See Through Solar Panels

Solar panels on grass

The future is powered by renewables, and the more sources of electricity we have the more resilient our power grid will be. Researches at Michigan State University have created a solar film that can be applied to existing windows to generate electricity from the sun. The system is not as efficient as a standalone solar cell, but the benefits of putting the film on existing windows outweighs the inefficiency. The film is see through which means the windows look like normal windows. Imagine every window in a skyscraper generating a little amount of power or the windows on every electric car.

Back in 2017 MSU profiled Lunt’s work and explained that he and his team “pioneered the development of a transparent luminescent solar concentrator that when placed on a window creates solar energy without disrupting the view. The thin, plastic-like material can be used on buildings, car windows, cell phones or other devices with a clear surface.”

“The solar-harvesting system uses organic molecules developed by Lunt and his team to absorb invisible wavelengths of sunlight. The researchers can ‘tune’ these materials to pick up just the ultraviolet and the near-infrared wavelengths that then convert this energy into electricity,” MSU adds.

Read more.

Thanks to Mike!

Volet Vegetal – Simple Urban Gardening

Space for a small garden can be hard to find for a lot of people in urban areas. Some French designers have modelled a new way to hang a garden from a window. Their design is simple and provides people with an easily accessible garden space and as a bonus, can help cool apartments and clean the air.

“Volet Végétal”‘ is a project that we thought for a Parisian design contest “Jardin Jardin” as an industrial product for people who are living in apartment deprived of gardens and balcony. Users have just to plug the structure on the outside of their windows. Horizontal position to enlarge a green view on the city land by trying to go further from the facade of the building and get more ornamental stand for plant. Vertical to create a shutter of light, a filter for green air and also for an easy garden upkeeping.

Find more at Core77 and in French at the Volet Vegetal site.

Through the Window Glass

Throughout North America builders construct homes with no regard with how the sun beams down on the, causing many homes to overcompensate with excessively large air conditioning units. This means that do to poor thinking by the builder the homeowner has an increased cost of operating their home.

If you live in one of those buildings built with no regard for the environment there are things you can do to save some money:

While we often think of curtains and drapes as “window dressing,” their primary function, like that of conventional roller blinds and louvered blinds, is to prevent glare and provide privacy. They can also save quite a lot of energy during the cooling season. According to LBNL research, when installed over clear (not low-e) glass, these attachments alone can block 20%–60% of solar gain (depending on material and color), reducing or preventing the need for air conditioning. For comparison, the highest-performing low-solar-gain windows on the market have an SHGC of 0.20 or lower. While that means that those windows block 80% of solar gain while still permitting a somewhat darkened view, they don’t provide much privacy, so many people will still use curtains or blinds.

Combining the two is a good bet: the curtains offer privacy, while the low-SHGC windows block the sunlight before it gets into the house, which is much more effective (more on this in the discussion of awnings below). One drawback of using curtains or drapes is that you may end up with dark rooms and need to turn on lights, which can cut into energy savings. Louvered blinds can be adjusted at the top to let some daylight reflect off the ceiling, but this light will bring some heat with it—especially if you have clear glass rather than low-e. Another option may be a solar screen that filters sunlight and prevents solar gain but still permits a view—although curtains may still be needed for nighttime privacy.

There’s a lot of information and tips on how to improve your windows here.

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