Solar Shingles

picture: Ben West
picture: Ben West

When thinking about the solar power the first thing that comes to mind may be, solar panels, but that was the wave of the past. The new thing in solar energy is solar shingles. Solar Shingles look just like regular asphalt shingles but have the ability to produce solar electricity.

The solar shingles come in many different shapes and sizes. When searching for solar shingles you will notice that they come in many different patterns as well. They resemble the conventional shingles that you would find on roofs, but have a semi-rigid pattern covering, are thicker, and contain silicon solar cells that produce the energy.
With the technology in the industry evolving, they have also developed solar shingles that are thinner and even have the flexibility as your standard asphalt shingle, but are more expensive at this time. Each shingle is able to produce 100 watts of DC rated power.

  Solar shingles use the photovoltaic models to trap sunlight and convert that power into electricity. The shingle does produce direct current (DC) power and typically, houses and buildings are using alternating current (AC.). To take advantage of the solar power from the shingles an inverter is installed at the site and converts the power from DC to AC. Homes with the solar shingles installed will look a little different, the shingles will have a purple-blue, purplish, or deep black color. Often homeowners will choose the solar shingle over the panels because they blend in with the roof rather than having panels attached.

  The technology used for solar shingles is also the same technology that is utilized in solar panels. The sun is the source of the power and is used to create electricity. The shingles are made up with photovoltaic cells. The cells are made with a material known as a semiconductor. This material is a dense matter that conducts between an insulator and most metals. This process is completed with adding an impurity or the heat from the sunlight. The light is captured in the silicon semiconductor and energy is created. The energy is then captured in the photovoltaic cells and creates the current known as the alternating current (AC.) This alternating current (AC) then be converted into direct current (DC) and the process is complete. Solar energy is becoming more and more readily used and thought about when building and restoring home or buildings. The technology has evolved over the years and the awareness of the use of resources on our planet has made the industry very progressive. The shingles are also easy to install because they are attached right to the roof and do not need to be attached to the rafters as the standard panels do.

  The process of installing the shingles is much like the standard process of installing asphalt shingles.
When installing them on the roof of a home or business they can be attached like standard shingles on roofing paper or felt with staples. Some solar shingles can also be mixed in with standard shingles where others may need some special types of installation. Each different type will have its own set of installation instructions. Some may be easier to install while others may require as specialized crew or contractor.

  It is suggested to have a contractor who specializes in the installation of solar shingles to complete the job. When seeking a contractor it is often suggested to select a service that the total price will include the equipment needed to complete the project, all the materials, the obtaining and filing of all permits needed from your local offices, and the registration with your local utility companies. Make sure that the price also includes warranties of the workmanship completed along with a plan to make sure it is a complete installation with the removal of all waste after the project is finished.

  Cost is a variable even completing a job. Installing solar shingles can vary in price from $4.00 to $12.00 per watt depending on who makes the shingle, what technology is being used, and the size of the system that is depending on it. When thinking of the cost of the panels compared to the shingles, the shingles cost more, but as then become more used the price, like anything will come down. Also, make sure to research your federal and state programs, depending on the area that you live in there are incentive programs to help bring the cost down.

  If cost is an issue, then think about using the solar power as your power grid and pass on the opportunity to install backup batteries and storage. This is often one of the most expensive parts of the installation. Batteries along with the installation of enclose, charge controllers, and load circuits add to the price immensely. You can always use a generator or change the power source back to the provided power plant when the solar power is not needed. It may not be as cost efficient on a monthly bill but over time, you will save money during the times when you are able to use solar power and can work towards purchasing the full solar backup system when you are able.

     A few things to think about when deciding if solar shingles are right for your home or business are what type of roof do you have, can it handle the heat produced from the solar shingles, and can you find the right contractor to complete the job.

  • The type of roof that is needed to get the most out of the solar shingles is one that is correctly angled towards the sun to receive the most hours of sunlight during the daylight hours.
  • The roof also needs to have the air flow. Air flow helps with keeping down the heat that is produced from the shingles.
  • Lastly finding a contractor that is able to complete the job.
    Solar shingles are a newer technology so often is may be harder to find someone to complete the job and have experience in the industry. Always ask for references and do not be hesitate to use them.


Posted by: S. Jones on Category: Solar Energy

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