Conventional architecture and civil engineering is utilizing solar design as an integral part of architecture rather than a mere afterthought. In addition to aesthetically using solar panels, architects, today take full advantage of building’s location, weather, and advanced materials to minimize energy use. Therefore a well-designed solar home reduces heating and cooling loads, improves energy efficiency, decreases energy requirement and above all appears beautiful. The rapidly evolving solar energy market is throwing up new solar panel technology like spray on and printable solar energy panels, making it easier for the architects to integrate solar panels in home construction. Energy needs of such aesthetically designed solar homes can be met whole or part with solar energy.
Though aesthetics are important for solar homes, the biggest barrier has been economics. The initial cost of installation is very high, despite a drastic decrease in the price of the solar panels. The solar panel installers are still charging huge amounts for installation, and the cost of panels is just a small fraction of the overall cost. The economical scenario is bound to change once the builders adopt solar installation as an integral part of construction. Once this happens the cost of installation of solar panels will go down drastically as the contractor has to squeeze in the installation within his predetermined budget.
Until recently, no one installed solar panels on their house for aesthetic appeal, but that scenario is changing quickly. With huge subsidies over already decreasing price of solar panels, architects around the world are considering it as a construction material rather than a functional utility, installed after homes are designed and built. This changing attitude among architects and builders has helped the number of pre-designed solar houses to cross the critical mass.
Though solar panels are becoming popular in modern architecture, still the vast majority of available solar panels do not fit with the design of modern architecture, and they usually stand out. The solar panel industry is working at a furious pace to correct this; a conventional solar panel is huge and usually 3.5 ft by 5.5 ft, and hence will directly influence the size of the roof. So, currently architects are working on designing roofs to fit the module to make the overall design look much better.
Architects are also integrating shading structures for outdoor space; this method is a great solution for homes looking for zero energy, or when fitting a solar panel over the roof becomes unappealing. Even after all the design innovation, getting the economic aspect right for the middle class home buyers is the key for this industry to succeed. The idea’s time has come as architects are ushering in a new era of beautifully designed solar homes.