Although the traditional "solar panel array" that you occasionally see on top of houses and commercial buildings isn't the most attractive thing ever, it's also not the newest solar technology available. Newer solar panels are being increasingly integrated into things that naturally catch sunlight, including but not limited to roofing shingles themselves. If you're looking for the newest idea for incorporating solar technology into your future dream home, here are three ways to do so unobtrusively (some that are available now and some that will be in the future) that may give you some ideas.
1. Photovoltaic shingles
These solar shingles are the perfect counterattack to the accusation that solar arrays are ugly. Perfectly flat and shingle-shaped, these shingles can not only roof your home but also provide energy. And they're virtually indistinguishable from normal shingles except for being a bit shinier and perhaps a little darker in color. This type of shingles is being developed by several companies, and, although you can purchase them right now, the cost is probably going to be higher than that of more established solar panel technology. Fortunately, they're easier to install and you may be able to get significant tax credits for them as well.
2. Solar windows
Did you know that you can either install new solar-power-producing windows or simply slap on a solar-power-producing coating to existing windows? Well, now you know. You have to be careful when shopping though, since the term "solar window film" can also be used to describe non-energy-producing window film that simply blocks UV rays and so on. In addition, although a couple of different groups claim to have produced solar-producing window coatings, they don't seem to be getting them into the market very well at the moment. You may have better luck finding a company to install new windows with built-in solar. These windows are as see-through as normal windows, making them surprisingly attractive.
3. Solar driveways
Solar-power-producing pavement has been done on bike paths in places like Amsterdam and Poland, but the technologies used aren't widely available for US driveways yet. You have to be more or less a solar inventor to make it happen for your own driveway at this point, but in the future you'll be able to retrofit your dream house with an energy-producing driveway to supplement your energy-producing windows and roof.
For more information about these and other solar power options, talk to a company like Solar Energy Services.