New building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) products from companies like Suntech and Canadian Solar offer photovoltaic modules to be integrated into the building's envelope – replacing traditional construction materials such as roof shingles, skylights and facades. Essentially, they make structural/aesthetic elements of buildings double as power producers. Imagine the possibilities for cities full of large buildings!
Solar power systems for homes, whether building integrated or traditional, have been getting steadily cheaper over the last few years as the market floods with new technologies and eager manufacturers. Coupled with government grants (and compared to rising fossil-fuel prices), it's becoming a better choice now than ever before to power your own home. A study from March 2012 found that in Massachusetts, the average payback time for a solar installation has reached a stunning 4 years, and in Hawaii it is a comparable 5.4 years. Many other U.S. states dropped below the 10 year payback mark – often resulting from government funding programs. Considering this, and the additional value that photovoltaic capabilities can add to a home, they are beginning to look like a great investment for home owners, financially and environmentally.
For more information visit our detailed article on how you can have solar energy in your home!