Most customers care about aesthetics, and making solar more attractive is a good practice. A survey of 523 homeowners that was commissioned by Lumeta Solar found that 32.7% of homeowners felt aesthetics were “extremely important” or “very important” in deciding about going solar. A full 23.5% of respondents said they would not go solar “if the look detracts too much from my home.”
For an installer, that means making your installations as attractive as possible will help you sell more, not only to your customer, but to neighbors who are more likely to go solar after a neighbor takes the plunge. Conversely, it doesn’t help the industry – or your sales in the neighborhood – if you install a system that lowers the home’s curb appeal.
The good news is that most homes have the potential to add solar without harming curb appeal. Here are five ways to improve the look of your solar installation.
Make a monolith. Wherever possible, offer your customer a design that has a single large rectangle of modules, even if it means lowering the system’s size a little. Show them how that design compares to one that maxes out their roof’s space, and empower them to decide if the extra energy is worth the aesthetic trade off.
Pick a direction. It’s common to see homes with a mix of landscape and portrait modules, sometimes within the same roof plane. If the array’s visible, the result can be disjointed and it won’t help you sell solar to the neighbors. If you need to mix and match, try to keep it consistent within a single plane.
Reroute obstructions. If moving a vent enables you to avoid a “gap toothed” look, then it can be a worthwhile investment. Train your sales team to point out obstructions when viewing the roof, and offer rerouting to improve the efficiency and look of the solar system. Many customers will be willing to pay a little extra for a better look. This is especially easy when reroofing and solar are being done at the same time.
Educate your engineers. Some designers get it, some designers are all about the numbers. If aesthetics are important to your customers, help your system designers understand what that means and what acceptable limits and tradeoffs are.
Keep a low profile. Some solar installers use racking that stands high above the roof, sacrificing looks for airflow. New ultra-low profile modules, such as Lumeta’s modules that adhere directly to the roof or thin film systems designed for standing seam roofs minimize the visibility, and modern materials mean that there’s relatively little loss of output compared to glass-fronted modules on railless mounting systems.
Ultimately, it’s your customers’ choice whether to get the largest system their roofs can fit or to balance layout and looks. It’s good business practice to help them understand their options, By showing them that a slightly smaller system or investment in rerouting obstructions can improve aesthetics, you help them see you as a partner invested in improving their home’s value, not simply maximizing your sale.