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The transportation industry is all about efficiency.
Drivers must deliver products on time, at temperature, and intact.
Service fleet maintenance managers must ensure their trucks operate on a budget and avoid unplanned downtime.
Transportation logistics are challenging, but the load is lighter if you have the right tools.
PowerFilm was founded in 1988, focusing on custom design engineering and manufacturing amorphous silicon (a-Si) thin-film solar panels.
Several years ago, it became evident that many of our customers require more power in a smaller area and don’t necessarily need the extreme flexibility and durability of our thin-film material.
When you think of solar panels you might picture large expansive solar fields or an array of solar panels installed on a home near where you live.
While “solar farms” and building-integrated solar are large segments of the overall solar market, there are portable options as well.
Can I use my solar panel indoors?
The answer isn’t as cut and dry as you might think.
To our eyes, indoor environments seem pretty bright. That’s only because our eyes are so good at adjusting.
Indoor lighting can be more than 1,000 times less intense than direct sunlight meaning there’s 1,000 times less power available for a solar panel to collect.
Plug and play solar development kits make it easy to experiment with and explore the potential of solar. Kits feature PowerFilm’s Indoor Solar Panels which are inherently more sensitive than traditional solar technologies in low light and indoor settings. Designs are open-sourced and help make your ideas a reality. Get a headstart on your design with a solar development kit today.
IoT wearables generate lots of buzz in the tech community, often accompanied by insane projections of exponential growth.
Why haven't these projections been realized?
Power is a significant hurdle.
Whether powering an outdoor asset tracker or an indoor BLE beacon, understanding the balance between power consumption and power generation is critical to an energy harvesting solution.
Batteries are required for nearly every electronic device, it seems.
They allow for simple operation and quick deployment.
What happens when those batteries die?
An effective solar energy harvesting solution requires more than just a solar panel.
That's why we have partnered with e-peas, an energy harvesting PMIC solution provider, to launch our new Indoor/Outdoor e-peas Solar Development Kit.
Our new line of PV cells and reference designs make implementing energy harvesting into your products easier.
The End of Disposable Batteries: Solar Energy Harvesting for IoT Devices Imagine if devices could live forever harvesting energy from sources like solar even in low-light conditions. This would reduce the pain of battery charging and replacing.
Have you ever returned home from grocery shopping and realized you forgot something?
Imagine walking through the store and getting a notification on your phone as you walk by something on your grocery list.
Bluetooth beacon technology could make this happen.
PowerFilm is unconventional to the core, and we continually push the boundaries of how and where solar technology can be used.
Solar isn’t just for rooftops with direct sunlight anymore. Many electronics can be powered using solar in shady and even indoor conditions.
In some cases, devices may require more power than a reasonably sized solar panel can produce. If the device doesn’t need to run continuously, a solar solution is usually still possible.
The simplest solution is to use a solar panel to charge a battery.
The battery can charge while the device is off and then provide adequate power when it is on.
Crystalline solar panels are no longer confined to massive solar arrays.
These panels are now more plentiful than ever and come in an endless number of configurations.
There are incredibly inexpensive options that are attractive at first blush, but when you dig deeper, the quality of these panels and their assembly process leave much to be desired.
If you're like me, you take care of your technology. I have purchased cases, screen protectors, and other safety measures to ensure that my devices continue to work for as long as possible.
While it is important to take care of things, do you ever feel like putting something to the ultimate test? I do. "Let's see what kind of damage this thing can take and still function," I say t...
It looks bright. Why doesn’t my solar panel produce more power?
This is a fantastic question and one that we get a lot.
The root of this issue is actually our eyes.
They say, “seeing is believing,” but the human eye is easily deceived.
What exactly does solar cell efficiency mean?
If you’ve spent any time in the solar industry, you understand that one of the first questions out of a person’s mouth when it comes to solar technology is, “how efficient is it?”
Say you are in the market for a solar panel. You buy two competitive options and begin to test different aspects.
You stage a test and determine what product has the most real-world output.
You then see which repels water and stands up to the elements best.
Finally, you determine which has the most flexibility.
Think you’ve taken all important factors in...
Over the years, many different types of photovoltaics (PV) have been created, each possesses unique qualities, but one thing remains true, all applications aren’t necessarily satisfied by the same technology.
When determining which PV technology to adopt and company to partner with, it’s important to think long and hard about your design and the most important requirem...
In 2025 there are projected to be over 70 billion connected electronic devices worldwide. Every electronic device needs power to operate which usually comes in the form of a battery.
Batteries are cheap, small, and simple to use but have one major drawback, eventually, they die.
It seems that everywhere you go these days, people are talking about IoT.
Whether it’s smart light bulbs that respond to your voice or sensors that transmit data, these devices are everywhere.
While IoT growth is staggering, it will undoubtedly run into some future issues.
One of the major barriers to the mass deployment of wireless IoT sensors is battery lifet...
As the IoT industry rapidly expands into commercial, consumer, and industrial spaces, new and innovative ways to power the increasing number of connected devices are needed to ensure sustainability, feasibility, and environmental responsibility.
