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How To Design An Attractive Rooftop Solar Installation

Close up of new building with black solar panels

Installing a solar system offers plenty of benefits. It provides free electricity by converting sunlight into energy, which can be used to generate electricity. Plus, it helps reduce energy bills since some of your needs will rely on the energy you’ve generated.

Aside from that, installing a solar system can also help you earn extra cash. You can export the excess electrical energy your solar panels have produced back to the grid, provided they’re connected to the grid. This is called net metering. Moreover, solar systems don’t require plenty of maintenance—all you need to do is keep them clean. If you’re in doubt, you can always ask professional cleaning companies for help.

All these benefits may sound great. However, they might not be enough to silence a creeping thought: how will a solar system look and how will it fit the aesthetics of your property?

Regardless of how they look, solar systems can help add value to your property. If that’s not enough to convince you, here’s a simple guide that may help you design an attractive rooftop solar system so you can take advantage of its benefits while giving your home curb appeal:

1. Choose A Color Of Your Solar Panels

Solar panels come in two different colors: black and blue. And you’re probably wondering why black and blue of all colors. There’s a simple reason behind those colors.

Most solar panels are black and blue, not because manufacturers choose to but because those are the colors silicon naturally produces during manufacturing. These colors also refer to the two most popular types of solar panels: monocrystalline and polycrystalline.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Monocrystalline solar panels consist of black-colored solar cells made from a single silicon crystal turned into a cylindrical ingot, hence the name. This makes them more efficient because black, as a color, absorbs more light than blue.

Since monocrystalline is more efficient than its counterpart, you’ll need fewer panels to produce the same amount of electricity. However, monocrystalline solar panels are more expensive and may not be as common as others.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Polycrystalline solar panels are blue in color with a frosty finish. They’re more common and less expensive than their monocrystalline counterpart. However, they’re not energy-efficient since blue, as a color, doesn’t absorb as much light as black.

Because polycrystalline solar panels are inefficient, you’ll need more panels to generate sufficient energy. This will take up more roof space and isn’t ideal for a minimalist solar system.

Monocrystalline panels are ideal for roofs with contrasting colors, especially if you want to make them a statement of your property. On the other hand, polycrystalline panels might be better for darker roofs because of their color, but they’re not as efficient as monocrystalline panels.

If you’re interested in monocrystalline solar panels, you may visit Smart Solar Energy home solar installation or other local service providers for more information.

2. Look For The Right Solar Panel Frame

The primary function of a solar panel frame is to connect the panels to the mounting structure. The frame also protects the laminated glass structure of the panel.

Solar panel frames are often made of aluminum because of their flexibility, high strength-to-weight ratio, and corrosive resistance. Also, it has low density, making it more compelling than steel frames. However, the latter might be more useful in different circumstances.

In terms of design, solar panel frames can be black or silver. If your solar panels are monocrystalline, it’d be best to choose black frames for uniformity. You can also use silver frames if you want to add more details and contrasting tones.

3. Choose A Solar Panel Backing Sheet

The backing sheet is the outermost layer of a solar panel. It’s specifically developed to act as an insulator and to protect electrical systems and photovoltaic (PV) cell components from rain, wind, and other environmental factors.

Without a backing sheet, electrical systems and PV cells will be exposed to mechanical stress, debris, insects, and dust, which could potentially damage them. Backing sheets can be made of polymer materials such as polyamides (PA), ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymer (EVA), tetrafluoroethylene hexafluoropropylene vinylidene fluoride (THV), polyesters, and polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF).

In terms of design, backing sheets can be black or white. If you want to make a statement, choose white ones. But if you want to establish uniformity, go for black ones to ensure everything blends in accordingly. This creates a subtle and chic finish to your solar system.

All-black is popular among homeowners because of its discreet and smart look. However, it’s more expensive and less efficient. On the other hand, the contrast of black and white may help create a statement. Also, it’s less costly and more efficient than all-black panels because white, as a color, reflects light and heat.

