Stylish solar panels

The next generation of solar panels won’t spoil the look of your home

There are good reasons to fit solar panels; they limit your carbon footprint and reduce your electricity bills. Nevertheless, many people are reluctant to have them because, aside from the initial cost, they think solar panels simply don’t look that great on the roof. This is especially understandable for those living in a period property, where a traditional exterior is seen to contrast too sharply with the high-tech look of a solar panel.

But solar panels have come a long way in the last twenty years. Billionaire inventor and CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, has recently unveiled his company’s solar panels; glass solar tiles in a range of finishes, which simulate real roof tiles, including ones that mimic the texture of black slate and those that look like curved Tuscan-style terracotta tiles. Musk’s solar tiles won’t be available in the UK until sometime in 2018, but if you want to install a better-looking class of solar panel, there are a number of stylish options available right now. Here’s our pick of some of the best ones.

Slate of the art

These award-winning tiles from Solar Century are a world away from old-fashioned solar panels, blending in nicely with surrounding slate tiles on a roof. There’s no visible flashings or edging, just discreet black tiles that won’t draw attention to themselves. No surprise that these have been successfully installed on listed buildings and houses in conservation areas, as well as on new-builds where the aesthetic was key to the design

Window-style solar panels

A neat trick for making solar panels appear part of the house – make them look like windows! These from Viridian are called Clearline and cleverly mimic the look of Velux windows by appearing to be a single sheet of glass, without all those lines laid out in grid pattern that draws attention to old-style solar panels, as well as laying close to the roof. Place each panel symmetrically above real windows and the effect is complete.

In-roof solar panels

Choosing so-called ‘in-roof’ tiles over ‘on-roof’ tiles makes solar panelling so much less obtrusive, because they can fit in seamlessly amongst existing tiles. And they can even be used to cover the entire roof. Romag’s solar tiles come in a variety of looks to blend in with all different kinds of properties. Combining the technology of a solar panel with the durability and weatherproofing of a conventional roof tile, these actually become part of the house, rather than being an add-on.

Get paid to make your own energy

One of the other great benefits to fitting solar panels is that they can actually earn you money, thanks to the government’s Feed-in Tariffs scheme, where you can sell the electricity you make to the National Grid.

We’re big supporters of this at First Utility, because it ties in brilliantly with our mission to help our customers be more in control of their energy use and save money while they’re at it.

Once you’ve got your solar panels installed, First Utility’s Feed-in Tariff scheme means you get paid for every kWh of electricity you make. Find out more here

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