95% of all households in America currently have asphalt shingles on their roof. These fossil fuel burning, heat absorbing, short-life span shingles are one of the cheapest forms of roofing around. Some people who are considering putting on a new roof are considering solar shingles. They should think again and consider the solar power economics!
What’s the buzz about solar shingles?
Solar shingles are similar to traditional solar PV cells in that they also contain semiconductor based devices, which convert sunshine directly into electrical current. The one addition that solar shingles bring to the table is improved aesthetics.
The main draw to solar shingles within the solar power marketplace comes from the buyers who look to have an alternative to what some may deem to be unattractive rooftop racking units. Despite what seems to be an attractive proposition, solar shingles have considerable performance and financial issues that all solar customers must know.
It’s going to cost how much?
When you initially find the cost to install solar shingles, your first reaction would undoubtedly be some version of “wow, now that’s a low price!” But, this is an illusion. By simply focusing on a low upfront cost, you would be setting yourself up for a VERY LONG PAYBACK.
Why would you choose to have a significantly longer economic payoff relative to using traditional, proven solar panel technology? This reason alone should be enough to dissuade a potential solar customer from this unproven technology.
Longer Payback and Bad Solar Power Economics
With each solar shingle being much less efficient then a normal polysilicon panel, you would have to install shingles on a much larger roof area cover a reasonable amount of your current electricity usage. Solar shingles are also vulnerable to hail and damage from strong winds, inevitably raising your home insurance. Clearly, you ultimately want to have more efficient panels per square foot, allowing for better solar panel economics, despite the seemingly lower initial cost of solar shingles.
Less Efficient with Poor Solar Panel Economics
For solar shingles to actually work to their full efficiency and achieve optimal solar power economics, they need to be put on a roof at a perfect angle to catch the sun. Many roofs are not angled optimally for solar shingles. With traditional solar systems, there is more availability to customize the pitch of the solar array to optimize production and solar panel economics.
Stick With What You Know
Aesthetics do hold an important place in the decision making process, but at the end of the day, it’s not worth making a bad investment that reduces solar power economics. Today’s solar panels are not the old school bulky panels you may be envisioning. A modern day solar system is sleek and attractive. Ultimately, solar shingles are a new technology that brings a lot of promise to the industry, but they are not ready for prime time.