Have you ever looked at your neighbor’s roof and wondered why it’s so shiny? Have you driven through a neighborhood with futuristic-looking roofs and wondered what in the world their roof is made of? While it’s possible that what you saw were solar panels, it could also have been a solar tiled roof. In this article, we will discuss what solar tiles are, what they are made of, how they work and are installed, and a short list of pros and cons. Buckle up, and let’s go!
What Are Solar Roof Tiles?
Much like their cousins, solar panels, solar tiles are thin, photovoltaic sheets that can either replace or lay on top of your shingles. Just like solar panels, solar tiles harness the energy they create from sunlight to power your home. A very interesting fact about this type of shingle is that it can be installed in any climate. This type of roof shingle is really a testament to how far technology has advanced and opens doors for even more possibilities for the future of roofing.
How Do They Work?
Great question! The sunlight hits a solar shingle that has been coated with a special surface that knocks off an electron from particles of light. Then, the free electron goes through an electrical circuit where other electrons are being stored. This compilation of electrons is then used to generate a current. That is how all our solar electricity works, no matter what form the photovoltaic device is in.
What Are They Made Of?
They are about 12 inches wide and 86 inches long and weigh about 13 pounds per square foot. The thin-film solar cells are made from copper indium gallium selenide. This is a semiconductor that allows the cells to be thin and flexible. They are usually less than an inch thick, so they won’t look big and bulky like a solar panels.
How Are They Installed?
Since these high-efficiency energy savers are so high-tech, it is best to have a professional roofer install them for you. Having a professional do it also helps assure the best return on your investment. The way they are installed requires a lot of labor and TLC. Your roofer will put in shingle after shingle while wiring each one inside your home. This is a tedious job that should be done ONLY by professionals. There are a lot of permits and paperwork that go into owning solar-powered anything. This is something professionals can handle for you, as well as saving you time and energy on doing the project yourself.
Pros and Cons of Having Solar Tiles
The benefits of installing solar tiles in your home are awesome! But as with a lot of things in life, nothing is perfect, which means there are some downsides to installing solar tiles. Below is a list of just a few pros and cons of having solar tiles:
Pro: Save Money! Like solar panels, solar tiles will help cut your electricity bill in half, and you may even be able to make money from your electric company for the excess power that your roof supplies back into the grid.
Pro: Solar tiles bring a certain je ne sais quoi to your overall home aesthetic. They have a more modern to futuristic look to them that a lot of prospective homeowners will find appealing. This is something to keep in mind if you envision yourself moving in the future. These tiles are designed to match existing roofing, so they will blend in making a nice finish on your roof.
Con: It’s true that solar tiles are quite energy efficient, but they cannot completely compare to solar panels. Panels can be tilted for the best sun exposure whereas tiles cannot. This may result in purchasing more tiles down the line to reach the same energy output as your neighbors with panels.
Con: While they will save you tons of money in the long run, the initial cost of installation can be quite a hefty chunk of money. This can cost anywhere from 10k to 20k. However, most states have grant programs to help with initial costs.