Image source: Lumeta Solar.
The Centre For Sustainable Design recently reported that solar panel manufacturers, SunPower and Lumeta, manufactured by Suntech, are developing solar panels that more closely resemble and hide in roof surfaces. While most people don't have a problem with the rectangular panels, as that's just the way they have always looked, some people would like the panels to blend in as much as possible, including matching the roof color and mocking the angles of the roof surface.Technically, Home Owner's Associations (HOA's) cannot deny a resident their request to install solar panels, though they can ask that the panels are as unseen as possible. Modifying panels to mock roof surfaces gives homeowners another option. In order to make panels that mock roof surfaces, they are made with materials like copper indium gallium selenide, instead of the traditional silicon. These materials are less efficient than the traditional silicon, thus meaning you get less bang for your buck.
Since the panels are less efficient, manufacturers like DayStar Technologies and HelioVolt, are focusing on commercial installations first because of "economies of scale." Though they feel that soon the industry will catch up and panels will be more often installed as houses are made and thus designed to give the maximum output possible for the house design and location.
New panel options include panels designed for Spanish tile roofs, installations on wall surfaces and pool awnings. Lumeta also makes a panel with a "sticky" surface, eliminating the need for a rack-mounting system. Non-standard panel shapes can also aid in putting panels in odd-shaped places like the triangle in the top of a roof pitch, thus maximizing every square inch of a roof surface. Alternative panels may also be lighter, allowing them to be installed on garages or other side-buildings.
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