Affordable Solar Shingles Turn Electric Meters Backward
By Sarah DeLaney
Solar shingles have been around since 2005, and improved technology combined with serious tax breaks make them more affordable than ever. Solar shingles are often tied into the grid of existing power lines, which offers a backup at night or on rainy days.
Better still, a solar shingle installation which produces more power than homeowners use gets credited to the power company, making electric meters actually turn backward. Credits show up on the monthly power bill.
Are solar shingles better than solar panel racks?
The installation of solar shingles can be similar to asphalt shingles, requiring about 10 hours and using staples or nails directly onto the roof felting material, depending upon the brand of shingle. The reduced time for installation greatly reduces the overall cost of solar shingles.
Unlike bulky solar panel racks of traditional solar installations, solar shingles are sleek and rather sexy in appearance. Featuring the dark, purplish-blue of the solar cells, solar shingles look similar to dark asphalt shingles. Consumer Reports provides an overview of the solar shingle at the 2010 International Builders' Show. Consumer Reports solar shingle overview
Solar shingles have a very low profile and do not detract from a home’s exterior design.
In addition to being lightweight and nearly-flush against the roof, solar shingles have a high snow load capacity, are Class A fire-rated, and can carry wind, hail and power generation warranties.
How to afford the cost of solar shingles
Since the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005, homeowners are allowed a Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) of 30 percent to install energy-saving systems like solar shingles. The monetary cap was eliminated for residential solar electric installations in 2008. The ITC is available through 2016, making it easier for homeowners to plan and budget to afford a solar shingle installation. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE™) lists states which offer additional tax credits, special rates and financing options to homeowners.
It also may be possible for new home buyers to roll the cost of a solar shingle installation into their mortgage. Current homeowners may be able to add a solar shingle installation into a second mortgage or personal credit line, where annual interest paid can mean an additional tax deduction in some instances.
With the cost of energy increasing, a solar shingle installation also increases a home’s value, making it a smart investment, as well.
Checking with a personal banker and tax adviser on both mortgage options and tax breaks is recommended to take advantage of current opportunities.
Who makes solar shingles?
Companies who make solar shingles include trusted brands like CertainTeed and Dow Chemical Company. CertainTeed has the Apollo Solar Roofing System which carries a 25-year power output warranty and a 110 mph wind warranty, among other guarantees.
Dow Powerhouse™ solar shingles offer a 20-year material weatherization warranty, a 10-year wind retention warranty, 10- and 20-year power output warranties, and more.
Knowing where to find a solar shingle contractor can be the most-difficult part of the decision to buy. The Solar Energy Industries Association membership directory provides contractors' contact information along with area(s) of expertise, including solar shingle installation.