There are few homeowners who would complain about a smaller utility bill.
Solar panels have the power to reduce or even eliminate your dependence on the power company, but they're not everyone's idea of a beautiful home improvement.
Although we've come a long way from the huge, box-like panels of twenty years ago, roof-top panels can still seem like more trouble than they're worth. Most requie professional installation and make some homeowners uneasy about roof damage.
SolTech, a Swedish company specializing in solar energy solutions, recently won an award for a new twist on the traditional panel. The company's unique glass roof tiles allow homeowners to capitalize on the sun's thermal energy without costing too much or requiring the addition of bulky panels.
The SolTech solar thermal heating system looks a lot like the curved clay or concrete tiles that might normally adorn a roof. Instead of these materials, the tiles are made of ordinary transparent glass, allowing the sun to shine through onto the absorbing surface underneath. The effect is somewhat dazzling, with the sleek appearance of ice or water on the roof.
The system is designed for integration with the building's existing energy solution, regardless of principal heat source. The most common solution is to connect it to a water born heating system via an accumulation tank, but SolTech also offers other integration solutions. According to this review, the SolTech Energy System generates about 350 kWh heat per square meter (10 square ft), depending on climate, angle of the roof and cardinal direction.
"Since the system has a very low operating cost, the energy price is determined by the cost of capital," write the designers. "When the system is paid in full, the energy is free. This way you will not have to worry about rising energy prices and expensive electricity bills. The SolTech System has a lifespan of more than 40 years."