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Move Over, Asphalt: Solar Shingles are the Next Big Thing

When it comes to roofing, homeowners know they need more than just short-term quick fixes. If you are a homeowner looking to replace your roof, you know you need shingles that are durable, consistent in quality, and affordable. While there are a variety of options to choose from among slate, wood, polymer, tile, and metal, the roofing material chosen by homeowners and contractors alike has been asphalt shingles for decades.

However, new technology has homeowners switching their style as many begin to invest in solar shingles.

What’s the Difference?

If you need to replace the shingles on your roof, familiarize yourself with your options.

Solar Shingles

  • Silicon-Based-Silicon-based solar shingles were the first solar shingles manufactured. Some estimates have found that they can convert about 22 percent of available sunlight into electricity.
  • Thin-Film-Thin-film shingles are cheaper and may come to surpass silicon-based solar shingles with the new use of CIGS (copper indium gallium diselenide) based technology.

Solar shingles save energy, converting the light and heat from the sun into electricity to power your home. Many solar shingle manufacturers place 15- to 20-year warranties on their products, but be sure to check with your contractor for specifics or additional warranty information.

Asphalt Shingles

  • Fiberglass-Fiberglass shingles are lightweight, thin fiberglass base mats that require less asphalt and produce a remarkably flexible and sturdy shingle. Fiberglass shingles are preferred for their higher fire resistance rating.
  • Organic-Organic mat shingles are produced from recycled felt paper that has been saturated in asphalt to create more rugged and flexible asphalt shingles. However, due to their weight and design, they are more costly and less environmentally friendly.

Asphalt shingles usually hold manufacturer warranties between 15 and 30 years, depending upon the brand and location. In most cases, the average cost of an asphalt shingle is between $.80 and $1.20 per square foot of material. Industry standards vary, but one consistent test used to consider quality has been the tear test, a method of testing a shingle’s durability. The tear test requires shingles to possess an average minimum strength of 1700 grams.

The Trouble with Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles serve no other purpose than to shield your roof, preventing leaks and other damage caused by natural elements.

A critical weakness of asphalt shingles is the lack of durability when it comes to rapid temperature changes. In addition, they may warp or crack, which has been a problem since fiberglass was introduced to asphalt shingles. They can be vulnerable to strong winds, hail, ice and other weather extremes.

Benefits of Solar Shingles

Despite the popularity of asphalt shingles as leaders in the industry, solar shingles, sometimes referred to as solar roof tiles, shine above asphalt shingles with a plethora of benefits. Since solar shingles are relatively new to the market, real-life data on their durability against rain, hail, and wind does not yet exist. Nevertheless, they often come with a long-term potential payoff, unlike traditional asphalt shingles.

Each solar shingle can produce somewhere between 13 and 63 watts of electricity. Dow, the biggest producer of solar shingles, maintains that its Powerhouse line of solar shingles can cut homeowner electric costs between 40 and 60 percent. Installation costs can be upwards of $20,000, but with federal and local incentives that cost can be cut in half.

In addition to saving on electric bills and finical incentives like utility discounts or federal tax credits, solar shingles are more environmentally friendly and match asphalt in terms of their aesthetics, ease of installation, and resilience.

When considering the durability and quality of roofing options for your home, consider the long-term payoff that comes with choosing new and innovative solar shingles as opposed to more traditional asphalt shingles. Contact Century Home Improvements today to determine what type of shingle is the best for your home and to arrange a free on-site estimate.

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