They’re clear, but these glass roof tiles could make your next home greener

Not to be confused with class ceilings, glass roofs are nothing new. We’ve known about conservatories since we were kids playing Clue, and greenhouses, porches, and foyers with translucent tops are fairly common. The problem with all that glass is that it makes your home one with the weather. Sunny summer days can make the room boil, while deep winter days can make the place freeze.

But Sweden’s SolTech Energy wants to use the sun to heat your home, even here in the cloudy Pacific Northwest. Unlike traditional roof shingles, made of cement or aphalt, SolTech’s glass tiles let the sun shine through. An absorption fabric underneath capture the sun’s rays, while beams form a columned area where the air warms and circulates. The energy generated by this process works with the house’s heating system, whether its air-based or water-based, according to SolTech. The glass tiles may not aesthetically please everyone, but we think they look kind of like something you’d find on a gingerbread house. The black nylon beneath the tiles means any nearby birds or passing drones can’t spy on you, either.

In the summer, a convector transfers the heat to a ground heating system, which is fluid-based and can help cool the house. If you’re not keen on the glass roof idea, SolTech also has glass wall panels that work in a similar manner.

SolTech Energy
SolTech Energy compared to standard solar panels

While the glass tiles are currently available, there’s another glass-roof solution that hasn’t yet made its debut. Oxford Photovoltaics, an offshoot of Oxford University, wants to change the way the world uses photovoltaics. “What we say here is rather than attach [solar] photovoltaics to the building, why not make the building the photovoltaics?” Kevin Arthur, the company’s CEO, told the Guardian. “If you decide to build a building out of glass, then you’ve already decided to pay for the glass. If you add this, you’re adding a very small extra cost. [The solar cell treatment] costs no more than 10% of the cost of the facade.”

The company can dye the glass in a variety of shades, though blue is one of the least efficient hues. While the Oxford PV team wants to make this technology commercially available, it will likely be used mostly for buildings. Still, if the process proves as relatively inexpensive as they say and makes homes greener by helping generate energy, who’s to say we won’t be seeing green-tinted, PV-glass roofs some day?

Should make for some interesting Google Earth photos in the future.

Emerging Tech

Rise of the Machines: Here’s how much robots and A.I. progressed in 2018

2018 has generated no shortage of news, and the worlds of A.I. and robotics are no exception. Here are our picks for the most exciting, game changing examples of both we saw this year.
Cars

Driving a prototype 2020 Passat at Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground

Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground is where new cars are tested to the breaking point, including the 2020 Passat midsize sedan. Ride along as the new Passat completes testing ahead of its 2019 launch.
Home Theater

Kill your cable and switch to streaming with our painless guide

If you're going to quit cable or satellite for a streaming TV solution, you're going to want to get it right the first time. We've outlined exactly how to get started, step by step. Follow our lead, and you'll never look back.
Cars

Gateway’s born-again Ford Bronco boasts classic style, 2018 muscle car power

Illinois-based Gateway Bronco has received a license from Ford to make brand-new examples of the first-generation Bronco. Every build starts with a Ford VIN and a donor vehicle, but Gateway upgrades every part of the car.
Smart Home

Dog or cat shedding? These vacuums do a great job of sucking up pet hair

Got a pet hair problem? Fortunately, there's help for you and your furry friend. We tested out a bunch of vacuums that promise to remove pet hair. Here are a few of the best you can buy.
Product Review

Hue who? Nanoleaf Canvas brings a riot of color and vibrancy to the smart home

Fun and festive, Nanoleaf Canvas feature lighting adds personality and vibrancy to any room. Nanoleaf Canvas features squares that you can connect in any configuration you’d like. Sync to music, play games, or relax in soothing light.
Product Review

Ring Alarm makes DIY home security simple and affordable enough for everyone

Ring first made waves with its video doorbell, and now the Amazon-owned company is moving on to home security with the Ring Alarm. You can install the sensors and keypads yourself, then have Ring professionally monitor your home.
Smart Home

Rocco wants to rock out. Parrot learns to use owner’s Amazon Alexa

Rocco, an African gray parrot, fell in love with his owner's Alexa unit and ordered himself treats and other goodies, but mostly uses the smart assistant to rock out to his favorite music.
Smart Home

The Echo Wall Clock can help you keep track of multiple Alexa timers

Amazon just released the Echo Wall Clock that was announced at its September new hardware device event in Seattle. The Echo Wall Clock is an analog clock that also indicates the minutes remaining on one or more Alexa timers.
Smart Home

Espresso On Demand: The five best Nespresso machines

Most people still trek down to their local coffee shop to get an espresso or a cappuccino, but you don't have to. A Nespresso machine can put coffee shop quality espresso on your kitchen counter.
Smart Home

This device detects when your pet is at the door and opens it for them

Tired of waiting for your dog to come inside, or running home in the middle of the day to let your four-legged friend out? Wayzn automatically opens sliding doors for your dog and gives you remote control.
Deals

Get electronics gifts for high-tech homes for under $100 with these deals

The holiday season is in full swing with Christmas just around the corner. New deals on interesting, fun, and practical electronic gifts under $100 from major online retailers can convert last-minute shoppers to savvy bargain hunters.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.