The latest on solar shingles, solar roofs and solar tiles
There are many words that are used to describe unconventional solar photovoltaic technologies used on rooftops. Within the ‘applied to construction’ category, basically anything other than traditional solar panels attached to racks, terms like solar roofs, solar roof tiles, and solar tiles are becoming more common, especially after Elon Musk and Tesla announced their solar roof idea in 2016.While the Tesla solar roof has yet to show a successful application, aside from some pilot installations, there are many solar products applied to construction on the market right now for homeowners looking for something other than status quo of solar energy.
Rackless solar systems
There are two building solar veterans who make what they call solar shingles, but they can best be described as small rectangular solar panels that install without traditional racking systems. CertainTeed Apollo II solar shingles are installed alongside asphalt shingles. The 63W monocrystalline solar panels are approximately 46 inches long and 17 inches wide, larger than asphalt shingles but smaller than traditional solar panels. SunTegra has two products applied to construction, which also use monocrystalline solar panels that are larger than the surrounding tiles. The SunTegra shingle is approximately 52 inches long and 20 inches wide and has an index of 110 W. The SunTegra shingle is also approximately 52 inches long but 14 inches wide and produces 70 W. CertainTeed and SunTegra products are bonded to the covered roof for a stylish solar look that is often not achieved with raised shelves.
GAF Energy has a solar system that connects similarly to the roof. GAF Energy’s DecoTech system installs full-size solar panels without traditional shelving in the middle of a roof, while normal asphalt shingles are still used along the perimeter. The GAF Energy system offers an understated aesthetic with a more traditional solar power output.
Dow was a leader in “solar shingles” until it exited the business in 2016. The original Dow Powerhouse product used CIGS thin film solar cells mounted on the roof deck, with traditional shingles or shingles around the perimeter. One of the biggest problems with Dow’s design was that the thin-film solar cells got very hot with poor ventilation so close to the roof, so energy production decreased. In 2017, national solar installer RGS Energy bought Dow’s Powerhouse brand and began marketing improved solar tiles, this time made with monocrystalline solar cells. The 41-inch one. long, 13 in. The 3.0-wide Powerhouse solar panels have been rated at approximately 55 W. RGS Energy announced in 2019 that it was exiting its residential installation arm to focus exclusively on Powerhouse solar shingle sales.
One company still testing the CIGS thin-film route is flexible panel maker Sunflare. The company brought prototypes of four-cell solar roof tiles to Solar Power International 2018 and expects to have a finished product by 2021 (as confirmed to Solar Power World). Looking at the shingle prototypes, it’s unclear whether the product would be installed with traditional roof shingles or as a full roof, but Sunflare said it will focus on new roof installations.
Solar shingles and tiles
When solar shingles and solar shingles are sized to resemble traditional roofing products, the result can be a more uniformly designed sunroof. Luma Solar designs custom solar roofs, using 54 inches. long and 15 in. 65W wide polycrystalline solar panels (or 75W monocrystalline panels) connected together for all ceiling light. Metal panels of similar size are used along the perimeter of the roof or where solar cells cannot function. Luma solar shingles blend with non-solar metal panels for a uniform look.
DeSol Power Tiles It also has a sunroof but uses individual polypropylene shingles in a similar way to traditional shingles. A full roof is installed, with some of the shingles embedded with 17W monocrystalline solar cells. The shingles are bolted to battens on the plywood level of the roof. The roof has a uniform design, although solar tiles are brighter than solid polymer tiles.
Hanergy is launching two CIGS thin film solar tile products: the curved HanTile and the flat thin film flat SOLARtile. Both are installed between other plates not generating solar energy. HanTile roof installation obviously less like solar energy than flat tiles.
Tesla’s solar roof -If we see more installations soon, it is definitely the most aesthetically pleasing solar tile option. The company is manufacturing solar cells hidden behind tempered glass, and matching non-solar tiles are used along the edge of the roof. Tesla tiles are 14 inches long and roughly 8.5 inches wide, with an unknown power output. The solar panels are manufactured at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Buffalo, New York, which it also shares with Panasonic. The sunroof tiles are supposed to use Panasonic’s crystalline silicon cell technology. Like other true solar and shingle products, Tesla solar shingles replace an entire roof, so other more traditional shingles are not used.
Forward, another Silicon Valley wannabe, has a unique solarized roof product that is not solar shingles or rooftop solar panels. The company claims to make what it calls “solar roof panels” – long, thin monocrystalline silicon solar panels that (in the case of Forward’s metal roof offering) have optically enhanced glass fronts to camouflage on the roof or ( In the case of the Forward roof offer tile) they have individual glass tiles on top that concentrate the sun’s rays. The sunroof panels, which have traditional aluminum frames, polymer-based backsheet, and junction boxes, measure approximately 21.5 inches. wide and can be up to 18 to 20 feet long, all customized to the size of the individual home’s roof, Forward CEO Zach Taylor told Solar Power World. The solar panels cannot be seen from the ground, and the roof looks like a normal metal or tile roof, with the invisible added benefit of solar generation.
It is unknown how many actual Forward sunroofs have been completed in the San Francisco Bay Area since installation began in July 2018, and no photos of the roofs are available for publication. Solar Power World spoke to the company about its solar production methods, but cannot confirm whether the installations have been completed.