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Film Turns Windows Into Solar Panels

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the peel-and-stick-power dept.

Japan 186

itwbennett writes "At the Ceatec electronics conference in Japan this week, 3M is showing film that turns windows into solar panels. Although the product only generates about 20% of the electricity of a traditional solar panel, it will cost about half as much, is much easier to install, and takes up no additional space. 'An average person could go to the store, buy some of this, and then bring it home and install it themselves,' said Yasuhiro Aoyagi, a senior manager in the company's construction markets division."

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186 comments

about time... (3, Funny)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#37616876)

It's about time someone found a good use for Windows.

Re:about time... (1)

jabberw0k (62554) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617104)

But will the Windows get infected with malware?

Re:about time... (1)

x6060 (672364) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617196)

No, but the occasional bird will hit it.

Re:about time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618526)

It's ok I installed a firewall outside the window to keep everything out.

Re:about time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37617218)

Yeah, but darn the luck- It's pretty hard to find film anymore. Think how many rolls you'd need!

Average person rewiring their house? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37616904)

An average person could go to the store, buy some of this, and then bring it home and install it themselves

Only if the average person happens to also be an electrician, or at least someone knowledgeable enough to plug a small power plant into their house's electrical system without ending up a "Dumbass Killed Tonight In Apparent Electrical Fire" headline on their local news.

Re:Average person rewiring their house? (2)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 2 years ago | (#37616946)

I imagine that if/when this tech is available at the hardware store there will be companies selling borderline-foolproof kits.

Re:Average person rewiring their house? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618578)

You can already, this very day, buy solar power solutions at the big hardware stores, and no, the kits aren't foolproof unless your use is trivial. For instance, setting up a single-use circuit, like to power a freezer, isn't hard. (And incidentally, that -- powering fridge/freezer -- is a great use of solar and a good introduction to the technology.) But you still need to know which end of a screwdriver to hold and have some rudimentary understanding of electricity.

Re:Average person rewiring their house? (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618598)

Nah, then people will just invent a better fool. ;)

Re:Average person rewiring their house? (2)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617002)

plug a small power plant into their house's electrical system

A very very small power plant. TFA says it's enough to "Charge an iPhone". Assuming you're charging over USB, an iPhone pulls a max of 500ma at 5V, or 2.5 watts. Not enough energy to warrant upconverting it to AC, given that there's efficiency losses there. Given that you can only charge your iPhone under the best of circumstances, this seems like yet another not-market-viable solar technology. But, ya gotta start somewhere. Maybe they'll make it better. None the less, the applications are on windows, most of which aren't oriented to maximize direct sunlight angle anyways, so it's probably even worse in application than they're talking about here.

Re:Average person rewiring their house? (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617088)

Funny thing, people generally prefer bigger windows on the sunny sides of their houses...what with the natural 'light' thing and all :)

While they won't be angled outside of vertical in most cases, it is an interesting use of an existing space to produce power. Much like the solar shingles [wikipedia.org] that already exist.

Enough of these things that make existing space dual use and pretty soon it becomes a significant input to the power supply with little effect compared to installing solar panels on top of the roof or in the yard. Google's solar trees [wired.com] are another example of making something dual use to provide power. (Parking plus solar panels and the cars are cooler due to shade further reducing energy usage to cool them when people drive away.

Re:Average person rewiring their house? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618620)

> Funny thing, people generally prefer bigger windows on the sunny sides of their houses...what with the natural 'light' thing and all :)

> While they won't be angled outside of vertical in most cases, it is an interesting use of an existing space to produce power. Much like the solar shingles [wikipedia.org] that already exist.

So, I have a house with windows facing south, and am at a northern latitude, so I really do get exposure for much of the day. That's not, as it turns out, where I put my solar panels (I have a solar installation I did myself) but it could have been.

But I suspect that what most people are thinking of is the big picture window facing East or West, and the results are going to be disappointing.

