The New Wave of Discreet and Stylish Solar Power for Your Home

The environmental and financial benefits of solar panels cannot be disputed. Installing solar panels will reduce your carbon footprint, reduce your electricity bills and earn you an average of 11% rate of return on investment from the government-introduced Feed-in Tariff. A point that is sometimes raised however is the appearance of the panels, as some do not find them aesthetically pleasing.

When spending thousands on a solar panel system, it is important to be genuinely happy with it. Though for some the prospect of free, green electricity will be enough, for others aesthetics play a larger role.

Traditionally solar panels have been blue, getting their distinctive appearance from the silicon which converts solar energy to electricity for use in the home. However as the solar panel market is progressing, more and more ‘attractive’ panel types are being introduced. Homeowners now have more options to incorporate a solar panel array into their home in a more visually pleasing way.

Black Solar Panels

For many homes, particularly those with slate roofs, choosing a black on-roof panel array can be an attractive option. Black panels are attached to the roof with an all-black mounting system and can ‘blend’ much more effectively into the roof with much less of a visual impact. They are attached to the roof using the traditional on-roof techniques but with a more seamless appearance due to their colour. Companies such as Sharp, Sanyo, Solar Century and Suntech all offer black coloured solar panels, some with black frames. These reduce the effect that the panels ‘stand out’ from your existing roof.

In-Roof Mounted Systems

As an option for installing a more visually pleasing solar photovoltaic (PV) array, this is more invasive but can produce attractive results. For those who object to the look of a panel array on a roof, the in-roof system can be more aesthetically pleasing. Though easier to install in a new-build or re-roof situation, in-roof mounted systems can also be retro-fitted. Where traditional on-roof panel systems are attached using mounting brackets, in-roof systems are mounted directly onto the rafters. In a retro-fit installation therefore, this involves removing roof tiles and replacing them with panels. An in-roof type of installation results in the panels lying flush with the roof. Once again, choosing black panels and a black mounting system will result in a more seamless appearance on a black or slate roof.

Solar Panel Roof Tiles

This form of building integrated photovoltaics is generally considered to be the most attractive and aesthetically pleasing form of solar panel installation. Quite literally these solar panels are roof tiles, and can be installed into a roof in the same way, replacing regular tiles. Many people would consider these for a new-build solar installation or during a re-roof, but they can also be installed retroactively, although this will involve re-tiling a certain area of your roof. They blend into the roof structure which results in significantly less visual impact than traditional panel arrays, usually with the added benefit of providing additional roof insulation. Solar panel roof tiles are available from companies such as System Photonics and Solar Century and are usually black in colour, making them the perfect choice for a black or slate roof.

Though these alternative solar panel options provide homeowners with the benefits of aesthetically pleasing solar panels, they can be more costly than traditional solar PV arrays. The installation costs are likely to be higher as the work in re-tiling a roof will be more complex than attaching a solar panel array with brackets onto an existing roof. The costs of materials are also likely to be higher. For many, however, the costs of an aesthetically pleasing solar panel roof array are priceless.

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