Can a Solar Panel Work Through Tinted Windows?

Solar power is an environmentally sound option for producing electricity using renewable, non-polluting sunlight. However, solar panels only function properly when they have exposure to enough direct sunlight. If you use solar panels indoors or in your vehicle, having tinted windows will likely affect how they work. But as long as some sunlight is present, solar panels will still work.

Dirty reflective windows
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Tinted windows offer their own green benefits.

Tint Impact

Window tint only blocks a portion of the light and solar energy that strikes its surface. Even if a window blocks half of the light that strikes it, more than half of the solar energy can still pass through to power a solar panel. Some forms of tint, such as the privacy tint on a limousine, blocks sunlight while also reflecting light, allowing people inside to see out, but preventing those outside the car from seeing in. This type of window allows more light through than it appears from the outside.

Solar Panel Uses

Solar panels mounted on rooftops and south-facing exterior walls get the best exposure to sun and produce the most power. But small, indoor solar panels are also useful for different tasks. For example, solar calculators reduce the need for disposable batteries. The small amount of power that a calculator consumes means that even a heavily tinted window will allow enough solar energy through to run the machine. Solar charging stations allow for indoor battery and device recharging, provided that tinted windows allow enough energy through.

Tint Benefits

Even if you want to use solar panels indoors, adding tinted windows can improve your overall energy efficiency. Tinted windows prevent sunlight from overheating your home, reducing the need to run fans or air conditioners. Depending on the type of tint and your home's location, this benefit may outweigh the energy savings that come from using solar panels indoors. Selecting tinted windows that allow enough energy to operate a solar device through lets you combine two different green techniques.

Solar Windows

As an alternative to using indoor solar panels and tinted windows, homeowners can pursue a green household by installing solar windows. These are windows that feature embedded photovoltaic elements, capturing a portion of the sunlight that passes through and converting it into electricity. Solar windows have some of the same benefits as tinted windows, but they produce their own power directly from the light that strikes them.