Solar Power Shingles - Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Roofing Panels

Since the roof of a house typically receives the most sunlight, it makes the most sense to combine the advances of photovoltaic (PV) solar cells with solar power shingles. This photovoltaic roofing material provides weather protection, generates clean electricity, and is more aesthetically-pleasing than conventional solar panels. These custom solar panels are manufactured to blend and complement traditional asphalt roofing shingles and come in a variety of colors to make a functional, and less-conspicuous, power solution.

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The roof of a home is an ideal place for solar cells. It usually receives the most unobstructed sunlight and is the least susceptible location from vandalism and accidents (for example, kid's bikes, rocks & soccer balls). If you're planning on re-roofing your home this year, consider installing solar panel shingles at the same time.

Advantages of Solar Power Shingles

  • They can generate up to 30-50% of your household electrical needs with free, pollution-free electricity. Talk to the shingle manufacturer and roofing contractor to determine how much roof area can be dedicated to solar shingles.

  • Solar power shingles are an investment that will pay for themselves in energy savings over a course of a few years (depending on your energy consumption).

  • Conventional solar panels may not be architecturally acceptable for your neighborhood and have unsightly wires running down the side of the building. Solar shingles are less noticeable.

  • Solar shingles have a life-span of about 30-40 years which is similar to the life-span of good-quality asphalt shingles.

  • Converting 20-30% of the solar energy into electricity will lower the amount of solar heat penetrating through the roof and into the dwelling below.

Disadvantages of Solar Power Shingles

  • The cost of solar shingles is more than for conventional solar panels.

  • The roof needs to be south facing and have an optimum pitch to maximize electricity production for when the sun is at its highest in the sky. This angle is dependent upon your location.

  • Solar panels need to be clear of dust and debris but a roof installation will make access more difficult. Solar power shingles are durable but cannot support the weight of a human.

  • These shingles are susceptible to hail and damage from strong winds. Home insurance may be higher.

  • This is not a do-it-yourself installation. A professional installer is needed and finding a qualified one in your area may be difficult. The shingle manufacturer may be able to recommend one to you (get a free quote for solar in your area).

Solar Shingle Installation

Roofing should be left to the roofing experts who are used to working at heights and with steep roof pitches. A fire-resistant underlayment (such as felt paper) is needed and the electrical wires should to be passed into the attic through drilled holes. An electrical contractor can then wire all of the solar power shingles together in the attic and run them down to the power storage/conditioning equipment in the house (charge controller, batteries, inverter and transfer switch).