Photovoltaic shingles, or solar shingles, are an unobtrusive and effective way to bring solar energy to your home without the need for unattractive and cumbersome solar panels. Solar shingles blend right into your asphalt shingles, protecting your roof while they deliver the sun's power to your home.
How Photovoltaic Shingles Work
Photovoltaic shingles are form of shingles that function as solar panels. They lay flush with your roof and help protect it from the elements, just like standard shingles. Wires run below the shingles across your roof to batteries or right into your home's electric panels, helping to offset the amount of power your home uses.
Solar shingles are a good alternative to traditional solar panels. Many homeowners may have considered installing solar panels to help offset the cost of their electric bill while reducing their carbon footprint. Solar panels have several drawbacks, however; they are big, bulky, and often detract from the curb appeal of the home. Solar shingles, however, blend seamlessly in with the rest of your roof, increasing the value of your home, rather than detracting from its appearance.
In addition to their appearance, there are several advantages to installing these shingles on your roof:
- Solar shingles can be installed to cover a large section of your roof, or just a few square feet, depending on your needs and the amount of electricity you wish to save. In one Habitat for Humanity installation, eight solar shingles were installed with the asphalt shingles to help power battery-operated tools and children's toys.
- Solar shingles also install just like regular asphalt shingles, which means that there is often little additional cost for the installation over and above the installation cost of the rest of the roof.
- Depending on where you live, the cost of electricity in your area, and the number of shingles you install, you could save as much as 20 to 70 percent on your energy bills.
- Solar shingles installed before December 31, 2016, qualify for a tax credit of up to 30 percent the total cost.
While solar shingles are seen as a marked improvement over traditional solar panels, they do have a few drawbacks:
- Not every roof can use them; the pitch and angle of your roof must be perfect, because while solar panels can be positioned, shingles cannot.
- While a traditional asphalt roof will last roughly 20 to 30 years, solar shingles have not been around long enough to determine how long they will last.
- The initial cost of purchasing the solar shingles themselves is higher than traditional asphalt. Both solar and traditional shingles must be installed at the same time, increasing the total supply cost of the new roof; you don't have the option to add them to your roof after it is finished.
- Solar shingles are not yet widely available and are not offered in all states.
Where to Get Solar Shingles
Solar shingles are not yet available everywhere, but most manufacturers are expanding their markets as demand increases. Companies that produce and install solar shingles include:
Dow makes a type of solar shingle known as Powerhouse. Powerhouse is designed specifically to your home's size and needs, so every job and price is custom. The shingles are durable, flexible, and are installed by trained Dow contractors. The shingles come with a monitoring system, so you can see your savings and the performance. These shingles have a 20-year warranty and have been tested in winds up to 150 miles per hour.
CertainTeed produces two different types of solar shingles with their Apollo II and Apollo Tile lines. Their Apollo II shingles are asphalt-based solar shingles that use monocrystalline silicone solar cells to produce 54 watts per module. Their Apollo Tile line is a concrete-based shingle that uses polycrystalline solar cells, which produce a whopping 12 watts per square foot of solar energy. Locate a retailer or contractor in your area to get cost estimates.
Atlantis Energy produces three different systems of photovoltaic shingles. Their Sunslates are thin tiles made to withstand hurricane force winds while producing 22 watts per tile. They also manufacturer a large solar shingle that is more economical to install, as well as a hybrid system of hydro and solar power. All jobs are quoted based upon the specifications of your home.
Collect Some Sunshine
As photovoltaic shingles become more readily available, more homeowners may want to turn to them as a better option for getting solar power to their home. Unobtrusive, durable, and made to save you money over the life of the roof by lowering your electric bill and raising your home's resale value, solar shingles are a wise investment for many homeowners.