Indoor solar panels for the office?

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Indoor solar panels for the office?

Postby EnergyMatters » Mon Feb 08, 2010 7:31 am

The idea of indoor solar panels may sound a little like the concept of deck chairs on submarines, but U.S. based Solaroad Technologies may be onto something with their "CubeTube" cylindrical solar panels.

http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.p ... cle_id=757
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Re: Indoor solar panels for the office?

Postby SR76 » Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:40 pm

As with many pieces of technology which was previously my job to evaluate.... this one sends warning bells ringing left right and centre.

OK... so... humour me with a bit of mathematics for a second.

The prototypes look to me like 100mm pipe. Let's estimate that that is their diameter. A cross section of 100mm pipe has a circumference of 314.15mm or 0.314 m (pi * diameter). For every metre of pipe, the surface area is 0.314 m2.

Looking around the cube I'm sitting in, I'd be lucky to have about 6 metres of ridge at the top of the cube walls. Let's be generous and suggest that a good cube has 10 m of available length. This means that the maximum surface area could be 3.14 m2.

Then let's assume best in class performance - Sunpower manages 173 W/m2. For 3.14 m2 of tube, we could then get 543 W in total. If that were true then maybe it could indeed run my computer and phone.

Now. I might get that 543 W if every square cm of tube were unfolded and facing directly at the sun. It's not. The sun comes from one direction, meaning that even if it strikes the tube square on, half of the tube is not illuminated. True, I could possibly get a little reflection from other surfaces but unless I'm in the habit of sitting on mirrors (I'm not) I think it's safe to roughly halve the available power. 272 W left. I'll ignore the incidence angle modifier for all parts of the tube that are NOT seeing the sun straight on for the moment.

Now... 272W is starting to sound borderline. The next part is the sock-knocker.

My cube is NOT outside in the sun.

My cube is inside, under fluorescent lights. A quick look around says that maybe if I am lucky my cube enjoys the full benefit of 3 fluorescent tubes overhead. Slightly generous (for my 6-person area I see 16 tubes). These are 36 W each. 108 W total. Even if I could collect 272 W with the Cube Tubes, the available light isn't there. Even if I tried to plug my computer directly into the sockets that the bulbs now occupy (which would presumably be more efficient than attempting to catch 2nd hand energy), 108 W won't go too far towards powering my desktop. And I'd be working in the dark.

I'll stop there. If anyone can show me something I've missed, I'd be grateful.
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Re: Indoor solar panels for the office?

Postby stivzor » Wed Feb 10, 2010 3:09 pm

I don't think you've missed anything. At first glance this sounds like a silly idea. With some thought it becomes ridiculous.

It would save a heck of a lot more power simply by turning the lights off and putting smaller ones in each cubicle. Mind you, they could be used to power lights that feed into themselves. Free energy!

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Re: Indoor solar panels for the office?

Postby mysolarbackup01 » Mon May 24, 2010 5:16 pm

this idea of indoor panels for office sounds very cool .... but i dont think these four panels will be able to power the computer.... moreover the efficeincy of solar panels are approx 25%. means they can change only 25% of solar energy into electric energy. also from where these panels will het light? Inside the building, intensity of suns' rays will be even lesser..hence lesser efficiency... so can you please explain how this is feasible....
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