In the consumer world, convenience is king.
Consumers want devices and systems that are easy to use and dependable. The best consumer IoT solutions are those that people can set up and forget about. Batteries are easy to use and will work, but eventually, they will stop working. Then what?
Like commercial businesses, companies in the industrial space are also driven by cost-saving. Although they can benefit from building automation and asset management systems, just like commercial businesses, industrial companies' biggest cost savings come through preventative maintenance and monitoring.
The world of IoT is rapidly developing and changing.
Since the industry itself is still in its infancy, there are many radios and varying standards for different IoT segments.
When choosing a radio for your IoT application, there are several factors to consider.
As the world becomes increasingly digital, electronics are more diverse to meet the needs of the ever-growing number of applications. The power needs of these electronics have also become highly diverse. Devices can be ultra-low power and operate on microwatts at low voltages while larger electronics may need higher voltages and 100s of watts of power.
In the digital age, companies are looking for new and unique ways to power products that enhance value, lead to a great customer experience, and make business sense.
Often, grid power is unavailable, and products have to stand alone and perform day after day no matter the conditions.
Batteries are everywhere. They’re in a seemingly endless number of devices we use from cell phones, remotes, Bluetooth speakers, GoPro cameras, and everything in between.
While batteries are nothing new, advancements and the race for the “best battery chemistry” is as ferocious as ever.
It’s important to consider that while the thrill of this competi...
Through the years, we have fielded almost every solar-related question you can imagine.
One that consistently comes up is the possibility of collecting solar energy through glass.
Let’s explore if this is possible, limitations and which solar technologies perform best with a glass barrier between them and the sun.
When you think of a solar panel, maybe you envision a sunny day with a panel angled towards the sun baking in its rays.
You might think that these sun-soaked conditions are ideal for the panel to work at its most efficient level.
The more sun, the better! Right?
Solar panels love the sun.
They perform best when they’re in it and angled appropriately, but what happens when these ideal conditions aren’t achievable?
What happens to a solar panel when it’s partially shaded for a substantial portion of a day?
This buzz word sounds straightforward, but what does it actually mean?
Where does this energy come from, and how do you “harvest” it?
You might be wondering why a solar company is writing about low power wireless protocols.
Well, PowerFilm is no ordinary solar company.
It's that time of year again.
Leaves are changing colors, there's a brisk chill in the air, and unfortunately for solar, the sun doesn't shine as long.
You might have wondered, how do shorter days affect solar?
The Internet of Things (IoT) industry isn’t slowing down any time soon.
It’s picking up pace.
With millions of sensors, beacons, trackers, nodes, and devices, the Internet of Things (IoT) is expanding into every nook and cranny of the modern world.
What do all these devices have in common?
PowerFilm has provided custom solar solutions in the IoT, military, and commercial spaces for over 30 years.
But what does that mean?
Solar panels are typically made up of many cells connected in series, which increase the output voltage of the panel.
Multiple cells used to be a requirement when circuitry could not run on low voltage power sources, but with modern power management ICs (PMIC), this is no longer the case.
In the transportation industry, the name of the game is efficiency.
Efficiency for drivers in delivering products on time and intact.
Efficiency for fleet managers ensuring their trucks operate on a budget and avoid unplanned downtime.
The second part of our series on power needs in the transportation industry examines telematics solutions.
Telematics is a growing field in the industry allowing fleet managers and dedicated telematics solution providers to dramatically improve fleet operations, increase efficiency, and reduce costs.
What are telematics solutions?
In our previous posts, we have highlighted the role that solar can play in transporting refrigerated goods and powering telematics solutions that help track shipments and report important vehicle information.
This final post in our series will highlight the widespread benefits solar can have on batteries, keeping them healthier longer and saving money.
For small, portable electronics, the 3V coin cell battery is the go-to power solution.
They are inexpensive and simple to use.
So, if coin cells are such a great solution, what’s the point of energy harvesting?
PowerFilm’s solar technology and capabilities are versatile, allowing us to provide custom solutions across multiple industries and markets, including military, transportation, IoT, and many others.
Solar design can be a bit overwhelming, but over the past 32 years, we have designed a process that makes developing your next product collaborative and cost-effective.
Energy Harvesting Power Management ICs (EH PMIC) are critical components of energy-autonomous electronics. They connect PV, energy storage, and the load ensuring power flows efficiently between all components.
To many, solar is a fascinating but confusing technology.
There are so many factors to think through and variables to consider.
It would be enough to make anyone’s head spin.
That’s where we come in!
Indoor solar is somewhat of an oxymoron.
How can a solar panel work without sunlight?
Solar panels, or Photovoltaics (PV), work via the photoelectric effect, which converts light into electricity.
This effect still happens indoors, but on a much smaller scale since the absolute light intensity is up to a thousand times less.
With so little power, what could yo...
Harvesting indoor light energy is a viable power solution for many wireless sensors, trackers, and low-power devices used in a growing number of Internet of Things (IoT) applications.
Indoor photovoltaic (PV) modules provide a perpetual energy source that extends battery life, allows increased device functionality, and reduces battery bulk.