Solar shingles are an innovation that not only offer roofing protection for the home like traditional shingles. They convert solar energy into electricity that can save the homeowner hundreds of dollars per month in utility bills.
Solar shingles look like traditional shingles and are now available in a variety of in attractive styles, designs and colors. It's not like the days when solar panels were the size of pool tables and looked clunky and unattractive when installed on a roof.
Today's residential solar shingles integrate with the design of the home. Someone looking at a house from the street wouldn't know the difference between solar shingles and regular shingles.
Solar shingles are silent, easy to maintain, and best of all, environmentally friendly. They don't contribute to pollution and they don't emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
The name for solar shingle systems is building-integrated photovoltaics (usually abbreviated to BIPV). BIPVs are made from a combination of photovoltaic cells with other traditional roofing materials - possibly even asphalt.
When rays from the sun strike a layer of semiconductors, electricity is generated. One shingle typically produces between 50 and 200 watts. By itself, that's not much. But when hundreds are shingles are concentrated on your roof, they can supply enough electricity to fill your home's electricity needs.
Residential solar shingles can be installed over new or existing roof sheathing by an experienced roofer. An electrician is also needed to connect all units and link them to your home's electrical system.
Many manufacturers are now offering solid warranties on solar shingles so consumers can feel confident about buying them. Solar shingles cost more to install than regular roofing, but pay for themselves many times over in reduced electricity bills.
Many solar powered homes create more electricity from solar energy than they need. Sometimes, this oversupply of electricity can be sold to a local utility company. So the homeowner not only saves money, but can even make money having a BIPV system.
Another of the benefits of residential solar shingles is the value they add to a home. A prospective home buyer would immediately realize savings on utility bills.
Anyone considering residential BIPVs for roofing should do a lot of homework. It is a big initial investment that takes several years to recover. But federal and state tax incentives may now be available that make installing BIPVs more cost effective.
It's also important to invest in a proven product from a reputable manufacturer, installed by a licensed contractor with experience and a history of success.