heseSolar thermal panels are an innovative system that efficiently harnesses the thermal energy from the sun using advanced solar collector panels. The panels are usually made of large boxes that face the sun, with clear covers. Inside the boxes, there are tubes filled with water or air baffles. The panels have a dark surface that absorbs heat. The energy from this is commonly used for heating homes, water, and swimming pools.
You probably know that solar energy can be converted into electric energy by using solar panels, but there’s another popular application for the sun’s power. Solar thermal technologies convert sunlight into heat rather than electricity.
Similar to solar PV, these panels enable you to minimize your carbon footprint while also cutting down on your monthly expenses by utilizing an entirely free, renewable energy source to meet your heating requirements.
Solar Thermal Panels Working
Also known as solar collectors, these devices are installed on rooftops to capture heat from the sun. This heat is then used to warm up water, which is stored in a cylinder. The liquid in the panels is a mixture of water and antifreeze. This technology serves two main purposes: space heating and water heating. As a highly sought-after solution, it has gained immense popularity for swimming pool heating.
Also See: How Does Solar Thermal Work?
Types of Solar Thermal Panels
There are two primary types of solar thermal panels available.
1. Evacuated or Vacuum Tube Collectors
This system is made from several glass tubes through which transfer fluid travels. Vacuum tube collectors are more efficient than flat-plate panels, particularly in cold climates. However, due to the rising risk of overheating, their efficiency decreases in warm weather. Vacuum tubes, unlike flat panels, do not allow heat loss.
The specially designed evacuated tube structure, with strategically placed gaps between the tubes, allows snow to fall continuously without interruption. This ingenious design mitigates any concerns over reduced efficiency, as the absence of radiated heat prevents snow from melting and affecting performance.
2. Flat-Plate Collectors
Their appearance is similar to PV panels and contain a transparent cover, a dark absorbing surface, along a fluid to transfer absorbed heat to the water tank.
Some commonly used materials for absorbers are aluminum, copper, polymer, or steel. Copper is the most expensive but more durable conductor. On the other hand, polymer-based collectors are ideal for colder climates as they can tolerate freezing temperatures better than metals.
Also See: What is Flat Plate Photovoltaic (PV)?
Benefits of Thermal Panels
These thermal panels are beneficial in the following ways.
- Heat waves carry more energy than sunlight, making thermal panels more efficient than PV panels. Additionally, there is no need for the heat waves to be transformed into electricity.
- Solar thermal panels are less expensive and have a shorter time to recover the investment than PV panels.
- Solar thermal panels can reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by up to 600 kg per annum.
- Solar thermal panels system comes with a warranty of 5 to 10 years but they usually last up to 25 years.
- These require minimal maintenance, so the only cost you need to consider is the installation.
- They are designed to operate in freezing temperatures, cloudy conditions, and strong winds, and include an efficient energy storage system.
Read in detail about the 6 advantages of solar thermal energy.