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Solar Panels: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Solar Panels: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Who would have guessed that solar panels have a reputation for being unsightly? In a town not too far from my home in New York, a family was denied the opportunity to put up solar panels on their home by the town’s Board of Architectural Review (BAR).  Some of the family’s neighbors felt the panels “would clearly be an eyesore in our lovely Quaker Ridge neighborhood,” according to a contributor for a New York news service Metro Green Business.

As someone who usually has an opinion on aesthetically pleasing architecture, I really have absolutely no problem with the functional shiny solar panels. This just makes me want to scream, “Hey, these folks should be revered with a badge of courage for their stand on energy efficiency–for harvesting the sun’s energy rather than contributing to our dependence on fossil fuel.” But, I digress. As it turns out, there may be a solution that makes everyone happy: the neighbors, the earth, the homeowner.

“Traditional” solar panels may not win any design awards, but times have changed. SRS Energy, a Philadelphia company, has developed the Solé Power Tile, a roof tile designed to sustainably convert sunlight into electricity without compromising aesthetics. The dark blue tiles, manufactured by SRS Energy, are jointly branded and distributed by US Tile and specifically designed to be compatible with the clay roof tiles manufactured by US Tile. The Solé tiles, made from a high-performance polymer often used in car bumpers, are lightweight, unbreakable and recyclable. What’s so attractive about the Solé Power Tile system for consumers? They can choose a greener alternative, without sacrificing visual appeal.
By the way, what happened to the family who was denied the ability to put up solar panels?  “The couple did not take well to the decision,” according to Metro Green Business. They “made for a scheduled appeal, enlisted the support of the media and environmentalists, and started their own petition (gathering 150 signatures in favor).” Eventually the BAR reversed the decision and allowed the solar panels. The decision mandated that the family plant several taller trees to shield the neighbors from the “eyesore” of the solar panels. Read the whole story here.

Hmmm, what are your thoughts? Are solar panels beautiful or ugly? Do you consider traditional solar panels an “eyesore”?

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Ronnie Citron-Fink

Ronnie Citron-Fink is a writer, editor and educator. She has written hundreds of articles about sustainable living, the environment, design, and family life for websites, books and magazines. Ronnie is the creator of Econesting, and the managing editor of Moms Clean Air Force. Ronnie was named one of the Top Ten Living Green Experts by Yahoo. Ronnie lives in New York with her family.

75 comments

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8:44AM PDT on Jun 18, 2012

Thank you

6:34PM PST on Feb 28, 2012

I can think of nothing more beautiful than a neighborhood trying to be green and energy independent.

11:54AM PST on Feb 8, 2012

Here's a link to the bill www.state.co.us/gov_dir/leg_dir/olls/sl2008a/sl_175.htm Urge that your state passes a similar bill.

11:49AM PST on Feb 8, 2012

Here in CO the legislature passed a bill preventing HOA's from not allowing clotheslines and such. I think it's time we the people, make the rules not some idiot politicians. If everyone of us wrote or emailed our legislators we'd scare them into doing right. We hold the votes not businesses or the rich. We the unwashed masses LOL For those of you who want to learn more go to www.laundrylist.org/right-to-dry Urge your state to pass bills that prevent Unreasonable restrictions on energy efficient items/additions from towns, cities, HOA, etc

11:05AM PST on Jan 18, 2012

They are ugly noisy or whatever is just an excuse not to switch to clean energy.

5:02PM PDT on Jul 14, 2011

solar energy - definately brilliant , although traditional solar panels are for me an absolute eyesore and so interested to hear of a solar roof tile; anyone know of other alternatives?

5:18PM PDT on Jul 4, 2011

I simply cannot believe the pettiness of some folks.

to be against something that helps the earth because they think it's ugly. seriously?
my suggestion to these smug, self-serving people is this: go home tonight [driving alone in your SUV, no doubt] take your grandchild onto your lap and tell him or her, 'Do you know what grandma/grandpa did today, honey? I made sure the planet will be all used up before you reach adulthood. And I did it in the name of aesthetics! Aren't you proud of me?'

9:17AM PST on Feb 20, 2011

Why did we have to wait so long?

6:55AM PST on Feb 20, 2011

As Robert Knickman says:- So then if the architecture world objects to the solar power, why do they not design panels that works with their over all design plan? & of course decent architecture does involve having the house or building aligned to make most use of the Sun's energy, this is hardly new my large 1868 & then an 1860 house were both designed to make the most of the Sun & I guess if you go back to Roman or Greek times if not earlier then houses were built to make best use.

6:30AM PST on Feb 20, 2011

All new build in Andalucia Spain has to have solar, this should be compulsary elsewhere as well.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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