Solar Roof Shingles Vs. Solar Panels | Which Is Better?

Apr 6, 2013   //   by Russell   //   Solar Panel Questions  //  No Comments

Which is better? We answer the solar roof shingles vs. solar panels question here

Solar Roof Shingles Versus Solar PanelsThe solar cell…an amazing technological marvel…even more confusing because now it now comes in multiple forms.

Solar panels, long the choice of consumers in America and beyond now have a new choice – the solar roof shingle.

So it brings up a very interesting question many consumers are wondering about: solar roof shingles versus solar panels, which should I buy?

Solar roof shingles are looking to be the main modern power in solar technology, and a top competitor for most environmental technologies, as the shingles can be used in the average home.  However, solar panels, the predecessor to solar shingles, are still common, widely used, and an extremely effective option for saving energy.

The question is: solar roof shingles vs. solar panels, which is the better option? Obviously, this depends on what you, the homeowner, need, which can range from pricing to efficiency to home value improvement.

What are Solar Panels?

Solar panels have been around for a few decades now, and have been the primary face of solar technology.  Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells, which are cells that convert sunlight into electrical energy.

These cells are lined up to form arrays, which are connected to make a full solar panel.  Panels are assembled on a stand, usually with a solar tracker, which aims the panels in whichever direction the panels can absorb the most sunlight.

Photovoltaic cells are mainly made of silicon, which characterizes the solar panels as crystalline modules.  The solar cells used in the last eight years are primarily thin-film, which are slimmer but more durable cells that are said to produce high-efficiency and low-cost.

What are Solar Roof Shingles?

The conversion to thin-film solar cells heralded the creation of solar roof shingles, which are smaller solar modules crafted into a shingle design.  Solar roof shingles can either replace roof shingles or snap-on to other roof shingles, and the thin-film design, which was the most successful design, was first sold in 2005.

Silicon thin-film shingles did have their share of problems though.  Even though they sold well back then, they still were not as efficient as solar panels.

Luckily, CIGS cells were created in 2008 to replace silicon; CIGS cells improve on the design of silicon, and are geared to make a better solar converter.  Dow Powerhouse designed a solar shingle specifically geared to use CIGS cells; their design has a high conversion rating and is durable.

Solar Roof Shingles vs Solar Panels: Which is the Better Product?

Even though solar panels are a predecessor to solar roof shingles, solar panels are still a highly competitive product, especially since solar roof shingles are only eight years old and were not as efficient as solar panels for a time. In the solar roof shingles vs. solar panels debate, solar panels have the edge on experience and durability. Some of them have been known to last over 30 years. Solar shingles on the other hand may not last that long – but as the average life span of a roof is 25-30 years, the best estimates are that they will last just as long.

Solar panels are rating around 20% sunlight converted to electrical energy, and now Dow’s solar roof shingle is matching this rating, older solar shingles rating slightly lower.  However, companies such as CertainTeed and SunPower release solar shingles and solar panels, respectively, and are well-selling products.

Dow’s solar roof shingles are highly rated, backed by the U.S. Department of Energy (who created CIGS cells) and various solar roofing companies, who are selling and installing Dow solar shingles to their respective clientele throughout the country.  Solar roofing companies are not limited to selling solar shingles; even Dow’s highly anticipated solar shingles.

Roofing companies also are selling solar panels from companies such as SunPower, as these panels still maintain a high conversion rating for a relatively low-cost.  However, many companies are showing preference to Dow’s shingle, as not only do the shingles work efficiently as an energy provider, they also provide a good look and a good shingle for any home.

So which is better for you in the solar roof shingles vs. solar panels debate?

Only your solar installation company can really tell you – so call us if you have questions at 508-428-1133. We’ll be happy to answer your questions or just fill out our contact form as well.

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