Solar Energy (Photovoltaics or PV)
Understanding 3 Popular Solar Technologies
Solar power’s popularity continues to grow every year, and along with that popularity, the number of solar technologies has grown. Three of the most popular solar technologies are:
- Photovoltaic solar panels
- Thin film solar panels
- Solar thermal panels
Figuring out which solar panel is right for your home may feel like a daunting task, so here are basic explanations of these solar power technologies, what you can expect from them, and when they make sense to buy.
Photovoltaic Solar Panels: A Proven Technology
Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels convert sunlight to electricity. The most common types of PV solar panels are made of crystalline silicon solar cells. The electricity produced runs through an inverter that converts the current into electricity that can power anything from a toaster to a TV to an electric car.
Thin Film Solar Panels: A Flexible Solar Solution
Thin film photovoltaic solar panels convert sunlight to electricity like conventional PV panels, but they are typically thinner and more flexible. Generally, the semiconductor layers on thin film solar panels are only a few millionths of a meter thick, although the name “thin film” comes from their production process and not from thickness.
Solar Thermal Systems: A Complementary Solar Option
Solar thermal panels transfer the sun’s heat, as opposed to generating electricity. Their most popular application is to heat water. Subsequently, solar thermal is a great technology to offset energy usage for your water heater or for heating an outdoor pool. Solar thermal power can also be used to heat or cool a home, depending on the specific solar thermal technology. Since most residential heating systems use gas, this solar technology primarily offsets gas usage.
Finding a Solar Power Solution
These three different solar technologies offer a lot of ways for you to reduce your carbon footprint and save money. Do your homework and review your property’s energy needs. One or two of these solar solutions can help you lower bills or perhaps achieve energy independence for your home.