Printing Solar Panels on Our Curtains? Don’t Blink, It May Happen

Could it someday be possible to hit the “Print” button on your computer and generate a sheet of… solar panels? Will we someday peek through solar panels printed on our curtains and blinds to see if it’s nice outside?

The phenomenon is not as far off as you might think. According to the Australian website Habitat, it is already possible to print solar cells with inkjet printing. Scientists believe it will someday be possible to print cells on a variety of surfaces, including walls, umbrellas, tents and windows. And developers of clean energy in Seattle are already experimenting with the process in a new clean energy lab that opened this month.

Currently, printable solar cells are made by printing a special type of photovoltaic film on a plastic surface. The product is much cheaper than purchasing the solar panels that have been used on the roofs of homes and businesses for years, but it also has a ways to go in terms of efficency — paper cells are about 10 percent efficent, compared to an efficiency rating of around 25 percent for PV solar panels.

“Silicon is falling in price, but think about how cheap plastic is. The ink is a negligible cost, so the raw materials are very cost effective. This is a big step forward because you can put these cells anywhere you can think of. Also the consistency is better than silicon — they work well in cloudy conditions,” photovoltaic expert Dr. Fiona Scholes told Habitat.

In Seattle, testing has begun on the process at the newly opened Washington Clean Energy Testbeds. The facility’s director, J. Devin MacKenzie, told the Everett Herald the new technology would not only be more affordable, but it could be produced much faster and create less waste.

“This would take an hour to go from a new design to printing something structurally,” MacKenzie told the newspaper.

Photo credit: Habitat

Five Years From Now

What were you doing five years ago?

Sometimes when we look ahead, five years seems like such a long time to wait to receive a promotion, save up for a new car, take a vacation or reach some other long-desired goal. But when we look back just five years ago and think about our family, our home, our lives — we are faced with the reality that five years goes by so fast.

Five years from now, what will you be thinking about the choices you’re making today? It’s a question that challenges us.

At Solora Solar, we gain great satisfaction from the five-year mark in our relationships with customers because that’s the point at which their solar installation typically has earned enough in energy production and tax incentives to have repaid their investment in the system. We haven’t encountered a customer yet who reached that five-year mark and regretted their decision.

It’s a great feeling for us, but an even better feeling for them.

That’s why if you are considering going solar, we encourage you to think back to where your life was at just five years ago. If you go solar in 2017, the next five years is going to go pass just as quickly as the last five. And then you will be living in a home that is worth more and generating free energy from that point forward.

What will your life be like five years from now?

Photo credit: Michael Ruiz

Temperature Effects on Seattle Solar Energy Systems

Solar panel temperature is one of the important factors that affect how much electricity your panels will produce. It’s ironic – but the more sunshine you get in Seattle, the hotter the panels get which counteracts any benefit the sun can give your home.

Although there’s a lot of rain in Seattle, the heat factor from a hot sun can reduce your output by 10% to 25% depending on your specific location. Of course, not all solar panels are affected by heat equally and luckily some do much better at coping with the heat than others. Here’s what you need to know.

Temperature Coefficient

On a hot day in the summer – where solar panel temperatures might reach 45˚C or so – the amount of electricity output would decrease by 10%. Conversely, on a sunny day during off-summer times, produced electricity would increase above the maximum level.

Solar Cells Respond to Seattle Temperatures

The solar panel temperature on the roof of your Seattle home directly affects efficiencies. When solar panel temperatures increase, production increases while power usage decreases meaning that the warmer the solar panel the less power it can produce.

The best solar panels that can handle high temperatures are the Cadmium Telluride solar panels but they are not as efficient at converting sunlight into electricity. Instead, consider more current technologies like the CIGS and 4G solar power technologies.