Everything You Need To Know About:
Solar Roof Shingles
As people have become more and more energy conscious, companies and individuals have looked for ways to produce and use energy in a more conservative way. With this movement of green/clean energy, solar energy has been high on the list of alternative energy options.
Recently, solar energy has taken a turn for the better with one of the newest advancements in solar energy, solar roof shingles. Solar roof shingles are a great way to turn a traditional shingle roof into an energy producer. are hybrid shingles that double as a roof shingle that protects the roof from weather and such as well as harnessing the power of the sun and turning it into usable electricity. Solar roof shingles are the new innovated green roofing product of the past couple of years (as of 2013).
What are Solar Roof Shingles?
Solar roof shingles or A.K.A photovoltaic shingles are shingles that use solar technology to create electricity from the sun as well as protect the roof like a tradition asphalt shingle.
How Do They Work?
Solar shingles or a.k.a solar tiles work like traditional solar panels. They use the sun as a power source to create electricity. Each of the solar shingles is comprised of photovoltaic cells. This type of technology has been around for a while and was at first used on satellites in space. The name photovoltaic truly tells what they do. The first part of the word “Photo” means light and the second part of the word “voltaic” means electricity. Thus they take the light and turn it into electricity.
Each of the cells on solar shingles or even a solar panel contains a type of material that is called semiconductors. One of the most used types of semiconductors for photovoltaic cells is silicon. What occurs first with solar shingles is the light hitting them. When this happens a part of the light is captured within the silicon semiconductor. In simple terms what happens is the semiconductor now contains energy and with this energy electrons get loosed and begin to move more freely. Next, these free flowing electrons are acted upon by the photovoltaic cell’s (PV Cells) electric field or fields and are forced to flow in one common direction. This creates a current that can be used for electrical power. This is the basic version of how solar shingles work.
Solar shingles have come a long way. In fact, solar shingles or solar tiles used to be unsatisfactory based on their inability to have a high electricity conversion rate. Because of this, traditional solar panels have generally been the best option for turning a roof into a energy creator.
After the year 2008 the thin-film solar cells had a huge breakthrough when the United State’s Department of Energy achieved a 19 – 19.9% electrical conversion. The previous percentages were just above 10%. This breakthrough came by using a copper indium gallium diselenide or a.k.a CIGS solar cell. Now with this new advancement available solar shingles are much more viable and effective.
What Do They Look Like?
Photos are of Dow Powerhouse Solar Shingles from their before and after pictures.
How Much Do Solar Roof Shingles Cost?
Here are some quick answers regarding the cost of solar shingles or a.k.a solar tiles:
- The cost of solar roof shingles vary from state to state.
- The cost is always custom based on the roof type, area, slope, and so forth.
- It depends on how big of a system you will need or want to be installed.
- Prices vary based on installer estimates.
- Prices vary based on the solar shingle manufacturer or brand type.
Questions To Help Determine Your Price
- How big is your roof?
- What is the pitch of your roof?
- What state and city do you live in?
- What brand of solar shingles do you want to use?
- What size of a system do you want or need?
- Does your state provide tax incentives?
- Does the power company buy back electricity and if yes, at what price?
- Do you know a local certified installer of solar shingles?
- Do you need an entire new roof or are you just replacing some existing shingles with solar shingles?
- Will you need to remove trees to give your roof more sunlight?
List of Solar Shingle Manufacturers
Dow’s Powerhouse Solar Shingles
The most well known and major player in the solar shingle market is Dow’s Powerhouse solar shingles. Although Dow officially launched their powerhouse solar shingles in October of 2011, these types of shingles have existed before but because of past inefficiency they have not become widely excepted. Dow has rightfully taken advantage of the breakthrough technology of CIGS solar cells. These thin-film solar cells do a fantastic job at turning sun light into usable electricity at a 19.9% conversion.
The powerhouse solar shingles are installed as easily as regular asphalt shingles but they also generate 12 watts of power per square foot of roof. These shingles are not tied into a battery backed up system but use the grid. Because they are tied to the grid they can actually give power back and earn the home owners money. The shingles are becoming more and more available in various markets but are not yet available in all 50 states in the U.S. The first state to have the Powerhouse solar shingles available was Colorado in 2011.
