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Spot the Solar: 7 Innovative Solar-Powered Technologies for Your Home

  • Post last modified:24 March 2024
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When it comes to households making the switch to solar, roof-mounted solar panels are often the first thing to come to mind. However, there is a wide array of other technologies available that can decrease grid dependence, lower household electricity bills, and reduce our carbon footprint. “Spot the Solar” is a fun challenge that expands our understanding of solar technology, exploring innovative solar-powered solutions for everyday life. This journey not only sheds light on how to harness the sun’s energy beyond traditional panels, but also opens up new way to embracing eco-friendly living.

Spot the Solar: Can You Find Them All?

Spot the Solar: Can you spot the 7 different solar-powered technologies this household is using? (Diagram)

(Click here for the full-res version.)

In the image above, this household has incorporated 7 different solar-powered technologies into their day-to-day life. Can you spot them all?

The current record is: 1 minute 32 seconds!

Can’t find some? Keep reading for the answers…

Complete List

Spot the Solar #1: Roof-Mounted Solar Panels

spot the solar #1: roof-mounted solar panels

The most familiar form of solar technology for homeowners, roof-mounted solar panels embody the foundation of domestic solar solutions.

There are a range of solar panel types available for different applications, including monocrystalline, polycrystalline, thin film, transparent, CPV (Concentrated Photovoltaic), PERC (Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell), solar tiles, and solar thermal options, all of varying levels of efficiency and their own distinct advantages and disadvantages. Of these, monocrystalline panels are the most common choice for residential use, boasting an efficiency rate of around 20-22%.

The latest in solar panel technology caters to those with an eye for design, offering a variety of styles that can either be mounted on top of existing roof tiles or integrated within them. As advancements continue, we’re seeing an upward trend in the efficiency and versatility of solar panels, signalling a bright future for solar energy in homes.

Spot the Solar #2: Solar Water Heater

spot the solar #2: solar water heater

Solar thermal panels, or solar collectors, are installed on rooftops to harness energy from the sun and convert it into heat for domestic water. These panels contain a mixture of water and anti-freeze, which absorbs solar energy. This heated fluid is then circulated through a system within the home, consisting of a solar controller and pump that regulate the temperature by pumping the fluid through the circuit, a heat exchanger within the hot water tank that transfers the heat to the water, and an expansion tank in unvented systems to manage pressure. Pipes connect these components, creating a loop that continuously reheats the fluid in the collectors.

Due to the seasonal variation in solar energy, these systems typically supply 80-90% of a home’s hot water needs during summer and 20-30% in winter, averaging up to 70% annual hot water production. For the remainder, a conventional boiler or immersion heater is necessary. While solar power can also contribute to home heating, it generally accounts for about 10% of heating requirements.

Spot the Solar #3: Solar-Powered Outdoor Lighting

spot the solar #3: solar-powered outdoor lighting

Solar-powered outdoor lighting offers a versatile and eco-friendly solution for illuminating various outdoor spaces. In this example, we showed the house using solar-powered fairy lights on a balcony, creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere without the need for electrical wiring or increased energy bills. However, the application of solar lighting extends far beyond just decorative fairy lights.

These solar solutions can also be employed for practical purposes in gardens, along pathways, or as floodlights to illuminate gates, trees, and other key outdoor features. Solar lights harness sunlight during the day, store it in batteries, and then use this stored energy to power the lights after dark, offering a sustainable and cost-effective way to enhance the beauty and security of outdoor areas. Whether for ambiance or security, solar-powered lighting is an excellent choice for any outdoor setting, and waterproof designs mean they can be utilised all year round.

Spot the Solar #4: Solar Windows

spot the solar #4: solar windows

Solar windows offer a dual-purpose solution for buildings, seamlessly converting sunlight into electricity while functioning as clear, traditional windows. These innovative windows feature photovoltaic glazing, similar to solar panels, that captures solar energy and transforms it into power for the building’s use. As a type of ‘Building Integrated Photovoltaics’ (BIPV), solar windows integrate into the building’s architecture, providing a sleek alternative to external solar panels and enabling property owners to generate their own renewable energy.

