There has been a great interest in solar product development in recent years and as a result, product development engineering firms have gained a great deal of experience in designing solar energy products.
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 modules. Specific project work has included small-scale solar-powered electronics, as well as larger infrastructure / industrial products.
Design and Development of 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 Powered Product Batteries
Solar product development requires a lot of forwarding thinking. Solar panels alone are 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 an engineering design and manufacturing consideration as well.
Solar Product Aesthetics
At the consumer level, solar product development aesthetics is probably one of the biggest factors when it comes to engineered solar products. 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 (IoT)
As IoT technology and the ability to connect devices on varying scales expands, some companies are thinking wide range or even bigger (such as pushing a significant amount of data to cloud-based databases).
But with cloud-connected equipment comes risk. The research and development require careful planning to ensure data is secure and the devices are secured against potential threats.
As solar continues to grow as a viable power source for standalone products and systems, product design will continue to keep up with changing power generation, volume manufacturing, and storage trends, as they apply to large and small form factor for solar product development initiatives.