New Solar Spheres Claim To Be Better Than Solar Panels

When you think of solar energy, you probably think of flat plates on rooftops. A company called WAVJA wants you to think of spheres. The little spheres, ranging from one to four inches across, can convert light into electricity, and the company claims they have 7.5 times the output of traditional solar panels and could later produce even more. Unfortunately, the video below doesn’t have a great deal of detail to back up the claims.

Some scenes in the video are clearly forward-looking. However, the so-called photon energy system appears to be powering a variety of real devices. It’s difficult to assess some of the claims. For example, the video claims 60 times the output of a similar-sized panel. But you’d hardly expect much from a tiny 4-inch solar panel.

What do you think? Do they really have layers of exotic material? If we were going to bet, we’d bet these claims are a bit of hyperbole. Then again, who knows? We’ll be watching to see what technical details emerge. We have to admit that quotes like this from their website don’t make us especially hopeful:

…relies on the use of multiple layers of materials and special spheres to introduce sunlight and generate a significant amount of luminosity, which is then transformed into electricity using a silicon conductor module…

There are ways to make solar technology more efficient. But we do see a lot of solar energy claims that are — well — inflated.

74 thoughts on “New Solar Spheres Claim To Be Better Than Solar Panels

    1. HaD could do with a crowdsourced debunking format, but they’re probably not at liberty to call it that straight away.

      Getting weird PIR sensor dome vibes from these spheres, an inferior way to do CPV. Not impressed.

    2. According to a 2021 NYTimes article, the CEO/Founder, then working as a game designer in Beijing, was arrested in 2016 and detained for 3 years for buying toy guns on Taobao to use as game art references.

      Pretty remarkable comeback to get out of prison and five years later be running a company developing a revolutionary power generation technology.

      /s

      1. Makes you wonder what really happened because combining NYTimes with the oddness of the story as well as China being involved means.. well, a certain lack of reliability.
        But I think we can agree that we trust this solar thing even less :)

    3. The chances of my HOA letting me cover my roof with silly white balls is when lower than the chance of these things actually working.

      Also, come on, scammer guys, they’re WHITE. That means light is being actively reflected, not absorbed. At least try to make this remotely believable.

      And, while I didn’t look at the YouTube video since I don’t want to raise their view count, from the screenshot, they would appear to be *glowing*?

      Just, why?

  1. – Traditional solar cell: ~23% efficiency
    – Theoretical physical limit: ~41% efficiency
    – This thing: 7.5 x 23% = 172.5%
    Wow. That’s > 100%. Wooop wooop wooop, so amazing. Finally free energy!!!!111
    I think we should connect it in series with a orgon generator. That way it might even exceed the energy output of cold fusion.

    1. My first thought was that this might be a solar concentrator design – item it focuses light to perhaps 10x intensity, and the (tiny) solar modules getting that intensity produce 7.5x as much power as a normal module of that size would with 1x solar intensity…

      Lenses can in theory be significantly cheaper than PV modules (especially more fancy multi junction ones), so concentrator designs could deliver more power per silicon area and per money…

      Also, your “physical limit” seems too low – a theoretically optimal heat engine between a radiation field of ~6000K and our environment at ~300K should have an optimal efficiency of ~0.95, and Wikipedia quotes a limit for semiconductor based cells with arbitrarily many junctions of almost 0.87

      1. The theoretical efficiency of a single junction photocell is based on the wavelength corresponding to the output voltage being converted with 100% efficiency, longer wavelengths not being converted at all, and shorter wavelengths having their excess energy wasted.

        The coupling between the sun and a photocell is not a heat engine; Carnot’s law doesn’t apply.

    1. That’s what I was thinking. Existing panels are chasing efficiency gains of 10-20%. To claim a gain of 750% and yet have to post fluff videos to generate buzz smells like a scam.

