Thermal Solar Panels
Introduction to Thermal Solar Panels
Solar thermal energy (STE) is a technology that is used to capture the natural heat that the sun emits and converts it into thermal energy or heat. This technology is used to heat the air in residential and commercial buildings. This is a relatively new type of solar energy technology and it is estimated that only 600 megawatts of solar thermal power is being used worldwide. But because of the current success of this technology, there are several projects in the works that are being built using solar thermal technology.
The thermal solar panels are used as a means to capture the sunís heat and convert it to a renewable source of energy. These thermal solar panels are mounted to the roof or outer wall of a residential or commercial building and can sometimes be built on a separate platform. The panels are placed in a way that allows them the best access to the sunís direct rays. This placement is determined based on the physical location of your building and where that location receives the most direct sun.
Types of Collectors
There are two basic types of collectors that are used when using thermal solar panels and they are flat plate collectors and evacuated-tube collectors. The first method uses flat plate collectors as the base of the panel. These flat plates are located in the direct path of the sunís ray and it is used to directly collect energy from those rays. Usually these panels are darker in colour and are almost always black. This colour is chosen because it allows for the most effective rate of absorption. The technology of these thermal solar panels works by replacing the cool air in your home or office with warm air that is heated by the panel.
The second method uses evacuated-tube collectors as the means to collect energy from the sunís rays. These tubes are located within the thermal solar panel and they are usually almost the same size in length as the panel itself. Energy is collected into these tubes and converted into a heat source. The thermal solar panel is connected to a heat pipe where the heat is transferred to in order to heat the air or water of your home or office.
Both types of connectors are usually made with thermal conductive materials. Common materials used are copper, metal or aluminium. Many locations throughout Europe have recently started using polymer-based material and they have been seeing much success with them.
Benefits of Thermal Energy
There are many types of benefits that you can receive by using thermal solar panels on your residential or commercial buildings. This is a short list of some of those benefits.
- The thermal solar panels are so light and easy to assemble that they can be placed virtually anywhere. Some types of solar panels require you to replace your roof in order to properly place them but with thermal solar panels they can go right on top of your current roof.
- Thermal solar panels require very little maintenance, especially when compared to other types of renewable energy.
- These panels are very good for the environment. They give off absolutely no pollution and cause no damage to the environment.
- The only basic requirement for installation is to install the panels and have a place to keep the batteries to store the excess energy in.
- Even on cloudy days a sufficient amount of energy will be collected. Only on snow days will your panels not be efficient and you will have to use the stored energy.