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The Future of Residential Solar: Emerging Technologies and Trends

With so many innovations on the horizon, the future of residential solar energy seems bright (pun intended). But which innovations are viable in the near future, and which ones are unrealistic endeavors? 

In this article, we’ll explore four areas of innovation, learn what’s realistic, and examine how they will affect the residential solar industry. 

  1. The Cyclical Trend of Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV)
  2. The Boring but Important Innovations in Energy Storage
  3. AI is on Everyone’s Mind, but What is its Place in Renewable Energy?
  4. More Affordable Panels Could be a Game Changer in the Next Decade

The Cyclical Trend of Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV)

You might have heard exciting news about transparent solar panels, photovoltaic glass, or a thin photovoltaic film. All of these innovations share the goal of integrating solar power into architecture without compromising aesthetics. Thus, the name building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). 

Imagine a skyscraper covered in photovoltaic glass, generating power simply from standing. While it is a great vision for the future and potentially something to strive for, it’s not very realistic in the near term. 

This is admittedly anecdotal, but we’ve seen countless startups promise a BIPV product that will “revolutionize the world.” Windows that generate energy from the heat of sunlight. Window blinds with tiny solar panels built into them. Thin photovoltaic film that you install on the exteriors of buildings.

So far, they have always turned out to be less efficient, more expensive, harder to maintain, and less viable for the average homeowner than traditional rooftop solar panels. These startups come and go. However, these trends spark interesting avenues for long-term innovations. 

residential solar home

The Boring but Important Innovations in Energy Storage

The innovations that will change residential solar are the boring, incremental improvements in existing systems. Take batteries, for example. Energy storage is one-half of the equation. Batteries are crucial for providing an uninterrupted energy supply for off-grid systems.

We’ve recently seen the advancement and widespread adoption of lithium-ion batteries. Years ago, a battery storage system relied on lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, or nickel-metal hydride batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are less expensive and comparatively lightweight while enjoying higher energy density and longer life cycles. They are an all-around improvement from batteries from 10 years ago. 

Lithium-ion batteries, like the Tesla Powerwall, are now the industry standard. Other industries are also benefiting from better batteries. For example, thanks to lithium-ion batteries, electric vehicles can increase their range while decreasing charge times. 

solar home

Energy storage solutions will only continue to innovate. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, are making progress with solid-state lithium-sulfur batteries. Lithium-sulfur batteries could offer higher energy density than today’s lithium-ion batteries while lowering costs. Drexel University’s School of Engineering is also experimenting with Lithium-sulfur batteries. So far, they’ve made great headway in increasing their performance, capacity, and lifespan. 

AI is on Everyone’s Mind, but What is its Place in Renewable Energy?

Artificial intelligence is on everyone’s mind. So, how could AI help the residential solar industry? AI has the greatest potential to address logistical hurdles blocking renewable energy adoption. However, AI works best at scale. So, you might not see AI utilized for an individual’s home, but it can optimize utility-scale, community energy projects

Weather is inherently chaotic. Sunlight and wind are unpredictable and intermittent. Their energy production fluctuates, making it challenging to match energy supply to demand. You might overproduce on sunny days but underproduce during long periods of bad weather. This leads to grid instability and wasted energy.

Enter AI-driven predictive analytics. Google and its subsidiary DeepMind trained a neural network to predict wind power output 36 hours in advance. That AI then made recommendations on optimizing hourly delivery commitments. Throughout Google’s experiment, the wind farm saw a 20% increase in value. 

Some have misreported this success as a 20% increase in energy production. That’s not entirely true; it predicted wind forecasts a day in advance, and the grid adjusted accordingly. While it did not improve energy production, it did improve the wind farm’s value to the wider grid. Predictable power production is indispensable to the power grid. 

IBM Research developed a similar AI focused on solar forecasting. This system predicted cloud movements and solar energy production with a 30% higher accuracy than traditional forecasting. 

