SolarWindow Coating Wants To Turn Any Glass Surface Into A Powerful Solar Panel


One of the big hindrances for solar panels is their relatively unsightly appearance, making them less than ideal for homeowners intent in preserving their home’s aesthetics. That won’t be a problem with the SolarWindow, a new type of photovoltaic coating that allows them to be applied to existing window panes.

That’s right, the novel technology can turn into window or glass door into a solar-harvesting surface.   Even better, the coating merely adds some color and visible lines to the glass, allowing it to retain its transparency despite the added functionality.


SolarWindow uses an ultra-thin layer of liquid coating that’s made from a proprietary blend of “earth-abundant organic materials.” When applied to the interior side of the window (they do this to protect the coating from the elements), the coatings produce tiny solar cells that form into arrays, resulting in the visible grid-like arrangement on the glass surface. Not only does this make for more presentable solar panels, they’re supposedly more efficient, too, with the company claiming that their cells can generate energy at 50 times the output of equivalently-sized rooftop panels currently in use.

While a potentially big thing for residential users, this could be even bigger for businesses. Imagine applying the company’s photovoltaic coating on an entire office building’s windows and you can imagine the amount of energy a single skyscraper can produce.

As of now, SolarWindow is still in the process of product development, so they’re not yet available commercially. They do plan to begin production within the next four years, though, so those thinking of investing in a solar power system might want to add this upcoming tech to their considerations.

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3 Responses

  1. Karen

    I don’t mind the look of regular solar panels. I think the big perk in these little panels is their abundance of power, not necessarily their improved beauty. I would love to have solar power. Buying electricity is a huge part of my budget and it really unnerves me when I look at how much we spend on it compared to other things we need in life. There’s really no getting around the electric company. In our city it is a law to have yourself connected. 🙁

  2. madcow3417

    “50 times the output of equivalently-sized rooftop panels” seemed a little far-fetched considering standard rooftop panels are 15-20% efficient. SolarWindow’s webpage claims that a 50 story building wrapped entirely in their panels out-performs a small patch of rooftop panels on that same building. Put that way it’s less impressive, but believable.

  3. Chad

    Wow, you really advertised complete bunk this time.

    In the first place, these things can’t be very effective. The dead give-away is that you can see through them. Solar panels work by absorbing light…. so if you can see through them, they’re not doing that job very well.

    As for why they’re bunk, good residential solar panels are around 20% efficient. You heard that right, you get 20% of the energy in the light out as electricity. This is really really good. Current records for extremely expensive laboratory solar panels are in the 45% area. The maximum possible efficiency is around 85%, and the maximum efficiency anything that would work on a window will have (and not caring about whether you can see through it) is about 55%.

    So in order for these to be 50x more efficient than rooftop panels, they’d have to at least have an efficiency of 1000%. Worse, because they go on windows, which are usually vertical, you’re losing a lot of light, as solar panels on rooves are normally placed on the south/north side of the roof, making sure they get maximum sunlight across the day. Worse, because they’re see-through, you know they’re not doing their job of absorbing light well.

    So yeah. It’s an ugly product that ruins your view out of windows, all while being both less efficient, both in terms of power and cost.


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