There are plenty of environmental and budgetary benefits to installing solar panels on your roof, but there could be one health drawback: permanently blinding your neighbor. Robert Phipps, a homeowner in England, claims that the glare of the sun off of the solar panels on his neighbor's home is so bright that his entire family has to use blackout curtains to keep from going blind, the U.K.'s South West News Service reported. Phipps said that there's no escaping the reflected light when it floods the home from end to end -- he's even worried that the glare could cause permanent retinal damage to members of his family.
Phipps said that because of the slope his neighbor's house sits on and the angle at which the solar panels were installed, the intense light is pointed directly at his home. "If you go into the garden, there's this huge wall of light pointing straight at you from 12 meters away," Phipps told SWNS. "It's worse than looking directly at the sun. If you look at it and turn away, you'll have blobs in front of your eyes for 10 minutes. I'm really worried it's causing us retinal damage."
Phipps told the North Devon Journal in Devon, England, that he has tried building a 6-foot fence at his home in Torridge to block the light, but that hasn't worked. Phipps is out of work on disability, and he said the stress of the glaring problem is worsening his health. But the neighbor, Trevor Chase, told SWNS that his solar panels were a bright idea to "do our bit to save energy and help the planet. ... We can see other people's solar panels. On the house in front we can see sets of solar panels, and there is glare from them when the sun catches them, but we don't mind. We just think, 'Live and let live.' It happens everywhere."
Phipps has asked local officials to do something about the glare, but the local Torridge District Council told SWNS that Chase's solar panels were installed under appropriate guidelines. However, an official told the news agency, the district's "planning system should of course ensure there are no resulting problems affecting neighbouring properties by making it a requirement for installers to provide evidence that glare from roof-mounted panels won't affect neighbours."
Solar panels became popular in England in 2010 when the government started subsidizing homeowners who installed them to lower energy use. However, the subsidies were paid for through increases on other people's energy bills -- and now it's gotten out of control. In January, it was discovered that the subsidies had added 1 billion pounds to the cost of people's every bills over the course of a year, according to the Daily Mail. (Perhaps the amount due on an energy bill is even more blinding than Chase's solar panels.)
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