It's not even up for discussion: adding a skylight to any building or home immediately ups the aesthetic value to the space. Who doesn't want to be bathed in the sun's rays and be relieved from the harsh incandescence of artificial light?
Aesthetics are nice, but they can't pay the electricity bill when a skylight lets in too much light and heat, causing the air conditioner to work overtime. Or can they?
Enter California-based EnFocus Engineering, who's found a way to covert a skylight's "oohs" and "ahhs" into cold, hard savings on the utility bill. They've launched Diamond-Power, a line of hybrid skylight solar power panels.
Designed for commercial use, Diamond-Power allows occupants to enjoy the soft glow of natural light while the panels harness and convert sunlight into electricity. Each 100-pound panel can generate 288 watts of electricity and 720 kilowatt-hours per year. Potentially, this could reduce a building's annual heat load by 2.1 million BTU's — offloading as much as 50 percent of grid electricity and paying for itself in savings within five years.
Not bad for a device that would only take up 5 percent of roof space.
Each panel contains small lenses that concentrate sunlight by 400 times onto strips containing gallium arsenide photovoltaic cells. Dual-axis trackers follow the sun's trajectory.
"We want to offer an effective, as well as complementary, technology to PV panels by using limited real estate on the roof to offload from the grid at a significantly lower cost in comparison to grid power, all while enhancing the human experience at the workplace with premium daylighting," said Jason Lu, founder and president of EnFocus Engineering, in a press release.
EnFocus will get a chance to prove Diamond-Power's money saving technology this September when Google plans to install skylights at one of its Silicon Valley offices.