Fundamentally there are two ways to utilise the energy of the sun: Thermal energy for hot water and heating, and photovoltaic for electrical power. A further option is a combination of the two technologies resulting in a completely self-sufficient energy solution.
A thermal installation consists of a series of collectors on the roof. These collectors are capable of absorbing the radiation from the sun and turning it into heat, hot water or both.
These solutions can give you hot water, room heating or both in one solution. How they work is really quite simple; the secret is how to make the solutions efficient. Basically a thermal solar energy solution consists of one or more collectors on the roof or wall of a building. These collectors contain a series of pipes in which the water is heated; this is then transported to a tank for storage or for central heating. Simple, efficient and free of charge.
Solar electricity is called Photovoltaic or simply PV. This is a series of panels containing numerous semiconducting silicon cells that turn solar radiation into electrical energy. It is an effective and a 100 % clean way of converting solar radiation into electricity.
The solar PV panel comprises a number of solar cells consisting of a photovoltaic material that turns the solar radiation directly into electrical current. This current can be used to run any electrical device in the house from a lamp, to the washing machine, TV or a computer, etc. When your PV-installation generates more electricity that your household can use, the surplus power can be fed into the public supply grid and you can earn money or receive a corresponding reduction in the bills from your electricity supplier.