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Hybrid Solar System: Operation, Types, and Benefits

Hybrid solar panels guarantee both the production of electricity and the production of hot water and air

Hybrid photovoltaic solar panels represent an innovative and efficient solution to make the most of renewable energy sources. These combine the characteristics of thermal and photovoltaic systems to produce electricity, hot water, and heating, offering numerous advantages compared to traditional systems such as energy savings, reduced environmental impact, flexibility, and energy autonomy.

Before proceeding with the installation of hybrid solar panels, it is necessary to take into consideration several factors. First of all, the power of the system, which must be calculated based on the specific needs for hot water and heating. Furthermore, the orientation and tilt of the panels are important to maximize the absorption of solar radiation, with an optimal orientation towards the south and specific inclinations for water and air panels. Finally, it is essential to avoid shading that could compromise the system’s performance.

To avoid evaluation errors and achieve maximum productivity, you can use a solar design software with which you can verify in real-time the correct positioning of a photovoltaic field based on the actual conditions of the installation site and design any type of photovoltaic system.

What are hybrid solar panels

Hybrid solar panels are innovative devices that combine the photovoltaic effect with the thermal effect to generate both electrical and thermal energy. These panels are composed of an insulating substrate on which copper or aluminum conducting tubes are mounted, intended for the transport of the heat transfer fluid. Photovoltaic panels are positioned above these tubes, responsible for the direct conversion of solar energy into electricity.

How do hybrid solar panels work

Hybrid solar panels work by harnessing solar energy to generate electricity and heat water simultaneously. These systems combine photovoltaic modules and solar thermal collectors, working synergistically to maximize energy efficiency, thus surpassing the performance of traditional photovoltaic systems.

In general, a hybrid panel looks more or less like the classic photovoltaic panel, meaning the modules can be monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon.

It consists of a photovoltaic panel and a thermal collector.

Photovoltaic panel

The top part of the hybrid solar panel consists of photovoltaic cells, which convert solar light into electricity. This is the part that captures solar energy for electricity production, similar to a traditional photovoltaic solar panel. This electricity can be used to power electrical appliances or stored in storage batteries for future use.

Thermal collector

On the bottom part of the hybrid solar panel, there is a solar thermal collector, which uses the sun’s thermal energy to warm a heat transfer fluid, usually water or a special thermal fluid. This fluid can be used for space heating, combined with a system with radiators or radiant floor panels, or to produce domestic hot water.

In the operation of these systems, photovoltaic modules tend to lose efficiency as the temperature rises because their optimal performance occurs at around 25°C. When the temperature increases, the performance of the photovoltaic modules decreases, resulting in underutilization of solar radiation.

To solve this problem, a solar thermal panel is positioned under the photovoltaic modules, utilizing the excess heat to heat water. This approach not only optimizes the efficiency of the photovoltaic modules but also uses the residual heat to provide domestic hot water and contribute to building heating.


An important component of these systems is the inverter, responsible for converting the direct current from the photovoltaic modules into alternating current needed to power appliances. Hybrid solar systems are equipped with advanced hybrid inverters, which can perform various functions, including powering the building, recharging storage batteries, and interacting with the external grid for electricity withdrawal or supply. Hybrid inverters can be configured as single-phase or three-phase depending on the system’s needs and can also be used for electric vehicle charging.

Different types of hybrid solar panels

There are different types of hybrid photovoltaic solar panels, each with different characteristics:

  • air-based: may experience reduced thermal recovery and solar cell efficiency due to the low performance of air in removing heat;
  • water-based: offer efficient heat transmission and heat exchange, making them particularly efficient;
  • glass-covered: have the advantage of reducing frontal energy losses thanks to the glass, but in periods of higher solar radiation, they may experience stagnation, where the internal temperature of the panel becomes very high, reducing electrical efficiency;
  • glass-free: have lower electrical yield compared to other panel types;
  • flat-plate and concentrating collectors: stand out for their high performance in absorbing solar radiation, both for energy generation and for heating and domestic hot water production;
  • hydrogen-based: are special panels that during daylight hours can capture solar energy to convert it into energy using a mixture of water and methanol, producing hydrogen to be stored in a tank, which can then be used as fuel for various functions, including producing thermal energy or being used at night by special fuel cells that allow electricity production even in the absence of sunlight;
  • vacuum-based: characterized by photovoltaic cells inserted inside vacuum solar tubes. They have a high capacity to absorb solar radiation. Given the high temperature that can be reached by the water, they can also be used in solar cooling systems.

Advantages of hybrid solar panels

Hybrid solar panels represent an innovative and efficient solution to make the most of renewable energy sources, offering numerous advantages. Here are some of them:

  • reduction of energy costs;
  • single system for two functions;
  • reduction of greenhouse gas emissions;
  • space optimization;
  • higher photovoltaic efficiency;
  • greater flexibility (self-consumption, on-site exchange);
  • increase in self-consumption percentage;
  • improvement of thermophotovoltaic system efficiency.

Hybrid solar panels: disadvantages

The disadvantages of hybrid solar panels are:

  • the cost for purchasing and installing these panels may be higher compared to traditional ones;
  • maintenance is necessary and must be performed regularly to maintain performance;
  • they cannot completely replace the boiler, especially in areas with harsh winters.

However, adopting this type of panels still represents an investment that can guarantee significant savings in the medium to long term.