Solar panel aesthetics have deterred people from going solar in the past. Homeowners are often well aware of the environmental benefits of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, but many times the discussion to go solar gets stuck at the thought of spoiling the aesthetics of a home. This doesn’t have to be the case. There are a lot of options available in today’s market and the future market that don’t degrade the look of the building. Traditionally, PV system designs have been most influenced by performance considerations, not aesthetics. With the increase in demand for more visually pleasing solar panels, a lot of creative solar companies and innovative architects are designing systems that harmonize with the building.
There are two broad ways of doing this, either by making the panels invisible and inconspicuous by placing them on the rear end of the roof or by making them an architectural feature. The PV panels can be integrated into the building as a façade treatment which allows views through the panels, provides shade, and acts as a rain treatment. Conventional materials used in parts of the building, like roof skylights, can be incorporated with solar cells, (BIPV) further reducing the cost of going solar, as the initial cost can be offset by reducing the amount spent on building materials and labor to construct the aforementioned parts. This also gives the designer an opportunity to be imaginative and completely integrate the PV system into the building architecture and construction.
Existing buildings can opt for black thin film panels with the mounting system anodized in black or simply powdered coated after production. All black systems are generally more eye-catching than blue ones and almost looks like the roof, therefore they tend to be much more aesthetically pleasing.
In the future, PV panels will not only be more efficient, but also more aesthetically pleasing. In the meantime, several strategies discussed above can be employed to mitigate any negative feelings some might have about solar panel appearance.