Solar Roofing Could Finally Become A Reality With GAF Nailable Solar Shingles

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In 2016, Tesla attempted to reinvent the humble roof into a magnificent set of glass tiles bursting with solar power – a vision she has struggled to achieve ever since. But GAF Energy, based in San Jose, Calif., Thinks they have a simpler solution for the solar roof. This is a solar shingle, which can be nailed down in bundles, much like the everyday shingles you would use to repair or replace your normal non-solar roof.

You may have heard of solar shingles before, but GAF Energy President Martin DeBono suggests that the new Timberline solar shingles are the first to earn the name because they are the first to function that way. nailing tape, overlap the top of this shingle with the bottom of the next one and repeat. “A number of companies have offered this they or they Call it solar shingles, but they’re pretty much the same as regular solar panels, just small, ”says DeBono, explaining that those previous solar roofs also required rails so that the panels could be screwed in.

Image: GAF Energy

The result of real shingles, says DeBono, is that it takes days instead of weeks to install a solar roof. “We already installed them in two days, including ripping off the old roof and putting in the new roof,” he says. The company has tried traditional tile-based solar roofs before, pointing to a previous interview where DeBono said GAF ​​Energy installed over 2,000, allegedly more than Tesla. “It takes several days, 10 to 12 people on the roof,” says DeBono. But its parent company, building materials conglomerate Standard Industries, has decided to invest more than $ 1 billion in this seemingly simpler shingle solution. (Here is a Forbes profile of the founders of Standard Industries and their solar game.)

DeBono Says Timberline Solar First Products To Receive UL 7103 Certification To Both Serve As Solar Panels and building materials, thanks to a special sandwich of glass, polysilicon solar cells and a top layer of a proprietary fluorinated ethylene alkane polymer that is flame retardant, impact resistant, textured to be walkable and still transparent enough to let the light through. He says they give the panels a Class A fire resistance rating, are hail resistant, and yet the shingles are actually less dense at the same thickness as a normal shingle, which means they weigh slightly. less and should be just as easy for roofers to roll up. .


Image: GAF Energy

And while it takes a lot more solar shingles than solar panels to form a roof – an average 6kW grid can hold 130 – DeBono says it shouldn’t be less efficient or more expensive just because there are more modules. On the one hand, DeBono says the Thai cells used by his company are 22.6 percent efficient, a few percent of state-of-the-art solar panels, and the higher number of shingles means that the power total system does not degrade. so much so when some of them are shaded as the sun moves and the weather turns.

On the other hand, this 6kW system is expected to take up between 350 and 450 square feet on a roof, roughly the same space as a rack-mounted solar panel system, and the rest of the roof can be filled with matching shingles. by GAF.


Image: GAF Energy

But, like other solar roofs, it will definitely cost more than just adding solar panels to an existing roof that is in good condition. “It will cost the same as if you were to get a new roof and put solar power on it,” says DeBono. (He declined to say how much each individual shingle costs). these people add integrated renewable energy while they’re at it. Especially since GAF already sells traditional shingles to cover one in four roofs, says the company.

Solar shingles don’t look exactly like shingles, of course – there are covers for their wiring (for easier maintenance than having to remove the entire tile, DeBono says), and you’ll need a circuit breaker safety device for every 2 kW of panel that fits into a visible box (although DeBono says you can put them in the attic instead of on the roof).

GAF Energy currently manufactures all of this at a 130,000 square foot facility in San Jose, California with a capacity of approximately 50 megawatts per year. It’s not as huge as it sounds – it’s just over 8,300 households per year if you assume each of them requires an average 6kW battery. But DeBono says he also sees it as GAF Energy’s first manufacturing plant, with more potentially on the way.

He says the new Timberline solar panels are now available through sister company GAF’s existing network of roofing contractors on the US East Coast and Texas – although these panels are not yet available in the larger states. solar panels from California or Florida. He says it will take them around 90 days to be listed with the California Energy Commission and maybe four to five months for additional wind tests in Florida. The company will expand to other states from there.

Last year, GAF Energy actually shifted its solar power manufacturing from Asia to California, and the timing is not quite right: the solar industry is now fighting a new California proposal to charge solar panel owners a lump sum for each kW of solar panel. capacity that they connect to the grid, in addition to other reduced incentives for the installation of solar energy. “What has been proposed would be the death of the solar industry in California, and that’s not hyperbole,” DeBono said. The edge, highlighting what happened to Nevada’s solar industry after that state gradually removed incentives and how the state ultimately changed its tone.


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