If you are in the market for a new roof and are looking for an eco-friendly alternative, why not consider solar shingles? They are much easier on the eye than conventional solar panels and can help you reduce your energy costs. Below is some information on how solar shingles work and their benefits, along with some tips on how to make them work best for you. Solar shingle roofs should be installed by a professional contractor.
What Are Solar Shingles?
Just like solar panels, solar shingles use photovoltaic cells to harness energy from the sun and convert it into electricity. Solar shingles have been around for nearly a decade but the earlier models were not all that efficient. That all changed when manufacturers started using CIGS (copper indium gallium diselenide) solar cells in the shingle design. Today, solar shingles produce electricity just as effectively as traditional solar panels. But, unlike the panels, solar shingles are thin and look like typical asphalt shingles.
How Solar Shingle Energy Collection Works
Here's how the photovoltaic system works. Inside the shingles the CIGS semiconductors take in the sunlight. The sun's energy boosts the semiconductors' electrons which makes them more active, generating electrical current. But, instead of one large solar panel doing the processing, several solar shingles are wired together so they act as one unit.
Once the electricity is generated, it goes into an inverter that converts it from DC (direct current) to AC (alternating current) so it can power your home through your electrical panel. The excess is stored in a switchboard and sent back into the city power grid. One way to know it you are making excess power is to look at your electricity meter. Electricity use is shown by either a dial or a needle, depending on the model. If the indicators are moving backwards, you are putting electricity into the power grid.
Benefits of Using Solar Shingles
- Solar shingles allow you to make your own electricity. Some power companies will allow you to sell your unused power back to them. The payment is usually a credit on your electricity bill. This is particularly useful during the winter months when you may not generate as much electricity as you need. Shorter days and frequent rain or snow storms mean less available sunlight.
- Solar shingles do not detract from your home's curb appeal. They come in various colours and can be matched to conventional asphalt shingles. Since they don't "stick up" like conventional solar panels, solar shingles don't interfere with the architectural lines of your home.
- Since solar panels have to be bolted to your roof, there is always the potential for leaks. You don't have to worry about this with shingles. Weather damage, such as pitting from hail stones, is also a consideration. It is less expensive to replace a few damaged solar shingles than one large solar panel.
- Solar shingles are multifunctional. They protect your home from the elements and generate electricity at the same time. Solar panels generate electricity, but you must first install the roof for them to sit upon.
Things to Consider Before Installing Your Roof
- In North America, you'll get more benefit from your solar shingles if they are installed on the south facing part of the roof. This gives you access to more direct sunlight. The area must not be blocked by trees or other structures. The amount of roof that needs the solar shingles is determined by your home's energy needs. The slope, or angle, of your roof must have a certain pitch for the shingles to work properly. Find a contractor that is familiar with solar shingles and that will send out a roof inspector to help you with these issues.
- Installing a roof with solar shingles is typically more expensive than a traditional roof. The extra cost can be offset by the energy savings you will experience. Check with your city and/or province to see if any incentives and/or tax credits are offered. Look at it this way, a conventional roof will keep your home dry, but it doesn't contribute to the family budget by lowering your energy bills.
For more information about solar shingles and other roofing options, contact a local roofing contractor.