We are pleased to present the first installment of “Solar energy for beginners” , a series of articles that will try to bring solar energy closer to anyone who, even without knowing the subject , is interested in taking advantage of this inexhaustible source of energy.
GreenMatch: Different types of solar panels
And it is that solar energy seems to be a subject still unknown to many people, among whom, until just over 2 years ago, the writer of this article was. And it is normal for this to happen when 99% of the articles available on the internet are focused from a professional point of view for all those who understand the subject.
If you are one of those who think that putting on solar panels is illegal, of those who do not know the different types of panels or of those who do not even understand your electricity bill, “Solar energy for beginners” is your solution.
Types of solar panels
In case you still didn’t know, not all panels are the same, much less do they do the same thing. There are many who call our phone daily requesting information about solar panels and go blank when we ask them why they want the solar panel in question.
oh! Can I also do that with a solar panel? How many types of solar panels are there then?
Yes, indeed, “that” you can also do with a solar panel. And yes indeed, not all solar panels do the same thing . Electricity, domestic hot water (DHW),… Depending on what the panel can produce, the name it has is one or the other.
Greenmatch reviews can help you to clear many doubts and to make a good choice of solar panels.
Today, in general, there are 3 types of solar panels:
- photovoltaic solar panels
- thermal solar panels
- Hybrid solar panels (photovoltaic + thermal)
Below we will briefly and simply explain what each of them consists of and what you can do with each of them:
photovoltaic solar panel
The first type of panel that we are going to talk about is the photovoltaic solar panel ; the one in charge of transforming the energy coming from the sun into electricity . And yes, this type of panel is also the one that was subject to the so-called sun tax and on which all the controversy about the legislation in this regard revolved. Controversy that is clarified and about which we inform you in this link: «Goodbye Sun Tax, Hello Self-consumption» .
With increasingly lower prices, photovoltaic modules are presented as a great clean alternative to generate electricity (or part of it) in our homes, hospitals, shops, schools, etc.
In general, these types of panels are made up of silicon photovoltaic cells (with the symbol Si, in case there is a chemist among our readers) that, through a process called the photoelectric effect, allow light energy to be transformed into electrical energy.
In a simple and summarized way, this process occurs when photons (one of the “particles that make up” light) hit the solar panel, specifically, against the silicon of which it is composed. Upon impact, the photons bombard the silicon atoms, breaking the electrons and releasing some of them that will be the ones that generate the electric current. (The process is much more complex than this, but for beginners, this explanation is more than enough to understand how it works.)
Similarly, within photovoltaic solar panels there are several types, depending on how the photovoltaic cells are composed. The explanation of each of them will come in later articles; For obvious reasons, understanding the operation and specifications of each type is no longer a matter of dummies. Likewise, to introduce them and so that you do not stay with the doubt, today, the most common photovoltaic solar panels are:
- Monocrystalline (silicon)
- Polycrystalline (silicon)
- Others not made of silicon such as Thin Film or Organic.
This type of panel is presented in two possible scenarios as previously mentioned in our blog : systems isolated from the network or electrical self-consumption.
thermal solar panel
The second type of solar panel that we can find is the thermal solar panel (also called a solar collector ). This panel allows the transformation of the sun’s energy into thermal energy, that is, into heat. You can read more about greenmatch solar energy .
Regardless of whether they are used domestically or industrially, thermal panels have multiple uses, such as heating swimming pools, preparing water for domestic use (DHW = domestic hot water), creating steam, etc.
As expected, solar collectors also exist of various types, although we can group them into three large groups:
- Low temperature collector or unprotected flat solar collector. Reaching up to a maximum of 50ºC, this type of panel is mainly used for heating and for DHW in domestic systems.
- Medium temperature collector . These collectors are basically the same as the previous ones but with a transparent cover that prevents heat loss from the panel. Thanks to this cover, the panel can reach up to 90ºC.
- High temperature collector. By adding another cover between the previous one and the converter (a key element in the thermal panel), a vacuum is generated between the 2 covers, so that the temperature can also reach up to 150ºC. They are generally used to produce steam capable of moving turbines that allow electricity generation.
Beyond this distinction, depending on the components that make up the thermal panel, we can make new divisions of them (flat solar collector, vacuum tube panel,…) but, equally, we leave it for later. Explaining how they are formed and, above all, how they work, is too big to be explained in this first article of “Solar energy for dummies”.
hybrid solar panel
Finally, the third panel that we want to talk about in this article is the result of crossing the concepts that define the two previous panels; the hybrid solar panel is nothing more than a mixture of a photovoltaic panel together with a thermal one. With the 2 technologies combined in a single panel, this type of technology allows to produce electricity and heat simultaneously.
Although it is true that it is still a type of solar panel unknown to many, the evolution that these have had in recent years has been very positive given the advantages that they present compared to photovoltaic and thermal panels separately.
The main advantage that these panels present is the reduction of the space necessary to take advantage of solar energy; As it is obvious, joining two panels in just one, makes the space where to place the panels is half. For this reason, this type of panel is presented as the perfect alternative for all those places where, in addition to demanding domestic hot water, the space on the roof is reduced, such as, for example, a hotel, a heated swimming pool or a residence, among others.
If you want to obtain even more information about these innovative solar panels, in this link on hybrid solar panels you will find an extensive article dedicated solely and exclusively to them.
Although there are still few manufacturers of this type of panels, there is an increasing number of companies specializing in solar energy that are beginning to bet on development; To date, in Spain there is only one company dedicated to this type of panel with more than one model developed and marketed under the ECOMESH brand . And yes… that’s us and that’s our brand. You can expand all this information in greenmatch uk.
Therefore, although there are many existing panels, depending on what they allow us to achieve, we must differentiate between 3: photovoltaic, thermal or hybrid.
With this we conclude our first article in the series “Solar energy for beginners”. Knowing now the panels available on the market, for the second episode we have prepared a new article on the legislation and the so-called “sun tax” ; There are many beliefs and false rumors about it that, one way or another, must be cut.
However, if you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a message just below this entry! Or contact us directly!
On the website https://www.greenmatch.co.uk you can also find greenmatch sustainability scholarship