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Solar hot water and solar electricity – what’s the difference?

Even during cloudy days, solar panels can still collect and make use of solar energy. The sun and its rays are a valuable renewable resource that offes alternative energy sources to help offset our impact on the ozone and our planet. 

So what are the differences in the applications of solar energy?

Solar hot water
These systems have been available and have provided homes with water heating for many years now. There are currently two main types of solar hot water systems. The commonly recognised flat plate solar collector, which is made up of a number of copper pipes running through a glass covered collector which is usually connected to a water storage tank on the roof. The hot water can then thermo siphon itself through the tank and heat the water. Evacuated tube solar collectors use a glass tube inside a vacuum which has copper pipes running through the centre. These pipes are joined to a common manifold which is connected to a slow flow circulation pump that then pumps water to a storage tank below. Due to the insulation of the tank, the hot water can be used overnight or the next day.

Solar electricity
These specially designed panels also make use of the sun’s energy, but these allow you to power your home and thus alleviating (or reducing) your reliance on grid power for your electricity needs. The solar power system is made up of solar panels, inverter, switchboard, meter and a mains grid. The sun shine and its light beam directly onto the panels and create DC energy. This energy is then fed in to the inverter and converted to AC energy. This AC power is then used to power your home so you can use it for all your regular electricity needs.

Additional electricity that your solar system creates and you don’t use is then able to be fed back in to the grid. Many energy providers offer credits or have a buy back system in place for the surplus energy that you provide back from your system. In addition to solar rebates and incentives that are currently in place from the government, this can provide a very convincing argument for considering solar to help you not only save money, but help reduce your greenhouse emissions and impact on the environment!

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