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Newly build houses with solar panels attached on the roof against a sunny sky

4. Choose The Right Solar Panel Size

The size of a solar panel may vary depending on the number of its cell modules: 60-cell and 72-cell modules. The 60-cell module measures 3.25 feet by 5.5 feet while the 72-cell module measures 3.25 feet by 6.42 feet. This makes 72-cell modules a foot taller than 60-cell ones.

If you want a cheaper option, go for a 72-cell module. However, it lacks variety and is only available in polycrystalline structures and white frames. But a 60-cell module may offer monocrystalline options as well as black framing.

Aside from 60- and 72-cell modules, you can also try the largest one, the 96-cell module. Nonetheless, fitting them on your roof might be challenging because of their size.

5. Pick A Suitable Mounting System

A mounting system is integral to the installation process of a solar system. It’s designed to keep solar panels affixed to surfaces such as roofs and building facades. Aside from that, mounting systems are also used as patio covers. However, this could mean additional expenses since solar patio covers differ from standard ones.

There are two ways to mount solar panels on your roof. These are called on-roof and in-roof techniques. So, what’s the difference between these two?

On-Roof Mounting Technique

The on-roof mounting technique installs solar panels directly onto the roof with the help of rafters and metal hooks. Solar panels are clamped onto vertical rails using hooks, meaning the panels will be a couple of inches above the roof’s surface.

This setup ensures proper ventilation underneath the panels, which can help optimize their performance in the long run. Nonetheless, your panels will be visibly raised above your roof’s surface.

In-Roof Mounting Technique

The in-roof mounting technique installs solar panels almost entirely attached to the surface of your roof. This creates a sleeker and chic look. However, solar panels mounted using this technique may not perform as efficiently as those installed through the on-roof method because of less ventilation, leading to poor airflow.

If you want to maximize design and efficiency, it’s a good idea to choose the on-roof mounting technique over the in-roof. The latter may offer a sleek and subtle finish, but you risk causing damage to your panels due to the inefficiency of this method.

6. Optimize Panel Positioning And Roof Coverage

Aside from the type of solar panels and mounting systems, you should consider panel positioning when designing your rooftop solar system.

Many homeowners want a symmetrical solar system. This means solar panels will be laid out in a single direction—portrait or landscape—as long as they’re parallel to the surface of the roof and its other features (e.g., windows). Solar panel installers would also need to relocate other elements to ensure symmetrical arrangement (e.g., aerials).

In addition to panel positioning, you need to consider roof coverage. If your solar panels only cover a portion of your roof, ask your installer to arrange them in proportion to your property’s overall dimension and critical features.

If your solar panels cover your entire roof, ensure they’re appropriately arranged on both edges. Of course, you want to make sure your panels sit side-by-side, not others being installed elsewhere.

Most homeowners are also perceptive when it comes to concealing their cables and pipelines. This could mean additional workload, so discuss how to hide these with your solar panel installer beforehand to determine the most appropriate approach.

Another consideration most homeowners overlook is the electrical device installed on the ground. This includes the battery, service panel, and electrical meter. You can install these items in your garage, façade, or backyard.

7. Take Note Of Possible Roofing Issues

There’s no need to attach your solar panels to the roof membrane and structure unless you live in a windy region. In case you do, ask your manufacturer for ballasted support systems. This will allow you to easily remove your panels from the roof membrane whenever necessary (e.g., membrane repair or replacement).

Don’t forget to double-check the building code of your area. It often requires homeowners to install guardrails or tie-off systems to protect the items within 10 feet of the roof’s edge unless there’s a barrier at least 42 inches high. You must take these aspects into account when designing your rooftop solar system.

Final Thoughts

Designing an attractive solar system not only promotes efficiency but also improves the value of your home. This is an excellent idea for homeowners planning to sell their property. When designing a solar system, you have to consider various factors. These include panel types, framing options, backing sheets, sizing, mounting system, etc.

When choosing essential components, always prioritize those that promote efficiency. Don’t compromise the performance of your solar to achieve the design you want. If you have more questions, ask your local solar installation services right away.