BIPV is a quickly growing sector of the global solar market. Transparency Market Research expects this area to grow by 18.7% by 2019, reaching 1.15 GW. One BIPV product picking up popularity is the solar shingle.
By nature of their design, solar shingles are primarily geared for the residential market, said Josh Wimble, communications manager at Dow Solar, manufacturer of the Powerhouse Solar Shingle. This is because sloped shingle and tile rooftops are most often found on single-family homes.
Solar shingles not only look aesthetically pleasing, they also serve a function outside powering the house. Apollo, a solar shingle developed by building products manufacturer CertainTeed, is designed with waterproofing capabilities.
“The Apollo panels generate electricity from the PV cells and also function as the roof itself by shedding water just like the surrounding shingles or tiles, so you don’t have to install a roof underneath it,” said Mark Stancroff, director at CertainTeed.
“Solar shingles increase the integrity of the roof over conventional panels by having 10 times fewer roof penetrations and greatly reducing wind uplift concerns,” added Wimble.
Perhaps the biggest news in solar shingle technology is the ability to integrate with a wider variety of roofing materials. Initially, solar shingles could only integrate with standard asphalt shingles. But now, Dow has developed its shingles to integrate with cedar shake, concrete and clay tile, polymer and traditional slate.
Another added benefit is that solar shingles don’t use traditional rack mounts, thus are free from configuring balance-of-system technologies into the installation. CertainTeed’s polymeric frame allows the shingle to seamlessly integrate with the roof and provides hassle-free roof replacement.
“With standard rack and panel, the entire system needs to be pulled off and reinstalled when replacing the roof. But with solar shingles, the system can stay in place and the new roof can be installed around it,” said Stancroff.
Although solar shingles are a viable option when retrofitting existing roofs, Chris Jones, commercial director at Dow Solar, said homeowners receive the greatest financial return when shingles are installed when building new or re-roofing existing homes.
“It allows a homeowner or homebuilder to install a solar array with the same roofing labor, while saving money by off-setting re-roofing material costs,” said Wimble. “With increasing simplicity, a roofing crew can be trained to install the solar shingles and do the installation in only a little more time than it takes to re-roof with ordinary shingles.”
An array of 350 shingles could reduce one’s electric bill by 40 to 60%, but it costs upward of $20,000. However, in addition to federal, state and local incentives, companies like Dow Solar and CertainTeed are finding their own ways to drive costs down and make solar shingles price-competitive with rooftop solar. For Dow, customer savings start by working closely with builders and roofers, selling kitted systems with all the necessary parts rather than pricing individual components, and giving region-based quotes that include local labor costs. SPW