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Solar Glass: Can You Turn Your Windows into Solar Panels in 2018?

We will have solar power for as long as the sun will be shining. That is one of the biggest advantages of having a renewable energy source; it is inexhaustible. Given the fact that more and more of the world has become concerned with how much we are dependent on coal and gas plus the negative effects that they have on the environment, it was only a matter of time until everyone's eyes turn to cleaner, more environmentally friendly power sources like solar.

The Problem with Solar Energy

The problem with solar energy is that most people think that the traditional solar panels necessary to harness the sun’s rays are a little bulky and unsightly. Some people who live in apartment buildings do not have roofs nor compounds on which they can mount these solar panels (at least not without going through lengthy debates with their homeowners’ associations trying to get permits).

Solar power uses photovoltaic cells to harness the sun's energy and then converts that energy into the electricity we use. The photovoltaic cell uses a semiconductor which absorbs radiation to emit electrons which are then used to power our homes and industries. While solar energy is being used widely across the globe, there are several limitations to this technology:

  • Solar panels have to be oriented in such a way as to face the sun directly to get the most out of its energy so as to optimize production
  • Solar panel installation can be problematic depending on the building and terrain
  • Photovoltaic cells have a limited level of efficiency
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    The implantation of solar panels in an urban setting where space is limited can be problematic

Another major concern is that the initial costs of installing solar panels and re-configuring your home's wiring can be a little steep. Other than that, it is safe to say that many people would prefer solar energy so long as they get to do everything they are doing now only at a cheaper rate.

Turning Your Windows Into Solar Panels

Since so much attention is now being paid to renewable energy sources, scientists and environmental technology researchers have found a way to improve solar technology. Today, there is new technology that allows you to convert your windows into solar panels without ruining their aesthetic value.

How Does Turning Your Windows into Solar Panels Work?

How Does Turning Your Windows into Solar Panels Work?

For years now, researchers have been fiddling with this technology to limited success. While turning windows into solar panels are very practical, there were some limitations - mainly the fact that they could only do so with colored glass which meant that the windows would have to be tinted and that isn't always appealing.

Glass can typically be produced in several colors namely black, green, blue, red and a handful of other colors. However, these colors directly affect the efficiency of the resulting solar power output differently. Averagely, we could only get about 12% efficiency from colored glass.

Researchers from Michigan State University recently announced that they had found a way to create solar glass that is transparent. This is a complete game changer! While this technology is still some ways away from the mass market, several approaches have been taken by a wide variety of companies focusing on turning your windows into solar panels.

Different Types of Solar Window Panels

Here are some of the options you have when it comes to solar window panels:

Solar Panel Blinds 

Although these do not technically qualify as windows, they are a big part of your window treatment which makes them count as such. There is a company that is currently crowdfunding their efforts to transform your blinds into solar power harnessing panels. The idea is to install tiny solar panels on window blinds that can be hung either on the inside or the outside of your windows. These blinds are programmed to move in the direction of the sun to ensure maximum solar energy absorption during the day.

Physee Power Windows

Physee has successfully installed solar windows today. These windows, however, do not exactly use the same technology invented by the researchers at MSU. Instead, they install small solar panels at the edges of the window panes. The test subject was a Dutch bank that has over 300 square feet of these power windows. Although these windows generate enough power to charge smartphones several times a day, they do not act as a standalone source of power for the entire building as yet.

Clearly it is only a matter of time before this technology is fully discovered and optimized to turn windows into solar panels. The advantage this brings is that it will allow huge skyscrapers to become beacons of power generation without ruining their aesthetic value. This means that each building, depending on the surface area available to turn its windows into solar panels, could begin producing its own power independently.

Finding the Best Solar Solutions for Your Home and Office

Although solar windows are a wonderful idea, the technology is still very much in its infancy and could take years, even decades, before it is fully explored and commercialized. That, however, doesn't mean that you should give up on trying to utilize clean, renewable energy. The cost of installing traditional solar panels on your property is falling at a high speed as more and more companies venture into the renewable energy market.

The best way to find out how to make use of solar power in your home and office is to contact a professional who will give the property a thorough look over and evaluation. Based on this assessment, you will learn how the different options that you could explore; whether to have solar panels installed on your roof or on the grounds and so on. You will also get an estimation on the efficiency levels of your soon to be installed solar panels.

As the technology grows, so do your options. In the meantime, you could try out the solar power blinds.

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