Among the many forms of energy being considered to replace traditional fossil fuel power plants, solar shingles are an option which can be installed directly on your roof. Despite the controversy over man-made global warming, there are many other clear reasons to consider alternative energy sources, including economic reasons. Presented here is a discussion of the pros and cons of solar shingles.
Solar power is important because, unlike traditional fossil fuel based power plants, solar energy is clean and renewable. Though considered by engineers to be a developing technology in need of refinement, there is no question that solar photovoltaic technology works here in the present; the high prices of oil today are making this option more attractive by the day.
What Are Solar Shingles?
Solar shingles are photovoltaic cells, devices which convert incident sunlight directly into electricity, made to resemble traditional roofing shingles. As such, the chief advantage of solar shingles over conventional solar panels is their ability to provide the benefits of solar panels while still providing favorable aesthetics.
The other pros and cons are of solar shingles include the economic payoff over time, environmental benefits, possible insurance against power outages, and added complexity to your home.
Solar roof panels can seem like either a good financial deal or a bad one from different perspectives, though in reality it is better to think of them as a long-term investment. While installing solar panels on your roof incurs a high initial cost, they eventually pay for themselves, and in fact can become profitable after a certain time. Solar panels will generally save you money on your electric bills as long as they are operable, even if you don’t see your meter running backwards all day long (though this has been known to happen).
Solar Shingle Setups
As an aside solar shingles wired to the electric grid, electric utilities are legally required to pay you for energy you feed into the grid in many areas. While investor owned public utilities are legally required to allow users to feed energy back into the grid for a credit, there are energy cooperatives in rural areas exempt from this law. It is always wise to consult your local electric utility before installing solar shingles.
Another type of solar shingle setup employs a large pack of batteries to store excess energy during periods in which production exceeds usage, using battery power to run your home when production is less than consumption. This type of system may allow you to retain power when your local utility is experiencing a power outage.
While it may be instructive to consider the success of solar energy in Germany, a country not known for year-round sunny days, the amount of sunlight typical to where you live clearly makes a difference. Though the local energy crisis in California plays a role, the sunlight received by the southern part of the state makes solar power very popular in that region.
Either type of system has the disadvantage of added machinery (such as a DC to AC inverter) and more complex wiring of your home. The services of an electrician are needed to wire such a system, whether it is grid-tied or employs a battery pack, and you may incur difficulties alien to typical grid-connected homes should anything go wrong with your setup. As with all electrical systems, there are dangers associated with the hardware associated with either type of setup.
Though the decision to install solar shingles at your home is a personal one, informed by your own beliefs, finances, location, and many other factors, it is also a decision which must be carefully considered. If you are considering such a decision, the information presented here may help to inform your decision making process.