Energy forecasting is only one avenue for AI. Real-time data analytics could optimize grid management. Performance metrics and sensor data could advance system monitoring and help grid operators proactively maintain equipment. Furthermore, AI could use satellite imagery to locate prime spots for utility-scale solar farms. 

AI has an exciting place in renewable energy’s future. Most AI integrations will be behind the scenes, but nonetheless, they are essential to the wide adoption of renewable energy. 

More Affordable Panels Could be a Game Changer in the Next Decade

As Solar Installers, we want more people to have access to solar panels. Everyone deserves access to clean, renewable energy. The price of the initial investment remains the largest obstacle for most homeowners. 

Enter the thrilling potential of perovskite solar cells. These experimental solar panels have demonstrated promising results in lab testing. However, their greatest advantage is in reducing manufacturing costs. 

solar panels installed

Most solar panels today are made of polycrystalline or monocrystalline silicon. They require the mining of rare earth elements, which pollute heavily. Renewable energy’s dependence on rare earth elements has hindered its progress and increased its price tag. Perovskite solar cells use similar crystalline structures but with abundant materials like lead and tin. 

Perovskite solar cells could greatly lower manufacturing costs and the final product’s price. However, this innovation is not without its hurdles. Perovskite solar cells’ biggest challenge is their longevity. So far, these cells degrade faster than traditional solar panels, leading to lower lifespans. As we learned from our blog post on solar maintenance, all panels naturally degrade when exposed to the elements. However, perovskite seems very susceptible to degradation. 

There are also toxicity concerns. If a piece of equipment with lead degrades, then it risks lead contamination. That is a major safety concern manufacturers must overcome before we feel comfortable installing these on someone’s house. 

Perovskite solar cells are not the only path toward more affordable solar panels. They just currently seem the most viable. Researchers are also experimenting with organic photovoltaics (OPV). These cells are made from carbon-based materials and could also lower costs. However, they are less efficient than current panels. Other researchers are exploring thin-film solar cells utilizing abundant elements like copper, zinc, tin, and sulfur. However, they face similar efficiency challenges. 

If manufacturers can create reliable panels from these cheaper sources, you might enjoy affordable panels in the next decade. 

Conclusion

We’re excited about the future of renewable energy, but let’s focus on the present. We’re only human, so don’t take our predictions as prophecies etched in stone. 

Clean, green, renewable energy is available to you today. You can lower your energy bills for the next two decades. You can help the environment and support a healthy ecosystem. You can enjoy energy independence. Your future is bright with a residential solar system designed for you.

Of course, there is a lot to consider for such an investment. That’s why we want you to be informed. Start your journey with our Frequently Asked Questions page, or contact us directly.

Contact Convert Solar Today!

