Windows to the Future – Integrated Solar

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed the window of the future by integrating solar collectors directly into the glass pane.  These new windows will not only provide a view and ambient light, but also harness the sunlight to power the home or building they are part of.  MIT engineers report a new approach to harnessing the sun’s energy that could allow just that.

The work, which will be reported in an issue of Science, involves the creation of a unique “solar concentrator.”  “Sun light is collected over a large surface (such as a window) and focused, or concentrated, at the edges,” explains Marc A. Baldo, leader of the work and the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Career Development Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering.

The end result is that instead of covering the roof of a building with expensive photovoltaic cells (the semiconductor that converts sunlight into electricity), the solar cells only need to be around the edges of a flat glass panel.  In addition, the focused light increases the electrical power obtained from each solar cell “by a factor of over 40,” Baldo says.

MIT VideoThis technology is a huge advancement for solar generation because the system is easy to manufacture, and the MIT development team believes that it could be implemented within three years.  The system could even be added onto existing solar-panel systems to boost their power generation by 50 percent for a low installation cost.  This is a huge developmental step toward reducing the cost of installing solar electricity generation methods into existing buildings.

 Read the complete story, video, images at the MIT Web Site

Solar Power-Advantages and Disadvantages

There are many advantages worth considering when it comes to solar energy and everything that it offers. There are many advantages that solar energy has over oil energy. Not only does solar energy benefit your pocketbook, but it also benefits the environment as well. However, there are two sides to everything, and there is a list of solar power disadvantages to accompany the list of advantages.

Advantage: Solar energy is a completely renewable resource. This means that even when we cannot make use of the sun’s power because of nighttime or cloudy and stormy days, we can always rely on the sun showing up the very next day as a constant and consistent power source.

Disadvantage: The Solar Cells and Solar Panels that are needed to harness solar energy tend to be very expensive when you first purchase them.

Advantage: Oil, which is what most people currently use to power their homes, is not a renewable resource. This means that as soon as the oil is gone, it is gone forever and we will no longer have power or energy.

Disadvantage: Solar power cannot be harnessed during a storm, on a cloudy day or at night. This limits how much power can be saved for future days. Some days you may still need to rely on oil to power your home.

Advantage: Solar cells make absolutely no noise at all. They do not make a single peep while extracting useful energy from the sun. On the other hand, the giant machines utilized for pumping oil are extremely noisy and therefore very impractical.

Advantage: Solar energy creates absolutely no pollution. This is perhaps the most important advantage that makes solar energy so much more practical than oil. Oil burning releases harmful greenhouses gases, carcinogens and carbon dioxide into our precious air.

Advantage: Very little maintenance is required to keep solar cells running. There are no moving parts in a solar cell, which makes it impossible to really hurt them. Solar cells tend to last a good long time with only an annual cleaning to worry about.

Advantage: Solar panels and solar lighting may seem quite expensive when you first purchase it, but in the long run you will find yourself saving quite a great deal of money. After all, it does not cost anything to harness the power of the sun. Unfortunately, paying for oil is an expensive prospect and the cost is still rising consistently. Why pay for expensive energy when you can harness it freely?

Advantage: Solar powered panels and products are typically extremely easy to install. Wires, cords and power sources are not needed at all, making this an easy prospect to employ.

Advantage: Solar power technology is improving consistently over time, as people begin to understand all of the benefits offered by this incredible technology. As our oil reserves decline, it is important for us to turn to alternative sources for energy. Read more

Residential solar power-home energy

We are very lucky to have the sun at our disposal, and our earth is blessed to have the center of the entire solar system so close, or at least at the right distance.  Without the sun, life never would have been possible, but had we been located any closer, we likely would have burned up.  The sun has always been looked at as a powerful source, from the olden days when it was worshipped as a god, to modern times where it is regarded as a highly efficient source of energy.  Solar energy is the name for the energy we derive from the sun’s power.  Your homes energy be powered by residential solar power rather than by fuel or oil.

In order to get the most from solar power energy, you must be willing to use it wisely and effectively.  The largest uses for residential energy are powering your refrigerator, heating the home and water, and cooking.  Heating needs extend to the back yard if you have a pool that needs to be kept warm.  In a solar powered home, the power of the sun can be harnessed to power your oven and your stove top.  There are plenty of different types of solar ovens and cook tops.  The most important of all energy users in your home is the refrigerator, which can be energized using solar power.

Solar energy is simple to store at home, and the solar power system is easy to use and understand.  You can store extra solar power in your back yard in the form of a solar battery, which is perfect for the evenings or days where the sun is not out.  This way, you always have a renewable energy source available to you, even when it’s dark or raining.  An efficient residential solar power energy source will make it possible for you to stop paying for electricity all together.  Can you imagine drawing all of your electricity power from the sun, and never paying another electric bill?

In other countries such as Japan, using a solar powered electricity system is nothing new.  Many Japanese residences are solar powered, and the home owners are completely comfortable with these energy systems.  Solar energy systems are also being used where many villages cannot easily obtain power or water.  Solar power systems are also being manufactured for homes in the United States, including in Nevada, Texas and California.  You may even be able to locate building materials which are solar-enabled or solar capable, creating a power system which is insulated and installed during the home building process.

Solar Energy-Photovoltaic Tiles-house and home applications

home-solar.jpgSolar power is believed to be the cleanest and the most viable of all forms of renewable energy that is currently available.  Solar power can be used in several different forms in order to bring power to your home or business.  For example, many gardens are now using water or light features which are powered completely by solar energy.  Because solar power use in gardens is becoming so popular, people are beginning to finally understand how versatile solar power truly can be when it comes to providing an eco-friendly and naturally renewable source of energy.  The technology behind this power source is becoming more compact and smaller, which is making it much more inexpensive to utilize in a variety of applications.  During the 1980s, there were more than enough solar panels to power more than 10 million homes in California.

Photovoltaic Tiles

Photovoltaic tiles, as well as some other solar energy forms, work simply by converting some of the energy created by sunlight into a form of electricity which is clean and can be used within homes.  Photovoltaic or PV cells consist of both a positive and a negative silicon slice which is placed under glass.  The electrons are knocked off the silicon as the sunlight’s protons beat down onto this PV cell.  The free electrons, which are negatively charged, are attracted and then trapped within the magnetic field before being caught to form an electric current when connected within a circuit.

This current must be passed through an inverter before it can become an Alternating current, as it is a Direct Current as a result of the reaction.  Alternating current is the type of current that we use within our homes to power electrical items such as televisions, refrigerators and other appliances and electronics.  A small portion of the power is lost during this conversion process, because the inverter is typically only around 95-percent efficient, but this is still a very large improvement over solar energy technology of the past.

The Photovoltaic tiles are created in such a way that there is little if any maintenance involved at any point.  Because there are no moving or breakable parts, a single Photovoltaic cell can last for upwards of forty years with no work other than an occasional cleaning.  Photovoltaic cells should be cleaned at least annually to ensure that they continue to function as they are meant to.

Powering the Home

There are several different things that you can do to make use of solar power within your home, and not all of them involve actual powering.  For example, you can heat your water, your pool or even your home using a grid-tie system.  Grid-tie systems allow you to sell your excess energy back to the grid after using the rest to power your entire house.  There is no reason that you cannot power your home as much as 75-percent to 100-percent if you run an energy efficient household.  With an energy-efficient household and a decent solar power system, you may never have to pay for electricity again!

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