How It Works

How Solar Thermal Technologies Work

Solar thermal technologies (also known as active solar systems) involve the conversion of solar radiation into heat and include the use of pumps or fans to actively transfer the heat to storage or for distribution directly to its intended use. The key component of any active solar system is the solar collector, which absorbs the sun’s radiant energy and transforms it into usable heat.

Various types of collectors are used in solar energy conversion, depending on the application and temperature requirements:

  • Unglazed metal and plastic flat plate collectors are used for low temperature applications such as residential pool heating and ventilation air heating for commercial and industrial buildings
  • Glazed flat plate and vacuum tube collectors are used for mid-range temperature applications such as domestic hot water and space heating and cooling applications
  • Concentrating collectors that focus the sunlight onto a much smaller area are used for higher temperature applications such as industrial process heat, absorption cooling, and large-scale solar thermal power applications to generate steam for electricity generation