The race to find an ideal source of electricity — 100% conversion rate, no environmental contamination, renewable, and sustainable — is leaping forward, with solar leading the pack.
New solar technologies may soon make electric grids a thing of the past as individual homes and buildings start generating more and more power at the point of use. Plus, storage capacity is improving every year, turning a limited power source into one you can use day and night.
Wondering about the latest advancement in solar technology and what to expect? Learn about some of the most exciting upgrades being developed, such as:
- Efficiency improvements
- Sun-tracking solar cells
- Building-integrated photovoltaics
- Solar skins and shingles
Ready to upgrade your power source to something cleaner and sustainable?
Contact Photon Brothers at (720) 370‑3344 (Colorado) or (805) 351‑3371 (California) for a FREE design consultation. Or, use our instant estimate tool to get an idea of what it might cost to generate your own power. We offer 25-year warranties on parts and labor, and we handle every aspect of your installation in-house, so you know you’re getting qualified experts to handle your switch to solar.
Today’s solar panels use photovoltaic technology to convert sunlight into electricity, but there may be a way to use that technology to promote plant growth — agrivoltaics. Photosynthesis, the process by which plants turn sunlight into biofuel, is an exciting field of research. Still, rising levels of CO2 emissions are making it more and more difficult for plants to keep up with the changes. During the hottest parts of the day, many plants stop photosynthesizing, slowing their growth and reducing their ability to produce oxygen.
Agrivoltaics is a process in which solar panel installations offer clear shading for plants growing under the installation. The panels collect some of the excess energy, and the plants can continue to photosynthesize even during peak sun. Essentially, the solar panels create a microclimate designed specifically to promote the agriculture planted in the region. Over the next few decades, farms everywhere may combine solar panels and neatly planted rows of crops.
Did you know there is a new technology that lets solar panels collect double the energy you get with standard solar panels? Most modern solar panels only have about 18 – 22% efficiency when it comes to energy conversion. Panels with multiple layers of solar cells can reach 40% or more, but these panels have been substantially more expensive.
Solar fabrics may help reduce the cost of layering and make solar power more flexible when it comes to installation. These thin films of solar cells can easily layer to produce more energy in the same space. The fabric option weighs less and can be in any shape needed, from circles to traditional four-sided figures.
Sun-Tracking Solar Cells
Solar panels work best when they get direct sunlight, but that opportunity has a limited daily window. As the sun moves across the sky, panels get less and less exposure. But what if solar cells could move and shift like plants, following the sun? Sun-tracking solar cells do exactly that. Single and dual-axis designs can capture as much as 50% more energy when compared to standard solar panels in use today.
A similar option is with bifacial panels. Most solar panels only absorb energy from the front, but bifacial panels add the ability to absorb energy reflected from the ground or a different angle, dramatically improving the amount of energy collected each day.
Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV)
Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) is a solar solution that looks good and offers lots of possible applications. Consider solar windows; they’re clear like a traditional window, allow natural light, and still collect energy. BIPV applications include putting solar collection technologies into canopies, facades, roofs, skylights, windows, and more.
Transparent photovoltaic cells, or PV glass, make it possible for solar collection to be nearly seamless. There are no obvious signs that the glass is a solar panel, making it a more aesthetically pleasing option. Plus, it’s a practical solution for properties needing extra energy and better sound and thermal insulation.
Solar Skins and Shingles
Solar skins function similarly to the skins you might see on a car, where a thin layer of wrap covers the original paint with a new visual design. One of the most significant pushbacks against solar is that it may not look very nice, but what if your solar panels could match your grass or look the same color as the rest of your roof? You can wrap virtually any surface with solar skin to boost appearance.
Another potential cosmetic and performance upgrade option is solar shingles. These function similarly to standard solar panels but are installed like roofing shingles. You can get solar roofing shingles installed over part or all of your roof, and you’ll still have all of the protection you’d get from traditional asphalt with the addition of energy-collecting technology. Why isn’t everyone rushing out to re-roof using solar shingles? Several reasons. While this technology is available now, it is less efficient than solar panels and is still pretty costly. Manufacturers estimate a usable life of at least 30 years, but the tech is new and unproven in real-world applications. Keep an eye out, though, as more sloped roofs might start sporting solar shingles among the regular asphalt options.
Interested in what solar might look like for your home? Contact Photon Brothers!
The experts at Photon Brothers have been designing and installing custom solar systems for over 10 years. We’re proud to offer a 25-year production guarantee, a 25-year parts and labor warranty, and a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Call us at (720) 370‑3344 (Colorado) or (805) 351‑3371 (California) to discuss your home energy requirements and schedule a free, comprehensive solar consultation. You can also click below to use our online solar calculator and get a quick idea of your potential costs and savings.