Solar Shingles


Say good-bye to bulky rack-mounted panels.

Solar technology has advanced quickly to supply flexible, roll-on solar paint cells in the form of shingles for your home’s roof, meeting consumer demand to develop more aesthetic solar options.

The shingles are installed over new or existing roof sheathing. An electrician wires the units together and then connects them to your home’s electrical system. Installing solar onto homes has recently become more popular due to the ease of installation and the cost savings involved since at least 39 states allow you to sell unused watts back to the local utility for credit.

That’s what Sheri Gage discovered when she and her husband bought their Live Oak, California, home earlier this year. They opted for an energy-efficiency package, offered by the builder, that included a 2-kilowatt BIPV system integrated into the cement-tile roof (general guidelines call for 1 kilowatt, or 1,000 watts, per 1,000 square feet of house area). The system cost $15,000, which they rolled into their mortgage, adding about $100 to the monthly bill. Come tax time, they’ll receive a generous federal tax break thanks to the Energy ­Policy Act of 2005, which gives homeowners a credit of 30 ­percent, or up to $2,000, toward the cost of a system. Gage has no worries about the new roof paying for itself: Her last electrical bill was a paltry $3.85. “I’am now a firm believer in the power of the sun,” she says.



6 Responses to “Solar Shingles”

  1. A 96 mile by 96 mile of currently available photovoltaic material (not necessarily the shingles mentioned in this story) could replace the entire electric generating capacity of this country. Therefore, solar is powerful.

    Responding to the nuclear advocates who typically reply to any solar or wind energy article: 1) waste disposal is still risky and wishful thinking - promises, promises, it is just accumulating now without a solution, 2) accidents and terrorism can happen with disastrous and LONG term effects, 3) encourages other countries to develop nuclear, with increased and hidden risk of nuclear weapons being a result, 4) not previously mentioned: uranium will run out in about 30 years, and 5) costs are high if government incentive money is excluded from the cost calculations.

    We need to be SMART and build our new energy infrastructure correctly. We may not get another chance. Seriously.

    Renewable energy sources are powerful enough to do what is needed - innovations and improvements needed include some rethinking of how we store energy, re-evaluation and higher consciousness about what is attractive (windmills for example), and some hard work on creating the new, sustainable infrastructure of power and communities, such as legislative mandates and incentives to coordinate renewable energy location and construction - steps like these will build our good future.

    It so happens the path of renewables do NOT continue our dependence on large companies such as nuclear, coal, oil, and gas. So, this is bad for people? I think not. Is it bad (from a narrow viewpoint) for those big, corrupt companies? Yes, unless they can reinvent themselves.

    Well, it is OUR turn. Let’s hope for our sake that clean, renewable energy gets its chance.

  2. Hi. Do you know if these solar shingles are available outside of Ca? I went to the Old House article and they listed unisolar and other links. I looked into this a year or so ago with unisolar and was told by their NJ distributor they do not sell the shingles outside of California. So, I was wondering if another company was doing the same thing?
    thanks. anna

  3. Hello, Sue:

    Long time no see. We have a beautiful blueish voltaic set of panels, a bit elevated from the shingle roof. At this time we sell back electricity to the state. Waht can I add t the comments except that I third the motions to go with solar in California?
    I pity the disaster area in the I-5 and the forests. In a state with fires, floods and earthquakes, we are doing great with solar.

  4. I really liked this post. I am amazed how advanced we keep getting in solar technology. Ideas like this will help the battle against global warming.

  5. Just like Chessnoid I am amazed at the advancement of technology. My husband and I have recently bought a house in Malaysia and we want to put solar panels on the roof. I will be looking at the product very closely. Love the site by the way.

  6. I love the solar power idea and keep thinking about it, but looking at just economics I can’t justify it. Here are ballpark numbers on one shingle panel to figure the time it takes a shingle to pay for itself. Doesn’t matter if we’re talking one or many shingles.

    * Power = 17w
    * Assume an average of 10 hours a day of power with an average less than the 17w peak, might equal 0.15 kwh per day (I think that’s optimistic).
    * Assume $.10 per kwh from the power company = $.015 per day in power savings.
    * Cost per shingle ($120) after 30% tax credit is $84 per shingle.
    * $84 / $.015 = 5600 days (15.3 years) to pay for itself.

    That does not include additional costs of installation, wiring, power inverter, any maintenance. Does not include cloudy days when output might be 20% of the average. I think 20 years is a reasonable estimate for payback. I could invest the money and make more than I get from the energy savings. Also, after it pays for itself, it’s 20 years old. How much longer will it last to provide actual savings? I’d like to contribute to energy independence, but it’s too expensive for me right now.

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