Solar Power International (SPI) showcased countless advancements in photovoltaic panel technology, storage solutions, and many more segments of the solar industry. Here are the best and most innovative gadgets we saw this year in Anaheim.
The best gadgets from SPI 2018
1. LG Solar Car Roof
It might not be long before you can have solar cells integrated right into your car. LG unveiled a new Solar Car Roof product at SPI, with a surprising efficiency rating of 23%. Although LG estimates that their car roof will only extend your driving range by a short distance of 8.2 kilometers, it’s still exciting to see a leading manufacturer innovating in a new space where solar has the potential to make a large impact. This type of technology will become increasingly relevant as electric vehicles continue to grow in popularity.
2. Sunflare solar shingles
Solar shingles and other types of building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) continue to increase in popularity within the industry, and thin-film manufacturer Sunflare is one of the latest players in the space. While companies like Tesla make a glass tile, Sunflare’s product doesn’t use glass at all. This means that the panels are flexible, lightweight, and nearly unbreakable, making installation drastically easier when compared to standard panels or even glass roof tiles.
Sunflare already installs commercial versions of their shingle as a larger panel-shaped sheet. Due to the lack of glass, framing, and heavy racking, Sunflare’s flexible copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) panels weigh about 90% less per square foot than a traditional solar installation. This is one of the biggest benefits of their technology for commercial installations – why add unnecessary and dangerous weight to your roof when you can put the Sunflare solution up for a lower installation cost and peace of mind that your roof won’t cave?
Sunflare stated that their residential solar shingles are on track to be released sometime in 2020.
3. ACOPOWER solar fridge/freezer
Want to keep your food and drinks cold all day? ACOPOWER showcased their solar-powered fridge/freezer combo device at SPI, a perfect solution to keep your food from going bad after extended periods of time. Coming in multiple sizes and at varying price points, the ACOPOWER fridge/freezer device can be recharged with the included foldable solar panels or plugged into a wall outlet. As long as the internal battery has juice, your food and drinks stay cool.
The fridge/freezer has a little LCD display on the top that lets you adjust temperatures and switch the device between fridge temperatures and freezer temperatures.
4. EVgo FastSTART charging station
Electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining in popularity across the country and it will become increasingly important to have the infrastructure in place to support widespread EV use. EVgo is one company developing a network of vehicle chargers. They were showcasing a fast deployment technology at SPI aimed at making EV charger installation as quick and low-cost as possible.
The EVgo FastSTART charging solution is a two-step charger installation procedure. First, a truck drops off the hardware, consisting of two EV chargers on a metal sled. Next, the apparatus is connected to a power source. That’s it – the EVgo charging station is simple to install and brings down the cost of EV infrastructure deployment. The chargers themselves offer DC fast charging, allowing EV drivers to refuel significant amounts of charge in under an hour.
Solar technology is still rapidly advancing
In addition to the coolest gadgets at the show, there were plenty of products and ideas to be excited about. Cutting edge technology, such as bifacial panels, half-cut cells, mapping programs, and more, was abundant and clearly showed that the solar industry is constantly innovating and developing. We wrote a quick summary of the major trends we saw – check that out for a debrief on SPI 2018. If you’re curious about solar energy in general, you can start by reading some of the key things to know about solar.