Are you thinking about installing residential solar panels? Afraid that the solar panels you install will be an eyesore and want to know if hidden solar panels are the answer?
Solar panels are a viable option to fulfill your energy requirements and reduce your carbon footprint. They’re also an excellent way of reducing monthly electricity costs. Although solar panels exhibit impressive performance, they can be quite unappealing on a roof and can make the exterior of your home unattractive.
If you want to reduce your energy costs by generating your own energy and want to make the solar panels as inconspicuous as possible, then you need to know how to hide solar panels to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Why Hiding Solar Panels Might Be a Good Idea
Although many changes have been made to the appearance of solar panels in recent years, it can still be a good idea to hide them for the following reasons:
One of the primary reasons why people choose to hide solar panels is aesthetics. Solar panels can be quite an eyesore. If you own a beautiful, modern home with a well-manicured lawn, you wouldn’t want a row of solar panels to ruin the charm of your property.
The good news is that modern solar installers have greatly improved the look of traditional panels by hiding the racking and making the color uniform. For instance, the all-black panels designed without the aluminum frame and lines of the standard panels are a less visible option.
Similarly, it’s possible to minimize the impact of blue solar panels by painting the aluminum racking black and using black mounting hardware without incurring too much extra cost. Solar panel companies can also make the installation materials less noticeable by matching the racking system with your existing roof shade.
Typically, a solar panel maintenance checklist consists of removing debris and cleaning the panels with mildly soapy water. You also need to make sure that the panels aren’t corroded, and the wiring isn’t damaged. It’s important to follow a regular solar panel maintenance schedule to prolong the lifespan of the panels and maximize the system’s efficiency.
Roof maintenance with solar panels is also very easy. You just need a leaf blower, squeegee, and water hose to keep them clean.
Hidden solar panels are less likely to be covered in dust and debris, reducing the need to regularly clean them. In addition, hiding them from view can protect them from damage due to accidental impact or exposure to elements. For instance, they’re less likely to suffer damage from falling debris or hail.
Installing solar panels on historical buildings can be quite challenging because standard solar panels would stick out like a sore thumb and ruin the authentic experience typically enjoyed by tourists. In such cases, hiding the solar panels requires some creative options.
Solar panel companies craft special roof tiles by hand that blend much better with ancient terracotta tiles. The tile frames are crafted with composite plastic dyed during the manufacturing process to look exactly like the existing roofing material. These specially-made tiles may look opaque but are designed to allow light to pass through and reach the solar cell inside.
These tiles are also created to resemble stone, wood, and concrete, making them an ideal option for buildings that don’t want to lose their tile uniformity.
Some communities have strict homeowners’ association rules or zoning laws that make it compulsory for homes to conform to a particular style or look. These rules are usually aimed at preserving the aesthetic quality of a neighborhood. If you live in such an area, then it might be a good idea to hide your solar panels.
Hidden solar panels are an excellent way of securing solar panels from theft, especially in areas with a high crime rate. Thieves commonly target solar panels as they are an easy way to make a quick buck. By making it difficult to spot solar panels from the street, you can easily protect your home and safeguard your property from theft and vandalism.
Protection from the Elements
Exposure to harsh weather can cause your solar panels to degrade. If you live in an area that experiences extreme weather like heavy rains, high winds, etc., it’s imperative to take proper steps to protect your investment. Hide solar panels to decrease their exposure to the elements, increase their working life, and enjoy optimal performance.
How to Hide Solar Panels
While the cost of solar panels has dropped by almost 70% since 2014, some homeowners are still hesitant to install them—they find them too visible and don’t like how the solar panels look.
Fortunately, there are a few solutions. Here’s how to install solar panels on the roof while keeping them hidden successfully.
Paint the Panels – Panel Painting Techniques
A great way to reduce solar panel visibility is to first off, choose the colors wisely. Black frames and hardware can make your solar panels seem less obvious to people looking at your house.
It’s possible to reduce solar panel visibility by painting the hardware and the frames of solar panels. You can choose a color that blends perfectly with your roof, or give them an entirely new color. Although this is one of the easiest methods to hide your solar panel, it can be quite expensive. And you need to make sure to avoid electrical connections and wires.
