Photovoltaic venetian blinds


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/05/11/photovoltaic-venetian-blinds.html


#2

Seems really inefficient, rather like those solar panels on the backs of backpacks. It’s hardly ever going to be angled right for the sun. Half the time the slats are even going to be shading each other.

It would be just about as easy, and definitely cheaper, to take a solar panel of the same size and stick in on the outside wall next to your window, if you don’t want to climb on to your roof. Then at least it will be always facing the outside world, instead of folded up whenever you want some sunlight in your house.


#3

We don’t know how many windows Earl is checking, but we can see that for a week of operation, his window(s) generated 4917 watt-hour or (rounding upward) 5 KwH.

Where I live in north eastern New Jersey I am serviced by PSE&G.
I get my electricity from a CleanChoice Energy (a 100% renewables third party provider) for 17.1¢ / KwH

and then pay PS&G an additional 4.5¢ / KwH to bring it to me:

Multiplying Earl’s 5 KwH x my (17.1¢ + 4.5¢) / KwH rate:
Earl’s setup generated $1.08 in electricity that week.
SolarGaps seems pretty cool, but ROI could be a problem.


#4

And that’s even taking advantage of some nice late-summer sun, by his timestamps.

Honestly, the issue is in the name: SolarGaps: i.e. the gaps between the slats where you aren’t generating any power.

(Also, how many people install their venetian blinds outside? From their own marketing materials, putting this inside your window cuts power-generation in half.)


#6

While there are some issues with this product, it’s nice to see more and more options to produce power especially if you don’t have access to the roof or need more than just roof solar…


#7

I look at all that siding on the house and think: so much area wasted… (Not even mentioning the roof. Wait, I just mentioned it)


#8

Thanks for breaking it down for us. I suspect this would be best suited for Arizona / Florida type climates / geographic positions.


#9

But it’s purty. People like that.


#10

What’s wrong with putting solar cells on roofs? Roofs don’t have anything on them for the most part and are great place for solar cells.


#11

This allows people who want to feel like they’ve got solar panels, but don’t actually want to deal with the headache of actually installing them.

Buying this product allows them to check off that thing in their minds that says “I ought to do this,” and then they never have to worry about it again, even though it’s a waste of money and does nothing for the environment.


#12

If you rent you may not be allowed to put things on the roof, but can change window treatments.

Or if you don’t rent, but do own a condo you by definition don’t own the roof of a condo, but you own the walls (at least that is the definition of condo in CA). So no roof solar for you, but walls, sure. As long as it doesn’t violate the “look perfect!” rules the condo association no doubt has.

So these things could have non-trivial market.


#13

Back about thirty years ago or more, Tim Johnson at MIT built a small solar building on the campus which had reflectors built into the Venitian blinds to reflect light onto phase change heat storage panels on the ceiling. Not sure how well it worked and the building has been gone for many years now but it was an interesting idea.

I also like the idea the pioneering solar architects came up with back in the 1930s, separating the opening to the light a window provides with the ventilation it can also provide. Their windows were fixed glazing but ventilation was provided by separate louvers:


#14

I think what a few people here are missing is that this device does not attempt to be the best, most efficient solar panel there is. In fact when you want to have a total view and have the blinds raised they will generate nothing. But its bizarre how we design buildings with all these windows and then cover them up with window dressings like drapes or blinds to restrict light or maintain privacy. What these are is a smarter venetian - one that optimises generation by tracking the sun - and providing power from something that traditionally would not. It doesn’t matter a rats arse if they are inside or outside - they hang vertically anyway and that is not the optimum angle for an array - which they are not. Over time they will pay off - providing of course that you dust your venetians - which is something you may not already be doing anyway. Gadgets are becoming lower powered all the time - like LED lighting. This is a low power generating solution - but better than nopower.


#15

Solar freaking venetian blinds!

Wait, what? In the video, the blinds feed power generated directly into the wall socket? That doesn’t seem right. I’ll go get a bootstrap coffee and think about it, then call that stupid and crazy.


#16

Hope the coffee helped open your eyes and clear your brain.
Clearly visible at 0.14 and the more schematically at 0.21-0.30 is the wall-mounted battery that takes the DC input from the blind, This must include an inverter, as it has an AC output that plugs INTO a wall socket, which has an additional socket. Don’t know how that works - unless it is a dedicated wall socket for this unit - enabling a feed to AC powered devices powered only from this battery - which would be logical - as you sure aren’t feeding the grid.


#17

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