Think solar panels are ugly? Now they’ll change colors!

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Photovoltaic Solar Panels on Newly Built Modern House

Image: Shutterstock/Rudmer Zwerver

Most of us have seen the solar panels that look a little like black skylights. They don’t match the surrounding roof’s texture, or often even the color scheme, and tend to stick out like a sore thumb. If a homeowner has a very definite vision of what they want their home to look like, solar panels aren’t exactly customizable on an aesthetic level. In short, they could look cooler.

But Sistine Solar, a startup out of Boston, wants to change that. Its solar panels would actually change colors and patterns to match the surrounding roof. The solar panels could look like the surrounding roof tiles, or even be customized to have other textures and colors, like a grass pattern. The technology is slated to come to market sometime in 2017, according to the company’s website.

Once set up, Sistine Solar plans to have an easy system that manages a smooth process. Customers will be able to request a quote, have their home pre-qualified and be assigned an advisor that will help design custom panels based on their home. A proposal would inform customers of system details, pricing, financing and estimated energy savings. Then the company would work out any permits on the customer’s behalf, install the panels and connect the home into the grid.

How solar panels just keep getting better

You only need to look at the charts to know that solar panels are getting better and better, mainly in price. In 1977, solar panels would run you $76.67 per watt. And in 2013, you were looking at around $0.74 per watt, around a 100 times lower in cost. In simple terms, the growth of the solar industry has meant more widespread and cheaper production models, leading to the plummeting prices. Great news for the average homeowner.

But that doesn’t change how they look today. Treehugger reported that even Elon Musk, chairman of SolarCity, commented on a press call in 2014 that one of the goals was to make solar panels look cooler so people would want to put them on their house. Reportedly, Musk didn’t state on the call exactly how he wants to make them cooler. Though, since then, the panels keep getting sleeker.

But there is another company that has already made serious steps in the direction of aesthetics and installment ease. UK-based Solarcentury launched its SunStation line, which focuses on blending in with the surrounding rooftop. The panels are sleek, black in color and sit into the roof at one uniform level. Which means all you’d need is a dark-colored roof and gone are the days of your solar panels sticking out.

What’s even better is that solar panel installation has become a breeze. With the SunStation panels, installation is done in one day, due to no heavy modifications to the roof itself. The top cover of the roof is simply removed to make way for the slim panels, no cutting into the roof itself required.

It’s certainly easier than the traditional mechanical attached solar systems, where the panels are mounted to posts in the roof beams. Then a special leak prevention system has to be added to where the roof has been penetrated. The process overall has become safer, more efficient and more affordable. And solar panels look cooler.

Michelle Lovrine Honeyager is a freelance writer living in Southeastern Wisconsin. You can find out more about her at https://www.clippings.me/michellelovrine.

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