Solar energy – the process of converting sunlight into electricity – is a concept that appeals to many homeowners, as it allows people to power homes (and businesses) without the use of fossil fuels. However, with doubts over its effectiveness in the UK and the reluctance to install large solar panels on rooftops, the technology hasn’t taken off here as some would like.
However, the emergence of solar tiles could change all that. Energy company Tesla are at the forefront of this sophisticated technology and look set to branch out across the UK in 2018. With this in mind, the future of roofing could well lie in solar tiles.
How does Solar Energy Work?
Using the sun’s natural energy to generate electricity satisfies both consumer demand and environmental concerns. If we can formulate an effective way to harness this ongoing supply of solar power, the industry could flourish in the near future.
The surface of solar equipment contains photovoltaic (PV) cells that will collect sunrays and convert them into a direct current (DC). This DC will be altered by an inverter device to become alternating current (AC) – the same type of power we use to operate household appliances.
This naturally-sourced electricity can be stored in a battery device and harnessed when the sun isn’t visible. As another bonus, many suppliers offer a payback system for surplus electricity – this is known as a feed-in tariff.
Solar Panels vs Tiles
Previously, the method to extract solar energy has been via large panels. However, when incorporated onto a residential building they can look out of sync with the roof pattern, especially as many panels are required to become energy efficient.
On the other hand, solar tiles are designed to look like regular roof shingles and will be built into the existing structure. They’re already being rolled out in some parts of the UK, notably on new-build projects that require some sort of renewable energy, although the government would like to see more of this.
Despite their less obtrusive appearance, solar tiles don’t come without criticism. Because they have a smaller surface, the tiles may not collect sufficient sunlight to offer a worthwhile return on investment. However, much depends on the location of your home, the angle and pitch of your roof, as well as the efficiency rating of the tiles themselves.
Solar tiles have been in existence since 2005 but predominantly in the US market. However, since the emergence of energy giant Tesla onto the scene, UK homeowners will have access to their technology in 2018 as revealed by chief executive Elon Musk.
The official Tesla website details their solar roof products in more detail. They use super-strong tempered glass tiles that are three times more durable than regular shingles, offering them in a variety of tile patterns to fit in with your home’s aesthetic. Energy will be stored in the high-tech Powerwall home battery for flexible use.
So, if you’re in need of a new roof, you should definitely consider the value of installing solar tiles. Along with a free supply of electricity, they’ll add value to the property, reduce your carbon footprint and even earn you money with the feed-in tariff system. Speak to the building experts here at MPK Conversions & Construction, who can advise you if you need a new roof.
Have a look at our tips for winter roofcare to keep your roof in top condition this season.