What are solar shingles and how do they work?
A solar panel can be installed on a house or building to generate electricity for use in your home or business. Solar panels can also be used to power other electrical devices such as lights, appliances, and even vehicles. Most people will pay extra money each month to lease a system from their local utility company. But you can save money by installing a solar energy system yourself (do-it-yourself installation).
Solar energy has been used for decades now but its use was limited because of the high cost involved. Now, however, there’s a new solar technology which uses nails instead of panels to produce electricity from sunlight.
Over time, homeowners who want solar energy have removed roof tiles from their homes, replaced them with new ones, and then installed solar panels atop these new roofs. In short, it’s a model for creating software applications that has worked well, but one that engineers have struggled to simplify.
So far, plenty of companies have tried offering their own version of solar roofing, but none has been able to gain traction. GAF Energy hopes its new solar energy shingle will help homeowners save time and money by making their roofs look just like they did before installing them. Their key feature isn’t so much that they imitate asphalt siding, but rather that they’re installed in almost exactly the same manner. A typical roofer would use a hammer to drive nails into the strips of sheet metal. In order for solar energy to become more affordable, companies like GAF Energy need to rely on the size of their market rather than the cost of technology. According to estimates from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), approximately 300,000 Americans receive their first solar systems every year. More than five million people could benefit from having their homes protected by a durable, weatherproof solar panel system.
So far, the most well-known example of the solar roof concept is Tesla’s Solar Roof product line. They’re sleek and sophisticated, but their power-generating roof tiles aren’t too noticeable. Despite multiple revisons, they continue to be difficult to install at an affordable price. Last year, SolarCity raised prices by $2 per watt for residential installations. In 2017, they added an additional fee called Roof Complexity Factor (RCF) which adds another layer of complexity to their pricing structure.
In order for GAF Energy to succeed, they must simplify several aspects of the process. Acquiring new customers is known as “acquisition.” In order for solar companies to get paid by their clients, they must first convince them to buy from them. In 2017, installers spent an average of $0.74 per watt to find new clients, according to research from Wood Mackenzie. On a typical 7 kilowatt solar installation, customer acquisition costs add up to $5,250, which amounts to roughly 23% of the total project cost. In contrast, De Bono said that roofers tend not to invest heavily in sales and marketing.
To simplify the installation process, they used a format that was similar to one that roofers were already accustomed to. In addition, they increased the size of each individual tile, which decreases the overall installation time for the whole roof.
Finally, GAF Energy moved most of its electrical wires from underneath the roof into an attic space so they would be out of sight and not subject to damage by rainwater. Solar panels are installed by connecting them into rows using special connectors called junction boxes. These junction boxes connect each panel to its neighbor so they form one long row. For each wiring run, there are two 1.5kW solar panels installed. A roofer makes the electrical connection between shingle layers, and an electrician checks each one for proper installation before connecting the entire system together.
With their new solar panels, engineers had to change the way they wired them because of issues with older models. “We’re using an inverter system,” DeBono explained. “The old ones were under the panel.” It was easier for inspectors to look at the wiring if there wasn’t anything else sticking out from below. If an inspector tells you he wants to see all the roofing connections are complete, then you’re going to need to remove the waterproof membrane from the top of the roof before installing the shingle. It’s not just for fixing things; it’s also good at making troubleshooting easier and repairing less complicated.
Because they’re so small, these solar cells generate less power than larger ones would. But because they use fewer parts, they cost less too. And since there aren’t any big batteries involved, the energy stored by them doesn’t need to last for long periods either. So even though their output isn’t quite up to par with bigger systems, they’re still pretty good at generating enough juice to keep things going when the sun goes down.
In order to create an efficient solar cell, we need to use materials that allow us to capture light efficiently. These materials include silicon wafers (the substrate), It doesn’t help boost efficiency by 23% per cell, according to Dr. John de Bono. He won’t tell us where his cells come from, but he says they’re not made in China. They’re fixed to a flexible substrate, then covered with a hardening layer of glass that’ll survive hailstorms. It has been tested for wind speeds up to 130 miles per hour (mph) and its roof is class A fire rated. UL has certified the ShingleShield® Solar Panels as both solar panels and rooftop products, making them an ideal choice for homeowners looking to install their own renewable energy system.
As far as we know, the whole system runs off just one inverter, but GAF Energy added electronics so they could handle shading better. Because the solar shingles are relatively small, they’ll probably produce more electricity during cloudy days than large panels would.
In addition to providing an extended warranty period, GAF Energy says its new solar panels come with a guarantee that their output won’t fall below 50 percent capacity after five years. Plus, the company notes that its parent company, Standard Industries Inc., has been around since 1899 — making it one of America’s oldest companies.
How much do solar shingles cost to install?
The average price for solar installations ranges from $6,000 to $10,000 depending on location, size of your home and other factors. That may seem expensive compared to traditional grid-tied systems, which can range from $7,500 to $12,000 or higher. However, many people find the upfront costs well worth the savings over time.
Solar shingles are available in several different styles. Some have a smooth finish while others have a textured surface. Most manufacturers offer a variety of colors including black, white, gray, brown and slate. You can choose between single-sided and double-sided designs. Single-sided versions will only work on south facing roofs, while double-sided options can be used on all sides.
Solar shingle installation requires no special tools, but you’ll want to make sure you have some basic equipment handy before starting. You’ll also need access to the roof itself. If you don’t have a ladder, you might consider renting one.
You’ll also need to decide how you plan on powering your home once the solar shingles have installed. Do you have the room for a battery bank? Will you run extension cords throughout your house? Or maybe you’re planning on using a generator instead. Whatever method you choose, make sure it works with your solar system.