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Solar power through windows?

I tried collecting solar power through windows, but it was so little that it wasn’t worth my time.

There is a video on youtube that shows someone who filled two windows with solar panels and it shows that he got about 30Watts I believe. I think this was several years old and he probably spent $1000 in solar panels. To me, this price performance isn’t there. Yes it is possible to gather solar energy through windows, but here are some reasons why this may not be a good strategy for you.

  1. The newer the window, the less solar power (PV) you will collect. Windows have the ability to block the heat and UV/light from the sun and as they have improved they offer less energy to solar panels. So this means that if you have thin old windows then you will have great results with collecting solar power through them. However most apartment windows have windows that were made in the last 20 years so those tend to have the ability to reduce the energy that is coming through them. I tried with my windows that get good sun but due to the shape of the windows and the blocking of the solar cells/shading, I didn’t have enough power to make it worthwhile. If you had a big window like a glass window that was a door, perhaps it might work if it was sunny. I don’t have that to try so I can’t report on that. However the energy by placing the solar panel outside of the window is many times more, so given that it is only sunny a limited amount per day, keeping the solar panel inside the window I don’t believe will work out well for you in most climates.
  2. I am in a northern climate, and I can imagine that if you were in a tropical climate like Hawaii or the tropics you could place a solar panel on the inside of the window and get good results. However you would get much better results from placing it outside. There are some companies that have developed glass that can gather solar PV energy so in a few years we will have this option. This will be an amazing addition to cars and help reduce our energy usage further.
  3. You must keep your windows very clean or the dirt will block the solar energy. This means that you have to be constantly cleaning your windows to get the best results. Even a little dirt makes a big difference. To me this wasn’t worthwhile to do because cleaning apartment windows is not easy. The landlord doesn’t care and doing it yourself can be dangerous.
  4. The shadows on the inside of a window are more than the shadows on the outside of windows. Its difficult to get good light unless you have windows that have no frames which most apartments don’t have.

There are host of issues as you can see and more by trying to collect solar from the inside of windows. If you are able to do it, I would love to hear the details.

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