What is a solar panel window, and how does it work?
Any type of technology that uses windows on buildings to generate electricity from the sun could be classified as a “solar panel window.” Solar window technology isn’t ready for commercial production yet, which means that they aren’t available for you to install in your home. However, there are several technologies being developed that could hit the mass market in the near future.
Transparent solar panel windows would hypothetically be able to replace standard glass window panes, while traditional solar panels are an addition to a previously installed roof. As a result, this type of solar technology is often referred to as “building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) which offer many potential benefits – many homeowners love them because they can be much more aesthetically appealing and easier to maintain than traditional solar options, depending on the type of installation.
Why isn’t solar panel window technology everywhere? The simple answer is functionality. Traditional opaque solar panels use photovoltaic technology, meaning they capture energy in the form of light and use it to generate electricity. Because windows are meant to let light through, windows that act as solar panels need to reconcile letting incoming light through to illuminate a room and also capturing incoming light to use for energy production. A solar window that doesn’t let enough light simply acts as a vertically mounted solar panel; if it lets too much light in, the window can’t generate enough electricity to be cost-effective. For solar panel windows to impact the solar market, they need to become truly building-integrated and unobtrusive by utilizing transparent solar panel technology.