The solar shingles are a different thing -- their placement makes it more likely that they'll receive sunlight throughout the day, even though the angle might not be optimal.

Re:Average person rewiring their house? (2)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617096)

Also interesting... If it is indeed, 2.5 watts, that's 1/400 of a killowat. If your window generates that for an hour, you get 1/400th of of a kilowatt-hour. At 10 cents per kWH, you earn roughly 1/40th of a cent worth of electricity per hour. Even if you get 8 good hours out of the thing a day, it takes 5 days to generate a penny worth of electricity...

Re:Average person rewiring their house? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37617522)

So basically, the ROI for this stuff is smug-ness.

Re:Average person rewiring their house? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618012)

So it's basically a must for iPod, iPhone and Prius owners,

Re:Average person rewiring their house? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37617536)

Ssuussh!! 20% (1/5) efficiency at half the price of a panel means 2.5x more expensive per watt capacity than solar panel. They forgot that in the summary too.

Furthermore, windows are fixed while panels tend to rotate to get better exposure.

To me it sounds like a gimmick rather than something useful.

Re:Average person rewiring their house? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618066)

Computers also used to be really expensive and they didn't do much. It's all about the economies of scale. If it can be put into mass production, you'll someday just buy windows with this stuff already applied and it will be a useful source of supplemental power. And could be a life saver in the event of a grid failure. Either way it should, in the long run, reduce the overal energy cost.

And as long as it's not a taxpayer funded initiative (including government subsidies), I'm all for it.

Re:Average person rewiring their house? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617130)

I would like this on the windshield of my car to power a little fan to stop it from getting so hot when I park in the sun.

Re:Average person rewiring their house? (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617190)

They actually already make these. They're designed to fit on your window. You put this thing on the top of the window, and roll up the window until it's snug. The solar panels run a little fan that vents air out of the car, and a hole in the thing lets fresh air in. Whether this is actually better at cooling the car than just leaving the windows cracked is up for discussion...

Re:Average person rewiring their house? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618016)

I would like this on the windshield of my car to power a little fan to stop it from getting so hot when I park in the sun.

You could just crack the window, and skip all material, production, shipping, installation, and environmental costs.

It's like those fucking shitty commercials about how Toyota (I think it was Toyota) is making morons feel better because they put in a solar powered moon roof that did this, despite the fact that it would never, ever, in a thousand years offset its own cost.
Or how they put in fucking smart vents in shitty relief tents in 3rd world countries.

Over engineering shit for no reason when there either isn't a problem to begin with, or the existing solution is infinitely superior.

Re:Average person rewiring their house? (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618630)

It's even worse than that. By putting the panel on the roof, you've now also got a piece of glass up there that's much heavier than the roof around it. And whatever ripple effects that extra weight (and wiring harness) adds. Losses relative to weight (accel/decel and rolling) are the primary energy loss mechanisms in city driving, and are still a significant fraction during highway driving.

Re:Average person rewiring their house? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618074)

I think car windows are an ideal application of this technology: lots of people want them tinted anyway, so now they can get that and a solar battery charger all at once!

I just wonder if this stuff can be stretched, since car windows tend to be curved in multiple dimensions.

Re:Average person rewiring their house? (3, Informative)

amorsen (7485) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617042)

Actually it is dead easy these days. You buy an inverter which plugs into any socket. It doesn't support "island mode", so if the grid power fails, the solar power goes out too.

They are not universally legal, so check the local laws. They are about as safe as anything gets when electricity is involved.

Re:Average person rewiring their house? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37617184)

By that logic you should keep your "average person" away from light bulb and wall sockets.

This might be news to many of the microwave dinner operatives on Slashdot but a lot of folks are handy around the house.

