Solar shingles or photovoltaic shingles, which are a fairly new advancement in the growing realm of solar energy, combine the many benefits of traditional roofing shingles with that of solar energy. These shingles allow the roof to become, not only a protection for the home from weather and the elements, but a source of clean, renewable energy which benefits both the user as well as the environment.
One of the primary advantages of solar shingles is that they are practically unrecognizable from regular shingles and therefore fit seamlessly into the exterior appearance of the home. The shingles are made to be a dark blue in color which makes them very similar in style and tone to the traditional roofing shingle. Home and business owners who do not like the idea of installing solar panels due to their appearance and size are often more happily inclined to install shingles which are both aesthetically pleasing as well as indistinguishable from the rest of the building’s roof.
These solar shingles are available in a number of styles, which include semi-rigid silicon cells, systems which utilize a light solar film, and solid panels that are manufactured to be the same size as shingles. The majority of shingles are able to be stapled directly onto the cloth used for roofing while others can be intermingled with existing or newly installed traditional roofing asphalt shingles. The shingles are typically glued together which keeps them from moving during periods of high wind. They do not utilize protective glass unlike previous solar cells.
The most recently designed solar shingles are built to be highly flexible and possess a very powerful, very thin film on top of the panels. These shingles have been found to be more effective than solar panels, largely due to the efficient composition of materials. Additionally, due to the fact that the shingles can cover a large area of the roof, they are able to absorb additional sunlight. Each shingle is able to produce between 13 and 17 electrical watts.
This sunlight which is absorbed through the solar shingles necessitates the utilization of plywood and under-decking underneath the shingles. The wiring then passes via the roof to a power inverter, where the direct current (DC) power is converted into an alternating current (AC) for use in the home.
The electricity which is generated by solar shingles is then used in an off-grid or grid-tied system. Off-grid systems are those which are able to power several appliances as well as back-up appliances and can also store needed electricity within batteries for later use. These systems are usually more expensive and complicated than the alternative. Grid-tied systems are integrated into a utility network and can be used to power appliances with the excess able to be sold to an electric company, thereby generating some revenue.
The initial cost of solar shingles is quite expensive and is deemed so by many homeowners. However, newer designs such as the thin filmed shingles are able to be installed faster than other panels which reduces the initial cost of set-up and installation when compared with traditional panels. Additionally, the solar shingles usually become financially beneficial within only a couple years of use and last for a period in excess of 20 years before replacement is necessary.