Building “green” is one of the newest trends in home building and renovation throughout the US. Nowhere is it a better idea than in Maui, since we have abundant sunlight year-round.
Using solar to save on energy costs is one of the most requested features in both new construction and home renovations. Solar-generated energy is also ideal for homes that are partly or completely off-grid. It can also be an ideal choice for larger commercial properties that have more roof space.
There are two types of systems: PV, or photovoltaic, and thermal solar systems. Each has its own unique qualities and functions but are not the same thing. Before you begin planning and building, it’s important to know the difference, and understand whether one or both of them are right for your project.
When you want to heat water, a thermal solar system is your best option. Generating heat for hot water uses a considerable amount of energy. In addition to reducing utility costs, it makes hot water without or with less input from a boiler. These systems are primarily used in larger-scale places that need considerable hot water, such as a laundromat or college dorm.
Thermal solar panels have a number of moving parts that PV solar panels don’t have. The thermal panels are part of a system that uses a pump to circulate water through the collectors and adds the heat to a water storage tank. These systems also use a considerable amount of water during operation. The sun’s thermal energy is used to generate heat for the storage tank, reducing the need for expensive energy for water heating.
Because its only function is to collect thermal energy for heating water, it will only reduce energy bills by a certain amount. Thermal solar is also more expensive because of the complex system required to operate it, as well as installation.
PV (Photovoltaic) Solar Panels
When most people think of “solar power,” roof panels are usually what comes to mind. While both types use the sun, PV solar panels generate electricity rather than just heat, making them more versatile. Hawaii Electric is in the process of building the Paeahu Solar Project on Maui, intended to generate enough renewable energy for 6,900 households on the Island.
The panels absorb solar energy and turn it into electricity for your home using the photovoltaic (PV) cell system. These individual PV cells are combined into panels, which collectively become very powerful generators. When the sun shines on the PV cells, it creates an electric field, which the cells convert into electricity. The PV cells are made of semiconductor material, usually silicone, and together gather the power. No fuel is required, so there are no emissions, either, making it a clean form of energy.
If you’re interested in reducing energy costs in your Maui home or business, PV solar panels are the less expensive and less troublesome way to accomplish the goal of cleaner “green” energy and reduction of your utility bills.
Which One Is Better?
Chances are PV solar panels are a better buy for your home, since they generate electricity that you can use for anything. The right system can provide as much as 60% of your home’s power use, and can last as long as 30 years.
Having both a thermal and a PV system means they are competing for sunlight on your roof. Employing a single PV system can generate needed power for an electric water heater as well as other appliances.
Thermal solar’s multiple moving parts means you’ll have more maintenance involved, so costs are much higher—and you’re still in need of electricity.
PV panels are much less expensive than before and require less maintenance. Additional available battery storage space means that you can store more power than for night time or for days without sunlight.
You can read more about solar energy on the US Energy Information’s website.
Call Pro Draft For All Your Architectural Design Needs
If you’re considering adding solar energy in Maui and other alternative energy creation, Pro Draft is ready to help. We can help with architecture, drawings, blueprints, permits, and to answer all of your questions before the construction begins. We’re experienced with green building and will work to ensure your project is exactly the way you envision.