Many people hesitate to go solar because they imagine bulky, conspicuous solar panels squatting on their roof. Others are concerned that strict homeowners' associations would put up a fight. If that sounds familiar, solar roofing may be a good alternative. Consisting of solar roof tiles that interlock with your existing tiles, it offers all the benefits of panels in a more aesthetic form. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about solar rooftops to get you started.
1. What is the difference between solar panels and solar roofing? Solar panels are rigid, glass covered modules that are mounted on racks above your existing roof. Solar roofing is composed of roof tiles with photovoltaic elements that interlock with your existing roof tiles. As an integral part of your roof, they produce power and protect your home from the elements at the same time. Multi-tasking at its best!
2. What are the advantages of solar roofing? Solar roof tiles combine functionality with aesthetics. Because tiles can closely mimic the shape and sometimes the color of your existing tile, they do not change the silhouette of your roof and are far less conspicuous from the road. Homeowners' associations and historical societies that disapprove of traditional solar panels are much more likely to allow solar roofing.
3. What are the disadvantages? As you might expect, solar roof tiles tend to be more expensive and complex to install than solar panels. Because your solar installer will be taking up part of your existing roof, you'll want to make extra sure that he is reliable and has the certifications and warranties to back up the work. Solar roofing is also less efficient than solar panels, which means that you'll need more roof space to generate the same amount of power.
4. Are there solar roof tiles that match my existing tiles? Very likely, although it's hard to say for sure without seeing your tiles. Solar roof tiles come in a wide variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. The chances are extremely good that there's a high quality solar tile out there that matches your house well. This is a good question to ask a solar consultant!
5. What should I ask an installer I'm considering? Solar roofing, which is also known as building-integrated photovoltaics, requires a higher level of experience and expertise to achieve a good end result. You'll want to choose an installer who has plenty of experience with solar roofing, has a contractor's license, and is certified by NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners). A stable company with a long history is much more likely to be around in the next ten or twenty years to back up all warranties.