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.