Our Reviews

Convert Solar
4.8
Based on 222 reviews
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J Byrd
J Byrd
15:50 29 Aug 22
I called to ask a question concerning my solar panels. Someone named Jordan answered the phone immediately. He was... extremely kind, patient and knowledgeable when he answered all of my questions and explained in a way that was understandable. I have been a convert solar customer for almost a year and I am pleased with the company.read more
Yasmin Valdes
Yasmin Valdes
12:32 29 Aug 22
My experience with this company has been very good. I received a few quotes from different companies and there’s was... very competitive. The sales rep Melissa has been very helpful in providing information but really what has prompted me to write this amazing review is their service rep Jordan. He is amazingly responsive and really on top of our system to ensure we’re getting the maximum output. Right after the install I was hearing some buzzing sounds from our panel and he came out on a Sunday afternoon to get this fixed. Also, While we were on vacation he actually came by the house because he noticed a few of the panels were not performing as they were supposed to. I am very happy we signed out with this company and our panels look amazing! I am awaiting one final thing to be completed for the job to be done but so far I’m very happy with their service and product.read more
John F. Childress, Ph.D,
John F. Childress, Ph.D,
18:49 22 Aug 22
I contracted with Convert Solar to install panels on our roof. From the very first contact, the staff was... professional, responsive, and timely. I was always kept apprised of progress of our project. It was completed on time, on budget, and passed all inspections. Installers, electricians, and staff were all pleasant to work with. I am particularly impressed Dylan Kowal who went above and beyond what could have been expected to make sure our needs were met and we were not sold anything we didn’t need. I cannot recommend this company more highly.read more
William OConnor
William OConnor
17:10 18 Aug 22
I started the solar due diligence process in February. I spoke with four companies and am very happy I took the time... to pick the right solar supplier. Convert Solar made solid commitments and met every one of them. Dylan, the representative, was incredibly knowledgeable and professional; the installation went better than expected; and the system is generating more than I thought it would. The entire team was a pleasure to work with. Convert Solar gets my heartiest recommendation!read more
Mark
Mark
15:03 25 Jul 22
Had the sales person come out. Def not pushy but signed up. Installation was great. I did have a prob from where the... placement of the panels was diff from the plans. I also did not like how line was ran on the side of the building. I mentioned this and they came out and rerouted the wire on my concern.....def a recommended company for meMark Sread more
Bob Marietta
Bob Marietta
13:56 20 Jul 22
I had a great experience with Convert-Solar. Every aspect of the process went smooth. They offered me a great price,... were experts in solar and installed a solar system without issue. The installers went above and beyond. They routed a cable through my attic in such a way to optimize the cosmetic experience from the exterior. Highly recommend this company. After the system was installed, I discovered solar had an added benefit of reflecting or absorbing heat. My house was cooler and the HVAC didn't have to work as hard to keep up.read more
Garry Johns
Garry Johns
16:43 12 Jul 22
Just had my power company come out and change over to my new meter for solar. Immediately called Convert Solar. They... were fabulous! walked me through final process with turning the system on while answering all my questions as well. Finally, they helped me with the application download and setup.Now, I am solar! These guys and Earth Right Mid-Atlantic have been outstanding, prompt, and quick from the very beginning.Thank you very much!!read more
Bruce Frickey
Bruce Frickey
17:09 20 Jun 22
After almost a year of enjoying my Convert Solar installed system on my house I called with a quick question. Jordan... answered quickly, looked up my account and gave me what I needed. The energy production from my roof has been great, along with the continued customer support from Convert. There is a real benefit from choosing a local company established in the community when purchasing a system you expect to use for 30 years!read more
Tyler Ryan
Tyler Ryan
22:43 13 Jun 22
