Are Solar Power Roof Tiles the Future?

The last two decades have seen solar power becoming popular as a source of energy that is both renewable and reliable. New technology in the field of solar energy has led to solar roof tiles making their advent and resulted in making this form of power both easily affordable and accessible.

This article will help you to identify the top brands that are in the market as on date, as well as tell you about solar roof tile features, and their advantages and disadvantages.


Features of Solar Roof Tiles

These tiles are built to look similar to the roof tiles that are in use traditionally, and these tiles, also called solar shingles are made up of thin sheets that are photovoltaic and which can either be laid on top of shingles that exist on a roof, or replace them if necessary. These solar roof shingles, which act just like solar panels and utilize the energy from the sun, can be installed in any environment or climate.


While solar shingles will be smaller than the conventional solar panels, as we know them, they can be compared to roofing shingles, as they are 86 inches long and 12 inches wide, while they have a weight of 13 pounds for every square foot. These tiles are about an inch thick and most homes will not require more than 350 tiles.


Copper indium gallium selenide is a semiconductor that helps to make for thin and flexible cells and is used to make these TFSC or thin-film solar cells that are used as PV (photovoltaic) shingles. The conversion efficiency of this material is between 10 and 12 percent, which is considered to be high. Many other brands of PV shingles use mono-Si, which is monocrystalline silicon, which is the natural semiconductor that is extensively used in the manufacture of computer chips. These cells do have a higher efficiency that nears 20 percent but are more expensive to manufacture.


The power generated by solar shingles will vary and depend on the brand that you do purchase. The power produced can range from 13 to 63 watts for most shingles. It is estimated that when you install 350 PV shingle tiles you can be assured of a 40 to 70 percent reduction in your utility bills. The power that is captured by these tiles or solar cells requires an inverter kit so that the power can be harnessed.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Roof Tiles

You are doing your bit to save the planet when you use solar shingles, but in addition, you also save some money on your power bills, which gives you a valid reason to purchase them. There are, however, some advantages and disadvantages you need to consider before you ask for their installation.You need to keep some other things in mind before you go in for changing the shingles in your home to the photovoltaic type.

Advantage- Sleek Appearance: Solar shingles are aesthetically a better alternative when you compare them to solar panels. Solar panels will show prominently from rooftops, as they are bulky and noticeable, while the solar shingles will match all the other roofing that you have. They may not make an exact match, but they do blend in with the overall look of the roof and create an appearance that is sleek and level.



Disadvantage- Metallic Appearance: The sleek look of solar shingles can be quite appealing, but the metallic cells do make a contrast to traditional shingles and can ve disconcerting to some people. Make sure about your aesthetic preferences before you make the commitment of installing solar shingles on your roof.

Advantage- Money Saving: A reputed magazine, the Scientific American, has reported that you can halve your electricity bills by installing solar shingles. An installation before the end of the year of any solar power system that has an Energy Star approval allows 30 percent of the installation costs to be offset against tax dues.


Disadvantage- Lower Efficiency: Solar shingles, especially the thin film type, have a lower efficiency than solar panels. Solar panels can be adjusted to the best angle that will afford them the maximum exposure to the sun,something that shingles cannot. You will, therefore, require more shingles to achieve the same output of energy, leading to increased costs.

Advantage- Easy Installation: It is easier to install solar shingles as compared to solar panels. Regular roofing contractors can easily undertake such work. If you are an avid DIYer you can do it yourself but may need an electrician to do the wiring and grid connections.

Disadvantages- HighCost of Installation: The high costs of these installations have led them to their being a major turnoff. In spite of all the latest technology the cost can vary from anywhere between ten and twenty thousand dollars.

10 Exciting Solar Technologies on the Horizon

Solar power technology continues to move forward quite rapidly, with new advancements being transformed into workable installations on practically a daily basis.

1. Water Cooled Solar Panels

A specially designed, acrylic concentrating, short focal-length lens is used by the Pyron Solar Triad to refract and reflect light to effectively concentrate within a small pinpoint of light the equivalent power of 6,500 suns. This concentrated light is captured by a secondary optic and focuses it onto a small PV cell. The company states that more than 800 times electricity is produced by the HE Optics System compared to a silicon solar cell of a similar size.


2. Home Solar into Hydrogen Storage

This year a company was formed by Daniel Nocera, an MIT professor, to commercialize a new type of technology that has the ability to “split water” as well as store solar energy. The key objective of the company is to produce a solar energy breakthrough via making solar energy widespread and inexpensive.

3. Paintable and Printable Solar Panels, Solar Roof Tiles

If it was as easy to install solar power as it is to paint your roof using solar paint or placing new shingles on your house, then the bar for home solar installation would definitely be lowered. Paintable solar technology is referred to as silicon ink.

4. Thin Large Film Solar Panels

Thin amorphous silicon based film technology is used by the SunFab system for delivering the most powerful and largest thin film panels in the world in combination with inexpensive materials and one of the most advanced fabrication technologies in the industry. The thin film solar panels from SunFab feature a frameless design, which eliminates two major field reliability challenges when it comes to thin panels: a structure integrity that weakens over time and water penetration.

5. Organic Solar Concentrators

MIT engineers have created an affordable and sophisticated method for transforming regular glass into a high-tech solar concentrator. Dye-coated glass is used for collecting and channeling light. Usually this is lost from the panel surface. The technology may enable buildings to make use of tinted windows for collecting energy. A company called GreenSun has designed bright-colored panels for capturing various part of the spectrum of the sun. Direct sunlight isn’t needed in order for them to work properly.

6. Space Based Solar

A gigantic space-based solar power generator is being developed in Japan for transmitting solar energy from 6,000km high to earth within approximately 30 years. The $21 billion project is being backed by the Japanese government. It includes a solar powered space station that contains four square kilometers worth of solar panels, that will crank out approximately 1 gigawatt of electricity – sufficient for nearly 300,000 Tokoyo homes.

7. Solar Roads

This concept from Solar Roadways would involve using glass panels to pave roads with in order to collect solar energy and distribute it for heating during the winter and lighting roads at night, with enough leftover electricity for powering businesses and homes. Scott Brusaw, the founder, has estimated that every mile worth of solar panels can power 500 houses. He estimates it would cost around $5,000 to produce one 12′ x 12′ Solar Panel Roadway panel.

8. Concentrated Solar

The SunCatcher from Stirling Energy System is comprised of a solar concentrator within a dish structure. It supports a series of curved glass mirrors, and could be deployed soon in Arizona as the first commercial-scale installation of the most efficient solar technology in the world. A system of mirrors that are fixed to a parabolic dish is used by the SunCatcher to concentrate the energy of the sun onto the very efficient Stirling Engine. Each of the dishes generates as much as 25,000 watts of power.

solar thermal suncatcher dishes

9. Nanotechnology Solar

McMaster University researchers have grown light-absorbing nanowires in Ontario that are made out of high-performance photovoltaic materials on highly durable yet thin carbon-nanotube fabric. The tiny particles have also been embedded into a flexible polyester film that can result in solar cells that are less expensive and more flexible compared to the current photovoltaics that are available.

A team from the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Southampton has developed a series of new photovoltaic devices that use a process that can be found in photosynthesis for delivering impressive quantities of electrical current from the light.

10. Integrated Grid Ready Solar

Proprietary technology from Akeena has been used to build Andalay AC solar panels. The electrical grounding, wiring and racking components are integrated into the actual panels. The company reports that this helps to protect against breakdowns as well as increase system reliability, which saves thousands of dollars over its 30 year life. Safe household AC power is produced by Andalay AC solar panels. It will allow for an easier and safer installation process for do-it-yourselfers and solar installers through reducing how many parts are needed by 80%. Potentially dangerous and complicated DC wiring is also eliminated.