Solar Roof Tiles vs Solar Panels

Nov 17, 2014   //   by Russell   //   Solar shingles    No Comments

In the contest of solar roof tiles vs solar panels, who wins?

solar roof tiles vs solar panelsWhen it comes to environmental technology, you can’t deny that solar is one of the best to get into; the timing of solar coming into the advances of technology has allowed both solar panels and solar shingles to become some of the most common products available for homeowners and for the public sector and businesses, providing power at low costs and saving money and saving the environment. However, when comparing solar roof tiles vs solar panels to see what is the better solar technology to get, questions are raised as the two are both so common and well-running.

On the one hand, solar panels are an older technology, known to last decades, and continuously improving, as nowadays the different types of panels and accessories you can get as a solar panel system makes the overall solar panel buy a good move, and has the ability to be high-efficiency at the lowest costs possible. On the other hand, solar roof tiles are the two-for-one: the power of the solar panel with the ability to play the role of a roof tile, adding to the value and look of the home while playing the role of a solar panel; the only downsides being solar roof tiles is a newer technology.

Both solar panels and solar roof tiles are efficient at saving money and providing electricity to your home, eventually turning into an investment and allowing homeowners to join the green community in an extremely beneficial way by adding an asset to their home; however, when making the decision to get into solar, you need to decide between panels and tiles and figure out which suits your needs better. In the battle of solar roof tiles vs solar panels, which will get the job done for you? Which is more efficient, less expensive, more durable, easier to install?


Solar Technology

Solar panels and solar roof tiles have some different setups, but the general make-up of both and the attached system generally work the same; all solar technology runs from a photovoltaic cell that converts sunlight into electrical energy, and these cells link up in series to form modules, which form panels and shingles, which, in the case of panels, form arrays. In some cases, there are thermal panels that convert sunlight into thermal energy, but the more usable and more common panels are electrical, and their solar systems are geared as such.

In the case of solar arrays, they are more commonly used in government projects and bigger businesses, putting strings of solar panels onto racks or trays lined up to produce massive amounts of power; these were normally used in the earlier days of solar panel conception, when two to five solar panels were not enough to produce a lot of power or cheap enough to put on a house for the average homeowner. There are also solar panels on the ground and on rooftops on trackers, which are stands that aim the panel in such a way that the panels get the most exposure to sunlight possible.

Both solar panels and solar shingles run in direct current, a form of electricity only flowing in one direction, while housing and the grid run in alternating current, which has both positive and negative direction; therefore, there needs to be an inverter externally attached to the system to convert direct to alternating current, or the solar product needs to have one internally installed. In addition, many homeowners vouch to have some kind of battery(s) attached to the system to “store” electricity for cases like nighttime with no sunlight.


Solar Panels

Solar panels have been around for decades, being used in solar arrays for government projects and such; however, they really didn’t make the jump into the homeowner’s world until within the last twenty years, having the advance of technology to allow them to run better at lower costs. The three available types of solar panels (mono-, poly-crystalline, and thin-film) all allow for variations on what you get for a panel, and the manufacturer is a big factor as well, allowing you to potentially get a boost in what you want.

The mono- and poly-crystalline panels are the more expensive two panels but also better-running, the mono-crystalline normally running better and costing more due to the cell formation being uniform compared to the poly-crystalline.  The thin-film or amorphous, on the other hand, is lightweight, durable, and cheap, making it the perfect candidate to play the solar roof shingle, the only downside being the low efficiency.

The solar panel company is also a huge factor; for example, if you reach out to a company such as SolarCity or Westinghouse Solar for some of their award-winning panels, it’s guaranteed to tip the scale in your favor as far as getting what you want. When comparing solar roof tiles vs solar panels, solar panels have the older, more reliable technology, but what do solar roof tiles bring to the table?


Solar Roof Tiles

Solar roof tiles in the early 2000’s used the amorphous setup, and the early tiles that were sold were a marvel of an innovation but ran into quite a few problems, such as the low efficiency and issues with cracks and installation. However, two branches of solar tiles spread out: one stuck with the original silicon design, patching these tiles and getting them to run better; companies such as CertainTeed sell these shingles.

The second involved CIGS cells (copper, indium, gallium, selenide), which were developed by the Department of Energy in 2007, instilling confidence in a new future for the solar field; these cells were put into Dow Powerhouse’s new solar roof shingle design and marketed in 2012, testing almost perfectly as the new solar product. These shingles have the efficiency of well-running solar panel, durability to withstand heavy weather, low cost, fast installation, and rebates and incentives available to make the down payment almost nothing.

Both CertainTeed and Dow make solar roof tiles, but most homeowners look at Dow’s shingles as they are looking to be the new future in solar technology, and seem to have all the upsides of solar without the downsides of thin-film panels and shingles.


Comparing the Two: Solar Roof Tiles vs Solar Panels

It’s no secret that solar technology has spread in the last couple decades, and has grown exponentially, getting better at getting the job done without costing too much and growing into the world of homeowners and small businesses and becoming easier to buy into. The case of solar roof tiles vs solar panels is no different, as solar roof tiles are a product of solar panels, and the appearance is that tiles are looking to improve on panels and become the future in solar.

Both solar technologies have their respective upsides and downsides in cost, installation, and how well they run, but it appears that Dow Powerhouse’s shingles are going to be one of the best solar products available. Still, countless companies such as CertainTeed and Kyocera make some of the best solar tech available, easily getting homeowners a way to save money and produce green electricity for their home.


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