BusinessNew solar roof emulates asphalt shingles, right down to...

New solar roof emulates asphalt shingles, right down to the nails


Enlarge / Installers nail GAF Energy’s new solar shingles to an indication home.

GAF Energy

A brand new solar expertise launched yesterday at CES might deliver power-producing roofs mainstream by counting on an outdated constructing materials—nails.

For years, owners who wished solar energy have stripped their outdated roofs of shingles, added new ones, after which slapped massive solar panels on high utilizing sturdy frames. It’s a mannequin that works effectively, nevertheless it additionally creates a two-step course of that engineers have been striving to simplify.

Plenty of firms have provided their very own tackle solar roofs, however up to now, they’ve remained area of interest merchandise. GAF Energy is hoping to change that with the Timberline Solar Energy Shingle that appears strikingly like typical asphalt shingles. But their key characteristic isn’t a lot that they emulate the look of asphalt shingles, however that they’re put in in almost the identical manner. Roofers can slap the versatile sheets down and nail the high strip to the roof, identical to they do for conventional roofs.

By counting on the shingle set up course of, GAF Energy is relying on the scale of the roofing trade to make solar more accessible. “The roofing ecosystem is 20–30 times larger than solar. In the United States, 200,000–300,000 people get a new solar system each year. Over 5 million get a new roof,” Martin DeBono, CEO of GAF Energy, instructed Ars. “Our innovation is you now have a nailable solar roof, which fits the way that the majority of roofs are installed.”

New spin on an outdated concept

The solar roof idea has been round for years, and up to now the greatest identified is Tesla’s. Their solar roofs are fashionable and refined, with power-producing shingles which might be almost indistinguishable from common tiles. But regardless of a number of revisions, they continue to be difficult to set up at an inexpensive value. Just this yr, the firm considerably elevated the value of its solar roofs, including a “roof complexity” issue that impacts the whole value.

How they look from the ground.
Enlarge / How they appear from the floor.

GAF Energy

GAF Energy’s strategy makes an attempt to simplify a number of elements of the course of. The first, DeBono mentioned, is buyer acquisition. Solar installers spend huge sums to enroll new prospects, which will get added on to the value of every set up. Last yr, installers spent $0.75 per watt to discover new prospects, according to analysts at WoodMackenzie. On a typical 7 kW system, buyer acquisition provides $5,250, or about 23 % of the system’s value. By comparability, DeBono mentioned that “roofers spend very little on sales and marketing.”

The firm sought to scale back the time and complexity of the set up course of through the use of a format that roofers are conversant in. They additionally elevated the dimensions of every shingle, which reduces the whole set up time for the complete roof.

Lastly, GAF Energy moved a lot of the wiring on high of the roof reasonably than burying it beneath the shingles. Rows of solar shingles are daisy-chained collectively and linked with wiring runs that seem like seams on a metallic roof. Each wiring run helps 2 kW of solar panels. Roofers make the electrical connections between shingles, and an electrician inspects all of them when putting in the inverter and tying the system into the grid.

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