A new product, called the solar skylight, which is a combination of a traditional skylight coupled with silicon solar cells, has entered the marketplace. The idea behind the skylight is to harness the sun’s energy in order to produce electricity and, using a specially designed fluid-filled pipe, to produce a highly heated liquid that can run a heater or a specialized cooling system driven by heat.
The solar skylight is constructed in such a way that the cells, which absorb energy from the sun, are installed on slats and can be opened or closed when more, or less, light is needed. The outward appearance is very much like a Venetian blind.
In addition to producing electricity, running heating and cooling systems, and providing cost-free lighting, the skylight reduces carbon dioxide emissions at twice the rate of other photovoltaic equipment-devices which convert solar radiation into electricity.
The complete solar skylight system consists of a series of individual units placed on top of the roof and which are all connected to a master module. The master module takes continuous readings of current sky and weather conditions as well as the building energy and lighting requirements. A central program then determines in real time the most efficient configuration of the individual units.
The solar skylight has limited availability today but can be bought through certain roofing or building contractors, or through some local utility companies. In the future, as technology improves and the cost to provide clean energy decreases, expect to see many more of these solar skylights in use. In the meantime, the basic considerations when purchasing a skylight can be followed for your own particular situation.