Photovoltaic Thermal Energy - Driving solar PV efficiency while capturing heat energy in each panel. Sydney, Australia.

How it works


Step 1 – Solar Panels Collect Sunlight

Each solar photovoltaic panel or PV panel for short, contains many smaller units called photovoltaic cells. These are essentially two slices of semi-conducting material, such as silicon, that take in light particles (AKA photons) to knock electrons free from atoms to generate a flow of electricity (AKA voltage). So, when sunlight hits a panel, the PV cells get to work to create direct current (DC) electricity. Unfortunately, DC electricity can’t power your house or business. This is where other pieces of the puzzle come in…

Step 2 – Add Your Fixtures and Fittings

You’ve got your direct current (DC) and thanks to Mr Tesla, we can now convert your DC electricity into the alternating current (AC) electricity; the useful stuff to fire up the kettle. To do this, the PV systems require inverters to convert the DC to AC electricity.



Step 3 – The Net Meter

Your sun generated AC current will then flow through wires and cables to your net meter which is where the data magic happens. The net meter measures the power you’re drawing and putting back onto the grid.


Step 4 – Have a cup of tea

While drinking your freshly made sun powered brew, hover your hand over a solar panel. It’s going to be hot, up to 80C hot, and this is the additional energy that can be harnessed using PVT Lab’s CoolsheetTM panels.



Step 5 – The CoolsheetTM Heat Exchange Panel

The CoolsheetTM can be retrofitted to the underside of each PV panel, creating what is known as a photovoltaic thermal panel (PVT for short). This captures the heat absorbed by the solar panels, transfers it to a tank where it can be stored for beneficial reuse.

Solar panels decrease in efficiency by approximately 0.4% for every 1°C increase. A good explanation of this can be found here. When a cooling liquid (such as water) is passed through the panel, the electrical output can increase by up to 15% (depending on the ambient temperature and that of the water).

The warm water can be used to heat swimming pools, as a pre-heat for the domestic hot water (DHW) supply or to heat the building through hydronics (underfloor heating).