Re:Average person rewiring their house? (1)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617498)

This is low voltage stuff - you're not going to be tying it into the grid. Trouble is, I can't really see this being of any use in the real world, unless you happen to live in an off-grid mansion with massive south-facing windows and don't mind green opaque strips blocking the view. It makes more sense to mount a conventional panel with manual tracking that can be adjusted throughout the year and receives sunlight 24 hours a day. A simply charge controller, lead acid battery or two and an inverter can provide enough AC power to run a notebook computer. Of course, *why* you'd want to do this is something else entirely.

Re:Average person rewiring their house? (1)

hierophanta (1345511) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617740)

sunlight 24 hours a day? /snark

Re:Average person rewiring their house? (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617924)

sunlight 24 hours a day? /snark

Thus snarks someone who is oblivious to the polar circle.

Re:Average person rewiring their house? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618384)

Which still won't get sunlight 24 hours a day all year long :P

Re:Average person rewiring their house? (1)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618246)

It's the 21st century. You'd think /. would have edit functionality by now.

Sun Shade (2)

malignant_minded (884324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37616932)

"The film blocks or absorbs about 80 percent of visible light and over 90 percent of infrared light, so it also acts as a sunshade"

Thats pretty dark. Now you don't have to live in the basement

Re:Sun Shade (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617016)

If you want to block 80 percent of visible light, why exactly did you have a window installed there in the first place? Just asking. Wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't ask...

Re:Sun Shade (1)

padraic2 (2432584) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617162)

It would be better if this film was retractable like a true shade - on a hot summer day, when one's not home, this could be keeping the house cool by not letting light in.

Re:Sun Shade (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617324)

If you want to block 80 percent of visible light, why exactly did you have a window installed there in the first place? Just asking. Wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't ask...

Yeah, most people live in places where they decided where the windows would be installed.

Re:Sun Shade (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617588)

I'd love that on the west windows of my home. Odds are high I'd probably save more in cooling costs during the summer than I would in generating electricity. Come to think of it, I should really just install window tinting on those windows, how it is that I've never thought of this before is a mystery to me.

Re:Sun Shade (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37617774)

I installed light blocking window screens. They block 90% of the light. Saves lots of cooling and I can see my monitor and outside at the same time.

Re:Sun Shade (1)

Leebert (1694) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618182)

Aside from what others said, windows are often demanded by building code for emergency egress purposes.

Re:Sun Shade (1)

JMJimmy (2036122) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617110)

Great for hot climates not so much for cold ones. But 5v 7w for a metre of the product? Might be able to power the lights in your house... but then of course you're blocking the natural light to use artificial light? The only application I can see that would make this practical would be tinting on a car... but I think 80% light blocking is too high for many regulated areas.

Re:Sun Shade (2)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617224)

Well if you're generating that power and keeping your AC from kicking on, you could be looking at a win.

Re:Sun Shade (2)

raygundan (16760) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617662)

We have shade screens that block 90% of the visible light coming into our house, and surprisingly, it doesn't look dark at all. (But it cut a HUGE chunk off our utility bills.)

Re:Sun Shade (2)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618034)

Seriously. It blocks as much light as putting up a full blown solar panel that covers 80% of my window, but only produces a fourth as much power.

So let's do the math. A typical solar panel has anywhere from 6% to 20% efficiency. Let's generously assume that this is 20% of the efficiency of a fairly good one, so... sat 4% efficient. 4% of the energy from the sun turns into power.

Now sunlight is about 93 lumens per watt. CFLs only produce about 75 lumens per watt. So even if you had 100% efficient capture of sunlight, the lamps would produce only 81% as much light.

Multiply. This means that for every 100 lumens of light that would ordinarily come into your window, 20 lumens pass through the film. 4 lumens become electricity, and 81% of that, or about 3.24 lumens, is available by the time you convert it back to light. Thus, the total lumens available between the sun and the artificial lighting powered by the solar panel film would be 23.24 lumens.

So assuming that, like most houses, the amount of light you get in the room from sunlight is barely adequate even without this film, then you would need to replace 80 lumens for each 100 lumen window that you cover, at an efficiency of 3.24 lumens per window, which works out to just shy of 25 windows to replace the light provided by a single window. Assuming (for simplicity) that the rooms in your house all have about the same number of windows, this means that you would need a house with 25 unused rooms just to break even.

