Sunday, October 14, 2007

Solar Invention Demo

Since tomorrow is Blog Action Day, I think this is a perfect time to highlight one idea I've been working on to reduce the cost of solar panels.

Last year, I filed for a patent on a new way to make a solar panel. By building the panel differently, one can use fewer solar cells/watt of output.

This week I got some hardware that should help me demonstrate the idea.

Below are a several pictures of a demo panel I had made to show to panel makers (to convince them to license the idea) and/or investors. Some of the mirrors look foggy, because they have a protective coating (to reduce scratches during handling). These mirrors are made from an inexpensive acrylic, but are still fairly good mirrors. According to my patent, the cells and mirrors are built into the panel i.e. what you see in these pictures would have a protective glass cover just like normal panels you can buy and install on your roof today. My panel is bigger so it collects more sunlight, but it uses fewer solar cells than a standard panel. Mirrors cost 1/10 as much as solar cells, so the savings can quickly add up.

The first picture shows a standard panel (left) alongside my demo panel (right sans mirrors). The guy that built my panel didn't want to get involved with mirrors!

Both panels have the same number of cells, but my panel is larger...and hence will generate more power.

Below is an edge view of the panel with acrylic mirrors installed (mirrors are foggy from protective coating) on my kitchen table.

Below is a picture of yours truly pointing the camera toward the mirrored side of the panel. One sheet of mirror has protective coating removed to show that the mirror actually reflects!

Below is a close up along one of the mirror/cell pairings. The mirror is on the left and the row of cells is on the right.

Below is a view from a slightly steeper angle (same orientation).

Well there it is!

I haven't had a chance to put this in the sun and document how much more energy my panel produces compared to standard design, but hopefully I can do that soon. I expect about 25%-30% more power from my design.


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