Q: What kind of solar system is right for me, solar thermal or solar electric? Which is better?
There are two kinds of solar collectors:
Unfortunately photovoltaic collectors are much more expensive than thermal collectors, and they are considerably less efficient. It is almost never a good idea to make electricity with photovoltaic collectors and then use the electricity to make heat. You should have used a solar thermal collector in the first place.
Solar photovoltaic electric systems will have an important place in our future energy mix, but they are not a good way to make a lot of heat, and they will not be in the foreseeable future. It is our opinion that electricity is a premium energy source, and its use should be reserved for end uses that require its unique qualities and properties, and where its expense can be justified. Radiantec, http://www.radiantec.com, is a solar thermal company. We suggest that you consult with Solar Works Company for your photovoltaic needs. Their website is http://www.solar-works.com/
Most of the energy that a typical residential household consumes is used for simple thermal tasks such as space heating, the production of domestic hot water and cooling. A simple solar thermal system is most appropriate for these needs.
There are several simple solar thermal systems described at http://www.radiantsolar.com/options_index.php
Our solar technicians are always ready to answer questions.