I can't imagine how you could possibly save enough money on cooling to be make up for the added lighting costs at a paltry 3.24% best-case light-to-light conversion efficiency. It's just not significantly better than draping a thick blanket over the outside of the window and blocking out the sunlight altogether, but doesn't block as much heat as the blanket.

An 80% tint is just insanely dark—darker than the darkest I've ever seen on any building—that's like pimpmobile window tinting dark. Now if you have an electric car and you want your windows darkly tinted, then maybe, though I suspect an 80% tint is illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Not that you care when you're driving along in your tricked-out electric pimpmobile, but.... No, wait....

Half the price for twenty percent the efficiency? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37616934)

Where is the other 30% of my money going? I assume the "costs half as much" is considering installation costs, and the space taken up by solar panels on my roof is vertical space...

Corporate Sellout (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37616936)

Sooo a researcher came up with a similar (or same....) product which you could literally paint on to a surface and it was dirt cheap! A few years later 3M comes out with fancy plastic strips of the stuff and it will cost 1/2 as much for 1/3 to 1/4 the efficiency. Nice to see the $/watt ratio isn't being allowed to shrink /SARCASSSSSSMMMMMMMM

one question... (1)

Zargg (1596625) | more than 2 years ago | (#37616952)

Excellent idea, I wouldn't mind a new house with built in window shades that generate some power, but I have one question I didn't seem to see the answer to... How do you get convenient access to the power generated by a houseful of these shades? They say an average person could install it, but I don't see average people wiring these up themselves.

Re:one question... (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617346)

Excellent idea, I wouldn't mind a new house with built in window shades that generate some power, but I have one question I didn't seem to see the answer to...

How do you get convenient access to the power generated by a houseful of these shades?

They say an average person could install it, but I don't see average people wiring these up themselves.

The easiest way would probably for it to have an outlet attached to the film panel, rather than trying to wire it into your house electrical system.

install it themselves? (2)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37616962)

> 'An average person could go to the store, buy some of this, and then bring it home and install it themselves,'

This is really a selling feature? Anyone can go to amazon.com, buy any one of a number of solar panel kits, get it delivered to their home, and install it themselves, with the panels inclined correctly to maximize exposure to the sun (unlikely using existing windows, which have different design considerations) and get the full output of a solar panel, not just 20%, and never have to leave their home. (Speaking from personal experience.)

Mind you, it might be interesting to build a house designed to maximize the use of the technology, for instance, big skylights that are also solar panels. But a film for existing windows? There are better solutions.

Re:install it themselves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37617302)

'An average person could go to the store, buy some of this, and then bring it home and install it themselves,'

This is really a selling feature? Anyone can go to amazon.com, buy any one of a number of solar panel kits, get it delivered to their home, and install it themselves, with the panels inclined correctly to maximize exposure to the sun (unlikely using existing windows, which have different design considerations) and get the full output of a solar panel, not just 20%, and never have to leave their home. (Speaking from personal experience.),

And if Superman replaces his windows with panels from Amazon, he can still see through them.

Re:install it themselves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37617430)

how exceedingly short sighted
or have you not noticed those ridiculously large buildings in major metropolitan areas that are covered in tempered glass?

Re:install it themselves? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617872)

> or have you not noticed those ridiculously large buildings in major metropolitan areas that are covered in tempered glass?

So... are you volunteering to install it yourself? Can I tape it? Sounds like a youtube classic in the making.

Re:install it themselves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37617546)

While there are many people who could install their own solar kits, "an average person" is reluctant to operate a screwdriver and would have trouble leveling a shelf, let alone climbing on top of their house, attaching an outdoor mounting system (without making their roof leak) and aligning solar panel on two axes. If it requires anything more than a step stool, a hammer, and tape the average person is not going to install it themselves.

