Solar roof shingles are slowly making their way as a realistic option for homeowners. Solar shingles, also called photovoltaic shingles, are photovoltaic cells designed to look like conventional asphalt shingles. The shingles use sunlight and transform it into energy to be used in a home. Until the last decade or so, solar roof shingles didn’t exist as an option. The only option for solar power were roof-mounted modules, which are not as aesthetically pleasing as solar shingles. These roofing systems are also called building-integrated photovoltaics or BIPVs, and there are several varieties of the solar shingles, including shingle-sized solid panels that take the place of a number of conventional shingles in a strip, semi-rigid designs containing several silicon solar cells that are sized more like conventional shingles, and newer systems using various thin-film solar cell technologies that match conventional shingles both in size and flexibility. The advance of solar shingles is very exciting and a promising step toward living a more energy-efficient lifestyle in the United States. Check with a local roofer to see if solar roof panels are beneficial for your roof.
Solar roof shingles qualify for federal tax credits through the Energy Star program. To qualify for the tax credit, the photovoltaic systems must provide electricity for the residence and must meet applicable fire and electrical code requirements; in addition, they must be installed and ready to use by December 31, 2016. The tax credits include 30% of the cost. There are also numerous state tax credits, so make sure to check with your local government to see if your state offers any additional credits.
How Do Solar Roof Shingles Work?
Electricity is generated when the sun strikes a semiconductor layer, typically made of crystalline silicon, laminated to the shingle’s surface, which in turn creates electricity for your home. The shingles are installed over new or existing roof sheathing. Then an electrician (or trained roofer) has to wire the units together and tie them in to your home’s electrical system. Solar roof shingles are more effective in climates where there is sun most of the year. In fact, sunny states like Arizona and California have seen the highest rates of solar roof shingle installations.
As with most new technologies, solar roof shingles are very expensive. Typically, costs run from $10,000–$14,000. Even with the tax credits, that is a lot of money. But an excellent perk to keep in mind is that some utility companies will permit you to sell unused watts back. In other words, if you generate more electricity than you actually need (this can happen on really sunny days), then you can earn money back – and in some cases get your utility bill down to just a few dollars. Another factor worth thinking about when considering the price is how much your local company charges for electricity. Some areas may be cheaper than others, and if you are in one of these cheaper areas and also have a lot of sun, then you are an excellent candidate for solar roof shingles!
Three leading companies in solar roof shingles:
Kyocera Solar Inc.
Atlantis Energy Systems
San Jose, CA