Solar panels or Photovoltaics, Which is better?

Solar panels or Photovoltaics, Which is better?

June 16, 2021 Off By Rob Prosser

Photovoltaics and solar panels – which is better? This question is asked by many people interested in alternative energy sources. The use of heat and electricity from renewable sources is becoming more and more common also in homes and companies, which thus optimize costs. So solar or photovoltaics? First of all, attention should be paid to the increasing use of equipment that can be used to obtain heat and electricity with the use of sunlight. The paradox is that many of us are still not fully aware of one of the basic issues: what exactly is the difference between solar and solar panels? Isn’t that the same? Exactly, not really.

Photovoltaic and solar panels

Photovoltaic panels are used to produce electricity. They use a renewable energy source, which in this case is solar radiation. They are sets of photovoltaic cells, i.e. basic units built on the basis of silicon, which produce a voltage of 0.5 V. Only when combined into photovoltaic panels, they can produce the desired amount of electricity.

Photovoltaic cells – the principle of operation

In a nutshell, the principle of operation of photovoltaic panels is that light falling on a photovoltaic cell is absorbed by silicon. Consequently, it sets the electrons in motion, thereby causing the flow of electricity. At the same time, it should be remembered that in the case of photovoltaic panels, we are not only talking about sets of cells. We are talking about the entire system (which includes an inverter/inverter, production and consumption meters, wiring, and an optional battery with a charge regulator, depending on the type of installation). In addition, it can be connected to the power grid (on-grid installation) but does not have to be (off-grid installation).

Solar collectors and photovoltaic panels

So what is the difference between solar panels and solar collectors? Although both installations use solar energy, the difference between them is fundamental. Contrary to appearances, it is not that complicated at all. Photovoltaic panels – as noted above – convert the sun’s rays into electricity. The function of solar collectors, on the other hand, is solely in the production of heat. In other words, the sun’s rays that are absorbed by the absorbers installed on the solar panels are converted into heat. This is then transported by the heating medium (which can be either water or a special non-freezing liquid – most often glycol) to the storage tank. Thanks to this, we primarily have hot tap water.

Photovoltaics and solar panels: advantages and disadvantages

Finally, an obvious question should be asked: what are the advantages and disadvantages of photovoltaic panels and solar collectors? Which of them is better to invest in? As mentioned, solar panels are only used to produce heat. In this respect, solar panels have an advantage. The electricity they produce can be used in various ways – including heating water.

An important issue is also the location and positioning of photovoltaic panels and solar collectors. In the case of the latter, the most popular solution is the installation of flat roof collectors – here, however, it should be remembered that it is possible only when the roof slope of the building is at least 25 degrees. The most important thing is that the place of their installation should be adequately insolated, which in the climatic conditions of Poland depends on the season of the year. In the autumn and winter season, insolation will naturally be lower, which does not mean that the collectors will be completely useless: they will heat the water but to a limited extent (up to 10-30 degrees Celsius).

Solar or photovoltaics?

Photovoltaic panels, however, can be located in any well-sunny place on the plot. Not necessarily have to be installed on the roof (although the most popular solution, as evidenced by our gallery and gallery of photovoltaic installations ). Photovoltaics has the additional advantage that you can save on electricity bills thanks to the production of clean, ecological energy. Depending on the decision on what type of photovoltaic installation we will install, surplus energy produced can be resold by connecting to the national power grid. It should be remembered that photovoltaic panels produce direct current. To convert to the desired alternating current, we will need additional equipment in the form of an inverter (inverter).

In any case, when it comes to photovoltaic panels or solar collectors, the answer will always come down to the needs of the household.

Another article on this blog that may interests you:

WHAT MAINTENANCE DO MY SOLAR PANELS REQUIRE?