Final year project
PhotonX - Automated solar panel cleaner [Read more]
Photon X – Autonomous domestic solar array cleaner
Is a cable-driven autonomous solar cleaning device aimed at the domestic solar panel array owner, currently unprovided for in terms of easy cleaning solutions. Dirty solar panels account for up to 30% losses in solar panel efficiencies, causing the average owner to lose over £70 in lost energy a year. If successful, this product could be looked at as more of an investment than a product, saving the customer money over the course of 4-5 years, twice the payback of a solar panel.
Photon X – Ease of use
The PhotonX – Aimed to be quickly self-installed by the user easily with only on Allen key needed for the whole installation with the rest of the parts simply clicking together with no connection to the house needed as the device is all self-contained, getting its power through batteries and solar cells and water from rain. Once installed the device autonomously cleans the panel periodically, keeping the array performing at 100%.
PhotonX – technology
The contained robust construction of the cleaner ensures the product will withstand the elements for years and much time being used to develop the gearing system for both the cleaning module and the winch modules to last repeated cleaning cycles.
PhotonX – Mechanical Electrical prototyping
A fundamental aspect of this project was the cable driving mechanism, which was resolved to show the potential of the design. Electronic code was produced in Arduino to synchronize the rotation of all 4 rapidly prototyped drums to pull the cleaning device around the solar panel.
PhotonX – Prototypes
Rapid prototyping of mechanisms was essential to this project to move this product from concept to functioning prototype. With large experimentation in all areas from user interaction to the brushing mechanism, FDM printing was crucial in this project.
PhotonX – Aesthetics
Being placed on roofs, the product would be highly visible, even if viewed at a distance. Getting the aesthetics were crucial to this product.
7. PhotonX – DFM
I am excited to take this product to market after my studies and hence have considered the feasibility of parts to the process intended at all stages.
PhotonX – Storyboard
With installation taking place in potentially dangerous locations on the roof, the installation interaction was optimised for the user for safety whilst remaining adaptable to various solar panel dimensions and designs.
Lawrence Broad De Graaf
I pride myself in creating feasible but ambitious designs, never allowing problems to obstruct my path to a successful design. Using my intuitive problem-solving skills and general knowledge in maths, physics and electronics to bring my designs close to the shelves.
With my ambition to eventually create products of my own creating, I spent my final year developing a product with an ever more relevant problem, cleaning domestic solar panels. I see real potential in this design and hope to develop it further after my graduation, looking for investment to help do so.
Final year project
PhotonX - Automated solar panel cleaner
During my placement year, I worked as a junior designer at Idea Reality, working together with the fantastic team and Design Director James Lamb to help bring ideas to reality. Working through the familiar design process followed by the Loughborough design School to conceptualise and develop exciting designs for manufacturing. The work quickly develops my learning from first and second year to the real world, applying my skills to real projects within days of joining Idea Reality, talking to clients to gather their ideas and opinions to push their products to manufacture. This year in placement matured my design skills and pushed my ambition to become a product designer, seeing the successful products pass through Idea Reality.