Solar Panel Comparison
What are Solar PV Panels
Solar PV panels offer a way to utilise the free energy of the sun to create usable electricity to power your home. There are different types of solar PV panels available on the market with varying levels of efficiency and different prices.
The efficiency is greatest in monocrystalline panels which are made of a single silicone crystal, with typical rates being around fifteen percent, although some panels have reached over nineteen percent. Polycrystalline panels, which are made from a block of crystals, have an efficiency of around twelve per cent on average. The least efficient type of panels with an average rate of around seven percent are amorphous panels. These can be fitted into the fabric of the roof.
The monocrystalline panels are generally the most expensive of three types of panels and amorphous panels are the cheapest. The type of panel that is best for you will depend on your budget, and the amount of electricity you are hoping to generate for your home.
Solar Thermal Comparison
Solar thermal panels are usually referred to as collectors and they differ from PV panels in that they are used to generate hot water rather than electricity. There are two types of solar thermal panels; flat plate collectors and evacuated tube collectors. They both work in a similar way by using a fluid that absorbs the heat and transferring this through a special heat transfer unit to heat the water.
Generally, evacuated tube collectors are considered the more effective as they work in a vacuum which minimises heat loss and their tubular structure means they have a greater surface area exposed to the sun's rays than flat plate collectors.
All solar thermal systems will require a cylinder to store the hot water, so if you do not currently have one, then you will need to find a suitable space to fit one in your home.
If you are looking to purchase solar thermal panels to heat a swimming pool, there are different models available which reflect the lower temperatures required than in domestic hot water systems.
Solar PV systems cost several thousand pounds to install. Prices depend on the size of your system and the type of panels chosen, but typically for a three bedroom house a system costs around twelve to sixteen thousand pounds. Once a system is installed, typical bill reductions are around twenty five percent, depending on your level of electricity usage.
Solar PV panels are also eligible for cash back from the government under the Feed In Tariff scheme. The rates payable depend on the size of your system, when it is installed and how much power it generates.
Solar thermal systems are cheaper than PV systems, usually around three to seven thousand pounds for an average home. The savings achieved by solar thermal are generally smaller too, usually being in the region of under a hundred pounds a year. However, they also qualify for cash back under a scheme known as the Renewable Heat Incentive which pays money based on the amount of heat your system generates annually.