There is a hot, new trend: BIPV solar shingle roofs. Basically, you replace traditional shingles with building integrated photovoltaic solar shingles that comprise the roof and convert solar energy to electricity.
Architects, designers and builders have already been using some form of solar shingles form Apollo by Certainteed, and Dow Powerhouse, which has recently closed their doors, thus creating an opportunity for new market entrants.
But, with the recent update on the upcoming roll-out of Elon Musk’s Tesla Solar Roof, a possibility of fully-functional and 100% building-integrated (not hybrid) PV solar shingles roof is just around the corner! Let’s talk a bit about the latest developments in the solar roofing market.
How Dow Chemical Paved the Road for BIPV Solar Shingle Roofs
In 2011, Dow Chemical has disrupted residential solar power industry by unveiling their daring and innovative solar shingles product — An elegant, roof-integrated alternative to the “old-school” bulky crystalline PV solar panels for residential roofs.
Dow’s PowerHouse BIPV (building integrated photovoltaics) solar shingles were remarkably appealing, and in some sense, easier to install than traditional PV solar panels. However, after just five short years Dow is getting out of the solar shingles business. They have decided to no longer manufacture and cease selling their break-through PowerHouse solar shingles.
However, PowerHouse 3.0 solar shingles will now be available via RGS Energy who stepped up and acquired Dow’s solar shingle technology.
So, does that leave homeowners with only a single option for solar power; to have the bulky paneling installed on their roof (which often requires drilling holes through shingles to bolt the panels onto the roof, and then relying on lots of caulk around the holes in shingles for water-tightness)? Fortunately, the answer is a resounding no.
In today’s fractured world it is next to impossible to find one thing on which everyone agrees, but Eco-friendly home improvement choices are one of them. Green is good. Good for the planet. Good for our health. Good for the future. Green remodeling means energy efficiency, resource conservation, and a healthy indoor environment.
But some Eco-friendly home remodeling upgrades, whether DIY or done by a pro, make more sense than others. Cost is always an understandable concern. Many green choices will eventually pay for themselves many times over in long-term cost savings and increased resale value of your home. Others will never justify the increased upfront costs. Let’s investigate…
1. Green Flooring
Options abound in the selection of Eco-friendly flooring. Sustainable wood choices like bamboo (actually a grass) make attractive flooring substitutes to oak and maple. No one likes to cut down trees unnecessarily and wood flooring is also available from reclaimed wood that spent its previous life as barn siding or kitchen cabinets.
Compared to reclaimed wood, cork flooring is a significantly less-costly, albeit not as stylish, economical alternative. Expect to pay from $4.50 to $6.00 per square foot of cork flooring installed.
And while you are making over your flooring, do not overlook the plywood underlayment – choose plywood that employs soy-based adhesives rather than traditional urea-formaldehyde. Your home environment will immediately become healthier without the toxins that adhesive leaks into the interior air. A 3/4-inch thick sheet of 4 x 8-foot formaldehyde-free, soy-based assembled plywood will run about $50.
Don’t forget to go Eco-friendly outside as well as in. Composite decks formed from wood waste and recycled plastic will outlast pressure-treated wood, will never need staining and preserving, will clean easily, will not crack and will never leave a splinter in your toe.
The downside will be the upfront costs, but expect future buyers to look kindly on that long-lasting, maintenance-free outdoor space. A pressure-treated wood deck typically clocks in at around $15 per square foot, while decks fabricated from composite materials start in the neighborhood of $35 per square foot.
3. Cool Roofs
Dark roofs make houses hotter, light roofs make houses cooler. To achieve these benefits companies can coat your roof with reflective materials, some of which are applied like paint, sprayed directly on the surface of an existing roof. Of course, this is a one-season solution. Energy conservation wizards are currently working on tiles that will go from light to dark as needed – they can cut the sunlight absorbed into your house by 80% when they are white and slice heating costs by 20% and more when they turn black. You can find a cool roof coating formulated with acrylic polymers, resins, fillers and titanium dioxide pigments for about $100 for a 4.75 gallon container
If rather than applying it yourself, your would prefer to hire a professional, expect to pay anywhere from a few to several thousands of dollars to properly apply liquid roof coating. You should know that most liquid roof coatings are only suitable for durable membrane-based flat roofs and aging metal roofs.
PVC roof by: New England Metal Roof
If you have a flat or low-slope roof that is starting to show the signs of age and may thus require replacement soon, then consider installing one of the following membranes; white, energy-efficient PVC and TPO membranes, or white EPDM rubber roof. Expect to pay from $4.50 to $6.00 per foot for EPDM rubber membrane installed. PVC or TPO will cost $5.50 to $7.50 per square foot installed.