Mention of solar energy a mere 10 years ago might have led to thoughts of large reflective solar panels situated on rooftops, at just the right angle to capture the sun’s rays the most effectively. Some solar enthusiasts, upon finding that their roof was not situated with the right angle, or even facing the right direction, built additions to their rooftops to which they could attach solar panels. At times, this may have created an odd look for the roofline of a home or business, but it was all in a good faith effort to use a cleaner form of energy and save some money on electric bills years down the road.
Today, the ability to capture the sun’s rays and convert them into renewable energy has changed dramatically. Sacrificing one’s roofline or yard space is no longer the only way to attain just the right angle or placement for maximum solar efficiency. Solar energy is being captured today in ways that you may not have thought possible 10 years ago.
One surprising way that solar power is being captured is by windows. These windows are not covered with dark solar panels or solar polymers that negatively affect the clarity of the window, instead they are completely clear windows that collect solar power to be converted to useable energy. These windows are available for commercial, residential, even decorator architectural glass. By spraying these windows with organic solar cells, the manufacturer has been able to retain the absolutely clear appearance of a window while generating electricity from the sun.
Another way that solar energy is being captured is called a spin cell. Instead of using a flat solar panel that is not always cost effective, researchers have discovered a way to capture sunlight that they predict will cost two-thirds the price of electricity. Because this new product spins, it stays much cooler than a solar panel. Researchers claim that the cooler device can handle concentrated energy that is equivalent to 30 suns. This new spin cell is shaped like a cone, instead of being a flat panel. This is beneficial because the sun can hit part of the panel any time, not just when the cone is set at a particular angle.
Solar shingles are another surprisingly effective invention. These were first introduced in 2005 but were much more expensive than solar panels. They were purchased most often by those who wanted to go solar, but did not want the look of awkward solar panels. Today, however, these solar shingles have become much more competitive in their pricing. The shingles also protect the roof underneath from weather just as asphalt shingles. It is reported that adding 350 solar shingles to your roof could reduce your electric bill by 40 to 60 percent while still looking much like your regular shingles.
Not all new methods of collecting solar energy are high tech. Some have been discovered in trial and error methods by individuals looking for ways to harness the power of the sun without spending too much money. One much discussed way of using solar energy for heat involves recycling soda cans. This is done by cleaning, drilling and placing soda cans inside of a specially built wooden frame, then painting the block of cans black and covering with slightly curved Plexiglas. When the sun heats the air inside of the cans, an attached fan pulls the warmed air out of the wooden box and into a vent inside a home.
From do it yourself inventions to spray on window adhesives, solar power is changing rapidly. The lure of solar energy has been present for years, and it seems the technology is finally advancing quickly enough to make it an affordable form of energy. Advancements in the field of solar energy will continue to create better, more efficient products. This efficiency will convince many companies to join in on the search for more unique ways to collect and distribute solar power.
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