Better Looking Solar Panels: System Aesthetics Comparison | Solar.com

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Better Looking Solar Panels: System Aesthetics Comparison


As a homeowner, solar panel efficiency and cost may not be the only two factors you’re considering when deciding whether or not to go solar.

To some, solar panels can appear to be an eyesore when set on a roof of otherwise uniform architecture.

This article will dive into the different solar panel color and framing options available to homeowners, and the pros and cons of each setup.

Solar Panel Colors: Blue vs. Black

Blue solar panels are made from polycrystalline silicon that is covered with an anti-reflective coating that optimizes efficiency and maximizes absorbing capacity.

The classic bluish shimmer is attributed to imperfections within silicon crystal formation that come from slight misalignments while melted silicon is being poured into the mold. These imperfections aren’t addressed in the manufacturing process because of the tradeoffs in producing more waste and using more energy.

Black solar panels are made from monocrystalline silicon that achieves a higher standard of purity.

There is an extensive alignment technique known as the Czochralski Process that aligns the utilized silicon into a single crystal formation. However, this process is resource intensive in energy consumption and wasted silicon.

Solar Panel System Aesthetics Types

There are five types of aesthetics available for home solar arrays:

  1. Silver Frame
  2. Black Frame
  3. Black on White
  4. Black on Black
  5. Advanced Black on Black

For clarification, open wire refers to the conduit being visible due to the arrangement of a given solar panel. Closed refers to the conduit being hidden within the panel frame, allowing for a tight fit and smoother finish.

 

1. Silver Frame: Silver frame, cells could be black or white, open wire

traditional silver frame, white backing, wired solar panelImage credit: Solar Power Brisbane

These are the traditional solar panels homeowners may recall when expressing dissatisfaction with the appearance of panels.

This design isn’t going anywhere any time soon, because this is the most cost-effective setup. There’s also a huge market for them among utility providers and other commercial customers.

Lower price point and higher efficiency due to better heat regulation from having contrasting colors maintain the desirability of these panels.

2. Black Frame: Black frame, cells could be black or white, open wire

black frame, white backing, wired solar panelImage credit: Joju Solar

Switching out the silver aluminum frame for a sleeker, fitted frame for the subtle touch with a generally subtle price increase. The white backing and lifted racking keep the system cool and efficient.

3. Black on White: Black frame, black cell, white backing, hidden wire

black frame, white backing, wireless solar panel

Image credit: LG Energy

The hidden wire component to this even sleeker design makes this panel style more versatile to shrink the gap between surface and panel. Less jutting out of the roof could lead to less infrastructure on your roof, possibly lower the cost of installation while adding aesthetic value.

4. Black on black: Black frame, black cell, black backing, open wire

black frame, black backing, wired solar panel

Image credit: Green Energy Group

This newer design is the first true all-black panel, completely hiding the waffle iron look that a white backing would normally show. These panels are less efficient because of the increase in heat absorption, but from afar, this sleek design fully encompasses a modern look.

5. Advanced Black on Black:  Black frame, black cell, black backing, hidden wire

Sunpower Maxeon, all black, wireless solar panel

Image credit: SunPower

SunPower Maxeon technology has made this tinted window look possible without compromising on meeting industry-standards inefficiency. Design meets utility in this high performing black panel that incorporates durable, non-corrosive materials to maximize panel longevity.

Solar Array Aesthetics Summary:

Frame Backing Wire
Standard White White Yes
Black standard Black White Yes
Wireless black Black White No
Pure black Black Black Yes
Most attractive pure black Black Black No

3 considerations for choosing the best looking solar panels:

  1. Cost: Black panels are more expensive, but the long-term aesthetic appeal and available cost savings could offset the difference for you.
  2. Sleekness: Knowing your preference for sleekness will help you determine if you should be getting monocrystalline or polycrystalline panels.
  3. Efficiency: Different kinds of panels affect the level of efficiency in converting solar energy into usable electricity.

Talk to one of our energy advisors today by registering on Solar.com’s revamped platform to know what the exact aesthetic and cost differences would be on your property. Enjoy exploring the potential cost savings and the convenience of our hassle-free solar experience!

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