There are several varieties of solar shingles, including shingle-sized solid panels that take the place of a number of conventional shingles in a strip, semi-rigid designs containing several silicon solar cells that are sized more like conventional shingles, and newer systems using various thin film solar cell technologies that match conventional shingles both in size and flexibility.
Commercial solar shingles were first available in 2005. In a 2009 interview with Reuters, a spokesperson for the Dow Chemical Company estimated that their entry into the solar shingle market would generate $5 billion in revenue by 2015 and $10 billion by 2020. The first location the Dow solar shingles became available was in Colorado, in October 2011.
Solar shingles are photovoltaic modules, capturing sunlight and transforming it into electricity. Most solar shingles are 12 by 86 inches (300 by 2,180 mm) and can be stapled directly to the roofing cloth. When applied they have a 5 by 86 inches (130 by 2,180 mm) strip of exposed surface. Different models of shingles have different mounting requirements. Some can be applied directly onto roofing felt intermixed with regular asphalt shingles while others may need special installation.
Solar shingled roofs have a deep, dark, purplish-blue color, and therefore look similar to other roofs in most situations. Homeowners may prefer solar shingles because they avoid having large panels on their roofs.
Older solar shingle designs were more expensive to install than traditional PV panels, but new, more efficient designs such as thin-film copper indium gallium selenide (CuInxGa(1-x)Se2) cells can be installed in 10 hours, compared with the 22 to 30 hours required for the installation of traditional panels. The lower cost of installation dramatically reduces the cost of solar power implementation.
All photovoltaic power is produced in the form of direct current (DC). The standard in homes is alternating current (AC). Therefore part of the cost of installation of solar shingles is the price of an inverter to convert DC to AC.
The most inexpensive way to install solar shingles is to use the grid as a backup source of electricity. Backup storage, in the form of batteries, is expensive, adds complexity to the installation, and is uneconomic in any large scale. Battery backup units require an array of additional hardware. This includes batteries, battery enclosures, battery charge controllers, and separate sub panels for critical load circuits. However, grid power is only useful as a backup system if it is available when solar power is not.
Companies that make solar shingles available in the United States: Dow, CertainTeed, Sun Energy Engineering, Atlantis Energy Systems (asphalt and slate systems), OkSolar.com., and Integrated Solar Technology (SunTegra Solar Roof Systems),.
Former companies include Uni-Solar, which filed for bankruptcy in 2012, and Pfleiderer-Dachziegelwerke.
- Goldstein, Matthew (2009-10-05). "Dow to sell solar shingle, sees huge market". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
- List of Solar Roof Shingle Manufacturers.
- Solar Shingles
- "Dow Powerhouse". Dow. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
- CertainTeed Apollo line
- Sun Energy Engineering
- Atlantis Energy Systems
- Integrated Solar Technology (SunTegra Solar Roof Systems)
- Lenardic, Denis (3/7/2013). "Roof-integrated Photovoltaic Modules". Retrieved 1 December 2014. Check date values in: