Everyone has heard of solar panels.
Whether you’ve seen them on top of big retail warehouse stores like Lowes or Costco, you’ve seen them along long stretches of highway or you have a neighbor with a sunny roof and an array of panels, they’ve entered our public consciousness. But these big, unwieldy devices have a smaller cousin, the solar shingle.
Solar shingles are changing the way people think about generating solar power. Like the name implies these miniature solar panels about the size of conventional roofing shingles. Thinner than conventional solar panels, these shingles are made of a very flexible material that allows installers to string them together not unlike regular shingles. Their conventional appearance allows solar shingles to blend in with your traditional roof while adding efficiency to your home. This is particularly important for those who may be members of stricter Homeowner’s Associations or are concerned about creating an eyesore.
If you’re in store for a new roof, it may be a wise idea to consider solar shingles. The best time to install these miniature power plants is when you are already in the process of replacing your roof. This is because the installation process involves significant work both outside and inside your property. Externally, each shingle needs to be installed individually and then connected to the rest of the array of panels in order to function properly. Additionally, each shingle comes with its own set of wires that must be threaded down through a small hole in the roof into the attic space below. If the shingles are installed correctly, they will overlap sufficiently to form a water-tight barrier much like conventional shingles.
The superior aesthetics and decreasing prices of solar shingles are making them a more and more popular choice for homeowners who want to maximize their property’s value and invest in green technologies. Even the installation process, one of the costlier aspects of the technology, is becoming more affordable and widespread throughout the roofing industry.
As with any solar panel, the benefits you receive will depend largely on on your location. If are located in a shaded lot, solar shingles may not be right for your property.. If, however, your roof gets plenty of sunlight during the day, the initial investment might well bring with it plenty of energy savings down the road. According to one of the largest producers of solar shingles, an upfront investment of $27,480 might save you $58,640 over 25 years and increase your home’s value by as much as $33,000. This coupled with tax credits on federal and state levels make this a very affordable option for certain homeowners.
Despite the aesthetic and environmental benefits of solar shingles, they’ve been slow to catch on in the past. They look better than conventional solar panels, but they cost more and yield a little less energy. Whether you prefer to save money and increase efficiency, or choose the solar option that looks the most like conventional roofing tiles, you would do well to consider adding solar power to your home.