Move Over Racked Solar Panels, Solar Shingles Are The New Kid On The Block
Are Cumbersome Solar Panels a Thing of the Past?
Early adopters of solar technology have been installing solar panels to rooftops of residential homes for a number of years now, most of which at a relatively steep cost. But as supply and demand for alternative energy sources continues to rise, the price tag has started to fall and companies are looking to introduce products that are easier on the eyes.
To date, the biggest challenges slowing the use of solar in residential roofing have been cost and aesthetic appeal. Many roofing solar systems available today require large racks to be bolted to the roof and set up by specially trained installers. Both of which not only add to the cost of such systems, but also detract from architectural design of the roof.
Integrating Solar Into Building Materials
Companies on the leading edge of solar manufacturing for residential use are now investing more R&D dollars into Building-Integrated Photovoltaics
, or BIPV’s. BIPV’s combine solar cell technology with building materials like slate, metal, fiber cement and asphalt shingles. By doing so, companies investing in them hope to make BIPV’s not only serve dual purpose as building materials and an energy source, but ultimately lower the overall cost through simplified installation and increase the aesthetics of the final product.
Introducing The Solar Shingle
The Dow POWERHOUSE Solar Shingle
In October of 2009, the Dow Chemical Company
unveiled the Dow POWERHOUSE Solar Shingle
as a ‘revolutionary’
new BIPV product. So what makes this product so revolutionary
First, it's a residential shingle – in both its installation technique and in the roofing protection it provides. In addition, it generates solar electricity by integrating solar cells into the design. In other words, the shingle is the solar panel, and the solar panel is the shingle.
Utilizing a $17.8 million tax credit from the U.S. Department of Energy
, Dow plans to bring these shingles to mass-market at a cost 10 to 40 percent less than other solar roofing alternatives. In addition, because the Powerhouse Solar Shingle does not require specialized installation, it will open opportunities for builders and professional roofing contractors to expand their service offerings. The new solar shingle is simply nailed to the roof decking alongside the asphalt shingles and only needs a final connection to be made by a qualified electrician.
Also entering the market with similar BIPV residential roofing products is CertainTeed, who has paired up with Uni-Solar and created the EnerGen Photovoltaic Solar Roofing System.
CertainTeed EnerGen Solar Roofing System
When Will They Be Available
In a press release
last week, the Dow Chemical Company announced that they would begin looking to fill 100 new full-time positions created to ramp up the production of the Dow POWERHOUSE Solar Shingle at their plant in Midland, Michigan
. The company plans to have the Dow POWERHOUSE Solar Shingles on U.S. homes sometime in 2011.
In the meantime, you can check out the solar shingle in action on Michigan’s First Net Zero Home