How Solar Shingles Can Shrink Your Electricity Bill?

Solar shingles are back in fashion – and with a bang! Here’s why solar shingles have caught the fancy of home owners all over again. Federal and State Governments offer attractive subsidies for home owners who harness clean, green energy sources into their buildings. Cutting down on energy costs in an economy of rising fuel and power costs appeals to the inherent frugality of many consumers. And some of us are genuinely motivated by the idea of keeping the environment clean, healthy and safe for future generations.

While all these factors have powered the comback of solar shingles, there is one engineering feat that has sustained the revolution. Where older solar panels and solar shingles were the size of billiard tables and were placed on cumbersome racks atop your building, modern solar shingles are an aesthetic delight and technical marvel. Incorporating complex circuitry right within the material that makes up the shingle – asphalt, slate, asbestos or other – the shingles match the design and color of the building while being energy efficient at the same time.

Installing Solar Shingles

Solar shingles are installed in the same way as traditional roofing shingles. The building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) technology allows sunlight striking the roof to directly generate solar power which is harnessed and used right away, stored in capacitors for later, or even sold back to the power company in the form of credits against a household’s energy bills. Once the solar shingles are laid, an electrician must hook up the wires together and plug them into the existing electrical system in the building.

So how much energy can be generated by solar shingles? While the power generated by single solar roof tiles may not be enough to power more than a 100 watt lightbulb for an hour or run a window fan for a few more, the collective effect of many solar shingles can easily power an entire household’s needs for a day. This does not mean that a solar shingle powered building will not need regular electrical energy. Typically, solar shingles will be supplemented by conventional power grid driven energy which kicks in towards the evenings as solar generated power drops, or during cloudy weather or cold seasons.

Cost of Solar Shingles Generated Power

How expensive is it to install a solar shingles powered roof and what do solar shingles cost? A 2 kilo-watt BIPV system that’s installed on your roof can cost around $15,000. But that’s not your actual expense. Federal tax rebates will slash nearly $2,000 of this cost, and the savings on your electrical bills will further decrease your effective financial outlay. Most solar shingle roofs will easily pay for themselves in a very short time span.

Is solar shingle derived power really cheap? Not at the moment. The cost of the power generated by solar shingles will depend upon the intensity and duration of sunlight your building receives. This means the same system in a home that’s located in a sunny area like New Mexico will throw off more power than one in the northern United States. However, since a large part of your cost savings come from cutting down on your energy and utilities bills, you may find that you actually save more from the lesser power generated in a city like Boston simply because the rates charged by your electricity company are much higher.

Solar shingles technology is going mainstream. Cost may not be a major limiting factor for much longer. The cost of power generated from solar shingles has gone down by almost 70% since the 1970s and is steadily decreasing. Research into how to make solar panels that are more effective and systems that laminate solar shingles to embed photovoltaic (PV) cells within semi-transparent glass panels sounds promising, and may soon lead to solar powered super-skylights!

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