We all know that solar panels are good for the environment and they do an amazing job of helping us save money on our energy bills. Despite those benefits, many people in the solar business and those who already have solar power, can’t figure out why more homeowners haven’t adopted them. One major reason is, actually, a lot of would-be customers think solar panels are too ugly to be worth it. While this may seem shallow, it’s important to remember that a home is probably the biggest investment that any of us will ever make, so we take pride in it’s appearance. Another key factor is that the solar panels may look fine to some people, but others may be completely turned off by them and this could have a huge effect on the potential buyers, when you put your house on the market for sale.
Solar Panel Manufacturers Want to be Cool
Many attempts have been made to make solar panels look cooler, but so far most are not practical, affordable or do not provide the same performance of the panels that are typically installed on rooftops. However, there are some promising developments that have the potential to make solar panels cooler.
When you think of solar power systems, if you imagine big, bulky installations on top of your roof, you should know that other options are now available. One example of this is solar shingles. As the name suggests, these are shingle-sized solar panels. While they still have that reflective surface to them, these shingles will fit seamlessly onto any roof. From a distance, most people won’t even know they’re there. This option is definitely far less conspicuous than a solar panel setup. However, it can be more costly and may not be available in your area.
Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV)
Along the same idea as solar shingles, is BIPV (Building Integrated Photovoltaic) technology. Although traditional solar panel installations have become more popular in recent years, it would be fair to say that BIPV technology hasn’t really hit critical mass quite yet.
Many industry experts believe that BIPV products will introduce the next phase of solar technology that will be far more accepted by home and business owners, alike. This promising form of technology can produce electricity onsite, just like current solar panels.
However, their biggest selling point, is how well they integrate into buildings. This technology can be applied to any part of the building’s envelope, which entails the roof, walls, windows and any façade. The promise for this type of solar energy is that it can be integrated so well into a buildings structure, that the occupants may not even be aware that it’s there. Additionally, since it can potentially be designed into any part of the building, the entire array of solar energy producing material can cover much larger areas, then just rooftops.
As BIPV technology can actually become part of the building’s vital structure, not only will it produce electricity, it can potentially cut down on building costs too (though existing buildings can be retrofitted with this tech as well).
While BIPV may be the future in building and roof integration, it’s not the only dog in the fight. Companies that currently manufacture and install solar panels are well aware that many people don’t like the way their products look, which is why even traditional solar panels are becoming noticeably sleeker and integrate better with their surroundings.
Enter: Elon Musk
Elon Musk has been called the real, live Tony Stark, the genius billionaire from the Iron Man franchise. Although he hasn’t invented his own one-man-army machine-suit yet (that we know of), Mr. Musk does have a lot of impressive products to his name. The popular Tesla electric car is one, and word is he plans on launching a herd of satellites into space that will make Wi-Fi possible in even the remotest of locations on this planet.
You can see why he has such a reputation.
This is good news for those of us who want better looking solar panels. Musk’s cousins co-founded the company SolarCity back in 2006, a business move he was a part of. The famous entrepreneur is also the largest shareholder of the company.
Back in June, on a conference call where SolarCity announced an acquisition and future plans, Musk commented that he wanted to make solar panels “cooler-looking.”
If you’ve seen any of the designs Musk has been behind, you know this man knows cool. Also, given his drive and dogged determination, it seems like a good bet that if he wants cool-looking panels, it’s going to happen.
At this time, most of the solar panels out there may not be eye candy. However, that’s definitely set to change, with sleeker designs already available. As the interest in solar power grows, expect that stylish solar panels will become the norm.
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