It’s no secret that homeowners throughout the nation are considering ways to go green or at least to cut down on their power bills. As a result, the solar technology industry in the last five years has grown exponentially as homeowners invest in conventional solar panels for their roof. Yet many of these households are encountering problems, as their panels become the objective of thieves. Further, many Homeowner Associations don’t allow traditional panels on roofs because they jut up and can be seen by neighbors. This is preventing people from trying solar power, but some companies offer solar shingles as a solution. They are built to integrate with regular asphalt shingles, and are not mounted on racks like traditional panels. And, since they are installed directly into the roof, they are much harder to steal. Here’s a comprehensive look at the more common shingles available.
Sun Energy Shingles: Made by BIPV Inc, Sun Energy Shingles can deliver up to 50 Watts of electricity per shingle. They are intended to sit right over the existing composition or asphalt roof, so they lay even and provide a much more atheistically pleasing appearance than panels installed on racks. They use polycrystalline silicon, which BIPV claims makes them more efficient than other cells they produce using thin-film technology. Further, they have a Class A fire rating and a high wind and snow load rating, so they are rather durable and will continue to protect the home just like a roof is meant to do. The Sun Energy Shingles are presently available to homeowners, and have been fitted to a number of homes in the western part of the country.
Powerhouse Shingle: Supported by $20 million in funding from the US Department of Energy and justifying their $1.5 billion yearly investment in R&D, Dow CEO Andrew Liveris disclosed their Powerhouse Shingle in late 2009 and it is widely available to homeowners this year. They have received a lot of exposure since Dow’s shingle uses a much more low-cost and sturdy material called Copper Indium Gallium diSelenide (CIGS) instead of the customary silicon. These shingles are meant to replace traditional roof tiles so they adapt seamlessly to the home. This means regular roofing businesses can install them with an electrician connecting them to the home once installed, so homeowners don’t have to hire an independent solar installation company, which can often be very expensive. Dow’s extensive history with plastics allowed them to create an extremely strong plastic cover to replace the glass most solar panels use, without allowing any less light through. This lets the shingles shield the roof from the elements just like an ordinary roof.
Other firms, like OK Solar, are also getting in on the action to help homeowners power their home by renewable energy without having to sacrifice the aesthetics of the house itself. Plus, because of their design and installation, solar shingles are a great replacement to the traditional panels, especially if worried about burglary or Homeowners Associations. If thinking over ways to green your lifestyle or home, solar shingles are a terrific decision.
Alan Parker is a blogger based out of New York, NY who writes about alternative energy, green business, sustainability, and climate change.
Follow on Twitter @AGreenParker