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Are Solar Shingles The Green Product Of The Future?

One of the best ways to harness solar energy is by having solar panels installed on your roof, and solar shingles allow you to do this without the need to install a large solar array. Solar shingles are miniature solar panels for your roof that each contain photovoltaic cells and are designed to appear like normal shingles. 

These small solar units are a relatively new concept, and the first shingles only became available for purchase in 2005. Due to the new technology involved, most of the products currently on the market are still being perfected and may not be as efficient as many other types of solar collectors. 

Types of Solar Shingles

There are a variety of different sized and shaped shingles available which can match the shingles on almost any home. There are larger sets of PV cells which appear as multiple shingles, but in actuality one of these takes up the amount of space normally used by several traditional shingles. 

There are also smaller, harder shingles that are the size and shape of a small shingle, and finally they are newer more flexible versions that appear as much more realistic looking shingles than most products on the market. Most shingles are stapled or otherwise attached directly to the roof felt or underlayment. They are typically intermixed with traditional shingles.

Effectiveness of Solar Shingles

Before you rush out and purchase photovoltaic shingles to replace your traditional ones, it’s first important to look at the effectiveness of these products. While some of these shingles can produce quite a bit of power, this type of solar technology is still fairly new and has yet to be perfected so most products are not as efficient as they could be. You might be well-off to have a professional come to your home or business and perform a solar evaluation of your property to see what type of solar collection unit is best for your specific location and needs. 

Since these PV shingles are attached directly to the roof in lieu of traditional roofing shingles, there has also been some debate about their effect on the overall health of your home’s roof. Some people argue that the shingles are not as effective at keeping water off your roof and can lead to roof damage, although the companies who manufacture the shingles suggest otherwise.

Solar Shingles vs. Traditional Solar Panels

If you are considering using solar power in your home or business, it’s best to first consider all of your options for maximizing your solar panels exposure to the sun. If your roof is in the shade during parts of the day, then it might be better for you to look for an alternative, such as installing solar panels in a sunnier part of your property. If your roof is the only option for solar panels, then you need to consider the pros and cons of each type of roof mounted solar unit. 

solar shinglesPhotovoltaic shingles require a very large area of roof space compared to traditional solar panels, and even if you dedicate a very large portion of roof to shingles, they still may not be as effective at producing large amounts of electricity as traditional solar panels. 

However, on the plus side, these miniature solar panels are designed to look exactly like shingles so they can fit in perfectly on your roof without being as obtrusive as normal solar panels. The reason most people normally choose these shingles over traditional panels is for aesthetic reasons

If you’d like your home to generate solar power, but don’t want to have large, bulky solar panels mounted on your roof, then shingles are the ideal way to go. Of course you’ll be sacrificing energy production for aesthetic value, but in ideal situations, the energy differential is not that large.

The technology in these solar energy generating roof shingles is still very much in its infancy stage, and this means it still may be a number of years before it has been perfected. While this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t install these shingles, it does mean that you should definitely consider all your options before deciding to completely re-roof your home or business with PV shingles. 

If you are willing to dedicate your entire roof to generating solar power, then you would be much better served to install large solar panels on the entire surface of your roof. By doing this you will generate much more power and also save yourself a lot of money as the PV shingles and their installation tends to be quite expensive when compared to the purchase and installation of traditional solar panels. 

Future of Photovoltaic Shingles

While many PV shingles are being manufactured and installed today, they have still yet to gain a significant share of the solar market. This is partly due to their cost, and also due to the large amount of space they take to generate a significant amount of power. However, more and more companies are starting to research this technology and it will probably only be a few years before shingles are developed than work as effectively at generating electricity as the more traditional solar panels available today. 

Already companies are developing lighter, thinner shingles that take less time to install than traditional solar panels. Dow Chemical Group has even entered into the PV shingle action, and self-estimates that it will be one of their largest growing business sectors in the next five to ten years.

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