Tapping into the energy of the sun is a great way to power your home - not only is it beneficial for the environment, but it can also have a positive payoff for your wallet. While most people think of roof or ground-mounted panels when considering solar power, recent advances in the efficiency of this technology have led to the development of solar shingles. This newer technology can integrate seamlessly with shake, concrete, metal, tile, and slate roofs. So, what are solar shingles? And are they worth your investment?
Solar shingles, like panels, are an integrated photovoltaic (PV) building product, which means they directly generate electricity from sunlight. They’re made with specific materials that naturally undergo an electronic process in the presence of sunlight, in essence creating usable energy for your home from the light of the sun.
Homeowners can rely on this source of energy as opposed to utility electricity. The idea is that by investing in solar power, homeowners will save money on their monthly electric bills and in time recoup their investment and have net savings for as long as the solar panels produce energy.
Solar shingles specifically, or solar roof tiles, are made of slim PV sheets that either overlay or replace existing shingles on a roof. From a distance, they look like ordinary roof shingles. But up close, they are certainly more than that.
In essence, solar shingles and solar panels operate in the same way regarding their energy generation capabilities. But while solar panels have one function (generate electricity), solar shingles serve a dual purpose. They generate electricity as well as function as structural roofing. Some other key differences include:
Size: Solar shingles are about the same size as normal roofing shingles and usually take about 350 tiles to complete a job. Solar panels are much larger – they take up several square feet and will usually require 10-25 panels for a full installation.
Appearance: Solar shingles are more aesthetically pleasing than panels. Solar shingles blend right into the roofing material, and to the untrained eye appear exactly like a normal roof. Panels are bulkier and stand out against the roof.
Efficiency: Panels have the edge in efficiency as they can be adjusted as needed to achieve the best pitch and orientation to capture the sunlight. Shingles must stay in the same position as they are installed on the roof face.
Installation: Panels also have the upper hand regarding installation time. Panels can be installed in as little as a day, while shingles require at least a week or even more for some installations.
Durability: Solar shingles have a major advantage over panels when considering durability. Shingles act as part of your roof and can withstand harsh weather conditions and fallen debris while panels are slightly more prone to damage caused by hail and other weather conditions.
Price: Solar shingles are undoubtedly on the more expensive side compared to panels – as should be expected with its dual utility of energy generation and roofing.
There are two primary types of solar shingles on the market: traditional Silicon solar shingles that are constructed very similarly to solar panels, and CIGS solar shingles using newly-developed technology.
The best brands for solar shingles are Tesla, SunTegra, Luma, GAF, and CertainTeed. Solar shingles are a new technology, so options for different brands are limited, but as they become more popular there is an expectation that options and brands will grow.
Just like all roofing types, solar shingles are subject to wear and tear over time from weather, heat, and other conditions. Their service life also varies like any other roofing type depending on the manufacturer and installer chosen for the job.
In general, the standard lifetime of solar shingles is in line with solar panels averaging around 20 years with the low end being 15 years and the high end reaching 30 years. Warranties by the installer and manufacturer are a key piece that you should pay attention to when making your decision.
At the end of the day, solar shingles can be incredibly worth it by saving you money, benefitting the environment, and creating an aesthetic appeal to your home. They are more likely to be cost-effective and give you a return on your investment under the proper circumstances, for example, if you live in a place with high utility energy costs or if you are in the market for a new roof for your home.
When getting quotes for a solar shingle job, make sure to get an economic or financial analysis of the costs and savings for the duration of the service life of the respective product.
Solar shingles should only be installed by specialists with experience installing this roof type because if it is installed incorrectly, there could be issues that develop down the line such as leaks or outright failure.
970 Services is your partner for all things roofing. The Northern Colorado specialists are consistent and reliable working across residential, multi-family, and commercial building projects. To get started on your own roofing project or to get the professional advice you need, contact 970 Services today!
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