Installing photovoltaic panels is certainly the most common method of generating solar power on a rooftop, and in fact many people might think it’s the only method. There is, however, an alternative – photovoltaic shingles. It makes sense, when you think about it ... why install weatherproof shingles and solar panels separately, if you could get one thing that combined both? Although there aren’t many manufacturers offering such products just yet, this month Dow Solar made its POWERHOUSE Solar Shingles available to consumers in northern California and central Texas.

“The DOW POWERHOUSE Solar Shingle utilizes CIGS-based (Copper Indium Gallium diSelenide) thin-film photovoltaic cells, which have the highest efficiency of available thin-film technologies,” a representative for Dow told us. “This technology has enabled Dow’s breakthrough of a lightweight, durable residential solar application that installs like typical roofing materials. CIGS was also selected because it has a unique ability to perform well in non-standard conditions such as dappled shading, cloudy and diffused light.”

Unlike the adobe-inspired curved Solé Power Tiles we’ve covered previously, the POWERHOUSE shingles are completely flat, so they can be worked into existing flat-shingled roofs. This means that as few or as many of the Solar Shingles can be used as desired – the whole roof doesn’t have to be covered with them. Each shingle measures 10 x 22.8 x 0.5 inches (25.4 x 57.9 x 1.27 cm), and can be installed by authorized roofers.

The POWERHOUSE system includes an inverter, the converts the DC current from the shingles into AC that can be utilized in the home. It also incorporates a monitoring system that provides real-time energy production and consumptions figures, via an internet connection. Additionally, Dow can remotely monitor any of the systems itself, to ensure that they’re operating properly. Although exact performance figures aren’t given, the company claims that installations typically offset home electricity bills by 40 to 60%.

Currently the product is being rolled out via two authorized dealers in northern California and three in central Texas – three dealers and a builder in Colorado already carry the shingles. While pricing information isn’t available at this time, Dow claims that the cost of an installation should be recovered within the first half of its intended life. The shingles carry a 20-year warranty.

Source: Dow Solar