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Solar power is the best renewable source of power available to man. The energy derived from the sun can be converted into both thermal and electrical power based on the need.
Solar power can be captured using a variety of means. The most widely used method is by using a PV (photovoltaic) system where the rays can be converted into electric energy.
This article will deep dive into how we can harness solar thermal power.
What is solar thermal energy?
Solar thermal technology is the process of harnessing solar power for generating thermal energy. The generated thermal power will be used for residential and industrial uses.
Types of solar thermal panels
Solar panels absorb the solar energy and convert it into heat energy. The device is commonly mounted onto the rooftop and uses the collected energy for heating the water stored in a cylinder. The fluid which flows through the panels is a mix of antifreeze and water.
There are two major types of solar thermal panels.
Flat plate collectors
These have a close resemblance with regular solar PV panels. Flat plate collectors are composed of a transparent cover, a dark absorbing surface, a heat insulator at the back and, most importantly, a fluid which carries the heat from the collectors to the water tank.
The absorber can be manufactured from copper, steel, aluminium or polymer materials. Polymer collectors are the best for installing cold-temperature regions as they are more freeze tolerant.
On the other hand, copper is the most effective absorber as it is highly durable, although expensive.
Vacuum tube collectors
As the name suggests, these collectors are made of several vacuum tubes. Many tubes are arranged in parallel through which the transfer fluid circulates and transfers the heat energy to the cylinders.
Vacuum collectors are most suited for cold weather conditions as they prevent heat loss, but in warm weather, it poses a risk of overheating.
What are solar thermal panels?
Many of you might know that solar power can be converted into electricity using PV panels.
However, another technology is the solar thermal technology, where solar power is converted into heat energy. Here, solar thermal panels absorb solar power and convert it into heat energy.
Benefits of solar thermal panels
Here are some of the popular benefits of solar thermal technology:
- They are eco-friendly as it is pure energy from the sun and doesn’t have much environmental impact.
- Your energy bills will be reduced as much power is saved for water heating.
- Thermal panels are cheaper when compared to solar PV panels.
- They effectively work in cold weather conditions and places with minimal sunlight.
- They are affordable when compared to PV panels and have less installation cost.
- Solar thermal systems have a warranty period of up to 6 years and an extended warranty of 20 years.
- They help to save the plant from 600 kg of carbon emission annually.
Solar PV panels vs Solar thermal panels
Although both panels can produce electricity, they are entirely different in their operations.
Solar panels capture the sunlight and directly convert it into electricity using PV technology. In contrast, solar thermal panels collect sunlight and transform it into heat, which is later converted into electric power.
Best solar thermal panels in the markets
The best solar thermal panels for you depend on the specific requirement that you may have. For example, if you plan to install solar panels on your rooftop, a flat plate collector will be ideal, as they are easy to install on roofings and are similar to PV panels.
On the other hand, if you are considering performance, it is wise to choose an evacuated tube. During peak summers, both types work at their best. On the other hand, if you are living in colder regions, evacuated tubes provide more heating for hot water.
Thus, in short, although flat solar panels are easy to install, evacuated tube collectors are great when it comes to performance.
Here are some of the best solar thermal panels in the market:
It can be ideally called the most durable and efficient water heating system currently available. The company uses corrosion-free copper, stainless steel and aluminium to manufacture its heaters.
This device is known for its quick action in healing large quantities of water.
The company is quite well-known in Malaysia for its high-quality filtration systems. As the name suggests, the company’s manufacturers use water kinetic energy to make it run, helping to cut down the unnecessary cost of electricity.
The advanced water filtration system ensures that it provides hot water throughout the year.
The company uses a patented technology which makes it truly unique. Every panel is coated with “thermoprotect”, an intelligent absorber layer that protects the collector from overheating.
The device is automatically switched off if the operating temperature exceeds the handling capacity(75°C).
The thermoprotect layer lowers the maximum temperature inside the collector and prevents steam formation in the solar circuit.
This will help to ensure that more than 95% of the solar energy will be converted into heat.
This is another UK-based solar thermal panel. The vacuum tubes have an all-glass design, meaning there is no worry of collector failure.
The device is built specifically for colder environments, as air temperature or wind chill won’t have any noticeable impact on its performance.
The LaZer2 collector has a direct flow serial manifold with an aluminium heat sink, ensuring an effective energy transfer.
The Malaysian-based company is popularly known for its state-of-the-art heat pumps. The technology and design ensure that it offers quick water heating, is durable, easy to install and works seamlessly throughout the year.
All the solar-eating systems developed by Headfirst are immune to changes in weather.
The company has prided its reputation on over two decades. Solar power systems developed by the company are pretty well known for their flexibility and functional capability.
They have a range of solar thermal products for commercial and domestic use.
The company’s products are developed after extensive research over the years. As a result, Solarwave is widely accepted in Malaysia as an effective solar thermal power system producer.
The long-lasting research of the company ensures that all its products are reliable and resilient to any type of weather conditions.
Solar thermal panel price
The price of solar thermal panels depends on several factors, such as:
- Electricity usage
- Rooftop size
- Available budget
In general, the price of installation can vary from USD 7000 to USD 25,000.
Usually, 50 panels are installed for bungalows with an installation area of 110 square metres. The average cost can range from USD 20K to USD 25K due to the larger installation area.
The average number of panels for a terrace house is around 20, with an approximate installation area of 45 square metres. The price can range from USD 9000 to USD 10,000.
This will have around 30 panels with an average installation area of up to 70 square metres.
The price will be around USD 9000 to USD 12,000.
In the next decade, we hope to see immense growth in the development and use of solar technology. Solar thermal panels will definitely bei one of them due to their immense helpfulness in harnessing the sun’s heat energy and saving unnecessary heating costs.