For the entire history of human civilization, entrepreneurs have found that the easiest way to sell a brand new technology is to adapt it into the existing ones: hence the evolution from solar panels to solar roofs.Now the largest roofer in America is taking that one step further, by turning a solar roof into solar shingles, installed with nothing more than a nail gun, and which costs the same as rack-mounted panels.
A normal family home can be shingled with solar-celled roof material that’s fireproof, waterproof, and tough enough to walk over, in just two days due to their similarity with regular shingles.
The producer of Timberline Solar Energy Shingle, GAF Energy, is owned by Standard Industries, the largest and longest-lived roofer in the country.
This familiarity with the business and access to resources allowed the company to use materials available only on a wide-scale, and avoid specialist components that are more expensive and harder to source.
“We’re half the cost of a Tesla solar roof,” said Martin DeBono, President of GAF Energy, to Fast Company. “But we are in line with traditional solar rack mounted solar. And this really makes the decision for a homeowner who is thinking about going solar very easy to get a solar roof—it’s a superior product.”
The aesthetics are much better than regular panels, as the shingles are smaller and lower, and can’t be seen close-up.
However they generate just as much electricity as regular solar. GAF Energy has its own software to calculate where the sun will be and how much energy a roof can generate.
It’s won a whole bunch of awards, too, including Best of Innovation in “Smart Cities” at the Consumer Electronics Show, and is approved compliant, safe, and effective by one of the world’s largest third-party compliance testers, UL.
Currently roofing and solar installation are different industries, but DeBono believes that by tapping into a market which sees five million roofs replaced every year, solar shingles have a chance to rapidly eclipse market share compared to the bulkier panels.