Dow’s Website: www.dowpowerhouse.com
CertainTeed’s Apollo Solar Shingles
CertainTeed is a leading manufacturing in the roofing industry and is also one of the main players in the solar roofing market as well. CertainTeed produces a solar shingle that is also tied to the grid. Their product line is called Apollo. CertainTeed also offers solar roofing products for tile. The CertainTeed savings estimate is 40% – 70% savings on a homeowners electrical bill with the Apollo shingle roof system. CertainTeed offers their roofing products throughout the United States and has authorized contractors who they trust to install their systems. They recommend homeowners to use their professionals when having their system installed.
CertainTeed’s Website: www.certainteed.com
Benefits of a Solar Shingle Roof
Here is a basic list of the benefits of having a solar shingle roof.
- The homeowners can create their own electricity using the sun’s power.
- Homeowners can sell their surplus energy back to the electric company.
- Many Homeowners become more energy aware and thus are less wasteful.
- Solar shingles also provide protection for the roof (double as a roofing product).
- Homeowners know that they are being resourceful which provides a lot of satisfaction for many.
- Homeowners can save money in the long run.
- Homeowners can lower their electrical bill.
DIY Solar Roofs
When it comes to your roof there truly are a lot of solar panel options and many of them are DIY. We have compiled a list of some of the solar panel options for roofs. We have included pictures, links to reviews and a little bit about the information. All of these products can be ordered online.
*These options are not just limited to shingle roofs but can be used for mobile home roofs, sheds, metal roofs, tile roofs, tin roofs, and more!
Renogy Bendable Solar Panel
Spray & Forget is a DIY cleaning product that is used for cleaning moss, mold, and mildew off roofs and other surfaces. The product was invented by Scott Dudjak who is the current owner of the company. Their company is located in Sugar Land, Texas.
“I purchased this bendable solar panel to add to one of my permanently mounted glass/aluminum framed solar panels that I had on the top of my pop-up camper. In fact, I wired this panel into the same controller as my other panel and then I just plug it into an external SAE plug located on the back wall. My decision to buy this panel over a cheaper glass panel was based on two things.
First, because this panel is really light and very flexible it would be easier to move, much saver to store, and implement.
Second, if I wanted to mount it on top of my camper it wouldn’t be too heavy and would have much less of a profile!
When I initially put this solar panel to the test it produced up to 4.9 amps. This is what I was anticipating since it only have 32 cells when compared to a traditional 36 cell panel. This panel is susceptible to shading and loses up to 50% of its charging when on cell is shaded. The fact that it is portable definitely helps because it can be moved easily to better sunlight and the places it can be placed are so versatile” ~ David J. Schmitt
Peel & Stick Solar Panel
This solar panel/solar roll is designed to simply roll out, peel, and stick it to various types of surfaces. It brags about being better than silicon solar panels, especially in climates that are hot & partly cloudy. The product is very light weight and doesn’t need to penetrate roofs at all. Because the product is flexible it can be installed on surfaces that are not flat but curve.
“This solar panel works excellently, is so easy to install: just peel off the paper and stick, that’s it. 144 watts at $215 is a fantastic deal compared with what’s around. As an added feature, since it is so thin, others will not know I have it on the roof of my rv unless they actually climb up there, so there’s added security there for rvers.
The fact that it is a flexible and bendable panel does not appear to impair it’s ability to efficiently capture the energy of the sun and I find that every day, I find that my battery is fully charged.
I recommend it highly to all who would consider buying it, even though Unisolar, the maker of this panel, has apparently gone out of business. Grab ‘em while they’re still available!” ~ Abraham
Solar Attic Fan
Like we said, there are a lot of options for going solar on your roof. This is one that is a no-brainer for most residential roofs. We need attic fans and they run off of electricity. Save some money and install this solar attic fan. Here is a review and a link to more reviews online.
“This works great! Quiet, powerful and pays for itself. Even when it’s not running it works because it’s a vent for extreme heat to escape. Must get the thermostat with it though. Easy to install with the right tools. The thermostat regulates it so you don’t have to be there to turn a switch. Best part is that it uses the the sun for free energy!” ~ Sean Kennedy
Dow’s official website representing their Powerhouse shingles – www.dowpowerhouse.com
CertainTeed’s official page representing their solar shingles – www.certainteed.com
Question and answer article by scientificamerican.com – Scientificamerican.com
Forbes talks about Dow’s Powerhouse shingles – Forbes.com Article
Learn some of the basics about Solar Shingles from Wikipedia – wikipedia.org