Solar Roofing Shingles
In addition to protecting your home from the elements, solar shingles also make your roof an energy source. They are used in commercial, agricultural, and residential structures. Using the sun to produce electricity, known as photovoltaic or PV technology, is among the latest techniques to harness solar energy for the consumer.
Solar roofing shingles are used most commonly in Europe and Asia, although as production costs fall and efficiency increases, they are becoming increasingly popular in the United States as well.
How are Solar Shingles made?
Solar shingles look much like any other shingle. They are as flexible and easy to install. They are usually nailed down by the roofer, and then an electrician takes over. He or she will drill holes under the roof in order to pull electrical wires through. The wires will be bundled and routed to a main box. The number of arrays (groups of six or so shingles connected to each wire) that you should install depends on how much power you require.
If you live in an extremely sunny area, you can install a stand-alone system that isn't wired into your electrical system. Instead the converted solar energy will be stored as electricity in a battery that you may draw on for power as needed.
Solar shingles are made by fusing thin layers of amorphous silicon onto stainless steel or some other cheap, flexible backing. This type of silicon allows for creating thinner layers than in the past. This latest in solar panel production creates a more flexible and cheaper product.
How long do Solar shingles last?
Most PV solar roofing systems will last 20 years. Some claim that they'll make it for 30 years with some intermittent maintenance. Many brands come with a 5-year warranty.
Common problems with Solar Shingles
Because solar shingles are powered by sunlight, they are more efficient in areas that receive a great deal of direct sun throughout the year. Cold weather doesn't affect them however, although more energy is required to heat the home. They are also very expensive. However, at least in the US, there are state, federal, and local tax incentives for installing a PV system.
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Solar Shingle Ratings
Solar shingles are nailed directly onto wood treated with fire retardant or are placed on a specific roof fire retardant material of another substance. They are also water repellant and made to withstand high winds of at least 80 mph. They are UL rated as an accepted roofing material. They don't need any type of extra structural support.
If you are interested in generating electricity with solar power, you may also be interested in reading our profiles of the most popular brands of solar panels.