Solar Panels Too Ugly? Check out Solar Shingles

Despite their undeniable environmental and economic merits, rooftop solar panels are sometimes dismissed simply because the homeowner is afraid of ruining the appearance of their home (crazy right? Solar panels are beautiful!).  Fortunately, companies like Dow Solar have recognized this and developed more aesthetically pleasing Solar Shingles.

Solar Shingles are becoming more and more efficient, with continued breakthroughs in thin-film solar panels (like Copper Indium Gallium Selenide), which have increased in efficiency since 2008 from 10% to about 20% (solar efficiency expectations are much more forgiving that school grades).  Additionally, the price of solar shingles has been falling rapidly, now on par with traditionally solar panel systems with similar efficiency in many regions.

Another major difference is while solar panels typically bolt on top of an existing roof, solar shingles become a part of it.  Instead of being installed in addition to the singles they simply replace them.  They are designed protect your roof in the same way regular roof shingles do.  Dow Solar claims their solar shingles are just as weather resistant, and even back it up with a confident 20-year warranty.  The development and market infiltration of these shingles is one part of a growing trend to integrate solar energy generation seamlessly into a variety of building materials.  Other such materials coming to market are: spray-on solar films for windows, fabrics with integrated solar cells, and solar walls.  Check out some of these great products from Onyx Solar, New Energy Technologies, and Power Textiles.

Homeowners take pride in the appearance of their homes – bridging the gap between function and appearance really is necessary for wide-spread residential and commercial adoption.


3 thoughts on “Solar Panels Too Ugly? Check out Solar Shingles

  1. Reblogged this on Gourken's Brain Dump (more of a trickle actually) and commented:
    Love to see this technology get higher penetration in the market, but would also like to see some details on how effective the shingles are in northern climates where snow is an issue. Do they “shed” snow or are they basically off during the winter. Also, how well do the stand up to high winds. Thanks for a really interesting article.


    • Hi gourken, thank you so much for the repost and questions! These are definitely shared concerns regarding solar shingles. When it comes to wind and other extreme weather, the Dow shingles have been rigorously tested and have received certification from several building and safety authorities. These tests include, but are not limited to, wind, hail, and fire testing. All solar singles are required to undergo similar testing before they are permitted for installation.

      I am very impressed with manufacturers’ methods of installing the singles and I would be confident installing them on my roof. This video ( is an example of a sound installation.

      When it comes to the shingles’ interaction with snow, I have not been able to find any definitive testing or information on the performance of the singles in northern climates. Solar panels typically shed snow soon after a snow fall, and I hypothesize solar shingles would react a similar way since they have a similar, smooth surface. Perhaps it would be a good idea to install heaters at the bottom of the shingle array to ease the snow away. I would also like to see more regarding this issue.

      Thanks again for your comments!


  2. Pingback: Solar Panels Too Ugly? Check out Solar Shingles | RE Projects | WORLD ORGANIC NEWS

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