Dow Solar company has started mass marketing solar shingles. Solar shingles are roof shingles with solar cells (electricity generating material) integrated into them, so the shingles are the solar panels. The solar shingles plug into each other and help to hold each other down very securely during strong winds.
The solar shingles can only be stolen by first unplugging those at the edge of the array and then working your way inwards, which means that securing the edge only will actually secure the entire solar panel array from thieves.
Dow’s shingles incorporate thin film solar cells, which are printed onto the shingles which permits some extent of flexibility, and have been in the works for awhile. We first wrote about the solar shingles back in 2009. Thin film solar cells may sound flimsier to some people, but they are actually more durable than traditional silicon wafer cells, because silicon wafer cells are very brittle. Both types of cells, however, are encased in protective solar panels (which is the complete product that you purchase). Thin film cells are more durable primarily because they can withstand more shock than traditional cells.
Solar shingles also have potential aesthetic benefits, because they resemble ordinary shingles, and the aesthetic appearance of traditional solar panels is a problem for some people.
Solar shingles have been installed since they were made available in 2009, but availability was limited. Colorado is the first state in which they will be available to the masses, and Dow says that it plans to sell them in large quantities in several other states as well.
The solar cells that are integrated into the Dow shingles are supplied by Global Solar (which is based in Arizona, U.S) and their efficiency is claimed to be 10%, which is in the average range of thin film solar cells.
Dow partnered with the home building company D.R. Horton to build homes with 3,000 watts (3 kW) of solar shingles installed on them. The size of the homes ranges from 2,205 to 4,115 square feet and the cost starts at $485,950.
Dow estimated that the solar shingle manufacturing plant will create 1,275 jobs by 2015!
Photo Credit: Dow Solar