Solar Power vs. Thermal Power
Solar power is usually thought of as synonymous with collecting sunlight and turning it into usable energy, but you can also collect heat from the sun, which is known as solar thermal power. Solar power and thermal power have the same principles: They absorb raw energy from the sun. In the case of thermal power, that energy is heat that is used to heat up water, which can then be pumped through the home to keep it warm or into a tank connected to your water faucets. With a photovoltaic solar power system, you collect light energy that's converted into electricity. Both thermal power and solar power come with copious benefits and drawbacks that you can use to lower your carbon footprint by switching to renewable energy instead of fossil fuels.
Pros and Cons of Thermal Power
Thermal power is a simple technology where a panel collects heat from the sun. The energy harnessed heats up the liquid in the tubes from your water supply. Finally, those tubes will transport that newly heated water back to your water supply tank so it's ready to use when you need it! The heat can also be transferred into a radiant heating system to keep the home warm.
- 70% more efficient in collecting heat
- Involves less complex technology
- Great value for commercial properties
- Less effective in winter months
- Not as versatile as PV solar panels
- Shorter lifespan than solar panels
- Harder to find and have installed
Pros and Cons of Solar Power
Compared to thermal power, PV solar power is a relatively new technology. Like thermal power, it uses a panel (or multiple panels in most cases) to absorb the sun's energy, but PV panels absorb light and transform it into electricity you can use in your home or business.
- Last for up to 30 years
- Save money on energy in the long run
- Increase property value
- Little to no maintenance
- Tax credit and financing programs are available
- Low carbon footprint
- Limited capacity
- High installation cost
- Dependent on your location for the best results
Solar Power vs. Thermal Power: Which Is Better?
Both solar power and thermal power are great forms of solar energy technology that can provide you with clean, green, renewable energy for your home or business. Solar photovoltaic systems are likely to come with tax credits and other incentives to make them more accessible, and they can provide a great source of electricity. But solar thermal energy has its benefits, too, especially if you're primarily looking for a greener way to heat your home.