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Solar Panel Construction Answered

Hello Everyone, this is my first forum post!

I had a question and couldn't think of a better place to turn to than this.

Basically, I am constructing, or planning to rather, an outdoor picnic table. I want to add some gadgetry to it and make it more multifunctional. Sorry to be vague, but a lot of it is still being worked out and since I'm going to post the project on here anyway, I'd like to wait to present the entire project as a whole.

My question involves the use of solar panels as a table top surface. I have a basic understanding of how to create a solar panel powered system (http://www.rain.org/~philfear/how2solar.html or https://www.instructables.com/id/Solar-Power-System/). But my question is this: does covering the solar panel with a piece of acrylic hinder its power collecting abilities? I'm thinking of covering the entire table top surface of my table with solar panels.

Aside from the obvious downfalls of people using the table and blocking sun, I thought there would be enough time when its not in use to collect power. But obviously I can't have people eating right on the panels and damaging them.

Any guidance would be GREAT! I just want to know if I should even entertain this design idea or separate the panels from the table altogether. Thanks!


I think I should agree of covering the solar panel with a piece of acrylic so that you can collect more energy to have more functions in  your solar panels.  http://www.sunpowerport.com

a solar panel picnic table sounds rly cool. If u covered them with a sheet of glass or something clear and tough that would protect the solar panels. Plastic probably best because the glass from windows tries to block some light. And if you could wire some of the solar panels to lights in the umbrella and find a way for the power from the day to be used on lights attached to the umbrella that would also look cool. And last of all even if some of the solar panels are covered as long as u could store some power and u dont have a picnic all day there will probably be enough power to cover ur gadgets [ also not all the solar panels will probably be covered]

i think they should make a one way solar panel for a window

use the solar pannels as a sort of umbrella? that would be a great idea

I think a solar-panel table is a brilliant idea.

As long as the acrylic is clear, colourless and kept scratch-free, there should be no noticeable loss of power.

It seems that acrylic may be better than glass for this project, as it is transparent to the high-energy end of the spectrum.