The use of PV cells on awning and shade structure fabric is transitioning from a fledgling market to one that will have mainstream implications, but obstacles remain. The big one, of course, is the economy. Awning and shade structure makers and sellers must determine if the investment makes business sense—and if customers will get on board with the technology.
“There is still a lot of education needed to let customers know the benefits of sheeted solar,” says Brian Tell, president of ShadePlex LLC in Toledo, Ohio.
Still, the economy has not killed innovation or consumers’ interest in convenience. “The economic downturn may have affected the overall numbers of awnings sold, but definitely not the sophistication or motorization of those that are sold,” says Darren McNeil of Markilux of California in Newbury Park, Calif.