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.