For those who can afford them, solar shingles provide an attractive option for routing solar-delivered electricity into a home.
Good timing helps — like the need for a new roof — but a growing number of homes now feature such high-end renewable energy products, a number that promises to continue climbing as overall prices decline.
This is especially true for those who don’t relish the look of traditional photovoltaic solar panels, either because they have too heavy a profile or their appearance detracts from the graceful lines of a traditional shingled roof.
As prices drop, solar shingles are regarded more often today as a good alternative to the traditional solar panel. Unlike larger solar panels, solar shingles blend in nicely with the rest of your roof.
As PV Magazine’s Charles W. Thurston aptly points out, “The nascent field of U.S. solar shingle manufacturers is beginning to expand from its small base in building-integrated PV (BIPV), leveraging their systemic reductions in installation costs, their improved roof and solar integration, and their continuing march-out of newer materials.”
Two large manufacturers lead the field in this industry: Dow and CertainTeed. But new competitors include GAF and Corning, plus a slew of Chinese manufactures. How solar shingles are made is changing, as well, including the use of flexible glass, thin film, and hybrid solar/thermal options.
Dow Powerhouse Solar Shingles are presently available in 17 US states, including the east and west coasts, plus Hawaii.
“Many homeowners are increasingly interested in taking control of their energy consumption by generating their own power with solar,” said Yochai Gafni, Commercial and Marketing Director for Dow Solar.
As with traditional solar panels, the front-end cost is a stumbling block. Systems for typical 3,000 square-foot house can cost as much as $25,000, even though monthly electricity bills will be reduced. But cost calculations are very much location specific, depending on amount of daily sun, roof configuration and direction, and differences between local utility providers.
“For an additional 27,480 over the cost of a traditional roof, you could receive 58,640 in energy savings over 25 years and potentially increase your home value by $33,000,” Dow’s marketing department penned in a recent press release. Calls for more specific information was not provided at the time of this publication.
Dow does offer some financing programs that information is not reviewed here..
Colorado’s McStain homes features DOW solar shingles.
“Colorado continues to be a national leader in solar energy innovation, and has embraced the POWERHOUSE solution in this market,” said Dan Pezolt, Dow Solar Commercial Director, in a recent news release. “Colorado already has motivated homeowners who are interested in smart and sustainable home investments that bring down their energy costs without interfering with the look of their home. In this case, we’re providing a novel solution using an untapped part of the home – the roof – for innovation in both energy generation and value.”
Traditional roofing manufacturer CertainTeed also offers a line of solar shingles, including the Apollo II solar roofing system, featuring 14 high-efficiency monocrystalline silicon solar cells per module. This equals a power rating of 60 watts per module.
Its slim profile provides a clean integrated look that a rack mounted system cannot match. Apollo II modules have achieved a Class A fire rating when installed in accordance with the installation manual.
Smaller manufacturers like Rochester Hills, MI–based Luma Resources offer options on solar shingles. A solar shingle designed for steep sloped roofing applications. The polycrystalline photovoltaic tempered glass module is adhered to a custom formed metal shingle. A premium plastic edge protector surrounds the glass to provide added durability. The junction box located on the back is positioned in the center of the shingle, allowing equal length wires to run in either direction.
Composing as the roof, the solar shingles come with their own custom flashing that surrounds the system. The flashing transitions the solar shingles into, virtually, all other roofing products. Underneath the solar shingle there is space for air flow and wire harnessing.
Photos: Solar shingles via Luma Resources, Dow PowerHouse solar shingles, and CertainTeed Apollo II.