You can reduce your household carbon footprint by using renewable energy sources. Thanks to them, you can generate electricity for your own consumption, heat your house or heat water. Until a few years ago, photovoltaic panels were more of a rarity, but they are now becoming more and more widespread because they have many advantages. If you are thinking about solar panels and photovoltaics, you should definitely know the basic rules to get to grips with them.

The difference between photovoltaic panels and solar collectors is still a Spanish village for a large number of people. The basis of both systems is that they absorb the sun’s rays (solar energy) and convert it into energy. And it is in the energy that the difference between photovoltaics (PV panels) and solar collectors lies.

Solar collectors convert the sun’s energy into heat – that is, they are primarily used to heat water. Photovoltaic panels produce electricity for self-consumption in the home. Solar panels are therefore just a general term and include solar collectors and photovoltaic panels. If you were talking to a professional about considering installing solar panels, they would certainly ask you whether you mean collectors or photovoltaics (PV).

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Summary of solar energy use

Solar collectorsPhotovoltaic panels
Slnečnú energiu premieňajú na teplo.They convert solar energy into electricity.
domestic water heating
heating (minimum)
pool water heating (minimum)
connection of electrical appliances to a domestic photovoltaic power plant
charging an electric car
Fotovoltické panely a solárne kolektory na streche domu.
We installed photovoltaic panels in addition to the solar collectors for our client.

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When does photovoltaics become worthwhile?

By generating your own electricity, you can save 50 to 60% of your electricity costs, but this is not always the case. Experience shows that photovoltaics are worthwhile if you can use the energy mainly during the day, e.g. to recharge your electric car or to use appliances with delayed start function.

How about a professional service inspection?

At least once a year, a professional service inspection of the PV system should be carried out to ensure efficient operation. Especially after wind storms or hailstorms, it is advisable to check the panels

First of all, you need to understand the principles of photovoltaics and collectors and how they can be used. Solar collectors are used exclusively to heat the water they heat in storage tanks. This can then be used for showering, bathing or washing dishes. Collectors are not used for heating or only to a very small extent.

Photovoltaic panels (photovoltaics for short) work on the principle of the photovoltaic phenomenon, which was discovered as early as 1887 by the German physicist Heinrich Rudolf Hertz. The conversion of solar energy into electrical energy occurs when the sun’s rays hit photovoltaic panels, or coupled photovoltaic cells, which are usually made of monocrystalline materials. These produce a current which is, however, unidirectional. In order to use it in the home, it needs to be converted to alternating current, which is taken care of by a voltage converter. The electricity thus produced can be directly consumed by the household for lighting, running electrical appliances, air conditioning and also for heating water via an electric boiler.

Thus, photovoltaic panels can be part of not only family houses, but also holiday cottages, and companies can also use them on their buildings, thus reducing their operating costs.

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As the name suggests, the virtual battery is a mediated service, so it doesn’t take up space in the house. In Slovakia, any household with properly installed photovoltaic panels that are also connected to the grid can have one. All major electricity suppliers offer a virtual battery. The virtual battery will not cost you anything when installing PV because it is not installed anywhere, but you can still store the electricity you have generated but not consumed in it.

However, the distribution companies charge a fee for the energy stored, which starts at 2 euros per month, depending on the company’s current price list. You pay nothing when you store electricity. When your consumption is higher than your production, you take the electricity back from the virtual storage. On your electricity bill you will see exactly how much of your own generated electricity you have used from the virtual storage and how much electricity you have used from the electricity supplier. You can store up to the maximum amount of electricity you use in your home in the virtual battery according to the billing frequency you set.

We will place the physical battery right in your home and the advantage is that you have control of the electricity in your hands. You can use it whenever you want, even during a power outage, for example, and no one charges you distribution fees. The resulting savings are higher with a physical battery than with a virtual one. The downside, however, is the size of the storage, which you can increase at any time, but the initial investment is quite high – from around EUR 2 000, depending on the capacity of the battery. A physical battery also needs a location in the house and has a lifetime of between 9 and 10 years.

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Who is photovoltaics worthwhile for?

To determine whether photovoltaics are worth it, you need to consider the initial costs and the return on the entire investment. The final cost depends on a number of factors. You can choose polycrystalline panels, which are more popular because they are cheaper, but less efficient and more prone to failure at high temperatures. Or mono-crystalline panels, which are characterised by high efficiency, good resistance to extreme temperatures and mechanical damage, but are more expensive.

Polycrystalline panels are made of several mixed pieces of silicon and are light blue in colour. In contrast, monocrystalline panels are made from a single piece of silicon and are dark blue to black.