We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are Building-Integrated Photovoltaics?

By Caitlin Kenney
Updated Jun 04, 2024
Our promise to you
All Things Nature is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All Things Nature, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) uses photovoltaic panels in the place of traditional building materials in building structures such as roofs, windows, and facades. Photovoltaic panels generate solar power by converting sunlight to electricity. This renewable, non-polluting source of energy makes building-integrated photovoltaics an integral part of sustainable architecture. Photovoltaic panels are designed into many new construction projects, but they can also be fitted on pre-existing buildings. Many BIPV buildings in countries such as France, Germany, and the United States give energy back to the grid and receive financial incentives for doing so.

Photovoltaics (PV) is a fast growing field of technology due to the growing need and desire for clean energy alternative. A photovoltaic panel can be integrated into a building, or it can be mounted on the ground. These panels or modules house many packaged solar cells, which are made up of several photodiodes that convert natural light into electricity. In a grid-connected PV system, this electricity is then routed into an electricity grid. In a stand-alone system, the energy charges a battery where it can be stored for later use.

The term building-integrated photovoltaics usually implies that the building was planned with PV systems in mind. The photovoltaic industry has designed PV panels for several different purposes and styles, so an architect’s sense of creativity and aesthetics need not be stifled by his desire for sustainability. PV modules come in an array of colors, and may be framed or unframed, opaque, transparent, semi-transparent, flexible, or rigid thin film on metal substrate. Size, shape, and peak voltage can also be customized. The proper panel choice will largely depend on its purpose. Crystalline modules should not be used in areas with high temperatures, as it decreases their efficiency.

The most common type of panel installed is for flat roofs. They can come in the form of solar roof tiles or shingles, or solar modules, which are subdivided into flexible modules, transparent or semi-transparent modules, or thin film modules. Thin film modules have proved the most popular, placing one or more thin layers of solar cells over electrical insulator base called a substrate. Building-integrated photovoltaics also allows for the construction of pitched roofs with either mounted or integrated panels.

PV facades or PV curtain walls, the faces of a building, are built for purposes of energy saving, aesthetics, and weatherproofing. These can be made with traditional, transparent, or semi-transparent modules. Facades can also be equipped with shadowing systems, which tilt the modules to shade the building or to maximize the efficiency of energy harnessing. These modules can be tilted manually or automatically and are sometimes known as “Shadow-Voltaic” systems. Shadowing systems may be integrated into the original building or can be mounted later.

Transparent or semi-transparent PV panels are used to replace traditional building materials, such as glass, in glazing or laminates. In building-integrated photovoltaics, architects often use low-tempered iron glass to sandwich the solar cells. Glazing usually employs thin film cells, monocrystalline cells, or transparent cells between two layers of foil. Some panels allow visible light to pass through the window while using the ultraviolet light to produce energy. Other windows may be tinted for shade, equipped with shadowing systems, or colored.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
All Things Nature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All Things Nature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.