Solar Thermal Vs Solar PV Panels – What Should I Install

Tuesday November 17, 2020

Using renewable energy to satisfy your needs is an affordable and efficient way to be green and eco-friendly. Since solar power is a go-to energy source, there are two obvious options that you could install – solar thermal and solar PV.

Solar thermal technology is used to heat water using heat from the sun whereas solar PV generates electricity using the sun’s rays. 

Thousands of homes in the UK are benefiting from these green installations and adding to their green credentials and energy efficiency. When it comes down to it, you are probably confused between what technology you should install?

As the leading renewable installation company, at JL Phillips we have broken it down for you so that you make a better investment and heating choice with these green solutions. 

Let’s take a look!

Overview of Solar Thermal Vs Solar Panels

While solar thermal is primarily used to heat water, it can also be used to heat your home or a commercial building. Solar PV absorbs sunlight and then converts it into electricity using in-built silicon-based technology

The way that solar water heating technology works is simple. The panels installed on the roof absorb the sun’s rays which heats up liquid stored in tubes. This heated liquid is then transferred to the cylinder, ready to be used. 

There are quite a few advantages and points of distinction that make these renewable technologies worth the investment

Let’s take a closer look to see which one’s better:

  • When compared to solar PV technology, solar thermal panels are more space-efficient meaning less space is occupied on your roof (or wherever you install it). 
  • When it comes to collecting heat from the sun, solar thermal installations are up to 70% more efficient than their solar PV counterparts.
  • Solar thermal technology is comparatively less complex, not to mention less expensive than solar PV panels. 
  • You can cater to your heating and hot water requirements more efficiently with a solar thermal solution. 
  • While you can save money on energy bills with both technologies, you could potentially save more with solar thermal as the initial cost of installation is comparatively less. 

Hot Water Cylinder vs PV Panels

Since solar PV panels take up a lot of space on the roof, not every home or commercial building can accommodate all the panels to sufficiently cater to their requirements. Solar thermal panels on the other hand are compact which means even the smallest roofs will be able to house the system. 

Moreover, installing solar thermal panels on the roof will ensure that the system is exposed to sufficient amounts of sunlight, even during winter. You will need to install a hot water cylinder in your home so that hot water can be used throughout your property. 

Solar Thermal Works Better in Cloudy Weather

Solar based technologies are equipped to operate efficiently, even if it’s not sunny outside. Unlike solar PV panels, solar thermal technology is powered by light – meaning they don’t need to be exposed to the sun’s rays directly to operate efficiently. This means that even when the sky is overcast, solar thermal panels continue to absorb sufficient energy to cater to your hot water requirements. 

The same cannot be said for solar PV systems as they are much more sensitive to the sunlight meaning their performance is bound to dip considerably when the weather is cloudy. 

Solar Panel Eligible Under the RHI and Green Homes Grant Scheme

Solar water heating systems are an eligible technology under both the RHI scheme and the brand new Green Homes Grant scheme. You can receive subsidies and financial rewards from the government for installing this green technology that improves your carbon footprint

Solar PV on the other hand is neither eligible for the Green Homes Grant Scheme nor the RHI program, meaning you won’t be able to offset installation costs at all. 

Cost of Installation

To effectively cater to their hot water needs, a typical home would need to install only 2 to3 panels. In order to receive a similar amount of output, the solar PV equivalent to this would be anywhere between 10 to 16 panels. Installing more panels adds to the cost of the system. In comparison, this makes solar thermal a more cost-effective heating solution.

Call JL Phillips for Efficient Heating Solutions

As one of the leading solar thermal companies in the UK, our team has the necessary experience in installing solar thermal technology in your home and commercial buildings. 

We help you weigh all your options after taking into account your bespoke needs and recommend installations that will have the best return on investment. For a free quick quote, click here!

Give us a call today to find out more!

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