Some homeowners are turned off by how solar panels affect the appearances of their homes. Building-integrated photovoltaics — basically solar panels incorporated into the structure of new buildings — can eliminate the negative visual impact of traditional solar panels, improve appearance, and boost resale value.

The installed capacity of building-integrated photovoltaics is expected to boom over the next couple of years. A report by Pike Research, projects that the capacity will grow from 400 MW in 2012 to 2.25 GW in 2017 — roughly a five-fold increase worldwide.

There are many different categories of BIPV today. Here are the most common ones:

• Thin-film solar panels integrated with a flexible polymer roofing membrane.

• Flexible thin-film solar panels integrated into roof shingles/tiles.

• Thin-film or crystalline-based solar panels mounted on the façade of a building.

• Semi-transparent solar panels that replace windows and skylights.

Generally, BIPV systems are less efficient and more expensive compared to traditional solar panels. However, for homeowners that want to seamlessly integrate solar panels with their home, and have the extra money that is required, building-integrated photovoltaics can be a great solution.

To check for federal, state, and local incentives for installing solar, search the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE).

Although implementing building-integrated photovoltaics in the construction phase of a home makes more sense from a cost perspective, these systems can also be retrofitted into existing buildings.