In order to use solar energy on smaller scale you can use a solar thermal or solar electric. If we count the traditional solar panels, thee ones take the energy from the sun turning it into electricity. As to the solar thermal panels, these ones are utilized to heat the air or the water. Using the thermal solar energy panels to heat the water involves fewer means of the system to convert the energy.
With every conversion from thermal to electric and vice versa there is a loss that can be otherwise used in more beneficial purposes. For a solar electric system to be used into heating water for home use, then these losses are very high. Not the same can be said when using thermal energy right from the sun to heat water as in this way there is more efficiency and fewer losses. This leads to the conclusion that a solar energy panel will heat a smaller amount of water as in this way there won’t be alarming losses.
But for the rest of other uses, one might still consider the solar electric panel as being the most useful. This system is built to have a battery bank that will be later used due to its stored energy. It is quite an important aspect considering that during the night there won’t be any sunlight to be captured and converted into the necessary electricity. Through the energy storage possibility, the solar energy panels can make themselves useful even when the sun is not shining.
These panels are the most efficient whenever they are pointed towards the sun and due to this aspect they are usually installed on the roof of the house. But other parts of the house can be used, especially those parts that are always under the sun strikes throughout the entire day. In case the space around the house allows you, these panels can be mounted on metallic structures so that the most part of the day to be positioned under the sun light.
When the sun will be lower, it means that its strength will be minimal and not that powerful as it would be in a hot summer mid day. This doesn’t mean that these panels can not be used any more, but only that they can not be used at their full potency. At this point you could consider renewing the energy system.
Through the solar energy panel you can have energy saved in its battery bank, whereas the solar thermal panels will require more likely some sort of tank to hold the hot water. This tank should be equipped with an electric fuse or something based on gas in order to keep the temperature hot in the tank. Therefore the use of solar energy panels is most recommended since there will be a reduced electricity use. And if this is not the purpose of the renewable energy system, than what is?