Building-Integrated Photovoltaics

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What Does Building-Integrated Photovoltaics Mean?

Building-integrated photovoltaics are photovoltaic materials or components that are used in place of traditional building components or materials, especially in building features such as facades, roofs or skylights, and provide solar power for the building.


Considered as ancillary and, at times, a primary electrical power source, they provide other advantages over conventional building materials. The initial cost involved in building integrated photovoltaics can be offset by the reduction in the labor charges involved and the quantity of building materials involved; furthermore, they are more eco-friendly.

Techopedia Explains Building-Integrated Photovoltaics

One of the fundamental aspects of building-integrated photovoltaics is the reduction in incremental cost of photovoltaic materials or components and the improved life-cycle cost. The components of a building-integrated photovoltaic system include:

  • Photovoltaic module
  • Backup power supply system
  • Charge controller
  • Power storage system
  • Support for wiring, hardware and safety disconnects

Building-integrated photovoltaics can be used for different functions, such as:

  • Replacing conventional materials: One of the key benefits of using building-integrated photovoltaic components is the replacement of traditional building materials like roof membrane, facade cladding or skylight glazing, etc. Not only are they lower in cost but also have less environmental impact.
  • Power generation: Building-integrated photovoltaic components can generate sufficient power efficiently and effectively for a building. There are different technologies and projects that work in conjunction with these to ensure a rich energy harvest.
  • Creation of shade: When used in buildings, they can protect components from unwanted solar heat and thus provide shading benefits.
  • Architectural integration: They can provide comparatively more aesthetic appeal than conventional materials. This helps in adding architectural interest to the building.

There are many challenges in using building-integrated photovoltaics, such as limited access, buildup of heat and non-optimal shading and array orientation.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.