Builders' Show: Solar shutters harness the power of the sun

Consumer Reports News: January 11, 2011 08:08 AM

Window shutters make your home more energy efficient by reducing solar heat gain—the increase in temperature that occurs when sunlight strikes any structure or object. Plug 'n Save's PV Solar Shutter takes this concept to a new level by not just blocking out the sun, but also harnessing its power.

The plantation-style interior shutters consist of solid-bamboo louvers with photovoltaic (PV) cells on their exterior side (shown). The PV cells convert sunlight into electricity that's fed into your home through a "grid tie inverter" that can be plugged into any electrical outlet. The inverter changes the current from DC to AC so that it can be used by anything drawing power off the grid, such as lights, appliances, and electronics.

A 2' x 3' custom shutter will cost about $400, which puts PV Solar Shutters at the high end of the window treatment market. But Plug 'n Save claims a shutter that size could generate up to 50 watts of electricity per hour on a bright, sunny day. That might be enough to power a TV, computer, or small appliance, for a total annual savings of $100 or more.

Consumer Reports has not tested the Plug 'n Save PV Solar Shutter, but we have run extensive testing on solar water heaters, and found them to be potential money savers in the long run. 

—Daniel DiClerico

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