Google recently launched Project Sunroof, a mapping service that tells you whether or not enough sun shines over your property to make solar energy a viable investment. Short answer: it is, if only for the fact that in doing so — tax incentives, long-term savings and non-reliance on the grid notwithstanding — you’ll be helping save the future of the planet, guy.
And yet, only about half a million of the U.S.’s more than 115 million households use solar power. That number is expected to rise to as high as four million by 2020, but the fact remains: mainstream American is far from ready to embrace solar. One of the most oft-heard complaints? That solar panels are “unsightly.” (“More unsightly than an oil spill or smog?” your correspondent wonders.)
We’re out to put the “it’s ugly” comment to bed with several solar panel solutions that are actually quite fetching.
The serpentine National Stadium in Taiwan is covered in just north of 8,800 photovoltaic panels. Not only does it generate all of its own energy — it also produces enough to keep the lights on for most of the community when its not in use. Added benefit of the public works project as solar hub: no need to get approval from homeowner’s associations.
The name says it all. Solar Window makes window panes that are filled with photovoltaic cells. No roof panels necessary. This technology, referred to as Building-Integrated Photovoltaics, is ideal for multi-story buildings and homes that face south and are drenched in afternoon sunlight.
Luma Resources makes photovoltaic cells that run flush to your shingles. They also capture 20 percent of the sun’s energy, which is enough to power your home and several more.
Dow Powerhouse makes solar shingles that blend in even more seamlessly than Luma's. Coming to a sun-burb near you.