There has been a great interest in Solar Product Development in recent years and as a result, SGW Designworks has gained a great deal of experience in designing products and systems powered by solar.
Our team has been involved in some exciting projects recently and has been able to apply insight from other industries into the development of solar products. Specific project work has included small-scale solar-powered electronics, as well as larger infrastructure / industrial products.
Solar projects present a lot of interesting engineering challenges. They are typically outdoor products and must be rugged enough to survive outside without losing any of their functionality. This includes just day-to-day wear and tear from being out in the elements as well as storms, rain, and UV exposure.
Solar product development requires a lot of forwarding thinking. Solar power alone is typically insufficient to power the product or system, so onboard battery storage is typically required as well. Since battery performance (both charge and discharge) is affected by temperature, it is sometimes necessary to develop provisions for temperature control into the product. Serviceability or the ability to repair the product is often a design consideration as well.
At the consumer level, solar product development aesthetics is probably one of the biggest factors when it comes to design. It may be fine for a solar farm out in the middle of nowhere to look like…well, a solar farm. But when it is a component of a home or if it will be on a public street, the raw industrial look of solar equipment may not be the best call.
In general, solar is an attractive energy source for these products because conventional grid power is not available or is too costly where the products will be used. This ability to produce energy away from the existing grid is part of what makes solar attractive, and with this off-grid presence, there is sometimes a need to keep the devices connected with some type of telemetry output.
Solar Product Development and the Internet of Things
As IoT technology and the ability to connect devices on varying scales expands, some companies are thinking even bigger.
Recently SGW Designworks solar product development portfolio includes IoT connectivity for remote monitoring and control of the product where products themselves would be pushing a significant amount of data to cloud-based databases.
But with cloud-connected equipment comes risk. The project requires careful planning to ensure data is secure and the devices are secured against potential threats.
As solar continues to grow in as a viable power source for standalone products and systems, SGW Designworks will continue to keep up with changing power generation and storage trends, as they apply to large and small form factor for solar product development initiatives.