We are here to help you choose between solar thermal and solar PV. Many of the consumers don’t know the fact that solar power is available as two types. Contrary to the popular notion, solar PV and solar thermal are not the same things with two names. They are only same in the fact that they both utilize the solar energy.
What Is Solar Thermal?
- In solar thermal, the sunlight is directed on a fluid that works to heat energy. This energy is used as the power for a heat engine. The heat engine goes on to crank a generator and produces electricity.
- The types of fluids used are oil, helium, water, salts, and nitrogen.
- Heat engine used will usually be a steam engine, Stirling engine or gas turbine. They will have an efficiency rating as high as 30-40%
- The heat engines produce about hundreds of powers in megawatts.
- Heat gathered during daytime can be saved and used in night by converting it to electricity
What Is Solar PV?
Solar PV never involves heat engines
- It makes use of solar panels to convert the rays of sun to electricity.
- It can only work when the sun is shining bright. It won’t work on cloudy days or during night times.
- It is not possible to gather and save the electricity.
Solar Thermal Vs. Solar PV
In the first glance, the solar thermal might seem to be a better option than the solar PV. Let us take a look at the advantages of both before making a decision. Here are the advantages of solar thermal:
- High efficiency- With solar thermal, you can be sure of efficiency no matter which engine you choose.
- High volumes of power- Solar thermal is a very powerful one. It produces highly efficient volumes of power.
- Very Compact- It takes up very less space and hence is chosen by people with space restrictions. It only needs about 3-4 square meters of space.
Now, let us take a look at the advantages of solar PV:
- Less Expensive: It is much less expensive than solar thermal. PV technology has advanced to a state by which it is now available easily and is very inexpensive. In addition to this, governments also offer great incentives to PV technology users.
- Produce Electricity: The solar thermal produces heat energy only. This heat has to be converted to electricity. Solar PV, on the other hand, produces electricity itself. If it produces electricity in excess, the excess part can be sold to the national grid.
- Much more environment-friendly: Though both the systems are environmentally friendly, the solar thermal is said to cause the death of birds during its operation. Solar PV is much more environmentally friendly and does not cause harm to any creature.
Make A Choice!
Now, as we have already listed out the details and advantages of both, it would be easier for you to make a decision. The fact is that we can’t tell one is better than the other. Both are good, and the choice depends on your priorities. Your needs decide the choice you make. If you are a homeowner and need a source of energy to provide heat and hot water in your home, then solar thermal is the best option for you.
If you need a source of solar energy to produce electricity for your electrical appliances, tahen solar PV is the right choice for you. Nowadays, homeowners choose a mix of both types at their homes.