One of the things that kind of got lost in yesterday's announcement by SolarCity that they were buying a solar panel manufacturer and planning to build solar 'gigafactories' in the US is a comment made in passing by Elon Musk. On the conference call where journalists could ask questions, he mentioned that one of his goals with having SolarCity make its own panels is to make "cool-looking" solar panels so that more people want to put them on their house.
Maybe it's because I'm a solar geek, but I already quite like the look of solar panels. If I'm walking around somewhere and see a house with solar panels, it instantly makes that house look better to me. But I realize I might be in a minority with that view, so I'm curious to know what you think about the current crop of solar panels (we don't yet know how Musk's improved panels would look). Please vote in the poll below:
I wonder how solar panels could be made to look better. They aren't very complex visually, so there aren't tons of things that you could do. One way would be to try to make them less visible by making them look more like traditional rooftop materials. Another way to go would be to keep them standing out, but play with the visible patterns and colors (within reason -- they need to be dark to absorb light) to somehow make them look better. But I admit I have no idea what that would be...
In any case, this is becoming ever more important because residential solar is growing fast - beating the commercial solar sector for the first time recently - and it's a middle-class phenomenon, not just a fringe thing for the rich or whatever.