Electronics > Power/Renewable Energy/EV's

more efficient solar panels (idea)

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my idea is to add water pipes to the back of a regular solar panel, this will cool the panels and heat the water.
the reason is that solar panels are more efficient when they are cool, and that the heat could be used

This is a case where numbers are your friend (or enemy).  Your idea is sound.  It works. The problem is that in every case examined so far it is cheaper to buy more panels than to install the plumbing.  The efficiency gain is small, a few percent, and solar panels are cheap.  Throw in the maintenance costs for plumbing over 25 years and the system cost efficiency is strongly negative.

I'd mulled this over a couple of years ago, liked the idea of having hot water from solar panels but it seems as CatalinaWoW says, it's cheaper to add more panels as long as you have the space to add them, if not, I wonder if it might be worth trying (doubt it but)...

this will cool the panels and heat the water.

You can only choose one.  Hot water gives you a lower output panel.  Fluid systems are always a nightmare.  This idea seems to have great appeal for those who have never actually worked with solar.  You need to get the panels down to sub freezing to get any real gain in power.  I heat water with PV as the panels are so cheap now. 

I suppose there might be some gain from using this as a first stage, cool the panels, preheat the cold water, then run the water through additional thermal solar heaters. I dunno if anyone does this anymore but when I was a kid one of the neighbors had water heating panels on his roof. They were little more than black pads with water run through them, I don't know how the rest of the system was set up. I also remember seeing swimming pools that had arrays of black tubing across the roof of the building to warm the pool.


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