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.