Let me preface and state that I am individual that seeks out local business as opposed to big chains. I had already... made the immediate decision to get solar on our new home the day we had moved in. When we began calling local solar companies, those that we did meet with did not give us exactly what we were looking for. They were either not giving us enough panels, offset, or to much in terms of pricing vs competitors. When I contacted VA energy Solutions not only did they hear us loud and clear they understood our urgency to immediately get the ball rolling.When we had met with Steven I had instantly told him that I wanted as many panels as possible so that we can get our offset as close to if not over 100%. After initial inputs and testing and then coming back later on after they had gotten drone footage, they were able to get 62 panels on our home. This put our offset at ~90% and mind you this is with many many trees around us that were blocking potential energy from hitting our panels. We have since gotten down some of the trees and are still working on getting rid of the other trees that are blocking the panels at sunrise and sunset, once the said trees are down we should easily be at 100% offset if not extraordinarily close.On the day of the installation for the 62 panels the workers had arrived at our home at 7am, and they did not leave until almost 9pm. These workers wanted to ensure that the panels were installed on the day of and not a day later, they worked through such high temperatures. We had given them lots of water, and Gatorade and even snacks for how hard they worked on getting everything done. It was surreal with how much they pushed themselves to ensure that the job was done on the same day. Our installation is an uncommon one with the way our roof is and with how many we had to be installed mind you. Overall the experience has been great and we are looking forward to being able to have our 100% power once we get the rest of the trees down. It is going to be great to see the lack of an energy bill from dominion once we are at that point.read more
Tyler Ryan
Tyler Ryan
22:43 13 Jun 22
Let me preface and state that I am individual that seeks out local business as opposed to big chains. I had already... made the immediate decision to get solar on our new home the day we had moved in. When we began calling local solar companies, those that we did meet with did not give us exactly what we were looking for. They were either not giving us enough panels, offset, or to much in terms of pricing vs competitors. When I contacted VA energy Solutions not only did they hear us loud and clear they understood our urgency to immediately get the ball rolling.When we had met with Steven I had instantly told him that I wanted as many panels as possible so that we can get our offset as close to if not over 100%. After initial inputs and testing and then coming back later on after they had gotten drone footage, they were able to get 62 panels on our home. This put our offset at ~90% and mind you this is with many many trees around us that were blocking potential energy from hitting our panels. We have since gotten down some of the trees and are still working on getting rid of the other trees that are blocking the panels at sunrise and sunset, once the said trees are down we should easily be at 100% offset if not extraordinarily close.On the day of the installation for the 62 panels the workers had arrived at our home at 7am, and they did not leave until almost 9pm. These workers wanted to ensure that the panels were installed on the day of and not a day later, they worked through such high temperatures. We had given them lots of water, and Gatorade and even snacks for how hard they worked on getting everything done. It was surreal with how much they pushed themselves to ensure that the job was done on the same day. Our installation is an uncommon one with the way our roof is and with how many we had to be installed mind you. Overall the experience has been great and we are looking forward to being able to have our 100% power once we get the rest of the trees down. It is going to be great to see the lack of an energy bill from dominion once we are at that point.read more
Lynn Miller
Lynn Miller
18:56 10 Jun 22
I knew for my new home I wanted Solar and I interviewed several companies before deciding on Convert Solar. Why... Convert? First, they educated me on solar not to sell me but to explain how it worked, what questions I needed to ask them and others and where to look for independent information. Then I asked them who their strongest competitor was and they immediately gave a name of a company that i had heard was good. I interviewed the other company and liked them a lot and their pricing was the same. So why again? Because they took multiple steps to educate me. Have had follow up time to talk with me way after the sale. Oh, and my solar works fantastic in that Convert estimated that solar would only cover about 78% of the cost of power at the house, today it is covering 100%.read more
JAMES FAST
JAMES FAST
18:40 10 Jun 22
Excellent experience. No gimmicks of "discounting" the cost by my tax incentive. Everything went according to plan... with exception of needing to get a roof vent moved. I pointed this out to the sales folks and they should have just told me to take care of that before installation rather than saying it was going to be fine. Installers had to stop and come back another day to finish after I got the vent moved.read more
Todd Bollinger
Todd Bollinger
18:25 10 Jun 22
The roofing contractor they use likes to add parts without discussing it with the homeowner before installation. Which... led to an unexpected $1600 bill a month later. Secondly, be sure you review all of the contract. The tax credit is non-refundable, meaning it just reduces how much you owe (if you owe anything to begin with).The solar is great as it just replaces the electric bill which will only increase while this bill will eventually go away. The salesman is responsive. Overall it will be a good investment but the communication could be better.read more
