What New Roofing System Should I Get Before Installing Solar Panels?

“Is my roof suitable for solar panels?” You have probably asked yourself this question if you’ve been considering a photovoltaic system for your home.

Luma Solar Roof
source: Luma Solar

The good news is that you can install solar panels on almost any roof, as long as they have a suitable racking system.

For example, you can use clamps if you have a standing seam metal roof, or penetrating mounts for shingle and tile roofs. Ballasted mounts are also viable if you have a flat roof, although this is less common in residential settings.

Having an asbestos roof is one of the main factors that can limit the use of solar panels. While the installation is technically possible, most solar contractors will decline this type of work due to the health risks involved.

The fibers released when drilling asbestos can be extremely hazardous if inhaled, and this is not only a health risk for installers, but also for anyone living in the home. Asbestos can stay in your body for years without symptoms, and then cause severe lung issues without warning.

Even if you have an asbestos-free roofing system, you need to consider three important things about solar panels:

Read more

3-in-1 Solar Roof Cost & Comparisons – The Ultimate Guide

A 3-in-1 solar roof gets its name because it has been designed to accomplish three functions: insulation, protection, and solar power generation. – This means you can get a roofing system capable of withstanding harsh weather conditions like hurricane winds and hail, while helping you save energy in two ways:

By providing insulation, the insulation baked into the 3-in-1 roof makes indoor spaces more comfortable while reducing your heating and cooling costs. At the same time, 3-in-1 roof tiles generate electricity with built-in photovoltaic cells, lowering your monthly power bills.

When using the 3-in-1 roof, you also get a wide variety of design options. There are many shingle types and colors available, so you can choose a roof design that matches the rest of your home.

You can also choose between exposed solar shingles, which have a higher productivity, or you can cover them with a semi-transparent layer that matches the shingle design.

When the photovoltaic cells are covered, their productivity decreases slightly but they become completely invisible, blending in with the rest of the roof.

Solar roofs are part of a broad product category called building integrated photovoltaics or BIPV.

Unlike traditional solar panels, which are attached to the roof structure using a racking system, BIPV products are designed to become part of your building.

Read more

BiPV Solar Shingles Cost vs. PV Solar Panels on Traditional Rooftops

Wait, What’s A Solar Shingle?

The technical acronym: BiPV stands for Building Integrated Photovoltaics. Simply put, embedding solar cell technology into building materials. For our purposes, we stick to roofing materials, or what is known as the solar shingle and/or solar tile. Especially, since these are the type of BiPV products being designed for the residential roofing and solar market.

If needing a quick refresher on solar technology (the PV part of the equation), see our piece on solar panels. There we note that solar tech is moving in a direction to product “enough electricity to power not just a few appliances, but an entire home, including transportation.” Here, we’ll show you how.

Difference between the Solar Shingles and Panels

First key difference is size. Panels are, or can be, huge. This translates into more solar modules (and cells) being installed on the roof than a shingle can currently offer.

Which leads to the next difference, power. A solar shingle produces around 15 to 60 watts, while a crystalline PV panel, typically 18 sq. ft. generates about 250 watts.

High efficiency solar panels from companies like LG, Panasonic, and SunPower can generate up to 400 watts per panel. In general, this means that a residential PV solar panel system will produce more electricity than a BiPV shingle system.

Then there’s the elegance factor. Not only are panels big and powerful, they’re big and cumbersome. They are adhered to a roof after careful surveying to make sure the structure of the (whole) house can handle the weight. Usually rack mounted, so they stand out above the roof surface. Noticeably stand out.

Solar shingles are usually near flush with the existing roof structure and becoming more of an option to be the actual roof structure with a beauty that mimics traditional roofing.

At the time of this writing, solar shingles have a metallic finish that is distinguishable from the rest of your roof, but still less noticeable than panels.

The bottom-line difference is that currently panels are more efficient and cost effective than shingles.

While shingles are more aesthetically pleasing and gaining traction to be the primary way anyone would choose to do solar power generation on their own residence.

Read more