    2. “7.5 times more betterer then regular solar panels”

      The reason this doesn’t make sense to you is that you’re thinking in the wrong units. You’re assuming these devices produce 7.5 times more *energy*.

      Maybe the real magic here is that, once you get a bunch of green-energy-mandate government bureacrats on board, with government grants, loans, and similar corporate welfare, this technology enables you to grift 7.5 times as much *money*.

      The first word that came to my mind after reading this article was “Solyndra.” The first word that came to my mind after watching the video was “turboencabulator.”

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Ac7G7xOG2Ag&pp=ygUQVHVyYm9lbmNhYnVsYXRvcg%3D%3D

    3. Depends on what you are measuring – lensing and light capture methods often do result in a panel that is across a day substantially better in power output as it is performing better while the light is very off axis – something fixed panels don’t handle well at all. Doesn’t mean the cell underneath is any more efficient at turning photon to electrons under the same conditions, just that the lens has created better conditions for that cell on average over the sampling window they used.

      That said this claim does sound on the verge of entirely implausible, or at least very selective bias in the setup of the comparisons. You need proper data to draw any conclusions…

      1. The most generous I could be to the company is that they could be saying that you can take a *tiny* panel (way smaller than the spheres), put the globes on top of it, and their power output goes up by 7.5x or whatever on average (dealing with the off-axis issue like you’re saying). In which case if the globes are cheap enough, tiny panel + globes could fit into a cost/power space between a full-sized fixed panel and a full-sized motorized one.

        Again, that’s being exceptionally generous, and even *if* that’s the case, it’s probably a narrow win in only a few cases. Light capture with objects like that won’t scale to larger globe sizes because the optical losses grow (square/cube).

        1. Oh I agree entirely. Kind of what I expect their numbers are supposed to be.

          Though who knows, its possible those spheres are really really trick optically and do actually allow for much more performance as you are capturing the full spectrum from any angle rather effectively and then efficiently directing each wavelength to an optimised receiver of that wavelength or something. Seems like this is most likely snake oil, but from what is presented all you can really say is very unconvinced.

    4. Yeah, when I heard that I was like, okay, what bull#$!++ can you do to generate this?

      There’s only one thing I can think of: it’s a very tiny, inefficient photodiode inside and the focusing spheres increase *its* power by that much. Obviously a useless number, but hey marketing!

  2. Get a reputable scientist in the field to sign an NDA and bring them onto the board, provided they get to tear the things apart and test the claims to their own satisfaction first.

    It you will excuse the bad pun, on the surface, it doesn’t look like the absorb as much light energy as traditional solar panels…

    1. The scientist should require the **company** to sign the NDA, so they don’t promote the scientist’s involvement, which could end up giving the company undeserved credibility.

      1. On reflection, I think you’re probably right.

        My general point still stands though, if they can’t find reputable people to back their claims after a comprehensive set of tests, then it’s obviously a sham.

    1. Username checks out.

      Don’t worry, most Hackaday readers are smart enough to spot charlatans and hucksters. The appearance of an article on Hackaday is not necessarily an endorsement. In this case it is drawing attention to the existence of this thing and inviting informed comment.

      I’m pretty skeptical myself.

  3. I’d qager they basically put a magnifying glass over a small solar panel. The 7,5x “gain” is just from the fact that the small panel sees 20x light or something aimilar.
    Iirc I even saw some tech YouTuber (maybw mike) show a panel for basically that purpose. It saves on silicon but the optics are not cost effective (yet?)…

  4. “It’s difficult to assess some of the claims. For example, the video claims 60 times the output of a similar-sized panel”

    is it really? or is it just hard to hear anything while the scam and bullshit alerts or going off simultaniously?
    will the next HaD article feature the generosity of a nigerian prince?

  5. does the person at HaD that put this nonsense up realize there is actual physics in converting light to power, and that there are actual limits to efficiency etc? And that while extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, silly claims are just meant to be laughed at?

