Solar and photovoltaic panel: what are the differences

The solar panel and the photovoltaic panel are two different devices, although they are often confused. Let’s see together what we are talking about and what are the main differences.

Solar panels

Often the photovoltaic and the solar thermal they are confused for the same thing. Although both are two technical processes aimed at extracting power from solar radiation, these systems have substantial differences. Let’s see which ones together.

Photovoltaic and solar thermal: what they are and advantages


The solar thermal panel is a device that contains a fluid, which, once heated by the sun, transfers the heat to thewaterwhile the photovoltaic panel generates currenttherefore electricity.

Both panels exploit the energy coming from the sun, and have indisputable advantages, such as environmental sustainabilitysince this type of plant does not use fossil raw materials and consequently does not pollute, and the savings for heating, electricity and sanitary water.

The main differences

Solar panels

Read also: Photovoltaic panels: complete guide

The main difference is in the type of production of the two panels. In fact, the photovoltaic panel generates electricity while the solar thermal panel produces only domestic hot water

For what concern material, the photovoltaic panel is made of silicon, while the solar thermal panel uses a tank to heat fluid substances, such as water.

Furthermore, with regard to theefficiency, thermal solar panels have an efficiency of 80% while photovoltaic panels absorb solar radiation between 17 and 257% based on the type of panel chosen and have a conversion efficiency of 20%

Even the size have significant differences between the two systems: to heat the domestic hot water, even a single solar thermal panel may be sufficient, while photovoltaics require a larger sizing.

For installation, a solar thermal panel can be installed anywhere in a building (subject to southern exposure). The photovoltaic panels, on the other hand, require a much larger surface.

Regarding the costs, photovoltaics foresee a higher expense due to the technology used, which turns out to be higher than solar thermal, and also for labor costs. However, solar panels need a more accurate maintenance.

Finally, regarding the warrantythe thermal solar panels have a guaranteed life of about 20 years, while the photovoltaic panels can even reach 25-30 years

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About Banner Leon

Videogames entered his life in the late '80s, at the time of the first meeting with Super Mario Bros, and even today they make it a permanent part, after almost 30 years. Pros and defects: he manages to finish Super Mario Bros in less than 5 minutes but he has never finished Final Fight with a credit ... he's still trying.

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