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I intend to build a house in the near future and I want it done in a proper way. From my perspective "proper way" means also as much as self sustainable as possible. Hence I intend to generate/produce as much energy as possible. As I intend to use a lot of glazing on the sunny sides of the house I was thinking to have double advantage from this surface and use photo voltaic windows so I can also generate electricity. Unfortunately my time is tight. So any suggestions, comments appropriate links in the right direction would be highly appreciated.

Thank you!

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Broadly speaking, there are no pros to PV windows.

The point of a window is to let light in, and they're usually vertical.

The point of PV is to capture as much light as possible, turn as much of that as possible into electricity, and are angled towards the sky to capture as much light as possible (specific angle will depend on latitude).

Added to that, windows tend to be bespoke, each a custom size; but PV panels are cheap because they are commodity items produced in runs of identical thousands (or more).

So that's why you'll see various tech news stories about photovoltaic windows, but precious few commercial products. It sounds like it ought to be an interesting market, but it's really a bad mix, and the market just isn't there.

  • PV windows can be great in office blocks as they are a form of curtain walling, so can reduce the amount of other walling that is needed. Having windows all round an office letting in a reduce amount of light can also control issues with glare on monitors etc. I agree that they are not a good option for homes, for the reasons you have given. – Ian Ringrose Dec 10 '13 at 17:16
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As I mentioned in my answer to Producing my own energy options in urban area with windows but no roof access? photo-voltaic double glazing - a form of Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) may become more popular in the future as the economics of scale improves for low efficiency thin film PV.

Low cost thin film PV has the potential to be substantially cheaper than using crystalline silicon cells, but since it generally has a lower efficiency it isn't as interesting. For windows though, low efficiency has its advantages. Since thin films are layered on top of transparent glass, any light not converted into electricity passes through. Many glass fronted buildings already attenuate the incident light anyway, to minimise air-conditioning costs or reduce glare, so converting that light into energy rather then turning it into heat or reflecting it out of the building has a certain appeal.

I don't know of anyone producing home double glazing units featuring BIPV modules yet, but I know that machines for creating the glass panels for large scale BIPV projects have been around for years (I used to work on them in the mid to late naughties).

It is certainly an area I will be keeping an eye on, as the idea of unclipping my existing double glazing units and clipping in replacement double glazing units with integrated PV holds a lot of appear for me personally.

I can't suggest any specific suppliers but the important thing is the term BIPV, which should allow you to search out current suppliers.

Even if I knew that information (which I don't, I worked at the B2B end of the industry) that side of the question is a poor fit for stack exchange as the information goes out of date too quickly, so is unlikely to benefit future visitors. For more information, see Q&A is Hard, Let’s Go Shopping!.

  • thank you for your input. Maybe you can name a couple of the commercial producers. I would highly it and it would help a lot on the completeness of the question/ answer – user503413 Jun 3 '13 at 7:16
  • BIPV for windows really is fundamentally different for commercial buildings, though, which often have a very high percentage of their walls made of glass. In that situation, you have plenty of natural light, and as you said, you may want to reduce cooling costs. This question was about a house, which generally has relatively small windows. In that domain, I'd agree with EnergyNumbers that there's almost no upsides, as you're absorbing useful light, and orienting your solar film at a suboptimal tilt angle (0 degrees). – Nate Jun 19 '13 at 9:08

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