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Photovoltaic Panels vs. Solar Panels: What Are the Differences?

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Solar Panels

Solar power accounted for 43% of all new generating capacity installed in 2020.

This is an amazing amount, and every year the amount of solar energy produced grows. This is great news for our planet, as it avoids millions of tons of carbon emissions every year. Trying to understand how solar works can be difficult, such as photovoltaic panels vs. solar panels.

What is the difference between these two fundamental components of solar power systems?

What Are Photovoltaic Panels

In short, a photovoltaic panel is any panel that converts direct sunlight to energy. Photovoltaic panels are made up of many cells, each one able to capture a percentage of the energy sunlight provides. The percentage they capture and convert is known as their efficiency.

Photovoltaic is a form of solar energy, with a peak useful efficiency of around 20%. Using different types of PV cells, some laboratories have been able to raise that efficiency to around 40%. This isn’t available for consumers yet.

What Are Solar Panels

A solar panel is any panel that harnesses the thermal energy created by sunlight to produce energy. Many solar panels are photovoltaic, but not all of them are. This is the single largest difference, as the term solar panel remains a blanket term for any panel used in a solar energy system.

Solar panels as a term also include thermal solar generation. This is a more efficient form of power generation but does need more cost and specialized equipment. Most of this extra cost will be in the form of extra maintenance that is required to keep a solar thermal system going.

Photovoltaic Panels vs. Solar Panels

The main differences between the two are efficiency and maintenance. PV cells are much easier to maintain, once they are in position. Little has to be done, they will continue to create electricity when exposed to sunlight.

Thermal solar panels will need fluid to run through them, to help with the generation process.

Photovoltaic cells are more popular than other forms of solar panel energy for this reason. They may not be as efficient, but the offset cost of maintenance in time and money makes them more than worth it for a lot of homeowners.

For More Information

If you want to know more about which system would work for you, there’s a lot to consider. Location, availability of direct sunlight, and up-front budget are all considerations. Speak to a professional solar installation service like Blue Raven. They can help you make the best decision for your situation.

The Best Solution for You

Either way you choose, moving to renewable energy is one of the best decisions you can make. Photovoltaic panels vs. solar panels is a necessary discussion for anyone interested in solar power. You can make a real difference for the environment and climate change.

If this article was interesting or helpful, please take a moment and check out our website for other great reads.

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