Types of Solar Power

Solar power can be used in different ways, and depending on how you want to use solar power you may need to take advantage of different systems and technology offerings.  There are two basic types of solar power that can be used, each with their own systems and primary uses. Solar power can be divided into two basic categories which are solar thermal and solar electricity, also known as photovoltaics or solar panels.

Solar thermal power is the process of taking heat from the sun to generate energy.  This type of solar thermal power is usually installed in homes to reduce the cost of heating and cooling the dwelling.  In many cases solar thermal power is used to power the hot water system in a home.

Solar thermal power can be used in a passive or active mode.  A passive type of solar thermal system will use the convection to circulate the water where the active water heater uses a pump to circulate the water.  Solar thermal power is also what is used to power turbines and even some machinery.

Photovoltaic are also known as solar panels and are used to convert sunlight into electricity; this is probably the most commonly seen type of solar power.  This electricity can be used to power many different things in a home, such as appliances.  This conversion of sunlight into electricity is done through the photovoltaic panels.

There are a couple of different types of solar panels on the market today which are crystalline silicon and amorphous silicon.  The crystalline silicon panels are generally considered a better buy as they boast a 14% efficiency while the amorphous silicon has a 6% efficiency.

While some homes or office buildings choose to use just one type of solar power, a home can make use of both types of solar power.  Solar thermal can be used to heat water while the photovoltaic panels can be used to provide electricity.  The cost of installing these systems is substantial, although it varies from provider to provider.

Depending on the amount of sunlight the home gets, the solar systems can pay for themselves in less than three years, offering a substantial savings on energy costs.  With rising oil and petroleum prices more and more people are considering these two different types of solar power and how they can implement them into their homes and offices to save money.