As photovoltaic technology evolves, it is less dependent on rigid, fixed arrays of cells and can be adapted to a number of uses. Solar panels now generate electricity in the most unusual places. As centrally-generated power costs increase, designers everywhere are looking afresh at the flexibility offered by photovoltaic (PV) technology. Research and development have led to an increasing range of possibilities for PV panels across all types of products.
The US military is currently experimenting with a number of systems designed to reduce consumption of fossil fuels in remote locations and one option is a giant collapsible solar panel designed to be man-portable and charge radio batteries in a few hours. The 10-pound Rucksack Enhanced Portable Power System (REPPS )panel folds into a small pouch and can charge the latest generation of radio batteries. The military are currently expanding the range of rechargeable batteries in their inventory. This technology could benefit remote communities everywhere.
If you are on the move, solar panels can now be integrated into backpacks themselves. Infinit make a solar powered bag with integrated charger for multiple appliances – ranging from a PSP gaming system to a Blackberry and everything in between, the only thing that the current model will not charge is a notebook, but subsequent iterations will almost certainly produce more voltage. For participants in long-range foot races such as the Marathon des Sables, the advantages seem obvious.
Sales reps traditionally have a hard time with their equipment. Stuck on the road for days at a time, with batteries that often cut out during transmission of a particularly important e-mail exchange, salvation is at hand with a new solar charging unit for laptops, courtesy of powertraveller.com, which will run laptops under 40 watts and all manner of consoles from a USB output.
Inflatable solar concentrators allow a solar array to be set up in minutes. What’s even better is that they are made of largely recycled materials and will work in any weather. Cool Earth produces a range of easily maintained reflectors that take the place of traditional, glass-mounted PV panels. Ideal for developing communities and those who need to move their power source around, they are equipped with a steel strut and a harness that allows them to be securely bolted to a locally-manufactured array, thus reducing construction costs and environmental impact.
Solar Products for Festivals
Festival-goers will be nostalgic for the delights of a damp tent in the middle of an English field as their favourite band performs a set on a distant stage. With festivals lasting four or five days and power sources several hundred metres away, a solar powered tent might be the solution to a slightly more comfortable existence. Orange, already providing the official phone charging facility concession to festivals everywhere, have taken the concept one step further and commissioned a solar tent covered in photovoltaic material which will provide enough power to drive a wireless hub, an internal heating element, and recharge different mobile phones.
For more information on solar panel installation, and the benefits of installing solar power in your own home, take a look at Solar Contact'swebsite.