Solar energy is the quintessential clean alternative for domestic use. Despite this, and the growth it is registering around the world, ignorance about it is still widespread. This makes it difficult for many of the people who could benefit from this renewable source to take advantage of it. So that it does not happen to you, we stop at one of the basic elements of the gear to know the types of solar panels that exist and, thus, be able to get the most out of clean energy.
Before you start thinking about installing a solar panel system, you must make sure that your house, more specifically your roof, is prepared for such an installation. Your roof must be in good condition; If you know that your roof needs to be repaired then you should make those repairs before installing any solar panels. Otherwise, you will have to remove and replace the panels during future repairs or replacements.
You should also make sure that there are no large areas of shade on most of the roof for most of the day, especially during the hottest hours of the day. Shading prevents solar panels from operating at their maximum efficiency.
Once you know that your roof is compatible, it is time to consider the type of solar panel that is most suitable for your home and what you want to use it for, generate electricity, heat water …
Before that, let’s start with the basics. What photovoltaic panels do is capture the energy that comes from the sun so that, from there, it is converted into alternating current suitable to power the different equipment in the home. In this sense, it is important to bear in mind that a solar panel of this type, by itself, will be of little or no use. This is so because the plates are only one of the necessary components for a domestic solar installation that, in addition, will need an inverter and, depending on the use that you want to give it, storage batteries.
In any case, the panels are the key and the starting point. Therefore, it is important to know that there are many types that exist. To begin with, it is necessary to distinguish between two fundamentals: monocrystalline panels and polycrystalline panels. Deciding on one or the other will have consequences, both in the price of the installation and in the level of efficiency, among other aspects.
One point where the two previous panels coincide is the material with which they are made: silicon. Just as photovoltaic panels dominate the market, this material does so in the solar cells of this technology. So much so that it is estimated that 9 out of 10 photovoltaic panels use silicon.
However, innovation in this field does not stop, so the previous typologies must continue to be added. Biophotovoltaic panels like these, from the University of Cambridge, or others like the thin film ones are beginning to gain ground in a world in which, in addition, many more alternatives are yet to come.
Those who are not yet involved in the world of clean energy, may not be aware that they are multipurpose. Thus, in addition to generating electricity, solar energy can be used to heat a home, heat a swimming pool, or do the same with domestic hot water (DHW). All of the above, of course, as long as you have the proper installation.
Which? The one that, compared to the classic photovoltaic panels, goes to thermal solar panels or solar collectors. In this case, what would be achieved is that the energy recovered from the sun is converted, not into electricity, but into heat that can be used for any of the listed uses.
Although this is a universe in constant innovation, broadly speaking, the solar collectors that can be found on the market are divided into three classes, ranging from low to high temperature. Between the two, the medium temperature collectors, which manage to reach 90 degrees through a cover that prevents heat losses.
Somewhat less, specifically 50 degrees, reach the low temperature thermal panels that, with that, would allow to take advantage of solar energy for home heating and to satisfy the needs of sanitary hot water. The same uses would be given to medium temperature collectors, which would be suitable for homes and for commercial surfaces.
Finally there would be the high temperature collectors, which can take it well above the previous ones. This typology is aimed at generating electricity in thermal power plants, so it is out of residential use. By the way, for this purpose, making a home solar collector is possible for those who enjoy DIY ( Do it Yourself or do it yourself).
2 x 1: Hybrid solar panel.
To squeeze the best of one (the photovoltaic) and the best of the other (the thermal collector) arises the 2 × 1 solar panel or, as it is officially known, the hybrid solar panel. As its name suggests, in this case what is offered is a solution that combines the previous two to, in a single panel, capture energy from the sun to generate electricity and, also, to produce heat with which to heat sanitary hot water or heating a home.
Thus, the muscle of this type of panel is evident, because it favors both uses and, also, because it represents a significant reduction in the space required for installation. This is so because by opting for this type of mixed panel, you go from two installations to one.
Therefore, this alternative is ideal for those who want to get the most out of the sun, but have difficulties to do so due to lack of space. In addition to homeowners, those from any other facility (schools, hospitals, etc.) can also use hybrid solar installations. Also, these panels can be very suitable for your industrial application.
Hit it? Which are not yet as widespread as photovoltaic solar modules and thermal collectors. However, little by little. In Spain, in fact, there are already initiatives underway to extend the use of this option, such as the Hybrid Solar Panel which, when activated, promises an improvement in the performance of photovoltaic panels of up to 15%.