Nash Thakker
Nash Thakker
16:06 10 Jun 22
My experience with Solar Energy was A+ with Convert SolarTony was great and very helpful; he gave me an awesome deal... which was much better than anyone in the solar market. He explained everything and showed comparative data from the start and handled our 1,000+ questions that we had.Convert solar team did an awesome job installing the panels; the crew was very professional and walked me through the entire process during installation and adjusted the solar panel according to the way we were anticipating. Overall, this project required very little from me once I made the initial choices and was managed well from start to finish. The timelines were met, the build was fast, and it looks good. The quality of consulting and professionalism were excellent. The electrician also conducted excellent work (wiring the panel) and explaining all the information. The best part, they also cleaned up everything (inside and outside) the house after installation (left no debris behind). We are happy with the installation and looking forward to many years of solar bliss. I would recommend Tony for Solar needs and his team to anyone. Thank you to everyone on the team. Great job!read more
Joe and Amal Hall
Joe and Amal Hall
16:34 27 May 22
We got solar panels done on our very first home and it was definitely a big risk and and a big decision.We... interviewed many solar companies but eventually found honesty and real customer service with Convert Solar. Our salesperson was Jeremy Davis and my husband and I were so pleased with the work they did. Many solar companies try to confuse you and aren't clear about certain terms in the contract and what they provide. With Jeremy, he proved us wrong. All our questions were answered and explained extremely well (an we were very detailed with the contract). Jeremy provided a customer service that we did not experience with any other solar power company. He truly wanted the best for us and our home and his enthusiasm for solar and his career showed through every conversation.I highly recommend convert solar. They offer competitive prices and strong customer service that puts them above the rest. Our panels have been doing well and we couldn't be happier.If you work with convert solar, ask for Jeremy - he will make your experience 10x better.read more
Dylan Hunger
Dylan Hunger
16:29 17 May 22
I worked with Convert Solar to get a system that was installed five years ago by a different company (that is no longer... in business) repaired. I specifically worked with Jordan, and I must say he was fantastic. The system was completely non-functional due to a "DC Isolation Fault" (it is a SolarEdge system). Jordan had everything up and running again in just a few hours, he cleaned up behind himself, and answered every question I had. Would have went with them initially, if I knew about their business in 2017. Would highly recommend their services to anyone that is seeking them.read more
William Weatherly
William Weatherly
00:46 03 May 22
I would like to start by saying I’m a very Skeptical person with anything new that I don’t fully understand. With that... said I really appreciate the professional approach that Convert Solar had with the initial call and throughout the whole install process. I want to especially shout out appreciation to Freddie(our salesman) who took the time to explain everything so that we felt completely comfortable. I would strongly recommend using this company to take care of all your solar power needs.read more
Xavier Manzeralla
Xavier Manzeralla
23:08 25 Apr 22
I’m leaving a review now, after having my solar panels installed about a year and a half ago by Convert Solar. I am so... happy to have gone with this company for my solar panels! I love that they are a Virginia company, and they have never let me feel like I just spent a ton of money with a company and then was forgotten about. They have been just a call, text, or email away, for any of my questions about my system, and I just wanted to let everyone know - I couldn’t be happier with this company! 😊read more
Pete Kern
Pete Kern
23:46 15 Mar 22
Convert Solar!!! Especially Jordan (Tech Guy) and Mara (spelling? Customer Service). They do a great job!!! I have had... my 28 panel solar array for about two years and I am starting to see a massive impact to my electric bill. Very Happy with Convert!!!Shopped around to a few Solar companies and Convert is the standard!!!read more
Monique Farrington
Monique Farrington
12:29 08 Mar 22
The interactions during my entire process of installation was remarkable! I appreciated the professionalism, work... ethic, timeliness, attention to detail, and responsiveness of this company. Julie, my project manager was EVERYTHING! She was able to quickly get my needs met and questions answered. I am so thankful too to those who were tasked to tend to my needs. After my install and inspection, I had a coincidental (we discovered after troubleshooting, thoroughly) power outage to only 1 section of my home. Hunter and his supervisor figured out the problem and fixed it (unrelated to the solar panel install). They went above and beyond. For this too, I am so grateful! I highly recommend Convert Solar when you decide to go solar! 🙂read more
