Solar panels have innovated and morphed into everyday technology over the years. Here’s a look at 11 solar panel trends that are a must see.
**1. Solar roof shingles **
These photovoltaic cells are designed to be combined with conventional asphalt roof shingles. They give your roof an aesthetically pleasing look and allow you to preserve your traditional roofline. Solar shingles were first seen on the market in 2005, and were more expensive than traditional photovoltaic panels. Last year, Tesla launched their new line of solar shingles that are to be purchased with the Powerball 2.
The average household requires 350 solar singles on a roof, which could reduce one’s household electric bill by 40 to 60 percent. Solar shingles work similarly to solar panels, meaning they’re designed for structures already connected to the power grid, and can send excess power back to the grid.
2. Solar boat deck
The Turanor Planet Solar is the largest solar powered boat in the world, weighing 85 tons and spanning 102 feet in length. The solar boat was launched in 2010 in Kiel, Germany. Turanor Planet Solar has 5,500 square feet of photovoltaic cells, which is equivalent to 809 solar panels or 29,124 solar cells. These panels charge 8.5 tons of lithium-ion batteries that are stored in the ship’s two hulls. In 2013, the ship broke the Guinness World record by crossing the Atlantic ocean in 22 days. In addition, the ship operates as a vessel to collect marine pollution in oceans.
**3. Solar aircraft **
The Solar Impulse 2 is first plane powered by a renewable energy source to travel around the world and spend more than 23 days in the air. In March 2015, the aircraft left Abu Dhabi and made it to 14 cities crossing both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans with no fossil fuel, completing a 25,000 mile trip around the world.
The plane weighs 2.3 tonnes and carries over 17,000 solar cells on its wings. During the journey, solar panels’ batteries, which make up a quarter of the aircraft’s weight, charged during the day. In order to conserve power, the pilot would glide down to 5,000 feet at night and climb up to 29,000 feet during the day.
4. Solar roads
The world’s first solar road was opened last year in a village in France. The roadway is 0.6 miles long, which equates to 30,139 square feet of photovoltaic cells. The solar road cost $ 5,316,000 to construct and will be used by about 2,000 motorists a day during a two-year test period to establish if it can generate enough energy to power street lighting for the village’s 3,400 residents.
5. Solar backpack
Solar powered backpacks have small solar panels attached to the exterior of the backpack and a lithium-ion battery pack inside the bag to store energy. These panels are used to harness the sun’s rays, allowing you to charge your cell phone or MP3 player on the fly. The solar panels are waterproof, lightweight, and can produce up to 4 watts of power. An hour of direct sunlight can produce enough energy to charge a cellphone for at least an hour and a half. Of course this all depends on how sunny it is.
6. Solar cooker
GoSun Solar is a new, innovative solar cooker that uses the sun’s rays to cook food in minutes, depending on what you are cooking. The solar cooker contains a vacuum that traps sunlight and generates heat to cook the food. Once the stove is unfolded and positioned toward the sun, the mirrors concentrate light on the center tube for hours as the sun moves across the sky. The heat is trapped and starts cooking at temperatures in the range of 400 degrees Fahrenheit. On a clear, sunny day, you just might be able to cook six hot dogs in about ten minutes and in cloudy conditions possibly two hours to bake a tray of muffins.
7. Solar tent
The Kaleidoscope Orange Solar tents are not your regular camping tents. These glow in the dark tents are made from solar threads that are designed into conventional fabric. The solar threads harness the sun and produce energy. The tent has 3 directional glides that are movable throughout the day to maximize the solar efficiency and energy collection.
8. Solar bicycle-car hybrid
The ELF is a 3-wheeled solar bicycle manufactured in North Carolina by Organic Transit. It is made of an aluminum alloy frame enclosed within an aerodynamic shell and a 100 watt solar panel that charges a 48 volt, 11 amp hour battery. The bicycle- car hybrid has front disc brakes and rear friction pads. The bike comes standard with a 3-speed internal gear hub and for more speed an option to upgrade to an 8-speed hub. The ELF is similar to a car, it has a windshield, roof, lockable storage, rear view and side mirrors, LED headlights, directional signals, brake lights, an electric horn and optional doors. The bike is safer than most bicycles because it has a frame and shell that absorb impact.
9. Solar bridge
The world’s largest solar bridge is at the Blackfriars bridge in London. The bridge has approximately 4,400 photovoltaic panels covering the roof of the Blackfriars station. This could produce enough energy to make almost 80,000 cups of tea a day. In fact, London’s longest array generates enough power to cover up to half of the station’s energy needs. This reduces its CO2 emissions by an estimated 511 tonnes per year.
10. Solar lawn-mower
The Sweden’s Husqvarna lawn mower is able to independently maintain a property lawn of up to a half acre. The mower runs on a rechargeable nickel metal hydride battery that’s charged by the sun. The solar mower can harness solar power while it’s mowing the lawn and navigating around the perimeter, and you are even able to control the solar mower using a smartphone. The Husqvarna lawn mower is 90 percent recyclable and has no exhaust emissions.
11. Portable Panel
With Arcadia Power’s Portable Panel, homeowners and renters can now subscribe to community solar projects anywhere in the country and see savings directly on their utility bill. Unlike traditional community solar programs, Arcadia’s Portable Panel subscribers can access solar savings no matter where they live and even take savings with them if they move. Learn more and start saving in just 5 minutes at arcadiapower.com/solar.
Want to join the solar movement? Subscribe to one of Arcadia’s community solar projects and start saving today. Check availability and get started at arcadiapower.com/solar.