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Solar Photovoltaic vs. Solar Thermal? Advantages and Disadvantages

Most of the green technologies today, are used for harvesting solar energy from the Sun, which is the ultimate provider of energy. The Solar Photovoltaic and Solar Thermal are two types of direct solar energy technology, which are popularly used in most homes in Hawaii and across the world. While these technologies rely on the Sun, the working principles of both differ radically.

PV solar system Hawaii

Solar Photovoltaic Technology

PV energy is composed when a photon (basic light particle) impacts a panel of semiconductors, which then releases electrons. The semiconductors, in PV technology, comprise the primary element of solar cells. The Semiconductors work to capture the electric current and then convert them into electricity.

Solar Thermal Technology

Solar thermal technology involves harnessing the energy from the sun for thermal energy. The primary source of heat generation is via solar panels, which are mounted on the roof. The panels work in conjunction with an immersion heater, boiler, or collector, to collect the sun rays and use them to heat up a transfer fluid (a mixture of water & glycol). The heated liquid is then pumped into a heat exchanger. As a result, the water inside the heat exchanger is, thus heated up. Residential type of solar thermal heating is generally combined with additional boilers so as to collect heat that lasts for a long time.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Solar Thermal


Solar thermal is considered as the best solution for heating up water for domestic use. It is more space-efficient and the technology is simpler than a solar PV system. In addition, they are said to be over 70% more efficient in harnessing energy from the sun than solar PV.


The downside of solar thermal is that it is less effective during the winter season. Except for the thermodynamic panels, the rest of the elements in the technology may not be as effective during cold weather as they are on hot weather conditions. The lifespan of solar thermal is much shorter than solar PV.

Solar PV

The solar PV system is considered to be more flexible and durable than solar thermal. Most of the latest solar PV system is designed and intended to provide clean energy for a maximum of 30 years. The solar PV technology is incredibly efficient that it can cover up to 60% of the household’s energy needs. The panels also work efficiently both in hot and cold weather. Which means you will still enjoy green energy even during cold winters.


The drawback of solar PV is that you may be required to invest a little hefty amount at the initial stage. It also requires a larger area of space for installing the solar panels and the installation process can be time-consuming for common people. The best way to obtain maximum benefits from green technologies is by getting them from reliable manufacturing companies and seeking consultation from experts before installation.

Pro Solar Hawaii is a leading supplier of complete solar power systems. The company also provides complete solar panel installation and maintenance services in Hawaii. If you require any help regarding solar energy in Hawaii, feel completely free to call the experts at 808-557-9988

Related Article: Benefits of Using Solar Panels in Home

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