This record was achieved on April 24, 2013 and was enabled by the combination of a standard Photovoltaic (PV) panel and the SDM 100 thermal collector from SunDrum Solar.
After adjustment for all system losses, a record of 86% was used by the home in Massachusetts during the peak hour of 2-3PM - when 870W of thermal energy and 200W of electrical energy was delivered by each solar panel fitted with the SunDrum Solar Collector. This performance sets a new record for a fixed, non tracking, hybrid array, said the company.
Traditionally, solar system designs convert the sun’s energy into either electricity with a PV panel or to heat water with a solar thermal collector. The most efficient stand alone PV systems can convert up to 19% of the sun’s energy into electricity.
The majority of solar energy hitting the PV panel escapes as waste heat. Standard solar thermal systems are more efficient than PV panels, converting up to 60% of the sun’s energy, but are limited to heating water.
The SunDrum SDM100 thermal collector has a thin, flat, lightweight design which attaches to the underside of a standard PV panel to create a hybrid module.
The SunDrum collector heats water by absorbing the PV panel’s excess heat, generating both electrical and thermal energy in the same footprint. Further, it cools the PV panel, improving its efficiency 5-10%. The collector can be retrofitted beneath existing PV systems or on new installations.