Photovoltaic System And System Solar Panels, Difference


We often hear talking of renewable energy sources or photovoltaic and solar panel systems, but those who speak sometimes generate a lot of confusion because they do not have the appropriate knowledge of the two technologies.


Going a little more deeply in detail as far the energy from the sun, we may start saying that if you want to transform solar energy into thermal energy, we are talking of thermal collectors, that are substantially plants adapted with the purpose to heat fluids (usually water) through solar energy, thus reducing the need for electric or gas water heaters. This results to be very helpful for the planet and for our environment.

In addition, these are plants that can achieve a high degree of efficiency, let say around 70-80%, and for which it is also possible to benefit from public funding loans.There are mainly two systems of solar plants:


The Solar Thermal Plants are thermal collectors that allow you to heat water through the solar energy that is concentrated on proper containers where during the summer, the water reaches a temperature close to the 70 ° F.  allowing you to meet the demand and the requirements for hot water


A different discourse concerns the photovoltaic systems which, thanks to semiconductor materials such as the silicon, transform solar energy into electricity.

In this case the efficiency is lower, in fact according to what the technicians say, normally it does not exceed 15%. This value represents the percentage of solar energy that the plant could be able to convert into electric energy. However this result is also influenced by various factors, from the latitude of the place, to its climatic characteristics, to the sun exposition and, last but not least, to the type and quality of solar cells used.

In conclusion, according to what we said above, it comes that for family use the solar panel plant results more convenient and this is due both for the aforesaid reasons and for the cost, which is significantly greater in comparison with the PV system.

The apparent similarity of the panels of the two systems (notwithstanding the photovoltaic cells are slightly larger) sometimes leads to confuse the two technologies that, while view on the roof  look alike, they have a diversity and a complexity into the plant inside the house:

  • the photovoltaic plant requires an inverter to transform solar energy into electrical energy
  • the thermal plant basically consists of hot water accumulation and therefore the only thing it needs is a collector.


There are many models and brands of plant and therefore it is very difficult say what it could be the most appropriate price, in fact for the significant technical differences the prices may vary considerably.

In any case, speaking in a very general way, we can say that the average cost of a photovoltaic system for a family may range from 1,500 us dollars for the cheaper to some 10,000 us dollars for the most complex.

Instead the range of price for a Solar Thermic Plant it may go from an average of 1,000 up to 5,000 us dollars for an hot water supply sufficient to the needs of two people (about 2 kwh daily).

These information are given with the purpose of giving an approximate idea and therefore should be considered strictly indicative as the entire matter is  continually being studied  and evolves continuously.



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