The home energy revolution began in the 1970s with classical solar modules – what you
probably call solar panels. For the next few decades, homeowners who were interested in
harnessing the abundant, free energy which bombarded their rooftops every day would need
to rely on solar arrays composed of these modules. On average, a home solar system in Georgia
is composed of about 10-15 of these modules. These typical arrays can cover a sizeable chunk
of square footage up on the rooftop.
Solar modules and solar shingles are both a great way to generate your own renewable energy
to power your home. They are both innovative technologies which require very little
maintenance on your part and, after installation, they both work great to harness the free
energy that the sun provides daily. Both will power your home with sunlight during the day
(even on cloudy days!) and, what’s more, both have the capability to power your home with
sunlight at night and during grid blackouts if they are connected to battery storage options.
Both have user friendly monitoring systems where you can use your computer or phone to
watch your system’s output performance in real time (and over your systems entire lifetime).
What is most exciting is that both pay for themselves over the lifetime of the system in the
form of energy cost savings for any property on which they are installed.
So what’s the difference? Most people exploring home solar are no doubt familiar with a classic
array. A large, black plane fixed to the roof, yet separate from its composition and made of
panels roughly 2.5×4 feet. In contrast, solar shingles are a part of the rooftop itself. A classical
solar array can be spotted as soon as you are within viewing distance of the rooftop it sits on. A
roof outfitted with solar shingles is not so obvious. Often people will not even notice the solar
shingles if the rest of the roof is made of a similarly dark material like tar or asphalt shingles.
The dimensions of a solar shingle can vary. Tesla shingles have undergone quite a
transformation during their development cycle. At first, solar shingles were typically the same
size as a classic roofing shingle. Now, they are larger. Solar shingles are oblong rectangles about
1.5×4 feet in dimension.
Sleekness of design is not the only benefit of a solar shingle roof in comparison to a solar array.
Because the solar shingles adhere to closely to the structure of your roof top, they act as an
extra layer of protection for your home. For example, Tesla solar shingles come with a warranty
guaranteeing your solar shingles will remain in place and offer protection against wind and rain
for 25 years or more. In addition, solar shingles offer enhanced durability for your roof in the
face of objects like hail or airborne stones – the solar shingles themselves are more resistant to
damage from projectiles than classical solar modules. And don’t worry, the close relationship
between your rooftop and your solar shingles does not mean that your attic will become
hotter. Solar Shingles are designed to encourage airflow underneath each panel and to allow
ventilation of hot air.
Having said that, these new wave models are not invincible. They can stand up fine to mother
nature’s harsher projectiles, but when it comes to maintenance, they preferer a hands off
approach (or maybe it is more appropriate to say “feet off”). As tempted as you may be to get a
close up look at your solar roof from the topside, please keep off of the tiles themselves when
you’re up there! The solar shingle arrays are not designed to withstand the weight and pressure
of an adult walking across them.
As seasons turn, rain, wind, dust and snow can all conspire together to leave behind a thin layer
of grime that will lower the productivity of your solar shingles. This is easily remedied, however.
Generally speaking, when it comes time to clean and polish your system, you may want to leave
the task in the hands of a professional with the right equipment and experience if you haven’t
done your own research in how to best apply a soft touch in this area. Not only does the
operation need to be performed without walking across the solar shingles, but care needs to be
taken when choosing the products that you will use to clean the array. Your solar shingles will
thank you for keeping abrasives, solvents, and most day to day cleaning products far away from
their sleek, black surfaces. A light spray with a garden hose directed down the angle of your
roof is the best method for the average solar shingle owner to use in order to keep their array
as shiny as it was on day one.
Keeping dust and dirt from accumulating is a small task as, on average, it will take months or
even years for any significant amount of detritus to accumulate on the solar shingles on your
roof. Another factor one must account for is, of course, access to sunlight! Ideally, the part of
your roof where your solar shingles are installed should have unfettered exposure to direct
sunlight for the whole day. The best situation is a large, clear, south facing swath of roof (we
have a breakdown and ranking of best directions for your solar array to face here . You should also keep an eye on any landscaping flourishes or trees
you may have that could block this light over the years. We would be loath to suggest tree
removal in favor of solar, however, if you have a nearby tree that just needs a trim, that is a
good compromise where you can keep your arboreal friend and maximize the productivity of
your shingles at once.
Many homeowners take great pride in showing off their solar arrays – they see these
installations as a way to say, “hey world – our home is energy independent and greener than
ever!” The willingness to show off your solar enthusiasm in this way is, however, a matter of
taste. Many homeowners (and, in some cases, the homeowners’ associations to which they
belong) prefer a more subtle approach to solar. These discerning homeowners will pay for
something more understated than a forty square meter installation, but still just as committed
to energy independence through solar. For these people, the solar shingle is a fantastic option!
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