Whenever we attend trade shows it is obvious that there is a lot of confusion about "solar panels". The common misconception is that all solar panels produce electricity.
It is important to remember that there are two types of "solar panels":
Photo Voltaic (PV) solar panels convert solar radiation into electricity. This technology is still undergoing a lot of devellopment and the PV efficiency is sitting at around 17%. The price of PV panels is coming down as more factories are put into production.
Solar Thermal panel
As the name suggests, this type of solar panel converts the suns radiaton into usable heat (thermal) energy, which is typically used to heat water. This offsets the need to use electricity for water heating.
People often do not realize the enormous amount of energy required to heat water. To put this in context, to heat 100 litres of water from 10C to 60C will take the equivalent of 6,000 Watts. That is the equivalent of lighting up 60 x 100 Watt light bulbs for 1 hour! Some households use 300 litres or more per day.
Our Solar Fin Vacuum Tube Solar Thermal Panels can convert 96% of the suns radiation into heat energy. This makes water heating a breeze and much more efficient to using a PV panel.
Solar Thermal Panels are typically used to heat hot water, swimming pools, provide home heating and can be used in industrial processes or as a pre heater for steam turbines to generate electricity.
Over the years many different solar water heaters have been develloped. There are two main categories of solar water heaters. Flat Panel and Vacuum Tube. Within each category there are again numerous variations. For the consumer this is an absolute nightmare.
We were faced with the same dilema many years ago and decided to conduct an extensive R&D program to establish the best Solar Thermal Panels for the NZ market. We are 100% confident that the Solar Fin Vacuum Tube Solar Thermal Panels we supply will withstand the rigours of the NZ climate, generate the greates amount of energy for your dollar spend, and will provide a minimum 20 years service life.
96% of available solar radiation is converted into thermal energy to heat water
Vacuum tube is completely sealed against the elements - 20 year minimum service life
Vacuum insulates solar thermal collector fin against heat loss
Solar thermal collector is protected down to -35C
Vacuum tubes will withstand impact from 35mm hail stones
Hybrid Thermal panel
Another product that has been develloped is called the Hybrid Solar Panel. This type of product combines solar electricity generation with water pre heating. Sounds great, but!
A PV panel is most efficient when it is kept cool and at a steady temperature. The idea is that the water at the back of the PV will cool the PV panel and improve the efficiency. However once the water gets too warm it has the reverse affect on PV panel efficiency. So really, it is only a pre heater and you will still need a considerably amount of electricity to bring the water from luke warm up to the required 60C temperature.