In-roof Solar Installation
Traditionally, solar panels are installed on the roof, but with an in-roof solar installation, you can replace the slates and tiles on your roof with solar panels. There are no visible rails and racking that typically accompany solar panels, and the whole system looks like a darker skylight. These panels sit flush on your roofline and become a part of your existing roof while keeping its visual appeal intact.
Solar Skin Coverings
Another way to hide your solar panels is by using skin coverings. These are ideal for homes that feature roofs that are quite different from solar panels. Solar skins are available in a variety of designs and colors, allowing them to blend seamlessly with various roofing types. They’re highly efficient, feature the latest technological advancements, and filter out very little energy and light.
Integrated Building Solar Panels
If you want to keep residential solar panels hidden, you should consider your installation options carefully from the very beginning. There are many different types of solar systems and panels that you can install, and not all of them have a lot of visibility.
Some types of concealed solar panels, such as building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), are made to look like part of your home and can be incorporated into awnings, roofs, and windows. Some solar panels look exactly like shingles and are hard to notice for anyone passing by.
Unobtrusive Solar Photovoltaic Systems
Another advanced technological innovation that makes solar installation less noticeable are solar photovoltaic tiles. These tiles are hard to distinguish from regular roofing tiles and do not protrude like traditional panels. They’re made from a transparent plastic film, and installed on the roof in much the same way as regular shingles. Remember that this system needs to be connected to your home’s electrical system to work.
Solar Carport Designs
A solar carport design is the perfect solution for small roofs that aren’t big enough to install any other type of solar panels. Like regular garages, these designs are constructed with special support beams that store energy from the sun. Solar panel carport designs are typically installed on the ground; however, some models can be installed on the roof as well.
Landscape-based Concealment Methods
Changing your landscaping can make it easy to hide solar panels. Placing some bushes, trees, and plants around them can help cover them up and make them less visible to people looking at your home. You can also work to cover up the wiring that leads to your home by using mulch or other types of landscaping.
A ground-mounted solar system can be less conspicuous and a good option to consider if you want your panels to stay hidden. You may want to consider choosing a non-roof location to install solar panels if you want to keep your home’s roof looking great.
Now that you know how to hide solar panels on roofs, you can see that it’s quite safe and can be done in more ways than one.
It’s best to plan an incognito solar panel installation from the very beginning. However, if you already have solar panels, you may want to consider painting them or adding some additional landscaping to keep them hidden.
Be sure that you talk to a solar installer and find out what the different types of installation options are. You may want to learn more about Blue Raven Solar panels if you want to install a residential solar system.
Can I cover solar panels with plastic?
Covering solar panels with plastic doesn’t stop them from working, as long as it’s transparent and allows light to pass through. However, it can adversely affect their efficiency and performance. Putting plastic between the panels and the light source reduces the amount of light that reaches the solar cell. It can also trap heat and cause damage to the panels.
Will hiding solar panels affect their efficiency?
Hiding solar panels is ideal for those concerned about ruining the look of their roofs. As discussed above, there are many ways to hide solar panels without affecting their efficiency. Just make sure you choose the right material.
Is Painting Solar Panels a good idea?
Painting solar panels helps protect them from dust, debris, and dirt. In fact, painting them a dark color can also allow them to absorb more energy from the sun. However, make sure you don’t paint over your solar panel’s electrical connections or wire.
Is it legal to hide solar panels?
Yes, it’s legal to hide solar panels as long as it’s not done in a way that’s considered permanent. You can choose from any of the methods of hiding solar panels mentioned above that you find most suited to your situation. Make sure that you don’t attach anything permanently, as it can disrupt airflow and cause damage to your panels.
What tools do I need to hide solar panels?
The tools that you’ll need depend on the type of covering materials you choose. For instance, you’ll need a stepladder, paintbrushes, and some paint if you’re going to paint your panels. Meanwhile, if you plan on implementing landscape-based concealment methods, you’ll need plants and other gardening supplies. For solar skin coverings, you’ll need a drill and screws, among other things.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2022 and has been completely updated.