Solar shingles: Built-in Photovoltaics Can Take The Place Of Conventional Glass And Roofing

If you’re procrastinating about installing solar power to your house because you don’t like the look of those solar cell arrays, or if you have a problem with the local planners or your architectural committee, you may want to know more about solar shingles. These seamlessly fit into a typical fiberglass or asphalt shingle roof, and are almost unnoticeable, giving a deceptive way to install solar power.

Fitted on to your south facing roof in place of the regular shingles, you can save a little bit of money if you were already planning on replacing your conventional roof shingles, and you also save some costs compared with the regular solar array installation, as you don’t have to install mounting frames for the additional equipment.

solar shingles

Photo: by artur84

The solar shingles come in rolls, just like the regular ones – the difference being, that you can’t just cut them to length, they are a one piece component with an electrical connection on each end. This is the reason that they are more labor intensive to install, as you need to drill through the roof for each shingle at each end, so that the wires can be installed. You also need access under the roof, to connect all those wires, another time consuming task. On the good side, the photovoltaic shingles are fixed to the roof in the same way as conventional ones, nailing them in place according to the instructions.

You will need to price solar shingles carefully, as they are a very different installation proposition from a regular solar project. The labor skills vary, and the roof access affects the price. You may also have to search harder for a contractor skilled in this technique – be sure to check out how many similar installations they have done.

What may be a big downside to you, depending on your requirements, is that solar shingles are typically only 50% as efficient as the regular solar arrays. This means that you need to use twice the area of your roof for the same output. Couple this with the fact that you need to use the provided length, which typically is about seven feet, without cutting, and you may find you are restricted in getting the capacity you want, where a normal solar cell installation would not be a problem. However, if you have particular desires, particularly aesthetic ones because of the neighborhood, you can find that solar shingles are just what you need to be able to get on with your installation and your neighbors!

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