Also many people (and businesses) live in buildings that they don't own or are otherwise not allowed permanently modify even if they were willing and technically capable. Finding a solution that allows them to retrofit an existing structure without violating their lease/zoning/etc. seems worthwhile.

Re:install it themselves? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618194)

Ok, I may have an unfair advantage here because I just installed a solar system in my own home, and I may have prepped for it a little too much, reading up ahead of time and studying the pros and cons of various types of installations.

So, how do you think a solar power system works? You put a film on the windows and magically the power appears in your house? Like, via bluetooth?

There are a lot more pieces than that. The film, whatever it is, has wires attached, the wires have to go somewhere, hopefully in a way that doesn't get your homeowner's association pissed off, and finally find their way inside some part of the house (entering in some weatherproof fashion) to an appropriately sized charge controller, which charges a fuckton of batteries which also have to be somewhere in the house in a proper enclosure with ventilation, which in turn power an appropriate sized inverter, (you did work backwards from your power needs, didn't you?) which produces the actual power, which then has to be routed somewhere useful. There's a lot of wiring and drilling holes into walls and maybe even breaking down drywall, running wires, installing panels, and then re-sheetrocking, tape, mud, paint.

And that's not counting more exotic systems (like what I put in) that run separate 12 volt (more efficient use of battery power) and 110 volt circuits with two sets of outlets and a bunch of those funny 12 volt lightbulbs you usually only see at RV supply houses.

It's a big deal. The actual solar panels are the easy part. My teenage daughter assembled half of ours while I assembled the other half, and the frame was already canted at an angle that was Good Enough for where we were putting it. (Your mileage may vary with latitude.) Takes one (1) tool -- a crosshead screwdriver. It's the rest -- the wires and batteries and electronics -- that's a headache.

So, no. If the expectation is that this film stuff makes it easier for someone too stupid to hold the correct end of a screwdriver to set up their own solar power system, there's going to be a lot of disappointed customers.

Mind you, I can see the use of this stuff in certain situations, but sadly, until they figure out the Unicorn Magic connection between solar panels and your wall socket, there's going to be no substitute for (a) knowing what the hell you're doing, or (b) hiring it out.

Not dissing the product, just the expectation that it somehow magically makes it trivial for Fred and Ethyl Mertz to have solar power. It doesn't.

Incidentally, you *can* contract the whole thing, rather easily. Many home improvement superstores now will sell you complete solutions, including installation. And as usual, a savvy person can do it significantly cheaper on their own. And it isn't even that tough to learn. (I didn't know crap about solar power before I started.) But the key word is "learn". It's not magic, at least not yet.

Re:install it themselves? (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617922)

I dunno... anything that increases the electricity producing square area has to be good, even if that area is often in the shade. As long as this stuff is cheap, I don't really see a down side.

Re:install it themselves? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618292)

I'm not arguing against the product, I'm arguing against the contention that it makes the product easy for mechanically-stupid people to set up a solar power system. In reality, the panels are the easy part. Scroll up to my longer article in this same thread.

Re:install it themselves? (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618052)

It's easier to install in your house (or apartment) windows than something which requires you to climb up on your roof.

Re:install it themselves? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618330)

Perhaps, but again, the panels are such a small part of the total amount of work that it's like arguing over the kind of hubcaps you'd put on a car you're building by hand. (*There's* our car analogy!) Scroll up to my longer article in the same thread for more information.

Caveat: I'm not an expert, but I have installed a solar power system in my home.

Return on investment (3, Interesting)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 2 years ago | (#37616968)

Normal solar panel takes 10-15 years to pay for itself. If it only produces 20% of a normal panel it won't be worth it unless it costs about 20% of a normal panel

Re:Return on investment (-1, Troll)

joshuac (53492) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617424)

Normal solar panel takes 10-15 years to pay for itself

Assuming no subsidies anywhere along the production/sales/installation process making the solar panels feel artificially cheap. And not counting losses converting the electricity into 120v/Hz AC. Nor counting losses converting power to storage and back again to match energy demand that doesn't coincide with peak production. Or feeding it back into the grid where it takes at a minimum DC --> 120v 60Hz AC --> 240v 60Hz AC --> 120v 60Hz AC path with conversion losses at each step. Assuming your output from the panels at year 10 is the same as year 1.

