As a result of their high light transmission and high insulating value, Weather Panels can collect heat from cloudlight in freezing weather. This and their automatic rejection of unwanted solar heat makes possible a new, much more simple design strategy for solar architecture. Previous solar buildings collect heat on the occasional sunny winter days with south facing glass walls, and store that heat for a week to use during cloudy days. This conventional solar architecture, based on large black glass south walls, results in marginally useful building shapes and low solar efficiency; it is unmarketable.
The Weather Panel strategy calls for collecting heat from cloudlight, which has many advantages:
In automated production, Weather Panels will cost about $25 per square foot (€170 per square meter), so they
Natural lighting of buildings cannot compete with electric lighting because the source, sunlight, is so variable. Skylights sized for low winter sun angles and cloudy winter skies are about 10 times too large for sunny summer days, resulting in high air-conditioning costs. For skylights, the Cloud Gel is formulated to respond to sunlight instead of room temperature (see Section 9, Figure 2), so that when the sun shines directly on it, the skylight turns reflective white. When a cloud passes over the sun, the skylight clears. Which makes the lighting in the room below stay at a nearly constant level, and always diffuse, without glare (1).
(1)U.S. patent 5,377,042, Section 31