Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Gadget Watch: Inflateable Solar-Panels and Eco-Laptops Have Arrived

Original post by Teresa Herrmann

"Blowing up over your water heater bill?

The UK-based engineering firm Industrial Design Consultancy (IDC) has plans to mass produce inflatable solar panels that will provide hot water at a fraction of the cost of conventional solar heaters.

The SolarStore panels, as they're called, use clear and black layers to create heat and insulation around water. The system, when inflated, measures 6 feet by 6 feet and can heat three full tanks of water per day. When deflated, it can be stored in a backpack.

Racking up temperatures of close to 176 degrees, each unit can curb carbon emissions by 0.2 tons a year, the company claims.

At a cost of $200, the trial data predicts the product could pay for itself in six months and be more cost effective than solar panel-based water heaters, which can cost upwards of $4,000.

Though the product could one day replace conventional solar water heating systems everywhere, IDC envisions the inflatable panels being used in developing nations where remote locations often lack access to reliable electricity supplies. "

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