In 2016, Tesla tried to reinvent the standard roof as a stupendous array of glass tiles brimming with photo voltaic power — a imaginative and prescient it’s been struggling to ship ever since. However San Jose, California-based GAF Power thinks it has a less complicated answer to the photo voltaic roof. It’s constructed a photo voltaic shingle, one that may be nailed down in packs very like the on a regular basis shingles you’d use when repairing or changing your roof.
Photo voltaic panel, meet nail gun
You may need heard of photo voltaic shingles earlier than, however GAF Power president Martin DeBono suggests the brand new Timberline Photo voltaic shingles are the primary to truly deserve that title as a result of they’re the primary to truly work that manner — you actually drive nails by way of a three-inch nailing strip, overlap the highest of that shingle with the underside of the following one, and repeat. “Quite a lot of firms have come out with what they name photo voltaic shingles, however they’re just about equivalent to common photo voltaic panels, simply small,” explains DeBono, saying how these earlier photo voltaic roofs additionally required rails so the panels may very well be screwed down.
Picture: GAF Power
The results of true shingles, DeBono claims, is that it takes days as a substitute of weeks to put in a photo voltaic roof. “We’ve put in them already in two days, together with ripping off the previous roof and placing on the brand new roof,” he says. The corporate already tried conventional tile-based photo voltaic roofs, pointing me to a earlier interview the place DeBono mentioned GAF Power had put in over 2,000 of them, allegedly greater than Tesla. “It takes a number of days, 10 to 12 individuals on the roof,” DeBono relates. However its dad or mum firm, constructing supplies conglomerate Customary Industries, determined to take a position over $1 billion on this seemingly less complicated shingle answer as a substitute. (Right here’s a Forbes profile of Customary Industries’ founders and their photo voltaic play.)
DeBono says the Timberline Photo voltaic are the primary merchandise to ever obtain UL’s 7103 certification to function each photo voltaic panels and building supplies, due to a particular sandwich of glass, polysilicon photo voltaic cells, and high layer of a proprietary fluorinated alkane ethylene polymer that’s fire-resistant, impact-resistant, textured to be walkable, and nonetheless clear sufficient to let the sunshine by way of. He says they provide the panels a Class A fireplace ranking, stand as much as hail, and but the shingles are literally much less dense on the similar thickness as a standard shingle, which means they weigh barely much less and ought to be simply as straightforward for roofers to sling round.
Picture: GAF Power
And whereas it takes much more photo voltaic shingles than photo voltaic panels to kind a roof — an average-sized 6kW array would possibly take up 130 of them — DeBono says it shouldn’t be much less environment friendly or extra expensive simply because there are extra modules. For one factor, DeBono says the Thai cells his firm is utilizing are 22.6 p.c environment friendly, inside a couple of p.c of the state-of-the-art in photo voltaic panels, and the better variety of shingles means the system’s complete energy doesn’t degrade as a lot when a few of them get shaded because the solar strikes and the climate turns.
For an additional, that 6kW system ought to take up between 350 and 450 sq. ft on a roof, roughly the identical quantity of house as a rack-mounted photo voltaic panel system, and the remainder of the roof will be stuffed in with matched shingles from GAF.
Picture: GAF Power
However, like different photo voltaic roofs, it’ll positively price greater than merely including photo voltaic panels to an present known-good roof. “It’s going to price the identical as should you have been to get a brand new roof and put photo voltaic on it,” says DeBono. (He declined to say how a lot every particular person shingle prices.) However as a result of much more persons are getting new roofs annually than are including photo voltaic — 5 million a 12 months vs. 300,000 a 12 months, he suggests — there’s an enormous alternative for a few of these individuals so as to add built-in renewable power whereas they’re at it. Significantly since GAF already sells conventional shingles to cowl one out of each 4 of these roofs, the corporate claims.
The photo voltaic shingles don’t look precisely like shingles, after all — there are covers for his or her wiring (for simpler upkeep than having to take away your complete tile, says DeBono), and also you’ll want a mid-circuit interrupt security gadget for each 2kW of panel that matches in a visual field (although DeBono says you may put these within the attic as a substitute of atop the roof).
GAF Power is at the moment making all of those in a 130,000 sq. foot facility in San Jose, California, with a capability of roughly 50 megawatts per 12 months. That isn’t as large an quantity as it would sound — it’s a bit over 8,300 houses per 12 months should you assume every of them requires the common 6kW array. However DeBono says he’s additionally taking a look at it as simply GAF Power’s first manufacturing facility, with extra doubtlessly on the way in which.
He says the brand new Timberline Photo voltaic panels can be found now by way of sister firm GAF’s present community of roofing contractors throughout the US East Coast and Texas — although not in massive photo voltaic states California or Florida fairly but. He says it’ll take roughly 90 days for them to be listed with the California Power Fee and probably 4 to 5 months for added wind testing in Florida and can increase from there.
GAF Power truly moved its photo voltaic manufacturing to California simply this previous 12 months, and the timing isn’t all nice: the photo voltaic trade is at the moment combating towards a brand new California proposal to cost photo voltaic panel homeowners a flat payment for each kW of photo voltaic panel capability they hook as much as the grid, along with different diminished incentives for putting in photo voltaic. “What has been proposed could be the dying of the photo voltaic trade in California, and that’s not hyperbole,” DeBono tells The TechMac, pointing to what occurred to the Nevada photo voltaic trade after that state phased out incentives and the way the state finally modified its tune.