Solar Roofs are a niche area but is growing in popularity with the entry of more and more companies selling products tailormade for this area.What are Solar Roofs exactly – does it mean a Roof with Solar Panels installed on it or something else.Solar Roofs are not roofs where solar electricity is generated by putting in solar mounting/racking systems and mainstream solar panels,rather they are roofs where specialized solar products called solar shingles are installed.Solar Roofs can also mean a roof where Building Integrated Photovoltaic products are installed.Some companies make BIPV products like flexible solar panels or organic/dye solar cell panels ( these are niche companies).
Solar Roof can be constructed by installing “solar shingles” or “solar tiles” made by some companies.These tiles are interlocking in nature and fit onto the roof just like normal tiles.These solar tiles however can generate electricity from the sun and have wires attaching them which converge into an inverters.This solar inverter converts the DC electricity produced from the solar shingles to AC electricity which is used by the normal electrical appliances.Note the efficiency of solar roofs is lower than that of roofs with normal crystalline silicon solar panels installed on them.This is because the technology used is generally thin film which has lower energy conversion factor than the normal silicon panels.
Types of Solar Roof
1) Flat Roofs -These roofs can be fitted not only with solar tiles but also with thin film flexible modules quite easily
2) Slanted Roofs – These slanted roofs is most appropriate for solar shingles technology where tiles can interlock easily.Fitting thin film flexible solar panels is more difficult in this case
3) Facades – These increase the area of buildings and also improve the aesthics of the buildings besides generating electricity as well.
The advantages of a Solar Roof are
1) Environment Friendly
2) Saves Electricity Bills
3) Increased Real Estate Value
5) Better Design
6) Easy Installation
7) Warranties from the Manufacturer for 20-25 years
8) Pleasing Blue and Black Colors make it Architecturally Pleasing
Which Companies Sells Solar Roof Products
1) Energy Conversion Devices - This company sells flexible CIGS thin film solar panels under the UniSolar Brand Name.
2) Dow Chemicals – This Chemicals Conglomerate has started producing it properietary Solar Shingles recently.While the company first showcased its DOW™ POWERHOUSE™ SOLAR SHINGLE in 2009,these solar tiles will be available commercially only this year.Note Dow uses the same thin film technology Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) used by UniSolar.
Solar Panel prices are coming down rapidly and they are making more and more widely used than ever before.Solar Roofs and BIPV will also become increasingly mainstream with the lowering of costs and the incentives offered by the government to promote them.Solar Roofs not only save on electricity bills but also help in fighting global warming,pollution and catastrophic dangers like the BP Oil Spill and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster