solar-panels-01The two most commonly used types of solar energy technology in the Midwest are photovoltaic (PV) panels and solar thermal collectors.  PV panels contain a semiconductor material (typically silicon-based) which converts sunlight into direct-current (DC) electricity.  An on-site inverter converts the DC power to 120-volt AC power, which can then be connected to a home or building’s power supply or directly to the electricity grid.  Solar thermal collectors absorb the sun’s thermal energy and use it to heat water or other fluids, which can be used for hot water or circulated through a home or building for space heating.