Solar panels receive radiation from the sun and transform it into energy that we can use.
We can classify solar panels into three types: photovoltaic, thermal (also called “solar thermal collectors”), and hybrid. Discover with us the different types of solar panels.
What are the similarities and differences between the different types of solar panels?
Essentially, all types of solar panels use the sun’s rays to produce energy. Having said that, some produce electricity (photovoltaic panels), others thermal energy (solar thermal panels) and others heat and electricity (hybrid panels).
We’ll now explain more about the characteristics of each one.
Photovoltaic solar panels
Photovoltaic solar panels transform the sun’s energy into electricity, and are an excellent choice to cover energy demands for lighting, household appliances, or air conditioning in the home.
Photovoltaic panels are made of silicon photovoltaic cells (or solar cells). When photons of light hit them, there’s a release of electrons which then produces an electric current.
There are three types of photovoltaic solar panels on the market:
These are the highest performing type, and also the most stable and profitable in the long run.
These are manufactured from metallurgical silicon using less extensive solidification processes. They are often distinguished by their more bluish and irregular colour. In terms of functionality, they’re less efficient, but they are also cheaper.
Finally, we have the “flexible panels”, also called amorphous silicon solar cells.
These types of solar panels are attached to plastics, fabrics, or glass to make them cheaper to manufacture, and allow the production of flexible, thinner photovoltaic cells that can be fully integrated into roofs.
Despite this initial benefit, flexible panels are only used on a large scale and usually in industrial installations. This is because their efficiency is low when compared to monocrystalline panels.
Solar thermal panels
Solar thermal panels, also called solar collectors, capture solar radiation and convert it into thermal energy.
These types of solar panels are usually used to heat water for washing, to heat swimming pools, or to produce steam for domestic or industrial use.
Within the different types of solar thermal panels, we have the following:
⮚ Low temperature solar collectors. Also called “unprotected flat plate solar collectors”. They can achieve temperatures of up to 50°C, and are used to heat water for cleaning and heating purposes.
⮚ High-temperature solar collectors. This type of collector is designed to produce large amounts of steam, which is then used to drive turbines and generate electricity. In addition to the protective coating of medium-temperature collectors, they have an “extra” cover and a converter, and can achieve temperatures of up to 150 °C.
Hybrid solar panels
According to the Spanish Photovoltaic Union, these are typically photovoltaic panels on which a fluid circuit is added to the rear face. This circuit will absorb heat from the panel. In this way, it achieves the dual function of simultaneously generating electricity and heat, and, for this reason, they are considered to be a very versatile type of solar panel.
One of the main advantages of hybrid solar panels is that they make better use of solar energy, especially on large surfaces. For this reason, they’re considered an attractive option in situations where energy demand is high and space is limited, such as residences, hospitals, heated swimming pools, housing developments, etc.
Installing solar panels is a safe investment. In addition to producing clean, renewable energy, you will save money on your bills and increase the value of your home or business. But what type of solar panels are most suitable for you?
Find the answer to this question at My Green House. We are experts in photovoltaic solar energy and we design self-consumption installations for individuals and companies. Get in touch with us, tell us what your ideas are, and request information with no strings attached.