Solar PV vs Solar Thermal

Solar PV vs Solar Thermal - Downtown Electrical

There are two types of solar power commonly used in domestic and commercial property.


  • Solar PV (photovoltaic)
  • Solar Thermal


Both types of system provide great environmental benefits and can reduce your reliance on electricity from the national grid.

There are some key differences between Solar PV and Solar Thermal systems, but the main difference is the method by which they generate power, and what it’s used for.

With Solar PV, electricity is generated when light from the Sun hits the PV panels. This electricity can then be used immediately or stored to power the electricity in your house, or could be used to power your electric vehicle.

With a Solar Thermal system, sunlight is still the source of power, but the sunlight is absorbed and then the energy is only used to heat up your home or office’s water.

When it comes to choosing between Solar PV and Solar Thermal, it’s going to come down to your preference for what you want your solar panels to do, what your budget is and what the end goal is.

In this guide we’ll look at the main points to consider when choosing between a Solar PV system or Solar Thermal.



On the whole, Solar PV is a lot more effective than Solar Thermal for a number of reasons. The first is simply that Solar PV can be used for more than just heating up hot water. It can be a direct replacement as a source of electricity to power any part of the home or your electric vehicle.

Typically speaking, a Solar PV system can be used to cover around 60% of your energy needs but will often generate more electricity than you actually need – especially in the summer.

Solar Thermal panels are also far less effective in the winter months when the Sun isn’t as strong. Solar PV on the other hand, doesn’t require exposure to direct sunlight to generate enough electricity to power your home, so retains its effectiveness year round.



If you’re concerned about the amount of space your solar panels are going to take up on your roof, then you might be better served by Solar Thermal panels as they tend to smaller in m2.

But you have to decide on the trade-off between choosing a smaller surface area of panels, and a bigger system that can power more of your home.



One of the key things to look at with any investment, is how much you’ll spend on maintenance, and how long the hardware will last before you need to start considering replacements.

Solar PV wins in this battle as the panels and hardware have a much longer lifespan than their Solar Thermal equivalent panels.

A Solar PV system that properly maintained can supply a reliable source of clean, renewable electricity for about 30 years before you’ll need to think about replacing it.



While you will have to fund some of the purchase whether you choose to invest in Solar PV or Solar Thermal, there are grants available for households interested in installing a Solar PV unit.

This means the initial investment could be smaller for Solar PV, alongside the longevity of the system.


Potential to earn extra income

A Solar PV unit can (if it’s fixed in the ideal position and exposed to strong sunlight) create significant amounts of excess electricity during the day. It can produce this excess even outside ideal conditions.

If you combine Solar PV with a battery storage system, you could actually make money from your investment by selling any excess power you don’t use back to the national grid.


Install an efficient Solar PV system on your home with Downtown Electrical

At Downtown Electrical we’re an authorised supplier of some of the best, most efficient Solar PV systems in the country.

Our experts can help you find and select the best PV system for your home or office so you can start to experience the benefits of generating your own clean energy, both from a sustainability and financial perspective.

As well as helping you choose and install the right Solar PV system, we can help you with any grant applications to ensure you’re getting all the financial assistance you’re entitled to, to make your investment more cost effective.

Want to know more about our Solar PV solutions?

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