What is the main difference between solar panels and collectors? What are the advantages of installing them?

Solar energy can be converted into thermal energy using a solar collector, whereas turning solar energy into electricity requires the use of solar panels or solar cells.

By installing solar panels and solar collectors, we gain independence from fluctuating energy source prices and are friendlier and greener to the environment, as we replace fossil fuels with solar energy, thus producing less CO2 emissions.

Solar panels

What are solar panels and how do they operate?

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Solar photovoltaic panels are designed to produce electricity using visible sunlight.

 

Solar panel photocells are made of semiconductor wafers of two different chemical compositions. The light falling on the photocell induces a physical process: the movement of free electrons that produces voltage on the terminals of the photocell, and the direct current starts flowing through it when a conductor is connected.

 

Several types of solar panels are manufactured, including monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels, as well as thin-film panels – and their energy efficiency varies.

What affects the amount of electricity generation?

Positioning. Electricity generation is influenced by the positioning of the solar panels. In Latvia, the device can reach the maximum efficiency if it is positioned southwards at an inclination of 42° to the horizon.

Season. The highest output from solar panels is from March to September. In winter and autumn, they provide only 10 to 20% of the total amount of electricity generated per year.

Lifetime. In 25 years, electricity generation by solar panels may gradually decrease by 15 to 25%.

What are the requirements for the system’s power?

If the solar panel system is connected to the distribution system operator’s electricity network, the generating capacity must be chosen so that the electricity produced can be used during the year from April to March.

In Latvian conditions, a solar panel system with an installed power of 1 kW generates 900 to 1200 kWh of electricity per year.

If a household’s monthly electricity consumption exceeds 300 kWh, it is recommended to install 5 to 6 solar panels on average with a maximum generating power of 250 W.

How much electricity can be generated using solar panels?

The amount of electricity generated is affected by:

  • photovoltaic efficiency;
  • number of solar panels;
  • positioning – facing southwards at an inclination of 42° to the horizon is optimal;
  • annual solar radiation intensity.

For example, 1.5 sq m solar panels generate the following amount of electricity per year:

  • monocrystalline panel: 225 kWh;
  • polycrystalline panel: 180 kWh;
  • thin-film panel.

Is it worthwhile to install solar panels in Latvia?

The solar radiation intensity map shows that the solar potential in Latvia is similar to that in Germany and England, where solar panels have been used for a very long time and in large numbers.

What to do with the generated electricity that is not consumed?

The generated electricity can be accumulated in accumulator batteries, or, by connecting to the distribution system operator, it can be transferred to the electricity network for the price of electricity. However, it should be remembered that at the moments when it is necessary to use electricity from the network, there will also be a charge for the distribution system services and the mandatory procurement component.

What is Elektrum Solar?

Elektrum solāraisElektrum Solar is an opportunity to use independently generated electricity by using sunlight. If you have a property with a possibility to install solar panels on the roof or ground, you can generate green electricity independently and use it free of charge for at least 25 years from the first day of installation of solar panels.

Learn more about Elektrum Solar here.

What is the main difference between solar panels and collectors? What are the benefits of installing them?

By installing solar panels and solar collectors, we gain independence from fluctuating energy source prices and are friendlier and greener to the environment, as we replace fossil fuels with solar energy, thus producing less CO2 emissions.

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To convert solar power into electricity, solar panels or solar cells should be used.

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Solar energy can be converted into thermal energy using a solar collector.

Solar collector

What is a solar collector and how does it work?

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The solar collector is a device designed to collect thermal energy from the sun. This thermal energy can be used for the preparation of hot water or as additional thermal energy in heating systems.

 

There are two types of solar collectors: flat solar collectors and vacuum solar collectors. The main difference between these collectors is the type of thermal insulation used and differing efficiency. In flat collectors, mineral wool is used, while vacuum tube collectors use vacuum as a heat insulator.

 

Vacuum solar collectors are more efficient compared to flat solar collectors, because vacuum is a better thermal insulator than mineral wool.

What should be taken into account when installing a solar collector system?

Using a solar collector system, hot water supply will be 99% in summer and 10 to 15% in winter.

A solar collector must provide no more than 70% of the thermal energy from the amount of energy required for hot water per year.

Like solar cells, collectors will operate most efficiently if they are facing southwards.

When choosing a heat accumulator with an electric heating element, it will be possible to ensure hot water in cloudy and cool weather, as well as carry out its thermal disinfection.

A household with 4 people requires solar collectors with a working surface of 6 to 8 sq m and a heat accumulator with a capacity of 300 to 400 l.

Have any additional questions? Ask here!

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