Lately I can’t go anywhere without someone mentioning the term solar shingles. At the IBS (International Builders Show) this past year, it was one of the big topics of conversation, especially since costs are starting to come down into the “somewhat affordable” range. Also known as Photo-Voltaic Shingles, they are a building-integrated renewable energy solution that absorbs the energy from the sun for storage by the homeowner. The big sell? Let’s just say, they’re a bit more aesthetically pleasing that traditional solar panels. Unfortunately they cost a bunch, and previous attempts from companies like CertainTeed and Dow have fallen flat with consumers.
That’s set to change thanks to cost improvements, efficiency gains and the backing of Tesla and Elon Musk, that’s right: the maker of the Electric cars.
With a solid industry backing, and a changing customer perception on green energy, it is possible that solar shingles will be found on every roof in the future. As demand picks up and the costs come more inline as a viable industry option, we’ll could naturally see this as a major up-sell for new home construction.
So with that in mind it makes sense to become familiar with what solar shingles are…
What are the advantages of solar shingles?
Solar shingles are light. At over 50% light than traditional solar panels and there is no need to transform the structure of your roof to install them, and because they look like normal architectural shingles, they are also a more aesthetic solution. Long-term, maintenance and repairs are more affordable since it is easier to replace a single shingle (cell) that is not functioning properly while you would have to replace an entire panel once cells stop functioning.
While past products from Dow and CertainTeed differed in the materials used, one thing is for sure – solar shingles are much more resistant to impact and can withstand extreme temperature as well as precipitation. While there are a still a number of solar shingles to choose from and you can find hybrid solutions that rely on solar and thermal technologies to produce electricity.
Even with these older designs, you should save money on your energy bills on the long-term. And depending on where they’re placed on your roof, efficiency gains currently get into the 50-60% range.
Best part is: you can either store the energy produced by your shingles and use it later or remain connected to the local energy grid and get energy credit for the electricity your shingles produce. This second option is more affordable since there is no need to purchase a battery to store the energy you produce. Installing solar shingles will reduce your environmental footprint and increase the value of your home?
Downsides to investing in solar shingles?
Investing in solar shingles is a significant expense. Currently, the options are a lot more expensive than traditional shingles, typically costing 4 to 5 times as much as traditional architectural shingle.
“We’ve installed a few of the Corning Brand shingles in the area,” says George Pennell of TRI Roofing Durham NC “and while the customers were thrilled with the look the cost was extremely hard to justify.”
And just recently the Dow Corning brand was discontinued due to lack of consumer brands.
“We could only sell these to the highest end consumer is the Raleigh Area”, he added.
You might qualify for an incentive offered by your state and should be able to find financing options for this investment. However, you will not really see the benefits of installing solar shingles if you do not plan on staying in your home for the next decades.
You also need to take the weather in consideration when deciding if solar shingles are worth it. These shingles can produce enough energy to meet the needs of your household if there are no clouds in the sky and if your roof is not covered in snow. If you live in an area where you cannot expect to have clear and sunny weather every day, you will still have to rely on the energy grid.
Solar shingles are an option you should look into if you are interested in making your home more sustainable. You will save money on the long-term and increase the value and curb appeal of your home, but you need to keep in mind that this is a significant investment and that you might not be able to meet your daily energy needs if weather conditions are not ideal in your area.Tags: solar energy, solar panels, solar shingles