Put your rooftop shingles to work for ya? Now thin-film photovoltaic (PV) cells can doubling as roof shingles. Now solar roof shingles harness the sunlight to generate electricity and can power your home.
The use of Solar is making a strong comeback propelled by a combination of federal and state tax incentives. There's a growing desire of fed-up homeowners to lower their utility bills, and major concerns over our dwindling natural resources. This combined with the presidential warnings to start eliminating our national addiction to oil so the clock is ticking.
One of the biggest reasons for solar powers renewed popularity has to do with the visual appeal of the solar panels themselves. Back in the 70s, using solar meant mounting huge panels with large racks that were placed on your roof. Not so visually appealing.
In recent years the solar industry has become savvy, and now offers many visually appealing options for you. One of which is solar-powered shingles that blend easily with traditional roofing materials. These are called "building-integrated photovoltaics," or BIPVs for short and they combine solar cells with slate, metal, fiber-cement, even asphalt roofing.
Electricity is generated when the sun strikes a semiconductor layer, typically crystalline silicon, laminated to the shingle's surface. One shingle alone does not produce a great deal of power, only about 50 and 200 watts, which is sufficient to run a window fan. But when you put hundreds of square feet of them together you can generate enough electricity to power your whole house.
The shingles are installed over new or existing roof sheathing, then an electrician (or trained roofer) wires the units together and connects them into your home's electrical system.
Going solar does not mean you have to cut ties to your local supply grid. Most BIPV systems work with existing power lines so you can have electrical service in the late evening and on rainy days.
Also, if you generate more power than you actually need you can sell the excess watts to the utility company and even receive a check. There are even federal tax breaks like the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which gives homeowners a credit of 30 percent, or up to $ 2,000, toward the cost of a system.
What this boils down to is solar roof shingles are visually appealing, they are efficient, and will save you money. The one draw back to solar roof shingles is the initial investment and the ROI does take a bit of time to recoup. There are other DIY solar power kits which are dirt cheap and you can make them for less than $ 200. You may want to investigate these if you don't want to spend much money and want the benefits of solar power. One thing is certain, solar power is growing in popularity again due to it's visual appeal, lower costs and the savings in moola it will bring you.