Beyond energy production, solar windows bring several additional benefits. They help lower indoor temperatures, reducing the need for air conditioning in the summer, block harmful ultraviolet radiation, and increase privacy with their tinted exterior. Furthermore, they minimise glare, enhancing indoor comfort. Although solar windows have a lower efficiency than traditional solar panels, at around 10%-15%, they have lower installation costs compared to traditional solar panels. Overall, solar windows present an attractive, multifunctional feature that contributes to a building’s energy independence while promoting a more sustainable and comfortable living environment.

Spot the Solar #5: Portable Solar Panels

spot the solar #5: portable solar panels

Portable solar panels offer a flexible and convenient solution for harnessing solar energy on the go. In our example, these versatile panels are used in the garden to power a shed, demonstrating their utility in residential settings. However, their true advantage lies in their mobility, making them perfect companions for outdoor adventures like camping and road trips. Especially useful for RV enthusiasts, portable solar panels can be easily deployed to capture solar energy, providing a sustainable power source for solar-powered generators and various devices, ensuring that electricity is available even in the most remote locations.

These compact and lightweight panels embody the essence of convenience, allowing users to bring the power of the sun wherever they venture. Whether it’s for lighting up a garden shed or keeping gadgets charged in the wild, portable solar panels adapt to a multitude of needs. Their ability to offer independence from traditional power sources, coupled with the environmental benefits of using renewable energy, makes portable solar panels an increasingly popular choice among eco-conscious travellers and homeowners alike.

Spot the Solar #6: Solar-Powered CCTV

spot the solar #6: solar-powered CCTV

Solar-powered CCTV cameras offer a sustainable and efficient solution for home security, harnessing sunlight to operate without the need for traditional power sources. These self-sufficient security devices ensure continuous monitoring and protection of your property, even in the absence of electrical power. Ideal for placement in areas lacking direct access to power outlets, solar-powered CCTV systems can be installed in various outdoor locations around the home, from gardens to driveways, providing peace of mind with their reliable surveillance capabilities.

The use of solar energy for powering CCTV cameras not only enhances home security but also contributes to reducing the household’s carbon footprint. With easy installation and minimal maintenance, solar-powered CCTV cameras represent a smart choice for eco-conscious homeowners looking to secure their premises. Their ability to operate independently of the grid exemplifies the practical application of renewable energy in daily life, offering a greener alternative to traditional home security solutions.

Spot the Solar #7: Portable Solar Generator

spot the solar #7: portable solar generator

Portable solar generators are a dynamic and eco-friendly solution for a variety of power needs. In our example, a portable solar generator is used indoors to charge a laptop, showcasing its utility for smaller tasks like powering gadgets or home appliances. However, these generators come in different sizes and outputs, meaning that, at the right specification, they can even provide enough electricity to power an entire house.

Their real advantage lies in their portability, making them perfect for camping or road trips. They often have a range of charging options, such as via the car’s electrical system or through portable solar panels, ensuring you have power wherever you go.

Additionally, portable solar generators are invaluable during power outages, offering a reliable power source to keep your home running smoothly in emergencies. This makes them not just a tool for convenience and eco-friendly living, but also a crucial part of emergency preparedness plans. Whether for daily use, outdoor adventures, or as a backup during power cuts, portable solar generators provide a versatile, sustainable power solution.


That wraps up all 7 of our solar-powered household technologies! Did you manage to spot them all?

Whether the familiar sight of rooftop panels or the innovative solar windows, each technology brings us closer to a greener, more sustainable way of living. And let’s not forget the charm of solar-powered fairy lights adding a twinkle to your balcony or the assurance of solar CCTV keeping an eye on your property. With portable solar panels and generators making the perfect companion for remote adventures, even power outages can’t dim our spirits. So, here’s to using solar technology – for making every day a little brighter, and a lot more eco-friendly. Who knew going green could be this fun and empowering?

Interested in investing in some portable solar generators? Check out our articles comparing some of the biggest names in portable solar generators, such as Renogy vs Victron, Bluetti vs Jackery, or Bluetti vs EcoFlow.

If you want to find out more about solar panels in general, take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Solar Panels (2024)!

We’re also on Instagram and X if you want to keep updated on the latest in solar-powered tech.


Anna is one of the Solar Trek founders and content contributors. Armed with a degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Bath and a passion for renewable technology; when she's not writing blog posts, Anna can be found traversing the globe, carving down ski slopes, or out walking with her beloved golden retriever.