What is Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Electricity?
Photovoltaic (PV) systems produce electricity directly from sunlight via a process called the photovoltaic effect. PV modules generate direct current (DC) electricity, which is then converted into alternating current (AC) electricity by passing through an inverter. The AC current can then be used to power most electric energy needs in buildings or remote off-grid locations. PV systems produce clean, reliable energy without consuming fossil fuels and can be used in a wide variety of applications.
What is a Solar Thermal (SHW) System?
While solar photovoltaic technology deals with the direct conversion of sunlight to electricity, solar thermal systems use the sun’s heat. Water heating can constitute up to 25 percent or more of a home’s energy expenditures. By installing a solar hot water system, the annual operating costs to heat a home can be reduced by 50 percent to 80 percent. The basic design of a solar thermal system includes a solar thermal collector that consists of a metal box with a glass or plastic cover and an absorber plate that is painted black to absorb as much sunlight as possible. Cold water is pumped from the bottom of a storage tank and heated as it passes through the thermal collector. Through this constant pumping and circulating action, a storage tank can be preheated for household use. Solar thermal technology can also be used to heat pools and provide radiant solar heating for a home.