Traditionally, solar panels are installed on the roof of a house, on the roof of a building, or even installed on metallic structures at ground level. However, with the development of different technologies for producing photovoltaic panels, architects are starting to incorporate the panels on walls, replacing conventional roofs and windows on buildings or houses. Any practice of incorporating the panel into the construction is known as BIPV (Building Integrated Photovoltaics).
BIPV consists of solar cells or panels, which are integrated into the construction elements or materials as part of the building structure. This way, they replace a conventional building element, instead of being attached to one. BIPV solar panels not only generate electricity, but they can also provide additional features to the building. For example, they can protect against the sun’s radiation, thermal insulation, rain protection, partial shading of certain areas, replacement of roof tiles, etc.
Where can it be installed?
This technology provides several benefits when compared to traditional solar panel installations. First of all, there are more surfaces available for the integration of BIPV panels, so you are no longer limited to the rooftop. The BIPV solar panels can also be integrated into façades, skylights, building railings, balconies, marquees and much more. An Integrated Photovoltaic system also contributes to the aesthetics of the building.
For example, the materials used for BIPV allow architects to be creative with the transparency and colour of the solar panels. When integrated into façades, skylights or windows, the BIPV can contribute to keeping the building temperature within the desired range, thus saving a lot of energy with air-conditioning or heating.
Which design options are used in BIPV?
Transparent modules, colored modules, and black modules are all different types of Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) that can be used in different ways to achieve different aesthetic and performance goals.
- Transparent modules: These are BIPV modules that are designed to be highly transparent, allowing a significant amount of natural light to pass through while still generating electricity. These modules are often used in skylights, atriums, or other areas where natural light is desired. Transparent modules can also be used in place of traditional glass, allowing the building to generate electricity while maintaining a traditional glass aesthetic.
- Colored modules: These are BIPV modules that are designed to have a specific color, such as blue, green, or red. These colored modules can be used to create unique and eye-catching designs, or to match the color scheme of the building. Colored modules are often used in façade-integrated BIPV systems, where the modules are integrated into the exterior walls of the building.
- Black modules: These are BIPV modules that are designed to be dark or black in color, and are often used in roof-integrated BIPV systems. Black modules are designed to blend in with traditional roofing materials, such as asphalt shingles, and are often used in residential or commercial buildings. Black modules can also be used in place of traditional solar panels to blend in with the building and maintain a sleek, modern aesthetic.
In general, transparent and colored modules are used for aesthetic purposes where as black modules are used for their performance. The choice of which type of module to use will depend on the specific requirements of the building and the goals of the project.
BIPV is still a niche market, but architects are starting to look at using this technology more often in designing new residential and office buildings. New energy-efficient building concept designs are helping to drive demand for BIPV solar panels.
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