Swiss company Freesuns is designing solar panels with aesthetics in mind. These solar roof tiles allow homeowners to reap the benefits of household solar energy without altering the roof’s appearance.
Solar shingles, also called building-integrated photovoltaics, utilize traditional solar technology and allow homeowners to store excess solar energy in batteries or sell the excess energy back to the grid through net metering.
In addition, the panels come in different shapes and sizes, which give buyers more flexibility than the obtrusive standard solar panel. The technology also may be used on various dwellings and commercial businesses, including historical sites.
According to SunStyle, another company offering solar roofing shingle installations, the DOW Chemical Company first introduced solar shingle technology in the early 2000s to blend traditional asphalt roofing with up-and-coming solar demand. Early adopters were European, but the technology spread to the United States within a few years. Tesla has been running its Solar Roof program since 2016, though installation rates have reportedly been low thus far largely due to costs and competition from GAF Energy’s Timberline Solar roofing system.
This impressive solar technology has numerous benefits for homeowners beyond aesthetics.
As Forbes has reported, solar shingles are about the same size as traditional roofing shingles. They are made from copper indium gallium selenide — a high-efficiency semiconductor with a 10% to 12% conversion efficiency rate. Monocrystalline silicon shingles are even more efficient and have an efficiency rate of 15% to 20%.
Homeowners may choose solar shingles over solar panels to maintain the appearance of their roofs and work around fixtures like chimneys. Solar shingles require very little maintenance and hold up well to the weather.
Solar shingles can be especially useful in areas where homeowners want to preserve the character and cohesiveness of a neighborhood while also generating solar electricity. The solar shingle’s discreet design may also allow homeowners in more aesthetically restrictive areas, such as ones governed by homeowners associations, to adopt solar technology to power their everyday lives without disrupting curb appeal.
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