With the recent trend toward concern about the environment and energy conservation, homeowners are now looking for ways to reduce their energy costs and utilize more environmentally-friendly solutions when it comes to building projects. Photovoltaic roof shingles are one method of energy cost offset that has recently come into the public eye as a viable solution.
The idea is to harness solar power when it can be accumulated, while also providing the same level of weather-resistance and aesthetic appeal that typical roof shingles have.
In the past, homeowners were restricted to using photovoltaic roof panels to gain solar energy, which were both costly and awkward to install. The remedy? The latest generation of photovoltaic roof shingles – not panels – that look almost exactly like regular shingles.
What Are the Benefits?
There are a number of advantages that can be gained from using these roof shingles. Foremost is that these shingles produce energy without creating excess pollution or carbon emissions, unlike other fossil fuels. While the shingles are collecting sunlight – “in operation” – they produce absolutely no noise as well, and are infinitely renewable as long as the sun still shines.
In terms of tangible benefits, depending on how sunny the area is that’s lived in, homeowners can literally save up to 60% per month on their energy bills. The power from the PV shingles can be used in two ways: you can connect them to your home directly, or they can be connected to the utility power grid. Although that may sound like a disadvantage, connecting them to a utility grid can actually save other costs – such as the expense for an electricity storage device.
The PV shingles have the same durability, flexibility, and protection against the elements that ordinary shingles do, and they’re lightweight at the same time. You save cost on some roofing material, since additional layers underneath are not required, and the installation cost for the shingles is quite low. For that matter, if you’re an experienced roofer, you might be able to install them yourself – however, make sure you check with your local bylaws concerning PV material installation.
Are Photovoltaic Shingles Right For You?
In order to get the most out of your PV shingles, you need to have a roof that doesn’t get shade between the hours of 9am and 4pm each day – and the best roof orientation is facing south. If your roof isn’t facing south, you can lose up to 15% in annual energy collection, so it’s worth considering the pros and cons when looking into these shingles.
Another benefit is that you don’t need to use photovoltaic shingles on your entire roof – for a small home, a clear area of 10 x 12 works best, increasing as the size of home increases. They need to be installed on an area of roof that’s flat and free of obstructions like a chimney or vent – however, since the shingles are now made to look like regular roof shingles, it won’t look awkward to have a large section of roof with a different product on top.
One of the biggest barriers to PV roof shingle use, however, is cost. Naturally, you’ll have to spend more money on the initial purchase and installation of the shingles than you’d pay for regular roofing products, but the long-term benefit is that eventually the supplies will pay for themselves, and you’ll begin to save money each month from the reduced energy usage.
Many local governments also provide incentive programs for installing PV systems, so it’s a good idea to look into the potential rebates or tax credits that PV roof homeowners are eligible for.