What are Solar Tiles?
Solar Power Shingles
Solar tiles (solar power shingles) are a brilliant idea for a new home. They can also be considered as a replacement for roof shingles when the existing shingles come of age. The idea is to shape solar panels like roof tiles. Not only the photovoltaic tiles are shaped like shingles, they also fit seamlessly into the existing frame and comply to the standards used for laying tiles.
What are the required mechanical features?
The following are the mechanical features you need to look into when you consider solar shingles:
- Can the solar powered shingles be integrated and blend seamlessly into any Flat or S-Tile roof?
- Resilience to wind, rain, hail and storms
What are the required electrical features?
The following are the electrical related features you need to look into:
- How much power in watts per square foot can the solar power tile supply?
- What is the cost per one watt capacity?
- What is the warranty time?
The advantages of solar power shingles
The following are advantages of photovoltaic tiles, regardless of the manufacturer
- Ease of installation: Fitted to standardwooden battens using traditional roofingpractice.
- No specialist skills: Designed to be installed by a roofing contractor
- Not only easy to fit as traditional tiles, all the electrical wiring is inside the house (the solar power inverter can be fitted into the attic, shorter wires between the tiles and the inverter can be use and there is no need to go through the roof)
- Like solar panels, photovoltaic shingles have no moving parts, therefore they are extremely reliable and they feature long life
- An extra bonus, since they are flash mounted with the ordinary tiles, the shading from upper roof tiles is reduced (shading and partial shading reduce the effectiveness of solar panels and may affect the operation of the DC to AC solar inverter)
- Use of solar tiles saves the burden of add on solar panels array on the roof
Solar Tiles Disadvantages?
The first claimed disadvantage is that solar power tiles are tilted the same as the roof. This might not be the optimum slope to achieve maximum power generation. As an answer to this claim:
- In most cases, solar panels are mounted following the existing slope anyway (to avoid installing a post on the roof)
- Flash mounted solar shingles reduce or even eliminate partial shading. Partial shading had an adverse effect on the efficiency of the MPPT solar power inverter.
The second claimed disadvantage is price. If you take into account the saving in buying legacy tiles, saving in roofer time, ease of maintenance and overall reliability, this claim is dubious.
Thin film solar powered tiles
Recently, thin-film solar cell technologies were adopted to be used in solar shingles and solar tiles. The advantages are in a better match to the normal appearance, more cost effective production and lighter weight. Each shingle alone does not produce a lot of electricity but combining the power of many, adequate level of power generation is achieved. You can expect each tile to produce close to 50 Watts, so to get 2,000 Watt production you would need 40 tiles. The life span expectancy is 20 to 30 years, much longer than the time it would take for the solar tiles to pay back the initial cost. The payback time dependence obviously on interest rate and the price of electricity, in the US the federal government rebate 30% of the cost through federal energy tax rebates and states tax benefits
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