vandervoort house

Some solar panel installations look out-of-place but it doesn't have to be that way.  There are PV products that are a better visual match for some roof types and colors.  All-black PV modules and rails can typically look less industrial and are very popular these days.  The photo above is of a home designed by David Vandervort Architects on which we installed a solar array that is hardly distinguishable from the roof.  In this case we used BP Solar thin-film panels (no longer available) that were a good match for the roof color.

In the past all but a few panels were made with bright aluminum frames, white backsheets, and often blue polycrystalline cells.  These were mounted on bright aluminum rails, so on most rooftops they were not that visually appealing. 

   solar panel   sunpower panels

The industry introduced black anodized aluminum frames and black backsheets that, when combined with mono-crystalline cells, gave the panels a more homogeneous look and blended visually with dark roofing materials.  SunPower introduced its back-contact cells in the early 2000's and created all-black panels that look very monolithic, even up-close.

As solar panels become more common, we will get used to seeing them, but its still nice if they can be used as a design element, or installed so that they are unobtrusive.  Let us know if you have a particular design or look in mind and we'll see if the available products will make that possible. 


About the author


Started Puget Sound Solar in 2001 with 30 years of construction contracting experience, and a desire to turn Seattle on to solar energy. Achieving NABCEP certification in 2004, Jeremy believes that our customers often follow a path similar to the one he took, starting out with solar daydreaming, then progressing to education on the subject, and eventually leading to action. In addition to leading the company he also does some teaching and speaking engagements about various aspects of solar energy, and experiments relentlessly with various solar, energy efficiency, and electric vehicle projects.

Jeremy Smithson

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