Until recently, the rooftop solar market has been dominated by solar systems designed to be installed on top of an existing roof. Models from different manufacturers differ slightly in wattage, ratings, price point and cell type, but remain firmly planted within the familiar category of the conventional, blackish-blue solar panel.
As solar technology progresses, aesthetically-minded consumers have begun asking more of their PV systems. Enter the inlaid solar panel, a lower profile option that eliminates the bulk associated with traditional rooftop solar. Often considered to be more attractive —or at least less distracting— than on-roof panels, integrated panels are a visual upgrade, but remain a disruption to the roof’s intended look.
With the release of Elon Musk’s Tesla residential solar roof in 2016, the popularity of the solar power shingle has been on the rise in the United States. In Europe, by contrast, several generations of building-integrated solar roofing products have been piloted over the last thirty years. Since 2007, SunStyle has been an instrumental player in shaping Europe’s BIPV wave by revolutionizing the solar roof with its durable and beautiful product. This year, SunStyle is bringing this same proven technology to the US, where a promising solar roofing market is just beginning to appear. SunStyle is one of the first solar roofs in the US that is customizable for both residential and commercial building structures.
But how exactly does a SunStyle solar roof differ from solar as you’ve known it?
Next generation solar.
Between Bell Laboratories’ development of the first solar cell in 1954 and now, much has changed in the global solar energy landscape. Today’s highly efficient next generation solar cells are used in both solar panels and shingles, making it possible to achieve the same energy generation with both module types. Though solar roofs have a similar output to standard rack-mounted panels, each individual solar shingle is smaller, allowing them to be strategically placed to capture the maximum amount of sunlight. By employing all productive roof surface area and covering a greater percentage of the roof as compared to conventional panels, solar rods often generate energy beyond the home or building owner’s needs.
One set of materials, two functions.
What sets solar roofing apart from conventional rooftop solar is the dual-purpose nature of BIPV. SunStyle does not go on the roof, it is the roof. Multi-functional PV construction materials reduce both material waste and weight, making for a lighter solar power roofing solution. Since a solar roof replaces the need for a conventional roof from the roofdeck up, solar power roof shingles are an ideal solution for new constructions or existing properties requiring re-roofing.
For new construction, SunStyle’s installation is streamlined thanks to the module’s simple design. Solar roofs are installed by a single crew, eliminating the need to contract separate roofing and solar teams and reducing labor and installation time.
Cracks are a problem of the past.
Unlike conventional solar panels, SunStyle shingles are durable enough to walk on. This means the roof can be accessed for servicing or light maintenance without fear of microfractures from impact. This durability extends to protection from the elements: SunStyle’s roof is certified to withstand driving rain, snow, hail, and torsional stress caused by severe wind and is guaranteed with a competitive product warranty. SunStyle carries a 30 year product warranty to protect against any manufacturing defects.
No compromising on design.
Highly visible, protruding solar panels have long been a thorn in the side of homeowner associations and architects alike. With the ability to blend seamlessly into any architectural design, SunStyle’s solar roof’s true hallmark is aesthetic. As a fully integrated roofing option, SunStyle offers an elegant and uniform look that is modern and highly versatile to complement both residential and commercial constructions.
A solution for a greater number of roofs.
Solar roofs also allow homeowners to have a beautiful, uninterrupted aesthetic making solar a more acceptable option for those who prefer not to —or cannot— install traditional panels on their house. Every BIPV roof is carefully designed with a combination of active solar shingles and almost identical inactive tiles to create a seamless roof that maximizes the owner’s energy generation goals. With installations possible even on highly complex roofs and those without the large unobstructed roof areas necessary for conventional panels, solar shingles are an option for a greater number of property owners in need of a roof replacement or planning new construction or expansion.
What you get for the price.
Because a solar roof is a high quality structural roof in addition to serving as a distributed solar system, a solar roofing will generally cost more upfront than simply adding solar panels to an existing roof. Though you can expect a longer payback period on a solar roof than you would for a rack-mounted array, a solar roof pays for itself over time through incremental energy savings. A solar roof is an investment in the truest sense: in addition to the sleeker aesthetic a solar roof delivers, low-profile, integrated solar shingles may increase your home’s value. Whichever solar option you pick, photovoltaics are becoming increasingly affordable and efficient thanks to constant innovation and technological advancement, with all signs pointing toward lower costs to consumers in the years to come.