    Next they will have an article, not on april 1, about someone has a FTL car working, and they are just waiting on more details..

    This is the wrong audience for that type of stuff, unless you are trying to be funny.

    1. Go re-read the article? Every paragraph includes a “this looks like a scam” in Al’s possibly too-subtle tone.

      “Unfortunately, the video below doesn’t have a great deal of detail to back up the claims.”
      “It’s difficult to assess some of the claims.”
      “What do you think? Do they really have layers of exotic material? If we were going to bet, we’d bet these claims are a bit of hyperbole.”
      “We have to admit that quotes like this from their website don’t make us especially hopeful:”…

      I’ll absolutely agree that Al was perhaps being too cautious in his desire to not get us sued for libel, but I don’t think there’s any way to read this write-up as an endorsement, rather the opposite.

  6. [warning sarcasm below]
    I’ve watched the video and all I can think is: use flashlight to charge powerbank, use powerbank to charge phone and flashlight, this is awesome, so the article of perpetual motion posted here on hackaday was wrong after all, it is possible. Wow, what great time to live in, were saved!
    [end of sarcasm]

  7. Okay, we have “Report comment” buttons to deal with abuse and spammers in the comments.

    Where’s the “Report article” button? Because someone has clearly hijacked Al’s account and is using it to push blatantly obvious scams.

  8. They are not 7.5X as efficient, they are 6.2X [sarcasm]. Simple math– 1/2 of a sphere has ~6.2X the surface area of a flat square of the same size. (This is assuming that same amount of light hits every bit of that 1/2 sphere as hits the square which of course would not be the case for a directional light source such as the sun.)

  9. Given a typical panel is a bit over 20% efficient, these devices are 150% efficient. The downside is this makes the Sun get dimmer over time and eventually go black.

  10. Pretty sure these are relying in part on zero point energy.

    I understand from sources that they’ll shortly be powering aerocars and flying-taxi drones all over China.

    For those who doubt this, I have also heard that Crown Sterling is planning a major cash infusion.

  11. Ok. Seriously. Please pull down this article.

    I went through the website and this isn’t even a slightly convincing fraud.

    If this isn’t actually some sort of satirical hoax to draw in media suckers and then laugh at them like some sort of performance art, then it’s one of the most poorly designed attempts at fraud I’ve seen.

    Seriously, I get spam notices for free crypto that are more convincing.

    I’m pretty sure the solar “domes” are plastic cosmetic jars — https://www.cosmopacks.com/product-item/ball-shaped-cosmetic-acrylic-cream-jar-container/

    The videos are laughable – like high school level stuff and their claims and dialogue are so silly I really wonder if this is all an elaborate stunt.

    The thing is, given what people are willing to believe maybe not.

    But it is soooooo bad a site.

  12. I for one, believe this blog post is apropos for Hackaday.
    When non-Hackaday people do a web search about this PES (POS?) this blog, including comments, it may serve a greater good by informing them of the hyperbole and shady math the video contains.

  13. Reminds me of the solar spin cell sales pitch but way less info. Solar spins cells were a big scam indeed. Heating these cells would be an issue so I think that’s why there’s s hole at the top. Perhaps a fan is needed to keep the cells cool enough to keep there performance as that dome would I’m guessing trap heat. The use of fans would make it less efficent. I dont buy the numbers there giving, just sounds to good to be true with the weakest demo I’ve scene. Just looks like a bunch of ai pics and maybe ai came up with idea too. Hope I’m wrong

  14. Why are you all talking about how 7.5x is unrealistic??

    Did ya miss the next section talking about 60 times the output, this is clearly a bigger number.
    ( In fact, it’s easy big enough that if you plug in a bulb and direct it towards the panel, you get free energy!) ( Don’t use a led bulb since you might create a black hole!)

  15. This article is a complete waste of your readers’ valuable time, and is FAR below what I believe HaD to hold as standards. Please don’t post obvious scams like this again.

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