What They Are?

Solar shingles are practically solar panels in the form of roof tiles. They operate very similar to traditional solar panels, in that they absorb energy from the sun’s photons to generate electricity. They have a modular design just like your typical asphalt roof making it easily to install. Solar Shingles first appeared on the market in 2009 and are primed to capitalize on feed in tariffs across multiple regions across the globe. 

Key Benefits Of Solar Shingles

Being very compact in size and extremely modular, there are a couple of great benefits when it comes to solar shingles, of which I will detail here below. 

Photo by Vivint Solar on Unsplash

They are very durable in their overall design, they practically fit right into an asphalt tile and are typically much stronger than your average roof tile. When buying a home, be sure to look for the potential to add solar shingles. It actually has been noted as something of a concern by firefighting departments as it would be difficult to cut through the tiles in the case a fire were to break out. Hence it is something to factor in when engineering this solution overall. 

They are lightweight and can withstand large loads such as wind, snow and hail without getting damaged. Furthermore, they require very little in terms of maintenance and the operational costs are not very high at all. 

Over and above all of this, your solar shingles typically come with a 25 to 30 year product warranty. This is a much larger warranty than any other material one would expect to get on any component of their roof. 

Key Difference Between Conventional Solar Panels And Solar Shingles

  • Price

Solar shingles in almost all cases require considerably more CAPEX than traditional solar panels. Although with technological advancements this gap is reducing, the cost differential is still quite large. The main reason for this is due to the technology still being in early adoption phase and there being a lack of economies of scale in the solar shingles marketplace. 

Although the solar shingles have shown to historically be more expensive than your conventional solar PV modules – they can still provide the homeowner with between 40 to 70 percent savings on their electricity costs overall. 

They have also been shown to provide generous tax credits for certain home owners especially in regions of the USA.

  • How they are installed

Solar PV modules are typically installed onto roofs using some form of rails as an attachment on top of the roofing structure. This creates an obvious issues in terms of additional loading factors on the roof and the need to undergo structural loading assessments to ensure that the dynamic loading caused by the air flowing between the modules and the roof top structure. Traditional solar PV modules also require a whole lot more tools to ensure that the installation is complete and adequate. 

Photo by Vivint Solar on Unsplash

Solar shingles on the other hand sit flat on the roof, they are generally lightweight and thus do not add additional stress on the roof structure in terms of dynamic loads. Due to this they allow the homeowner a lot more flexibility in the amount of kW’s that can be installed on the roofing structure

Technical parameters of the installation

When it comes to the overall energy efficiencies solar shingles (14 to 18%) typically fall behind typical solar PV modules. This reduction in efficiency is due to the fact that there is generally a much larger internal electrical loss factor in the form of heat from solar shingles. Therefore when sizing your system, this forms a critical component of the overall optimization.

Interesting facts about solar shingles

Generally the tiles can provide anywhere from between 13 to 63 watts of power. Always ensure that they are installed by qualified professionals. They are typically connected in series and parallel according to roof and inverter design providing a higher voltage system meaning that you can get more sun throughout the day. 

Final Thoughts on Solar Shingles

Solar shingles are a promising new technology and given the potential solar PV reduction costs there is real potential that there soon will be mass adoption of this technology worldwide. They provide some really cool benefits over and above traditional solar PV modules. This combined with their lightweight design, product warranty information and minimal OPEX makes solar shingles primed for the bidirectional electricity market of the future.