Many people who seek energy independence at home turn to solar panels. Today, it’s a relatively affordable way to reduce your dependency on the local energy grid.
However, one of the major drawbacks of solar panels is their size. In order to provide enough power for a standard size home, you might have to put a heavy solar panel system on top of your entire roof. Let’s be honest too, solar panels aren’t the most flattering addition to your home.
As with most technology, scientists and researchers have found a way to make solar panels smaller and easier to work with – enter solar panel film!
What is Solar Panel Film?
Many companies and universities are working on developing solar film. This new technology has a low profile, flexible design that traditional solar panels can’t even come close to matching. The film generally comes rolled up, like wrapping paper. The installation is fairly easy, and you can put on a window, a roof, a wall, a camping tent or even a car. You can pretty much take it and put it wherever you want!
Out at the University of California, Yang Yang and his research team have further developed the concept of solar film by making it almost completely clear. The idea is that you can place this type of solar film in windows without obstructing the view all the while reaping the most amount of sunlight possible. In a recent Bloomberg interview, he says he strives to create an even better, more affordable type of clear solar film: “Our idea is to fabricate the device such that it could be a transparent film like Scotch Tape.”
Current Drawbacks of Solar Film
One of the main issues right now with solar film is its lack of efficiency. Mother Earth News notes that early film systems in 2009 could only convert about 11% of sun energy into useable electricity. However, back in January of this year, General Electric released a report noting it created solar film with an efficiency rating of just over 18%. Although great strides have been made in the last few years, there’s still a ways to go to make them more energy efficient.
Another issue solar film ran into is price. Like with any new product to hit the market, solar film is relatively expensive now. The good news is that prices are coming down due to improved research and technology. In fact, Yang and his team hope to soon make film that can be installed in windows for as little as $10 per a piece.
Benefits of Solar Panel Film
Traditional solar panels have a few major drawbacks; they take up a lot of space, and are fragile. Since most solar panel systems are placed on roofs, storm damage is a big concern. The slightest scratch on a cell could put that it out of commission. Granted the other non-damaged cells would continue to work, but your energy output might be dramatically reduced.
Solar panel film, on the other hand, is much thinner and lighter than a traditional solar panel. Plus, the film doesn’t require heavy, sturdy mounting system. Solar energy experts note that the flexible film version is much more durable than traditional panels because of better plastic and improvements to solar technology.
Energy-efficient windows with built-in solar film may end up on your home improvement list in the near future. Imagine entire buildings and homes covered with solar panel film. This technology could greatly reduce dependency on non-renewable energy. The great news is that it’s on the market now and only getting better and more affordable.
Have you thought about adding solar panels to your home? Do you think that solar film is a more realistic option for your house? Share your thoughts with other Zing readers below!