Otherwise yes, a normal solar panel only takes 10-15 years to pay for itself.

If it only produces 20% of a normal panel it won't be worth it unless it costs about 20% of a normal panel

...or just use the usual tactic, ratchet up the subsidies a little more to further hide the underlying inefficiencies.

Re:Return on investment (2)

ProfessorPillage (1964602) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618414)

Assuming no subsidies anywhere along the production/sales/installation process making the solar panels feel artificially cheap.

And what about the subsidies that make conventional electricity feel artificially cheap?

Nor counting losses converting power to storage and back again to match energy demand that doesn't coincide with peak production.

Solar production tends to match up pretty well with peak demand. Better than, say, regular power plants.

...or just use the usual tactic, ratchet up the subsidies a little more to further hide the underlying inefficiencies.

You're right, it's only fair to subsidize energy from fossil fuel sources. You know, real energy.

Re:Return on investment (2)

MrTester (860336) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617776)

With normal solar panels you have to pay someone nearly as much as they cost to install them. These you can install yourself. That can cut the true total cost in half right there.
TFA also states that it takes less sunlight to power these than traditional cells, so while they are less efficient, they will generate power for more of the day and on more days.

Re:Return on investment (1)

goffster (1104287) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617992)

The only savings I could see were if the windows were in full sun and caused your place
to heat up in summer. So the film might save some more in terms of cooling bills.

Re:Return on investment (1)

linatux (63153) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618054)

Might still work for me - I need to tint the windows on my bus/motorhome. Having a film that does this AND produces electricity would be a big bonus.

Re:Return on investment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37618228)

Normal solar panel takes 10-15 years to pay for itself. If it only produces 20% of a normal panel it won't be worth it unless it costs about 20% of a normal panel

They cost half the price and when you factor in installation they are probably slightly more than traditional panels. Also with subsidies it's usually 3 to 7 years for payback. The real problem is given the small surface area and the low power density covering all your south facing windows won't have much impact on your power bills. They said one would charge a cell phone which means with all your south facing windows covered if everyone charges their cell phones at the same time the power is free. The office building example seemed more interesting than for the average home. Sounds more like a feel good product than anything practical. It'd be more interesting if you had a glass fronted house but the sad joke is if you did this for passive solar heating the energy saving may be a wash since you'd loose most of your solar heat.

Re:Return on investment (1)

wintersdark (1635191) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618508)

Normal solar panel takes 10-15 years to pay for itself. If it only produces 20% of a normal panel it won't be worth it unless it costs about 20% of a normal panel

It's not either/or. Maybe you already have solar panels on your roof, and want more? This increases your own power generation without, say, replacing your windows with solar panels. Sure, they are less efficient, but they also allow light to pass through allowing them to be used where traditional panels cannot be.

Cost will come down? (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#37616984)

Come down from what level? No price is mentioned. No date is mentioned when the product will be delivered.

To keep a short story short: Come back once the vapor has desublimated.

Half of a big number is still a big number (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37616992)

Solar panels are quite expensive, with at least a ~10 year payback. But at least they last 25+ years. A system that is 40% as cost efficient will need to last even longer, and it's hard to see any window film making it through 25 years. Plus you can orient panels at approximately the right inclination. There's not much you can do with the orientation of your windows.

Maybe there's an application here for small system for locations off the grid, but honestly, a small panel seems like a better deal.

Film Turns Windows Into Solar Panels (1)

supersloshy (1273442) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617036)

...Coming to a theater near you! Rated NC-17 for violence and disturbing sexual imagery.

