Solar shingles are nothing new, but up until now the technology has been relatively inefficient and clunky-looking. That’s about to change, though, with Dow Chemical’s new thin-film solar roofing shingles, set to go on sale next year. The sleek plastic-coated Powerhouse shingles can convert 13% of the sun’s energy into electricity. In comparison, most thin-film solar cells have a conversion rate of just 11%.
The key to Dow’s shingles is the technology. Many existing solar shingles use amorphous silicon solar cells, but Dow uses Cigs (PV cells made out of copper, indium, gallium and selenium) — a more efficient design.
Such efficiency doesn’t come cheap. Dow estimates that homeowners will pay $10,000 for 250 shingles spread over 1,000 square feet. A 250 shingle roof could generate 3.5 kilowatts of power, which isn’t nearly enough to cover most people’s energy use. Still, Dow says that the panels can pay for themselves in energy savings within a decade.
Want to test out Dow’s shingles? You might want to wait until prices go down a bit. Powerhouse shingle-covered roofs will cost twice as much as standard asphalt roofs — at least at first.