As its name suggests, solar windows are tech-enhanced windows that generate power by converting sunlight into electrical energy, helping you power your home and office. In short, the technology is capable of reducing your electricity bill significantly, while it supplies you with eco-friendly energy. In other words, you can now get more out of windows than merely sunlight and fresh air. In this informative guide, you will get all the facts about this rapidly evolving technology.
- Solar windows are made with BIPV technology (building-integrated photovoltaic).
- Most of them have perovskite solar cells.
- It is a new technology that is still developing.
What Are Solar Windows?
The solar window is an experimental technology based on building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). It uses windows on buildings to generate electricity from the sun. Although it is in its development stage, experts believe that the transparent model will replace standard glass window panes. Well, BIPV–powered systems are easier to maintain and look more appealing than the traditional solar options.
However, that depends on the type of installation. When the technology is installed in panes to generate energy, the window still performs its primary function of letting low-intensity light into your home because it is transparent. The technology is evolving and depends on nanotechnology or quantum dot technology.
As opposed to the silicon used in solar panels, quantum dots are semi-conductive materials with opaque and electronic properties. Given the features, the materials can transmit electrons, thus allowing energy to travel through very small openings. Solar windows are also known as solar glasses.
They are semitransparent solar cells that enable your regular windows to do more than shielding your home from adverse atmospheric elements. Most of the products on the market have perovskite solar cells (PSCs), measuring about 22 feet. By and large, the system has photovoltaics integrated into a regular window.
How Does the Solar Window Work?
Essentially, the medium is capable of absorbing infrared and ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the sun when the rays fall on it. Afterward, it will convert the radiation into electrical energy. If the target building is a skyscraper or tower, the entire building will be covered with glass so that it can generate enough power to support its activities.
The initial challenge is that those buildings do not have large enough roofs to contain solar panels that can power them. Well, this is why these energy-generating windows are game changers. With this technology, people can harness free energy from the sun.
Put simply, a glass window with semitransparent semiconductors is exposed to the sunlight. Once the sunlight hits the glass pane, the window absorbs the sunlight, which becomes electrons. Basically, electrons can move from one medium to another through a surface. The electrons are fed into the system where the solar-to-electrical-energy conversion takes place.
According to researchers, the intense sunlight that heats the earth’s surface for one hour is enough to power our planet for a full year. On the other hand, there are some companies that build solar technology by putting specialized solar panels in between the glass used in transparent windows, thus allowing the panels to conduct electricity.
Can Solar Windows Power a Building?
There is no doubt that this technology is still in its early stages, so it is still evolving. However, there is a yardstick for measuring the capacity to power a building. While the evolving technology still turns heads at this stage, it is noteworthy that the cost of installing solar window technology largely depends on the manufacturer.
For instance, Sharp has a product that measures 45–55 inches. The product can generate between 39 to 46 watts. There are bigger products that can generate 66–95 watts. According to the company, it will cost $2000 per square meter to install about 11 square feet of this equipment. The watts per square meter rating is 65 watts. No doubt, this is a lot of money and more expensive than the conventional solar panels.
But based on that estimate, the technology can power a building when it becomes commercially available. Alternatively, a company can use this information to calculate their power costs and estimate the return on their investment over a time period.
Who Makes Solar Windows?
Here are some companies that make solar window products.
Ubiquitous Energy is a California-based startup that designs and makes the popular energy product called ClearView. This technology can easily convert sunlight into energy without a bluish-grey opaque panel, and their products work well on houses, smart devices, and automobiles. Plus, it has an organic dye that can coat dark surfaces, allow sunlight to pass through it, and absorb infrared.
Swift Glass Company
From its base in New York, Swift Glass Company Inc. manufactures lighting fixtures, solar panels, showcases, shelving, and window glass. It has fully expanded into products that are used in harnessing solar energy. Today, this company has also deployed its products in marine, optics, lighting, automotive, medical, petrochemical, and semiconductor applications.
Here comes another California-based smart energy giant that powers homes and offices through energy-generating blinds. Their technology is installed on blinds to trap sunlight and convert it into energy, thus helping you slash your energy bills by 70%. SolarGaps has two main features in their products: photovoltaic energy-generating and smart shading components.
Next is a Florida-based company called Energy Glass. They make solar windows with Inorganic Nano Technology, which allows for a glass window without any grids, dots, or lines. Typically, it produces 1–2 watts per square foot per hour for 10–12 hours during the day.
Meet the company behind LiquidEletrcityTM Coatings, an electricity-generating photovoltaic device that harvests light energy from the sun, artificial light, and light conditions. Headquartered in New York, Solar Window Technologies Inc. makes products that transform surfaces into power-generating devices. These surfaces include glass, windows, flexible plastics, and films.
Just like other companies on this list, Abrisa Technologies is located in California. The energy company manufactures and services precision safety and clear, thin borosilicate solar glass. With product thickness ranging from 0.05–0.08mm to 0.043–0.064mm, they can be used in cover glass, small instruments, aerospace solar panels, etc.
Benefits of Solar Windows
Are you still wondering if you need to install this cutting-edge technology? If so, you should consider its benefits below.
- Lowers electricity bills: In truth, when you have this technology at home, it lowers electricity bills significantly. The reason is that you can augment your regular power from the electrical grid with power from solar panels.
- Absorbs ultraviolet rays: By design, it absorbs much of the ultraviolet rays coming into your home and office. This means that the rays will not heat up your home and office any longer. Medical scientists say that excessive exposure to these rays can cause erythema, sunburn, eye damage, and photo-carcinogenesis.
- Provides clean energy: It is a clean and renewable energy source. It is not like fossil fuel, which causes damage to the environment. With solar power, we have a cleaner environment.
- Reduces bright ray effects: By reducing glare, it helps improve watching TV and reading in the comfort of your home. Thanks to the reduction of intense sunlight in the home and office, everyone can be more comfortable.
- Provides privacy: Some of them are designed with a dark or heavy screen, providing a degree of privacy in the day. Put simply, you do not have to worry that someone can see the inside of your home from outside. As expected, homeowners always cherish their privacy.
- Is efficient: It supplies more power than regular solar panels because large vertical windows can be installed all over skyscrapers. When the technology has fully evolved, it will generate enough power for skyscrapers with not-so-large rooftops for solar panels.
- Reduces energy demand: Many countries practice the national grid system, which puts pressure on the energy industry to satisfy all its customers. By serving as an alternative source of energy, this technology reduces energy demand or pressure on the national grid.
Given the enormous benefits of solar window technology, it will be out of place for tall buildings and skyscrapers not to harness it in the near future. The technology is still evolving and will only improve with advancements in solar technology. We can expect solar windows to become widespread in large cities in the coming years. Whether your company is seeking affordable electricity, a reliable power supply, or a transition to green energy, give solar windows a try today.