Solar Shingles Versus Solar Panels

Solar shingles are getting a lot of press these days. Heralded by the environmental contingent as a way of bringing renewable energy to the masses, some of the news coverage seems to indicate that these products are the way of the future for renewable energy generation. But are solar shingles, sometimes known as solar roof tiles, all they’re cracked up to be? Read on for a brief comparison between energy generating shingles and traditional solar panels.

What are Solar Shingles or Solar Roof Tiles?

In traditional rooftop panels, multiple photovoltaic cells are integrated in one plane, usually covered with a sheet of protective material such as glass. To make PV shingles, “thin film” technology is used to maintain the flexible nature required for roofing applications. Thin film technology, as compared to standard panel composition, is less effective at generating energy and has a shorter expected life, but it is less expensive to produce. Photovoltaic shingles were first introduced in 2005, but the technology has continually changed since their inception.

How Do Solar Shingles Differ from Panels?

Energy-generating roofing products are applied directly to standard underlayment materials, just as normal roofing materials are. Although they mimic the look and size of standard roof products, they are produced in strips generally about 12 by 86 inches, rather than in individual pieces. Installation can often be completed in less time than can panels, resulting in lower installation costs, but installation requires a highly specialized set of skills. Whereas panels can be oriented for maximum efficacy even if your home isn’t perfectly oriented, shingles cannot be adjusted in a similar manner or relocated, once installed. Solar roof tiles generate a high level of heat at the roof underlayment and substrate.

Are Solar Roof Tiles Right for Your Home or Business?

While PV panel technology has been in existence since the 1950s, with successful system operations reaching into the 40-year range, solar roofing products are a new and still-developing technology. PV roof tiles are indigo in color, not exactly a match for changing architectural styles or exterior color palettes. Some types of PV shingles cannot be configured to work with backup power systems, an important feature for many consumers. Finally, if your building does not have a large span of roof oriented clearly toward the south, unimpeded by any sun-blocking structures, you may not be able to use them. Today, few alternative energy providers offer RV roofing products, choosing instead to wait for future technology developments and more evidence of long-term efficacy.

Intermountain Wind and Solar, serving customers in Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado and Nevada, is the region’s leading provider of alternative energy systems, custom fit to match every client’s needs. Contact them today to learn about all the benefits of solar panel systems compared to solar shingles.