What Are Solar Shingles?

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Renewable energy sources have gained immense popularity due to their environmental benefits and cost-saving potential. Among these sources, solar power has emerged as a frontrunner in the race to combat climate change and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels

While traditional solar panels are a common choice for harnessing the sun’s energy, a more innovative and aesthetically pleasing option has emerged – solar shingles. 

Combining solar technology with standard roofing materials, solar shingles integrate seamlessly into a roof, making them ideal for homeowners who want to enjoy the benefits of renewable energy but don’t like the look of conventional solar panel arrays.

This article explores solar shingles, how they work, and their applications in the world of renewable energy.

A Solar Roof

solar roofing
Source: Lumasolar

Solar shingles, also known as solar roof tiles or photovoltaic shingles, are a cutting-edge alternative to traditional solar panels. These shingles seamlessly integrate with the roofing materials on your home or commercial building, serving a dual purpose as both protective roofing and energy-generating surfaces. 

They are exactly what they sound like; roof shingles made out of solar panel material and with the same power-producing abilities as solar panels.

Solar roofing products must meet strict standards to certify them as both a roofing and solar product. The best have a Class A fire rating, an outstanding snow load capacity, and are certified to withstand hail, wind, and rain. Depending on which solar roofing product you choose, you’re likely to enjoy a 20-year warranty that covers the expected life of the roof.

Solar shingles have the potential to cut a homeowner’s electricity bill by about two-thirds every month, and most systems pay for themselves in less than ten years. After your investment is recovered, you’ll enjoy many years of free electricity.

Essentially; solar shingles are designed to mimic the appearance of traditional roofing materials, making them more visually appealing and less obtrusive than standard solar panels.

Advantages of Solar Shingles

1. Aesthetics: One of the primary advantages of solar shingles is their seamless integration into the existing roof structure. They come in various styles and colors, allowing homeowners to choose the option that best matches their preferences and architectural design. This aesthetic appeal is a significant selling point, as many people hesitate to install traditional solar panels due to their bulky appearance.

2. Space Efficiency: Solar shingles are ideal for homes with limited rooftop space or architectural constraints. Since they replace conventional roofing materials, you can maximize the available space for solar energy generation without needing additional land or mounting equipment.

3. Durability: Solar shingles are designed to withstand the elements and protect your home, just like regular roofing materials. They are built to last for several decades, ensuring a long-term return on investment.

4. Energy Savings: Solar shingles can significantly reduce your electricity bills by harnessing the power of the sun. The energy generated can be used to power your home or even charge electric vehicles, helping you save on transportation costs.

5. Eco-Friendly: Solar shingles contribute to reducing your carbon footprint by generating clean, renewable energy. This environmentally friendly option helps combat climate change and reduces the demand for fossil fuels.

6. Increased Home Value: Solar shingles can increase the value of your home. A study by the U.S. Department of Energy found that homes equipped with solar energy systems sell faster and at higher prices than those without.

Additional Savings Through Incentive Programs

solar shingles

While solar shingles essentially give homeowners a power-generating roof, potentially saving them thousands of dollars a year in utility costs, there are still a few deterrents – such as the upfront costs.

As a residential PV system, solar roofing installations are eligible for generous tax credits and rebates offered at the federal, state, and local levels. The federal incentive program alone can cut the upfront cost of a solar roof installation by as much as 30%.

Public utilities are mandated to invest in renewable energy, and most utilities partially meet these mandates by offering rebates to customers who install solar products, by crediting customers for any surplus energy that the system produces, or by purchasing the extra electricity outright.

While these solar shingles may now be fairly expensive to buy, manufacturers are working hard to continue to improve the product and bring down the upfront installation costs involved.

In fact, some solar shingle manufacturers have received grants to help them with their efforts to improve not only the product itself but also the costs associated with it.

Where Have Solar Shingles Been?

Although solar panels have been on the market for some time, there have been many hurdles that have prevented manufacturers from producing lightweight and efficient solar shingles.

One of the main hurdles that solar shingle manufacturers encountered was the logistics of making an acceptable product. They ran into roadblocks when trying to find a suitable material for production of the shingles – one that would protect the shingles while still being simple to install and have the necessary physical qualities required for a roofing material.

Manufacturers also ran into problems while working to create a solar shingle that would have the ability to hide the wires that connected the shingles to each other. Because these shingles essentially replace the roof on a home, manufacturers needed to find an aesthetically pleasing way to install the shingle while still keeping the needed functionalities.

Luckily, manufacturers have been able to overcome the majority of these hurdles, and we are now seeing affordable solar shingles becoming available to homeowners.

Installation Options

solar roofing installation
Source: Lumasolar

As solar installations are modular in nature, you can choose to offset as much conventional electricity as you like. The larger the system, the more that you’ll save over the long term through reductions in monthly energy bills.

Each system comes with an inverter to convert the direct current (DC) that solar cells generate into the alternating current (AC) that homes use. Some systems come with monitoring systems that allow you to track your energy usage and savings.

Over 75% of homes in America have roofs that are great candidates for solar shingle technology. The Energy Information Administration predicts that worldwide energy consumption will double by 2035.

While there are a number of solar roofing options for residential installation, if your home is in need of a new roof or will need a new roof in the next few years, solar shingle technology is the most cost-effective home photovoltaic (PV) solution available today. For new constructions, a solar roof is a no-brainer. You’ll save 15% or more by installing solar roofing from the outset than if you install a new roof and PV system separately.

Summary

Residential PV systems offer insurance against rising conventional energy costs. With solar shingle technology, you can transform a roof from a depreciating asset into one that continues to save you money for many years to come.

  • Greener Ideal Staff

    Greener Ideal helps you live your life in more sustainable ways with green living tips and commentary on the latest environment news. We want to protect the planet and reduce our collective carbon footprint.

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