The legend goes that when Henry Ford first unveiled the Model T, he promised, "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black."

This home in Windham, N.H., features 1,200 square feet of an Englert 1?-inch snap lock profile and a 5-kilowatt solar energy system. (Photos courtesy of Englert Inc.)

Today, homeowners and builders have been in a similar kind of quandary. A lot of people would like to install rooftop photovoltaic laminates on a standing seam metal roof to help reduce their energy bills. But the photovoltaic laminate material currently on the market is available only in dark blue, with the color playing a critical role in the laminate's performance.

The quarter-inch thick laminate integrates nicely with the panels of a standing seam metal roof. But the dark blue color of the laminate strips is often very obvious on the roof, particularly if the front of the house has a southern exposure where the laminates are most often applied.

Since the roofing manufacturers couldn't do much about the color of the PV strips, they decided to take a look at the color of the roofing materials. And one manufacturer, Englert Inc., is producing a blue coating to match the photovoltaic laminates.

One structure with the coating and the PV laminate is a newly built, 9,500-square-foot home in Windham, N.H., with 1,200 square feet of an Englert 1?-inch snap lock profile coated in SunNet Blue. Atop the panels is a 5-kilowatt solar energy system comprised of forty 136-watt SunNet adhesive-backed solar laminate panels in the same color, producing 6,000 Kilowatt hours of power a month. And underneath the panels is a 1,000-square-foot Dawn Solar thermal system that provides heat for home's hot water system and radiant floor heating. Solar heat is drawn through the roof to glycol-filled tubing which in turn transfers the heat to water in a 325-gallon bladder tank on the ground floor of the structure. That water is used to provide heat to the domestic hot water system and the radiant floor heating system.

Englert Inc.'s SunNet Blue is designed to match the color of photovoltaic laminates.

The home is located on top of a rise and the roof is highly visible, so aesthetics were key. "Some architects have been choosing roofing colors from the darker spectrum of the color palette to minimize the visual difference between the solar laminates and the standing seam panels," noted Tom Dyszkiewicz, senior vice president at Englert. "With the new SunNet color panel, they can now get a perfect match with an aesthetically uniform, pleasing look to the entire roofline."

The combination of the solar panels and the Dawn thermal system produces 12,000 kilowatt-hours of energy. The system is tied into the local utility company grid, giving the homeowners a payback for any surplus energy they drive back to the utility. They have also installed a monitoring system that tracks kilowatt production and the temperature of the solar array as well as the temperature of the roof areas not covered in standing seam and PV laminates.

The entire system including the roofing material, photovoltaic laminates and solar thermal system was designed and installed by Helios Solar of Brentwood, New Hampshire.

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