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What Are Solar Powered Smart Windows?

What Are Solar Powered Smart Windows?

Windows help calibrate the temperature and atmosphere of your household. They also play an integral role in how your home conserves energy. Having the right glass and materials in place can really make a difference in your utility bill, as well as add significant value to your home or business. But if you could do away with curtains all together, shade the interior of your home on blistering days, while also capturing solar energy? Well, now you can.

Having a fully solar powered home is no longer a concept reserved for the family of the future. Photovoltaic technology has come a long way. Technological advances have enabled engineers and manufacturers to create smart windows and solar roof shingles capable of generating power from solar energy. When you combine solar window technology with the already present smart glass technologies, you get a window pane that insulates, shades and allows you to harness the power of solar energy to power your home. Smart glass technologies include electrochromic, photochromic, thermochromic, suspended-particle, micro-blind, and polymer-dispersed liquid-crystal devices.

smart window sample piece

Smart Windows & Solar Powered Windows

A prototype of the solar powered smart window was first demonstrated by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in 2017. It achieved an efficiency of up to 11.3% in testing. When exposed to sunlight, the window shifted from clear to opaque, at which point it produced electricity. At the same time, it reduced the amount of heat entry, yielding potentially significant energy savings.

The darkening ability takes the idea of low-E windows to a new level. A chemical reaction, driven by heat, enables the glass to turn into a solar cell. The absorber layer of the glass changes states in response to photothermal heating and invisible wires collect and transfer the energy. Once the window cools, the same layer reforms, causing it to return to its transparent state.

In another design, solar panel cells are installed between two glass layers. The solar cells can be seen but the human eye typically ignores them while looking out a window. There’s also a solar film that can be used to retrofit existing units. But solar windows don’t necessarily have to be darker; nano technology is being used by EnergyGlass to produce continuous energy from the sun, while the window surface remains clear.

Solar Powered Shingles

The solar powered shingle first appeared in 2005. In 2009, DOW Chemical Company released its version. Similar in appearance to an asphalt or slate shingle, it could capture the sun’s rays and convert them into electricity, and transfer the energy to an inverter system. Tesla and other companies caught on to the idea in 2016. Remarkably strong, Tesla’s product survived high-speed impacts without damage compared to traditional roof tiles that were destroyed by the same process.

Expense is the primary issue with solar shingles. SunTegra has come up with less expensive shingles that can each produce 100 watts of electricity. They can be installed on existing roofs, as can high-efficiency shingles from CertainTeed. These are just some companies that have entered the market. Today, there are various types of solar shingles. Some are configured in strips that look like rows of conventional shingles, while others look like small silicon solar cells. Thin-film solar cells have even been laid on materials with similar characteristics to conventional shingles. In general, photovoltaic shingles can be fixed directly to the roof surface and can avoid installing large imposing solar panels.

Building-Integrated Photovoltaics Catch On

Photovoltaic materials are often replacing conventional building materials. Used for roofs, skylights, windows, and even building facades, building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) can be used for new construction and to retrofit existing buildings. In many cases, BIPV modules replace costly building materials and require less labor to install, offsetting the initial cost of implementation.

Whatever the case may be, if you feel like replacing old windows with newer high tech windows that can help you save a sizeable amount of money on your utilities, you should consider solar powered windows, smart windows, or a combination of the two.

High Quality Window Replacement and Installation

At Window World of Boston, we offer many options for replacing the windows in your home. We provide exceptional products, value, and customer service at prices homeowners can afford. Homeowners can depend on our experienced installers. Unbeatable financing is also available as the Window World Credit Card Program, while a lifetime limited warranty is provided with each window, door, roof, or siding installation. Call your nearby Woburn, Pembroke, or Shrewsbury location to learn more or schedule an assessment and free estimate.

Services We Offer
Window World of Boston has an A+ BBB Rating and offers industry-leading solutions for replacement windows, doors, siding and more. We follow through every job from start to completion while our friendly, knowledgeable staff is there to answer your questions and provide any level of customer support you need. Window World is committed to providing the highest customer satisfaction.
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