Jack Kauffman (Vegantreehugger3)
Jack Kauffman (Vegantreehugger3)
20:19 11 Feb 22
We are so happy with our solar system. We have had it for two years and love that we are doing something for the... environment. The system was well planned and we have just a little more solar power than our consumption these last two years. Their service has been above expectation. Twice in the two years our inverter failed and once they came out to replaced it before we were aware that it was not functioning properly. They are just as good with their warrantee service and support as they were with the planning and installation of the system.read more
Chris Long
Chris Long
19:14 27 Jan 22
I'm ecstatic to share my experience and install with Convert Solar! Fred and Pierre gave an awesome presentation to my... wife and I and answered EVERY question and concern that we had! Install was today and I couldn't be more pleased and happy with the professionalism and work done! Roofers/Panel install (Matt and his team (sorry I cant remember all of your names) ) were super professional and explained the process before they started! I hovered a lot (sorry lol) but I had so many "what if's" circling in my head and I didn't want a rush job! Matt and the team didn't mind and continued to make me at ease with their work! The Electricians Robert and Cameron were awesome! The level of anxiety I feel whenever it comes to electricity and the thought of having to do anything inside of my electrical panel were intensified when adding wires, junction boxes and power sources to the mix! But these two gentlemen quickly extinguished those thoughts of uncertainty and doubt with their knowledgeable explanations, installation and all around professionalism! A few more steps are needed before the system is completely up and running but I write this review from my couch, relaxed and without any cares or regrets! Thanks Convert Solar, everyone mentioned and those that were here but I didn't get your names! My wife and I appreciate you all!read more
Heather Gotliboski
Heather Gotliboski
13:30 17 Nov 21
Convert Solar has kept us informed every step of the way, fully and patiently explained the process of going solar, and... have been extremely responsive in each encounter with them to include coming out to our home 1 hour after reporting a panel error and fixing it immediately! They even followed the visit up with a phone call to ensure great service!read more
Andrew Guzman
Andrew Guzman
02:37 15 Nov 21
My experience with Convert Solar has been amazing. Fred MacArthur was a wonderful salesman that explained the entire... process honestly and did not hold anything back. The install crew were super professional and had the install of 20 panels complete within 5 hours. I have had an absolutely great experience with the company and 10/10 recommend it for anyone looking to convert!!!read more
Tal Day
Tal Day
18:55 12 Nov 21
We retrofitted an existing home with a southwest exposure in Virginia's Northern Neck in spring 2021. The first step... in the process was a visit by a sales representative who inspected the site. This included looking at rafters in the attic and running a drone to construct a heat map of the roof surface. He also looked at a year's worth of utility bills. With that information he furnished an estimate which we accepted and the install was scheduled. The installation crew consisted of four people to install roof panels and an electrician and assistant to connect into a home system, through the transfer switch for an emergecy generator. The entire install took 4-hours. This was a well-planned, custom installation that was efficiently implemented on-site. Outstanding!read more
robert caley
robert caley
16:11 11 Nov 21
Sales representative was great , knowledgeable and answered all my questions. The guys showed up on time as scheduled.... My system was installed and operational the same day. I highly recommend Convert Solar. My electric bill is only about $9.00 per month and that is for the utility service and taxes. Love it, Thank you Convert Solar!read more
Samuel Dillon
Samuel Dillon
14:53 11 Nov 21
My experience working with the folks at Convert Solar has been truly awesome! Mara Gianini did a fantastic job leading... me through the many steps in the project from helping with the technical specs through the installation process and the inspection/certification effort. I could not be more pleased. I have to say also that I was particularly impressed by Winston and his installation crew. Their level of professionalism was evident from the moment they arrived at my home until they packed up for the day. They answered all of my questions, were responsive to my concerns, and were incredibly polite and well spoken. My hat is off to the entire Convert Solar team.read more
Rosana OBrien
Rosana OBrien
15:50 25 Jun 21
Installation crew was spectacular! Got all panels and electrical connections nicely done in less than a day! Job... completed looks neatly done and works very efficiently! Finance and price is very affordable. No money out of pocket was needed! Bow i am just enjoying producing my own clean energy and no more power bills! Love it!read more
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