When it comes to solar energy, you have a choice with solar panels and solar shingles. Many people have heard of solar panels, but have no idea what solar shingles are or the benefits they provide.
The federal government gives you a 30% Federal Tax Credit to install a photovoltaic device on your house (this includes solar shingles). There may also be more credit if you put in solar thermal or hot water unit. Additional tax credits are given by state governments also give tax credits. Energy state tax credits differ by state. Please check with the IRS, your state tax board or your accountant. Tax laws continually change.
What Are Solar Shingles?
Solar shingles are photovoltaic devices that create electricity from sunlight. They are made out of a wire and a photosensitive waterproof product. They serve the dual purpose of protecting your home from the elements and generating an electric current from the sunlight. They are often much thinner than solar panels and are lighter as well making them easy to install and adjust if necessary. They usually come in a darkened color and can often be mistaken with normal shingles.
How Do Solar Shingles Work?
Solar shingles work very much the same way that solar panels do. They are made of wire a photosensitive waterproof coating that allows them so collect energy from sunlight as well as protect your home.
More specifically the surface of the solar shingle has a special coating that knocks an electron from the photon of sunlight as it hits the shingle. The loose electron travels through an electric travels through an electric circuit where it is collected with other electrons. The mass of moving electrons are used to generate electric current which then flows into the system of your house. Some models of solar shingles can even convert the electricity to heat to be used directly.
Where Do Solar Shingles Work?
They work mostly anywhere (even in cloudy places). The shingles can be used during scattered sunshine or even overcast days. Of course they do work better in areas with high levels of sunlight, especially the southwest. But to give you a bit more perspective the country with the most PV devices is Germany, and the American Solar Energy Society has stated that all 50 states in the US get better sunlight than Germany. If you are wondering if your house will work, the answer is most likely.
Why Choose Solar Shingles?
A benefit that solar shingles hold over solar panels is that they are hard to notice. Passerby will often think them to simply be darkened shingles. You can cover your whole roof to further this effect or keep them small and simple. Either way they are unobtrusive. Another key benefit of solar shingles is that solar panels can be an obnoxious and often very heavy hassle during installation. Solar shingles are light and often much simpler to install.
If you have installed a number of solar shingles on your house and you also live in a sunny place you may find that you have an excess of energy. This is a great thing, because the excess energy is fed back into the power grid and a check from the electric company or a credit on your electric bill. You may be able to make money off your solar units. Make sure to check with your local electric company to understand how you receive these funds as the method is determined by your state law.
solar panel image by Wikimedia Commons