Photovoltaic vs Solar Thermal: What’s The Difference?

Going solar is a big decision, and you should decide on the right system for your house. There are many types of solar systems, and each has its purpose. 

The main differences between photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal solar panels are:

1️⃣ Solar thermal technology involves heating up water and air while photovoltaic creates electricity to power your residence.

2️⃣ You use solar thermal systems to replace standard electrical heating units and water geysers.

3️⃣ You use photovoltaics for essential electric power like fridges, chargers, and other electrical devices.

⚖️ Photovoltaic vs Solar Thermal

While they both have the same principle of absorbing raw energy and creating useable energy, they have many differences.

The primary difference between these two systems is that you use solar pv panel systems for electricity and thermal solar for heating water or air.

You can save money on either one of these systems when you buy them.

You can use photovoltaics to power all the appliances and devices in your residence if you have a big enough system. They use direct sunlight and then turn it into electricity.

It can also be stored later when you need it if you have a battery.

On the other hand, you use solar thermal to heat your air and water instead of creating electricity.

They also have panels on the roof to harness the sun’s rays.

Shape And Size Of The Systems

The shape and size of the system matter as you need to know how much space you need to install it.

A solar thermal system is usually flat, which is 1m by 2m per panel. In comparison, pv systems are 5m by 3m per panel.

Solar thermal is better if you want something smaller.

Costs Of The Systems

Both systems are costly, and when you are tight on money, you look to save everywhere.

On average, solar thermal costs around $8000 if you want a complete installation with minimal panels. Photovoltaic systems cost roughly $16,000, but they can go up to $35,000.

Solar thermal is the cheaper option when you want to save on costs.

The Life Expectancy Of The Systems

Your life expectancy is essential if you want a system that lasts long.

Solar thermal systems last roughly 15 years, but many say theirs don’t last that long.

Pv systems last for over 25 years, and it’s guaranteed.

Photovoltaics is the better option here.

The Complexity Of The Systems

Solar thermal has simple technology, and the process is straightforward.

Photovoltaic is more complicated, with a long process of turning the energy into electricity, and it also has more complex technology as they are also newer.

The solar thermal option is better when you want a more straightforward system.

🥇 The Winner: Solar Thermal vs Photovoltaic

While the systems do different things, it’s better to choose the solar pv systems as they have better aspects like long life expectancy and they make electricity.

Photovoltaic will power your entire house and not just warm your water and air.

Pros Of Solar Thermal And Photovoltaic

Solar thermal energy is very efficient. It’s one of the places where it’s better.

The best energy rate is between 30% to 40%. Unfortunately, Photovoltaic currently achieves only 22%.

Solar thermal is more space efficient than pv. It means you can get more solar power per square inch or cell.

The best thing about solar thermal is that it’s much less complicated than photovoltaic.

On the pros side of photovoltaics, you can get electricity anywhere the sun shines. When the sun rises, so does the chance to turn its energy into a usable form.

There are also no moving parts in photovoltaics. When there is more movement, it’s more prone to break.

Greenhouse gas emissions are one of the significant challenges facing civilization today. However, solar photovoltaic systems eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.

Cons Of Solar Thermal And Photovoltaic

Solar thermal has a shorter lifespan. The life expectancy is the same, but they do differ.

Solar thermal is also not as versatile. You can’t place them everywhere. They have set areas where you have to put them.

Cons of photovoltaic include a high start-up cost which usually puts people off. However, you can rent or lease the system.

The systems are also unpredictable.

When you plug an appliance into an outlet, you anticipate that the outlet will have power. That’s fine as long as adequate solar electricity is in the process of being gathered, but the sun is notoriously fickle.

🔥 What Solar Thermal Is Best For

These systems’ most common use is warm indoor spaces and pools.

Solar thermal panels are great during the winter also to warm your home. Like any other panels, you mount them on the roof, so you don’t have to make space for them anywhere.

What Photovoltaic Is Best For

These systems are best for powering your entire home.

They use solar energy to generate electricity and hot warmth so that you can use them for everything in your residence.

While expensive, you won’t be disappointed as they are an outstanding long-term investment.

🙋‍♂️ FAQs

What Is The Main Difference Between A Solar Thermal System And Photovoltaics?

Solar thermal is used for heating water and air, while photovoltaics are the best for creating electricity.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Photovoltaics?

One of the main disadvantages of photovoltaics is that they are costly. They also use a lot of space and are not ideal if you plan on moving shortly.

What Are Some Disadvantages Of Solar Thermal?

First, the installation cost of solar thermal is high and requires a large amount of space. In addition, these systems can also be unattractive to the eyes.

What Are Some Advantages Of Solar Thermal?

When it comes to renewable energy, solar thermal has a lot going for it since you have an almost endless supply of heat free. They also reduce the consumption of fossil fuels. You can integrate them into existing systems as well.

🔑 Key Takeaways

Both solar thermal and photovoltaics are great solar panel options for your home, and you can choose to have both. But that will be pretty expensive to install. They use the sun as their main energy source but have many differences, like their purposes.