Solar Shingles: Affordable and practical?
We have discussed photovoltaic cells and groups of cells called modules. Now we delve a little deeper into modules and discuss a module type that has been gaining in popularity and lowering in cost: the solar shingle.
Prior to 2005, many of those who have chosen to go solar have opted for modules that bolt onto the roof or into the group, simply because solar shingles were more costly, but this has since changed. As demand has increased, the cost of input products changed and manufacturing of solar cells became more efficient, the price has decreased considerably. There are much fewer excuses for not going solar!
Can solar shingles function as regular shingles? Absolutely. The solar shingles aren’t there for vanity’s sake. They are made to withstand typical weather conditions like regular shingles. They fight against brutal storms. They are flexible and practical.
Dow Chemical Company is one of the primary manufacturers in solar shingles. The first ones appeared in 2005, but Dow has perfected the manufacturing over time and, since 2011, the price of solar shingles has dropped dramatically. Dow’s estimate that the solar shingle market value will reach almost $5 billion by 2015 and $10 billion by 2020.
Solar shingles are typically 12×86 inches and have a dark, purplish-blue color. It can sometimes be mixed intermittently with regular shingles or other special installation, and people choose this option when going solar because of its aesthetic value. Dow’s new Powerhouse line introduces new technology all the time – recently it was the Copper Indium Gallium Selenide solar cell. These are not only efficient but can mix in with the regular asphalt panels of the roof shingles.
There are significant savings in going solar. Dow reports that approximately 350 solar shingles can shave 40-60% off electricity bills. With the high cost of electricity, this adds up to huge savings. The cost of installation will pay for itself over and over again. Installations can amount to as much as $20,000, but state and federal incentives can make the cost of installation half that amount. In fact, twenty-seven states now have some pretty hefty incentives. The Federal government offers 30% tax credit with no purchasing limit on solar equipment.
Solar shingles are widely available. As of early 2014, Dow solar shingles are available in Louisiana, North Carolina, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
With the lower cost of solar shingles available in material that is more aesthetically pleasing, there’s no better time to go solar than now.