In an interview with CleanTech News, Yevgen discusses the inspiration behind the founding of SolarGaps and the challenges he faces encouraging widespread adoption.
SolarGaps is a company based in California that provides solar power in the form of blinds that can be controlled via an app on a smartphone. With a firm belief that green energy should be available to everybody, Yevgen Erik set out to design the world’s first solar blinds.
SolarGaps was recently listed as one of the finalists of the Katerva Awards.
Not everyone can mount solar panels on a roof
“Many homeowners want to use solar power, but not everyone has the option to mount a solar panel on a roof, especially those who live in the apartments or work in the offices.
The idea of creating SolarGaps came to me when I realized that solar modules can be installed not only on the top, but also on the facade of the buildings.”
Shading from the blinds can reduce energy consumption by up to 30%
“Most of our customers already have an established understanding about the importance of clean energy. Not all of them realize, however, the power of the shading effect.
Blinds are capable of keeping indoor temperatures cool and eliminate glare. Thus, by using the abundant vertical space, SolarGaps can prevent heat from entering through the windows, and reduce energy to power the main building’s operations.
According to independent studies, external shading devices decrease energy consumption of the building by around 30 percent when installed on the sunny side. Which means, in turn, reduced AC usage.”
SolarGaps produce enough power to charge 50 smartphones and provide active shading while at it
SolarGaps are the first external blinds that generate up to 100Wh per 1 sqm of electricity during sunny hours – enough to charge 50 smartphones, 3 laptops, or to power a TV.
“Solar modules follow the sun, just like the sunflowers in the field to ensure the most efficient sun capture.”
The smart blinds automatically adjusts the angle of its blinds in accordance to the sunlight intensity it receives for effective shading.
The smartphone application that resides on the user’s device also provides reports on the SolarGaps performance and also acts as a system control centre.
A mass-customisation model is a challenge
“The biggest challenge for encouraging widespread adoption of the product is the fact that every set of blinds has to be custom-made to match the perimeter of the window.
Customer will have to wait till their SolarGaps are produced and shipped to their country. The installation of SolarGaps proved to be quite a challenge as well.
To address them, we are working on a local distribution network to shorten the time to market.”
“At the moment, we are working on the development of the B2B product for commercial buildings where we believe have the biggest potential in obtaining maximum economic and ecological benefits from SolarGaps.
The blinds could be integrated into existing building management systems, reduce air-conditioning usage, and generate green energy.”