Convert sunlight into heat
|High-grade photon energy
|Concentrated solar Thermal
|Direct photon to electricity
|Use well-known thermal conversion system
|Efficiency 29-24 for single junction
|Efficiencies of 20-30%
|Best for all over the years
|Best for both summer
|Maintenance-free and comfortable operation.
|Reduce electricity bills and Eco-friendly
|Helpful to provide hot water without starting the heating process.
Who Should Go for Photovoltaics, And Who for Solar Panels?
When picking solar thermal collectors and deciding if a photovoltaic system is superior, you already understand how photovoltaics and solar panels differ. If:
When heating household hot water is your top priority, you need a solution to aid the heating system’s performance.
- If you wish to incorporate a heat pump or condensation boiler with the solar power system.
- It makes sense to invest in photovoltaic collectors. Consider purchasing a household photovoltaic system if your top priorities are to become independent of the grid’s electricity supply, reduce your electricity costs, and locate a sustainable renewable energy source that can be utilized for various things.
Solar Photovoltaic System Advantages
Here are some advantages of a PV system
A simple source of Green Energy___ the primary purpose of selecting a PV system is the clean and green energy it provides. Don’t worry about panels generating harmful greenhouse gases into the air, like carbon dioxide.
Affordable__ the raw material of the PV system is freely available around you and is Less costly than the other energy system.
The initial investment in the system is accessible and abundant for a long time. You save electricity costs once you start using the energy generated by PV cells.
Versatility__ it can generate electricity anywhere through the sunlight, which helps to make it a valuable energy source while going on camping trips, traveling, and on long car trips.
Smart Energy __ Solar PV is integral in intelligent energy systems. DPGs reduce the environmental impacts of a centralized generation system and help reduce any possible energy loss during transmission and distribution. DPGs are exceptionally environmentally friendly because they help reduce electricity production at centralized power plants.
Less Costly__ an attractive investment helps reduce any possible energy loss during transmission and distribution. It reduces environments substantially within the next few years, and PV cells are indeed an investment worth making.
Maintenance__ It requires low maintenance, which is one reason for the PV system’s popularity. Its operating costs are less compared with other renewable energy systems.
Slinet_ PV system is a silent system specially designed for domestic use and operates without noise and disturbance.
Easy to Install_
Last, you can install residential solar panels on rooftops or the ground without interfering with your lifestyle.
The Disadvantage of Solar Photovoltaics Systems
Intermittency problem__ that the PV cells are intermittent. It means that it is not continuously available for conversion into the power supply, such as at night or during cloudy or rainy weather.
Additional investment__ This system necessitates the purchase of inverters and storage batteries. Inverters transform direct current to alternating current for use on your power grid.
A residential photovoltaic system uses electricity throughout the year and stores the surplus generated electricity in the grid.
You should carefully consider your final decision, regardless of what you decide.
Yes, the very PV cell, which is environmentally friendly, and helps you save in utility costs, has some ups and downs. Reading the complete guide with the list of pros and cons enables you to understand it better before investing.