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Solar collector vs solar panel: what is the difference?
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Solar collector vs solar panel: what is the difference?

February 28, 2022
What is the difference between solar collectors and solar panels? Are they the same thing? If not, which one is more efficient? Which one to buy?
Solar collector vs solar panel

Which one is more efficient: a solar collector or solar panels? Heating with a solar thermal collector is a great way to use renewable energy while operating solar panels, thus creating electricity is another form of utilizing solar energy.

Both technologies have advantages and disadvantages, which is up to debate for individuals and companies. In this article, we want to give you an insight into the use of solar energy.

Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels

The solar panel is a photovoltaic system that absorbs the electrical radiation coming from the sunlight. After that, it generates electricity while charging the particles.

Solar thermal collector

Solar thermal collectors are not utilizing solar power to create electricity, but to heat up thermal systems. In this case, the fluid inside the collector is getting warm, and then it delivers heat while being circulated.

Solar collector

Energy collectors and panels: the differences

Many people mix up the definition of solar collectors and panels, but the difference is significant. While collectors generate heating energy, solar panels produce electricity.

Pros and cons

Renewable energy sources are the future of our planet. By now, wind power plants generate the most energy, but the solar power industry is improving the most dynamically. More and more solar farms with better technology are being established. Read our article about solar vs wind energy.

As the current carbon emissions are at all-time high levels, nations have started to agree on decreasing air pollution, reaching zero emission rate until 2050.

So, establishing a solar collector or a panel at your household or company will be a long-lasting, good decision. Furthermore, scientists say that in only 1 hour, the amount of energy from the Sun that strikes the Earth is more than the entire planet consumes in one year.

Thus, solar power is an endless source of power.

While the building costs are high, maintaining a solar energy system is very low-cost, so you can cut your utility bills.

However, compared to natural gas, there are some disadvantages too. For now, we are not able to store solar power efficiently. While we can transport it or even share it with our neighbours, if we produce too much, it is not possible to store it for years.

Solar power usage at companies and households

Solar collectors need more maintenance work because the water (and its pH value) can wear out the system.

If you would only use solar energy to heat up your properties, then go with solar collectors. But if you would cut your electricity bills and use solar power on a wider scale, try solar panels.

Factories sometimes use solar collectors and panels as an additional energy source for fossil fuels.


  • The technology of solar panels and collectors is still improving.
  • The storage of renewable energy is not yet efficient.
  • Both types of solar plants can help you to cut your utility bills.
  • Solar thermal collectors use thermal energy to heat up systems.
  • Solar panels have a photovoltaic system to generate electricity.