Infrared Solar Panel
Advantages and Disadvantages of an Infrared Solar Panel
An infrared solar panel is more efficient at converting the suns energy in to electricity or hot water in comparison to a non-infrared panel. However, there is a downside and it is not for everyone.
In this article we will be looking to answer the following questions:
- What is an Infrared Solar Panel?
- Why Should We Use an Infrared Solar Panel?
- Who Should Use It and Who Doesn’t Need To?
What is an Infrared Solar Panel
An infrared solar powered system can be either made up photovoltaic cells, the conventional solar panel which generates electricity or a solar thermal panel which generates hot water. An infrared solar panel can absorb infrared sunlight and produce energy from it and a non-infrared panel can’t.
The sun gives out light at different wavelengths and infrared light is at the high end of the spectrum. To enable a panel to collect infrared light, the glass which covers the solar collectors has to use a different technology and materials. It has to be treated with a special coating material called “Low Iron”. When looking at the specification of a solar panel , look for the “Glass” section, and if it reads “Low Ironed Tempered Glass” then it is an infrared panel and if it reads “Normal Ironed Tempered Glass” then it is not.
Why Should We Use an Infrared Solar Collector
When the sun is shining directly on to a solar collector panel both the infrared and non-infrared panels will absorb the same amount of the sun’s energy. However, when the sun goes behind a cloud, the only light which can be turned into energy is infrared light so the non-infrared panels stop producing energy at this point.
Infrared collectors have another advantage and that is the “Low Ironed Tempered Glass” has an emission figure of 3% in comparison to 88% for “Normal Ironed Tempered Glass”. The lower the emission the greater the energy conversion efficiency of the solar panel. The emission is the percentage of energy the solar panel can release back into the atmosphere. To use a building example, the fact is double glazed windows are designed to have a very low emission rating because they are designed to keep the heat inside the home and not let it escape through the glass and a solar panel with “Low Ironed Tempered Glass” works the same way.
Who Should Install an Infrared Solar Panel and Who Doesn’t Need To
The downside of infrared products is that they are more expensive than traditional panels. Therefore, they are only worth getting if you live in a part of the world where there is often a lot of cloud cover during daylight hours. If you live in a hot temperate climate, then you don’t probably need them because the standard solar panels are just as efficient as the infrared panels when the sun is shining directly on them.
To summarize the main points, an infrared panel is basically a standard solar panel whose glass has been treated with a special coating which enables it to harvest infrared sunlight. Infrared light has a wavelength of 800 to 1200nm and is the only light that can be converted into energy if the sun goes behind a cloud. Both the standard panel and infrared panel can convert the same amount of the suns energy for the time the sun is shining directly on the collectors. Therefore, in conclusion, because infrared panels are more expensive, it only makes sense to install them if you live in a climate where there is often a lot of cloud cover or you have a big enough budget which can absorb the additional cost.
Do you have any experience with using infrared solar panels?
If you have any experience of using infrared and non-infra solar panels, or know of any websites that have carried out trials comparing efficiency of these panels, please tell us about them by leaving a comment below. Just scroll to the bottom of this page to leave a comment. You can comment on your own experiences or point to websites you like.