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The Difference Between Solar and Solar Thermal Energy

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The Difference Between Solar and Solar Thermal Energy

When most people think of solar power, they think of PV (photovoltaic) panels which are well-known for using the sun to provide electric power.  For this reason, one of the most common questions Power Panel® receives is "what is the difference between solar and solar thermal?”  To put it simply, Power Panel’s solar thermal technology is solar with the benefits of heat and hot water.  In other words, using solar thermal technology does more than just provide electric power… It provides thermal output to heat water for your pool, showers, laundry facilities and more.  It is two powerful energy sources in one compact footprint.

Both photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal are currently the two established solar power technologies. Photovoltaics use semi-conductor technology to directly convert sunlight into electricity. For the most part, PV is designed to only operate when the sun is shining and must be coupled with other power generation mechanisms to ensure a constant supply of electricity.  On the other hand, solar thermal technology can potentially provide electricity and hot water on its own at any time of the day.  As published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), “Solar thermal power (electricity) generation systems collect and concentrate sunlight to produce the high temperature heat needed to generate electricity... Solar thermal power systems may also have a thermal energy storage system component that allows the solar collector system to heat an energy storage system during the day, and the heat from the storage system is used to produce electricity in the evening or during cloudy weather.”

Traditional solar panel efficiency drops as heat rises, but the the Power Panel® offers elite performance even in extreme conditions. Power Panel’s innovative solar thermal hybrid technology uses an automated cooling system that pumps water under the panels, keeping them within the optimal performance range. This maximizes efficiency even as the environment heats up, and the Power Panel® excels in colder conditions as well. In fact, the assembly can even use snow melt to harvest energy, a benefit that simply cannot be matched by traditional panels. Other benefits that Power Panel’s patented technology offers over standard PV include:

-  Expandable for any application – If your energy requirements increase, so can the size of your system.  Whether you require 6 panels or 100 panels, the system can be adapted and expanded over time to meet your needs.

-  Greater energy capture – The Power Panel® captures up to 80% of the sun’s energy.

-  Storage - Patented thermal edge storage tanks provide unmatched efficiency for storing hot water and can be installed on a rooftop or on the ground.

-  Made in the USA – The team at Power Panel is based in Oxford, Michigan, and all parts are manufactured in the USA.

Hybrid solar thermal solutions are the ideal way to limit your carbon footprint, while saving electricity and heating costs in both residential properties and commercial facilities.  And with the added bonus of the Gen-2-O mobile technology, electricity and hot water can be deployed and accessible in remote locations within just a few hours of set up.

To learn more about solar thermal technology and how you can save money with clean energy through Power Panel®, contact us.