Take that Linux! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37617046)

See? Windows is much better for the environment. No one turns Linux into solar panels.

Blinds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37617056)

Why not create a version that can be applied to blinds. That way when you want the sun, you get the sun, and when you don't, you capture the energy from the sun.

If you create the blinds yourself, the cable that runs the side of the blinds could be used to transport the power between each blind and if you added a motor, you could have automatic blinds (possibly with a timer).

Half the price is still too much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37617150)

Half the price and 20% of the output of a typical solar panel? Doesn't make sense. So now it only costs you $10K but it will take 50 years to pay for itself.

Film Turns Windows Into Solaris (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37617182)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZ5sL5niW2w

economics fail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37617192)

So costs half as much for 20% of the output. or in other words is about 150% less economically viable than normal solar panels.

Stupid idea (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617204)

If you convert light to electricity that means it won't pass through the window, thus destroying it's original function. You will end up using the generated electricity to power the lightbulbs.

Re:Stupid idea (1)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618090)

Not necessarily. If you use compact fluorescent bulbs, then you're generating about the same amount of light without the heat, so overall, you save.

Re:Stupid idea (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618574)

Those bulbs need 18W each, this panel generates max 7W/m^2 so maybe in a glass office building in summer it could work.

uneconomical (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617254)

The payback on normal solar panels is already in the 10-15+ year category for most installs. This tech costs 150% more on an output basis, so 25-40 year ROI? of windows are also far more prone to being broken then a solar panel installed on your roof hmmm think I will give this one a pass.

This could breachs the space-time continuum!!! (1)

Required Snark (1702878) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617262)

Combining Larry Elson with Steve Ballmer would form s material that could rend the very substance of space-time itself!!! Stop this madness before the universe is destroyed!!! There are some things that mere mortals should not even contemplate!!!

80% is high visibility ?? (2)

MycoMan (132840) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617270)

Paragraph 2 says: "still allows for high visibility."

Paragraph 6 says: "The film blocks or absorbs about 80 percent of visible light"

I am not an engineer - but can you actually prevent 80 % of visible light from getting through and really claim there is "high visibility" ?

Re:80% is high visibility ?? (1)

publiclurker (952615) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617420)

I seem to recall that people tint their car windows to a comparable level in California, to it's at least good enough for that.

Film Turns Windows Into Solar Panels... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37617366)

...and turns OSX into Moon Doors.

Average? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37617574)

. 'An average person could go to the store, buy some of this, and then bring it home and install it themselves,' said Yasuhiro Aoyagi, a senior manager in the company's construction markets division."

Define Average

Possible greenwashing (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#37617616)

I heard about this and started to do the math.
" Aoyagi said a square meter of the material can generate about 5 volts at 7 watts under peak conditions, and can operate under far less sunlight than it takes to power a conventional panel, so it will be active for more of the day."
Picture one meter^2 that is not a small area people.
Next under peak conditions?
Peak conditions means point south if you are in the northern hemisphere and at an angle that is equal to your latitude. Most windows are vertical so unless you live at one of the poles you are not going to be close.
So let's say you will average half that and you have 10 meters of windows facing in the right direction and since your angle probably sucks. So let's be really generous and say that you will average half of that peak for 8 hours on a hot summer day. So we are talking about 35 watts for 8 hours. Or enough to run maybe one laptop.
Sky scrapers will have less window area on average per person and will have the problem of shadows unless they are the only building in the area.
Now the blocking IR is really cool and if it is cheap enough then it might be worth it just for that. Maybe make cooling windows where the glass powers a small Peltier cooler that chills the inside of the window while heating the outside. Triple glazed of course.
One of those things that sounds cool but I do not see the math working out well unless it is just super cheap.

In related news... (1)

Alsee (515537) | more than 2 years ago | (#37618608)

I've invented a solar panel that's 20% the size of a traditional solar panel, produces 20% of the power of a traditional solar panel, and I'm selling it at half the price of a traditional solar panel!

-

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