a device that is generating concepts

Two Vertical Applications for Solar Panels

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Solar power solutions are still not significant in worldwide scale and especially in urban areas, where problem with space is conjoint with high power consumption.  There is a space though that our cities has in abundance – vertical surfaces.

Here are two concepts in solar energy that I have developed several years ago, so I do not know if there are already similar products available on the market or patented. If you are interested, there is an Executive sum for them and Business Plan documentation. Here they are coming as is – without business component.

Product A: Shutters

Modular window shutters as complete system providing solar energy gathering, storage, provisioning and multifunctional application such as built-in lighting, clock, alarm, remote control, sun light control and more.

The shutters built out of photovoltaic panels, are simultaneously rotated by built-in elecro-motor and managed by built-in microcontroller. To store the energy there are rechargeable batteries nested inside the frame. The product comes as out-of-box functional modules of standard sizes or can be adjusted to any need.

In automatic mode panels are rotating according to the optimal sun-directed angle during the day and in static (preprogrammed) mode during the night. Programming and management is done from any iOS/Android mobile device or (basic operations) from small special remote control.

Panel’s angle can be also manually rotated by remote control (still gathering energy, less efficiently though).  Panels angle can be pre-programmed to follow some angle for given time period (e.g. at the morning) and used for example as morning alarm.

ImageWindow advanced modular solar shutters  

The gathered energy can be used for additional features for example:

  1. Lighting (indoors or outdoors) by nested Led lamps what are remotely controlled and programmed including special modes such as power shutdown sensing
  2. Outputs:
    1. USB slots
    2. High voltage AC (in some models – see below)
  3. Clock panel (in some models)
  4. Message presentation panel (in some models)

For low sunlight periods accumulators can be charged externally to keep functionality.

The product can come in various configurations targeted to different sectors with unique needs.

Entertaining model – Remote Shutter control / alarm / low power accumulators / USB chargers / LED Lamps / AC Input for “low sunlight” charging / low cost

Empowering model – Up to 5kW per day / AC output / full control / All Entertaining model features / additional features such as clock and message panel/ high cost

Product B: Vertical Panel cooling

Vertical panels mounted on building external walls are great solution for urban areas, but there are couple small complications here

  1. They produce heat.

This heat is warming the building so we need to spend additional energy to cool it from within and in addition it reduces efficiency of photovoltaic panels themselves.

  1. Low efficiency due to reduced exposure to light or increased complexity of angle adjustment system

Partial solution for the first problem can be a thermal isolator between the wall and the panel, while I would propose to use one particular effect not only to reduce the building heat, but also to leverage it to solve a second problem. I am talking about Stack Effect.

To remind you, the stack effect is the one that is causing the increased updraft of the air through buildings, chimneys or other air channels when there a difference in indoor-to-outdoor air density resulting from temperature, pressure and moisture differences – the greater the thermal difference and the height of the structure, the greater the updraft force.

So the idea is to insert an air channel sleeve between photovoltaic panels and the wall. This way we would leverage the height of the building and heat due to mounted solar panels to create a stack effect within the sleeve and use it to cool the panels and wall from within. This way the feedback works to stabilize the temperature to an ambient one so higher temperature would cause higher air flow speed and so faster cooling. To improve the heat transfer rate, metal fins exchanger can be located within the sleeve, increasing the cooling area.


Example of cooling sleeve wall mounting

 The very same effect we can use to simplify the angle control system to its minimum.

Air Updraft can be used to rotate solar panel module, while each is connected to a paddlewheel and locked by electromagnetic latch. The latch is controlled by an “Angle Control Module” that is sensing local solar panel efficiency and adjusting its angle to maximize it by releasing and locking paddles (with precision of 360/N). For example:


Example of paddlewheel angle control architecture for solar panels (side view)

The sleeve and its panel are modular, so it is easy to replace each module and maintain it offline.

Another interesting usage for this can be advertisement, so once in a while during the day and through the night, all panels would rotate and “expose” the back side of each panel, containing commercial poster (special architecture is required)…

Few calculations…

You can skip this part if it makes you sleep/scares you.

The airflow volume depends on height and area, so here is a simulation I did to examine airflow volume as function of width (depth of 0.5m) and amount of floors (2.6m each) for 5 degrees difference from ambient (29C outside, 34C inside):


 Air volume [m^3/s] as function of amount of floors and sleeve width

So taking into account 5m width, 0.5m depth and 10 floors height cooling sleeve, the updraft flow is going to be ~5m3/s

While the air speed depends on the height and not on area (non-zero):


Air speed [m/s] as function of amount of floors

Initially I thought to use the flow to drive the rotor, but apparently the power produced this way is not substantial (feel free to fix me):

P = 0.5 x rho x A x Cp x V^3 x Ng x Nb = 1.6W for example above (of 5m3/s air flow)


P = power in watts

rho = air density (about 1.225 kg/m3 at sea level, less higher up)

A = rotor swept area, exposed to the wind (m2) count as a whole super-chimney area

Cp = Coefficient of performance (.59 {Betz limit} is the maximum theoretically possible, .35 for a good design) – taken as 0.35

V = wind speed in meters/sec

Ng = generator efficiency (50% for car alternator, 80% or possibly more for a permanent magnet generator or grid-connected induction generator) – taken as 0.5

Nb = gearbox/bearings efficiency (depends, could be as high as 95% if good) – taken as 0.95


Author: Andrey Gabdulin Product Development

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