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Solar Panel Design Ideas for Your Home

June 8, 2016

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These examples of building integrated photovoltaic panels are like solar eye candy. All images from U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

These examples of building integrated photovoltaic panels are like solar eye candy. All images from U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

Solar is not just for rooftops anymore. When it comes to picking the right solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) system for your house, be sure to explore the various design options available to today's homeowners. We've selected a few examples of building integrated photovoltaic, or BIPV, systems to get you inspired.

1—Solar Façade

This house pushes the envelope with wall-to-wall solar cells (literally). The exterior surface is covered with thin-film copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) panels. A CIGS system will be slightly less efficient than the typical silicon-based PV system, but it will perform better in cloudy weather. 

2—Solar Shingles

About 500 solar shingles make up the 5.8 kilowatt (kW) PV system on this home's roof. Not only does this CIGS-based technology blend in seamlessly with traditional asphalt roofing materials, it is also easy to install on new home construction or during a full reroofing. This option is worth considering if you're willing to pay about a third more than the average solar installation.

3— Solar Porch

It's almost dreamy looking up through the array of bifacial photovoltaic panels that cover this house's porch. The 8.2 kW PV system provides clean energy as well as shade, filtered daylight, and protection from the elements. With its hybrid crystalline silicon and ultra-thin amorphous silicon technology, the bifacial system performs best in high-temperature locations.

4— Solar Skylight

These see-through solar panels appear to be skylights, but they also generate clean energy for this home. The system is composed of high efficiency crystalline silicon PV cells integrated into an architectural glass. Additional benefits of this approach include glare control, effective daylighting, and even a subtle patterning to prevent bird collisions.

5—Solar Shade

This house introduces flexibility into the façade with a PV system that flows from the roof down the southernmost exterior wall. Borrowing from an approach often used on sail boats, this design creates shade with flexible monocrystalline modules that are light weight and resistant to harsh conditions, such as salt water. Think beach when it comes to this style.

Once you have some ideas about what kind of solar panels you'd like to use, talk with a few professional contractors about installing and maintaining a home solar electric system. They can provide additional guidance to ensure that you're selecting the best PV system for your home.