Solar Panel Garage Doors

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Solar energy is already supplying the power we need for our homes and electric cars. Why not cover our garage doors with solar panels to lift and lower these bulky structures? Many garage doors face the sun for most of the day. A garage door covered with solar panels could even generate enough electricity to recharge an electric vehicle (the one you don’t take to work). If you have a battery system that can collect the day’s charge, you could use the stored energy to recharge your electric car overnight.

Saves the Day During a Power Outage

There’s nothing more frustrating during a power outage than an electric garage door that won’t open. You’re left with unlocking the opener from its turn-screw drive and manually lifting the door—a back-breaking exercise if you’re old or a 100-pound woman. An independently powered garage door—working off the grid—solves this problem.

Saves Phantom Load Usage

While your garage door motor consumes lots of electric power, your garage door opener is always “on,” forever waiting for a signal, constantly consuming electricity. This power drain is often called a “phantom load,” and it’s present in many appliances – TV’s, DVD players, digital clocks, Wi-Fi routers—the list goes on and on. While the power these devices consume may not seem like a lot, being on constantly adds up over time. Some estimates run as high as $200 a year on phantom loads. The more device and technology you have, the higher the phantom load. Surprisingly, energy experts have concluded that garage door openers are typically the worst in slowly siphoning electric energy. Solar panels on a garage can easily compensate for these built-up electricity losses.

Cool Looking Solar Panels

The challenge in mounting PV solar panels onto a garage would be one of aesthetics: you need to make the solar panels blend in with the rest of the house. Elon Musk says he wants to make “cool looking solar panels.” Some have suggested that panels could be less visible by making them look more like traditional building materials. Another solution would be to use different patterns and colors. SolarCentury’s SunStation panels are black and sit flush with the surface onto which they are mounted. China-based HebeSolar offers solar panels in different shades and designs to blend into various architectures.

Solar Powered Garage System

Your average solar panel has the capability to produce about 1 kWh of electric energy per square meter of surface area. A standard double-wide garage door measures 16’x 7′ and provides about 10.4 square meters of surface space, which is enough to produce the amount of power needed to raise a garage door. There are commercial-grade solar panel construction kits for powering garage doors. US automatic offers these kits and they range in price from $800 to $1,000. While the prices may seem high, the electricity you’ll save will be worth it over the years. Realize, too, that these solar-powered garage door openers work completely off the grid. The advantages having a solar powered garage door is that it can power a garage that’s unattached from a home, which in many cases lack a power source.

Solar Panel Kits

 As solar technology becomes more common and economical, residential solar panel kits drop in price. Any garage door opener with a battery backup can be tinkered with so that it charges from a solar panel, moving your garage door totally off the grid and ensuring that you’ll be able to use it even in a power outage. Do not attempt this home-brewed hack unless you are confident in your understanding of electronic engineering, or allow a professional to oversee the job.

Got a garage door that gets a lot of sun during the day? Why not cover it with solar panels and save even more?

Posted on Tuesday, March 1st, 2016