Solar Shingles – Worth the Hype?
There has been a lot of buzz about solar shingles and solar roofs the last couple of years. Is this new(er) solar medium worth the hype? Most experts in the industry agree unanimously, NO.
Tesla’s famous roof tiles made their debut in 2016 where they were presented as a non-functional prop at Universal Studios. Since then, many people have gotten attached to the idea of a more aesthetically pleasing look. Unfortunately, our advice to those people is to forgo the hype and install traditional solar modules on their existing roofs for the following reasons:
- Despite misleading prototypes and mock-ups, so far there has not been a company that has successfully constructed a full-scale solar roof. Currently there are solar shingles in production, but they are not designed to replace an existing roof entirely, just a section as traditional modules would.
- Solar shingle installations are more difficult and expensive. Installers must be very meticulous in preventing roof leaks as they integrate the solar shingles with the existing roof shingles. Additional attention and materials must be used to layer water barriers between the roof sheet and the solar shingles. The added labor and level of expertise needed drives up costs significantly.
- The productivity and efficiency of solar shingles has not yet come close to traditional solar modules. On average, the thin-film solar cells from that which solar shingles are made are about 10-12% efficient. Traditional modules, made of polycrystalline or monocrystalline silicon, average 17-20% efficiency.
- The market for solar shingles is very narrow. Buyers must be building a new home, need a roof replacement, or have the capital to fully replace a functional traditional shingle roof.
- Advertising of solar shingles often states that they are less expensive than replacing your shingles; but this is not entirely truthful. The fine print of this statement typically compares the cost of solar shingles to the sum of replacing your roof several times over many decades.
There is no doubt that solar panels of the future will take different forms and that the technology will change and improve. Research and development from around the globe is producing many different, promising photovoltaic technologies. But, for now, what is readily available on the market, is our installation of choice. For those worried about aesthetics, we offer all black solar panels with black racking. If you ask us, it looks great and functionality is top notch.
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- Published in Solar Technology