Benefits and Issues of Solar Shingles and Installation

Here's a Great Roofing Alternative for Your Construction Project

solar shingles on a roof
••• Westby West / Flickr

Solar shingles combine the benefits of solar power energy with the reliability of traditional roof shingles. Solar shingles also can be used as a durable roofing material providing the same protection from the environment as you would have from regular roofing shingles. If your customer is looking for an alternative that can be aesthetic and generate power at the same time, this could be the right fit for them. This is a trend that is being implemented in many areas of the country in lieu of solar panels, getting the benefits of generating your own power.

Solar Shingles As the Primary Roofing Material

Many solar shingles manufacturers will allow you to use the shingle as the main roofing material, and yes, you don't need anything more other than the shingle itself. Some of these shingles can be waterproof, meaning that water will not enter your customer property, and at the same time, it can be used as a primary power source for the building.

Many solar shingles manufacturers can provide a detailed installation process that reduces by 10% the roof penetrations and reduce wind uplift concerns. These shingles can be installed over almost any existing roof, but it is probably better when they are installed as part of a new roof.

Solar Shingle Benefits

There are many benefits of using solar shingles and this are some of the major ones:

  • They can be integrated into any exterior design of your home.
  • They look regular roofing shingles.
  • It eliminates the necessity of having large surfaces for traditional solar panel installation.
  • Aesthetically-pleasing solar material.
  • Solar shingles come in different sizes and models; solid shingle-sized panels, semi-rigid silicon cells, and systems with a thin solar film.
  • Easy installation can be done stapling the material onto the roof.
  • You can qualify for tax incentives while installing solar shingles, depending on your state policy.
  • Can be combined with conventional asphalt shingles.
  • Solar shingles, if installed correctly, can withstand high winds.
  • As a newer material, they are more effective in comparison with traditional panels.
  • Can cover larger areas when compared to traditional solar panels.
  • Some photovoltaic shingles can produce around 13-17 watts of electricity.

Solar Shingles: Solar Energy Distribution

Solar shingles will generate electricity that can be used in grid-tied or off-grid systems. Grid-tied systems are used to provide electricity to powerhouses, and buildings, and also to sell the excess of power not being consumed to the utility company. Off-grid systems are used commonly as a backup at the time of a power outage, and to store electricity in batteries for future use. Battery backed-up equipment is more expensive than grid-tied systems.

The system generates current, produced by solar shingles, and transferred to a power inverter. This Power inverter converts direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC) for home use. The shingles installation cost is high and many homeowners will tend to neglect the system installation.

However, new designs can be installed in half of the time than traditional solar panels, reducing the cost of their installation. Depending on the area, the shingles usually pay for themselves within the first several years of their 20-year lifespan. A new alternative in the market will allow you to pay a monthly or annual installment to make the product more accessible.

Solar Shingles Drawbacks

As any product, solar shingles also have some disadvantages like:

  • No energy storage. There is no energy storage on these systems, and you will have to rely on the power grid during storms or at night.
  • Your roof has to be at a certain angle to catch the sun. For the solar shingles to catch the sun’s rays enough to generate electricity, your roof has to be at the right angle with enough surface area to power your building.
  • If possible install the shingles during the construction or remodeling process of your unit.
  • The installation cost of solar shingles can be steep.