A rough guide to assess your photovoltaic (PV) needs in the Algarve

solar_pv_panel_algarve.jpgWith ever-increasing energy bills, more people are considering the option of investing in a photovoltaic (PV) solar panel system in order to generate their own power.

Solar Style in the Algarve

solcrafte-200_algarve_solar.jpgSolar systems of the 'thermosiphon'-type, where the water tank is mounted horizontally above 1 or 2 solar panels, have become a familiar sight on many Algarve rooftops. They are a time-proven technology, but in some situations can look unsightly.

The No-Bills Algarve Villa

energy-house_zero_bills_algarve.jpgThis project demonstrates what the latest energy-efficient technology can achieve - a house with ZERO energy bills!

Don't sacrifice your water tank!

anode_algarve_solar_hot_water.jpgWhether your water is from mains supply or a borehole it contains minerals and chemicals that, over time, corrode unprotected metal areas and components in your solar system's water tank.

Controlling the Algarve sun

sun_algarve_solar.jpgSolar hot water: A solar system for domestic hot water is one of the most worthwhile investments for your home. A typical house with gas water heating may incur bills of €60-€70 per month. The cost of a 200-litre thermosiphon-type solar system will be recouped in 3-4 years and provide FREE hot water for many years after.

Integrated Solar Heating System

Solar systems are commonly used to provide domestic hot water, while larger arrays of panels are used to heat pools. In some situations, solar systems can also be used for underfloor heating. For this project we were required to devise and install a system which integrates all three applications.

Solar systems: Thermal vs. Photovoltaic (PV)

solar_panels_pv_algarve.jpgA commonly-asked question is: “What kind of solar system is best for supplying domestic hot water? One with thermal solar panels, which heat the water directly? Or one using photovoltaic panels, which generate electricity to power a heating system?”

To consider this, the following comparison is useful - If a standard 3kw electric immersion heater takes around 5 hours to heat a 130-litre water tank from 10°C to 60°C then a THERMAL solar system needs two panels to achieve the same, requiring 4m² roof space and logically a PHOTOVOLTAIC system needs around twelve 230W PV panels (2.76 peak output) to achieve the same, requiring around 24m² roof space.

Assessing Your Energy Saving Solutions

When considering energy-saving solutions – a solar hot water system, a photovoltaic (PV) system, a heat pump - you should aim for a return-on-investment of 5-7 years. It's wise to invest in a good brand – quality is key because you are looking for a 25-year lifespan.

For example: you want to replace your gas water heating with a thermal solar system. Let's assume your gas bills are around €50-€70 per month, €600-€840 annually, therefore €3000-€4200 over 5-7 years. A quality 2-panel solar system can be installed for around this sum, providing free hot water for many years after the investment has been recovered.

Saving Energy using LEDS



Save money with energy-efficient lighting


Lighting can account for over 20% of a typical home’s energy bills (depending on appliances), so making your lighting more efficient is an easy way to save money.

Thermal vs. Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Panels

thermal_photovoltaic_solar_panels_algarve.jpgIt's a common misunderstanding, but the term 'solar panel' is used for TWO completely different types of technology, with distinct applications -