Over the past few years, we have written several articles about solar shingles – roofing material that both covers your home with a protective layer and generates clean, renewable solar power. As with other types of solar panels, one of the biggest questions regarding solar shingles is whether they are cost-effective for residential solar?
Also known as solar roof tiles, solar roofing shingles, solar shingles originated as the brainchild of Dow Chemical in 2009. The company announced that it had come up with solar technology that could be included as part of asphalt tile roofing material for homes. Dow and Global Solar would be manufacturing solar shingles together.
The tiles are a premier example of building integrated photovoltaics – or building materials that can generate solar power. Last year, Cobblestone Homes installed solar shingles on its new homes to help test the product. After a successful trial run, Dow is building a manufacturing facility in Michigan that will begin production of Dow Powerhouse Solar Shingles in 2012.
Consider these benefit of solar shingles:
- Installed just as regular asphalt roofing shingles
- Waterproof, glass-free and encased in UV-stabilized polymers, solar shingles are practically virtually indestructible.
- They can be dropped from a roof, walked on and stacked in pallets like any other type of roofing shingle
- Connections are simpler than for ordinary solar panels because solar shingles plug into each other to form a solar array
With respect to whether solar shingles are cost-effective for residential solar, one of the most influential factors is solar efficiency. Reportedly, solar shingles are only 10% efficient (meaning that 10% of the solar energy that strikes the surface can be converted to solar electricity), while solar panels are 13% efficient. In addition, the cost of solar roofing is about 10-15% more than ordinary PV panels.
The actual price of Dow’s solar shingles is not known as of the date of this publication. Yet, some experts are predicting a cost of about $50 per square foot, with an output of 600 watts for every 100 square feet.
Homeowners can take heart in the fact that solar shingles, like ordinary solar panels can qualify for tax incentives and rebates that can defray the cost an additional 30-50%. One estimate is that a solar shingle system for an average homeowner in Michigan will cost about $11,200, including rebates.
Solar shingles will soon be available for homeowners across the U.S. Stay tuned for more information on pricing and other factors.