Solar panels

The solar panels on an Ogden home were arranged to create a block "T" for "Tennessee."

Just in time for the impending War in Space, along comes …

Vanity rooftop solar panels.

It all began about a year ago, when Matt Jackson, a salesman with ES Solar, was trying to sell a solar power system to a family who had recently relocated to Ogden.

“I was explaining to them about the customization of our product, and I could see the light bulb went on in their heads,” Jackson recalls. “They said, ‘Can we do a T for Tennessee?’”

Jackson says he’d simply meant they could customize the size of the system — adding or removing panels — but the homeowners wanted to personalize the configuration of their solar array.

“They had just moved here from Tennessee not too long ago to work on base, and they had their Tennessee pride that they brought with them,” Jackson said. “They said, ‘If we can do it in the shape of a “T,” we’re doing it today.’ ”

Needless to say, ES Solar figured a way to give the Ogden family a “T” on their roof.

Fast forward to this past May. Another ES Solar employee, Stockton Takos, was pitching a solar system to a Syracuse family when he happened to mention that his company could even create designer systems. Takos brought up how they’d once done a solar array in a block letter “T” on the roof of a family who’d just moved here from Tennessee.

It got the Syracuse couple to thinking.

“‘Can you do a ‘USA’, ” they asked the salesman.

Takos’ reply: “I bet we can make that happen.”

And sure enough, they did.

Takos says, as he recalls, the homeowners had a family member in the U.S. Air Force, and they knew that the flight path for the fighter jets at Hill Air Force Base took them right over the neighborhood.

“They thought the pilots were going to love this,” Takos said. “Being able to see ‘USA’ as they fly over.”

And with these two examples of conservation-minded homeowners, a potential fad was born.

The possibilities aren’t lost on ES Solar employees.

“Hey, the “U” and the “Y” are simple designs,” Jackson explained. “It’s not just the energy savings, it’s not just the environment — now you can personalize your system and show your team spirit.”

Can’t you just picture it now? Northern Utah neighborhoods filled with block letters spelled out on rooftops, instead of those large, nondescript black rectangles. A “W” for Weber State University fans. A block “U” for University of Utah fans. A “Y” for people who aren’t concerned about things like winning. Or property values.

The only thing that could possibly stop this runaway freight train? Women, who tend to be the sensible ones in a relationship. They very well could put the brakes on this looming solar alphabet soup craze.

“One guy got all excited and said, ‘Oh, we could do it in the shape of a U!’” Jackson remembers at one sales call. “And the wife is, like, ‘Oh, no, no, no …’”

Still, like vanity license plates, the sky’s the limit.

Homeowners might monogram the roof with their initials. Or “RSL,” if they’re soccer fans. I could easily see someone in this state going with “LDS.” Or “NO SOLICITING.”

Folks trying to be funny might spell out “SOS.” Or “E.T. PHONE HOME.” Or even “I’M WITH STUPID,” with an arrow of solar panels pointing to the house next door.

And what of the potential difficulty in trying to sell a house with the ill advised “DISCO 4EVER” emblazoned across the roof? Not to worry, Jackson says.

“You can always add to the system,” he said. “All you have to do is fill in the empty spaces with panels, and the new owners will never notice.”

As for Takos, he can’t wait to see the satellite imagery from Google Maps when this trend really gets going.

“Once the satellite photos update, that will be amazing,” he said.

Speaking of satellites, with the current administration now talking seriously about adding a sixth branch to the U.S. military, I suggest one final can’t-miss solar panel configuration:

“GOD BLESS SPACE FORCE.”

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or msaal@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Friend him on Facebook at facebook.com/MarkSaal.

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