So you’ve done the research on renewable energies and are considering installing solar. The ROI and low electricity bills sound great, but maybe they’re just not quite enough to quiet that creeping thought: how are these solar panels going to look on your home, business, or farm?
You’re not alone. Curb appeal is a common worry for those looking to switch to solar energy. Even though we think solar panels look great, it’s a valid concern and something that should be considered (after all, we’re probably a little biased).
However, despite how they look, it’s been pretty firmly established that solar panels actually add value to your property. And if that’s not convincing enough, there are plenty of attractive-looking solar panels and aesthetically pleasing ways to take advantage of solar energy’s benefits while still having a head-turning home.
Choosing a Location for Your Solar Panels
If you’re not digging the futuristic look solar systems have to offer, you may be able to install the solar panels somewhere more discreet.
Depending on your building or home’s orientation, the solar system can be installed on the back or non-street-facing side of your roof. Solar panels tend to produce the most energy when they’re facing south, so this would be ideal if your house faces north. However, if your house faces south, having the panels only on the back of your roof would cause you to lose out on some serious production.
Ground Mounts vs Roof Mounts
Another option, one which avoids rooftop solar altogether, is a ground-mount solar installation. This option uses a racking system secured to the ground in concrete or by posts driven into the soil.
As long as you have available land, ground mounts are great because they’re less limited in terms of angle and size over rooftop installations. However, the installation cost of ground-mounted systems tends to be a little higher. But, if your land allows you to position them out of the line of sight, you could be generating free power unbeknownst to passersby!
Attractive-Looking Solar Panels
If these changes in the location don’t work for you, there are plenty of attractive-looking solar panels that would go great anywhere on your roof, regardless of your roof’s material.
The frame of a solar panel is what surrounds the perimeter, providing protection for the edges of the panel and a place to mount and connect the panels to the racking. Panels often offer frames in two colors: black and silver. While black blends in better with dark roofs, silver tends to be more affordable. Beyond this, frames function the same in quality and robustness.
Crystalline Silicon Types
As for the panels themselves, there are two main options: monocrystalline (or single-crystalline) and polycrystalline (or multi-crystalline). While monocrystalline are more efficient, can help save space, and are often darker in color, they tend to be more expensive. The more affordable polycrystalline option is slightly less efficient, meaning the array would need to be larger to produce the same amount of power and tend to be bluer.
If looks are a significant factor for your system, less roof space would be needed with monocrystalline, and its darker color would blend with dark roofs.
Solar panels primarily come in two sizes: a 60-cell module and a 72-cell module. Typically, 72-cell modules are cheaper, but 60-cell modules offer more variety. 72-cell modules are primarily available with only white frames and a polycrystalline structure, while 60-cell modules open the door for black frames and monocrystalline options.
There’s a lot to consider when picking the right panels for your system. Take a look at our Guide to the Best Solar Panels on the Market.
In the past couple of years, we have seen so many new and innovative technologies within the solar industry. These inventions strive to improve the industry, whether by making solar more cost-effective, efficient, or more attractive. Here are a few that focus on improving the looks of your solar system:
Thin film solar panels are ultra-thin, ultra-low-weight alternatives. How do these differ from monocrystalline silicon solar panels or polycrystalline solar panels? Though they come in a variety of colors that can blend with dark roofs, they are less efficient than traditional panels and require a larger area to produce the same amount of power.
Railless Mounted Solar
Railless-mounted solar systems offer a low-profile system without rails and flashing. They offer a sleeker and less noticeable design but are limited to darker module types that are typically more expensive and aren’t as efficient.
Solar Roof Tiles
Elon Musks’ solar tiles have created a lot of buzz in the solar industry. Though this option offers a traditional-looking roofing material, they are significantly more expensive than traditional solar panels. Even including the cost of a new roof, solar-estimate.org estimates you’d still pay thousands more for solar roof tiles.
Sistine Solar’s SolarSkins® cover your solar panels with a thin film that can be printed to look exactly like your roof. This innovative idea will tack on a cost to your solar installation and may come with some efficiency losses.
Whether you’re creating a system that blends seamlessly with your traditional roofing, designing a system that keeps costs down, or wants a little of both, it’s important to talk to a trusted solar provider to find out what your options are.