Solar shingles were introduced in 2008 as a new energy product that acts as both a roofing material and an energy source for homes and businesses. Although solar power has been around since the 1960s, it has not been fully utilized in residential applications because of the large arrays that have been traditionally used.
Solar shingles, on the other hand, are small and resemble regular asphalt shingles, but have the benefit of providing an energy source to help power the home. Consumers who are interested in taking advantage of solar energy can work with a certified professional River Oaks roofing contractor to evaluate the best options available for their home and the expected amount of energy the system can produce.
There are a couple of different ways that energy from the sun can be captured, but the most widely used system is silicon based. Silicon is a naturally occurring chemical element that is an excellent semiconductor. Solar shingles are miniature photovoltaic panels grouped together to capture sunlight and transform it into energy. They contain wire, a photosensitive product that coats the shingles and a material that can generate an electric current from sunlight, the silicon.
When sunlight strikes the solar shingle, an electron is broken away from the neutrally charged photon. This electron then travels via wire to a storage area in the cell. When a mass of electrons has accumulated, they travel via wire to an inverter box, where the captured direct current energy is transformed into alternating current.
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Though it is a relatively simple process, it can mean big savings and convenience for home owners.
Any time the sun is shining, the solar panel is working. The sunlight can be diffused or scattered, so they are working even when it is raining, so long as the sun is out. Home owners do need to be aware, however, that the angle and exposure of the roof are important. A southern facing roof is ideal, but southeasterly or southwesterly exposures may work fine as well. A qualified roofer can help determine if the location of the home will support the use of solar power.
Although solar power can be stored in batteries, it is not usually worth it to go to the extra expense that batteries involve. Connected into the home's grid, solar power supplements the energy coming from the electric company. On sunny days when the collected energy exceeds the amount used, then the extra energy is sold back to the power company. This is given to the home owner in the form of a credit typically, so it is theoretically possible to have a positive balance on the monthly electric bill; a phenomenon that most home owners would find exceeding pleasing.