Solar roof panels were once seen as a futuristic luxury—something reserved for rich homeowners in California or the desert (where it’s naturally sunnier) and only achievable with a willingness to install clunky, unattractive hardware atop your house. In other words, for D.C. and Maryland homeowners, going solar was often prohibitively expensive and practically unfeasible.
That was then. This is now: Solar roof tiles are not only reasonably affordable but also are not the beast to install that they once were. DMV homeowners can upgrade their roofs to include this fantastic, green feature without many of the technical headaches they might have encountered even just a few years ago. Here is a quick primer on going solar:
The solar roof tiles you likely are most used to seeing are part of rack-mounted systems. Brackets are attached to an existing roof, and the array is then installed atop the brackets. Rack-mounted systems seem like the simplest method to go solar, but the approach can result in some problems:
- If care is not taken, or if the installer isn’t also an expert with roofing systems, the roof can be damaged and require costly repairs down the line.
- Animals can nest underneath the arrays, again resulting in possible roof damage.
- The rack can interrupt the flow of water on the roof, thus creating a situation in which leaks might form.
- The array doesn’t look like part of the home but, rather, a bizarre add-on that sticks out like a sore thumb.
The image of a rack-mounted system usually is the deal-breaker (after cost) that keeps homeowners from installing solar roof tiles. Fortunately, a better alternative has emerged….
Integrated solar roof tiles do exactly what the name says—they integrate into a home’s new roof. Low-profile (yet sturdy) tiles offer a sleek, barely three-dimensional look so that your house doesn’t appear as if you’ve added hardware to it. A black, monochromatic finish subtly blends into most roofs, unlike the multiple colors of traditional solar arrays that scream “eyesore.” No wires are exposed with an integrated system, and a protected perimeter keeps out both moisture and critters. These modern solar roof tiles give homeowners peace of mind that their homes are protected, retain their aesthetic, and provide an energy benefit.
Finding a Qualified Contractor
An important factor that homeowners must consider when installing solar roof tiles is the expertise of the contractor. As already stated, an inexperienced installer may not take care to protect the integrity of your roof—particularly if you are adding a rack-mounted system. A nice benefit of an integrated system is that manufacturers prefer contractors they trust to install their solar roof tiles. These contractors already are experts with the manufacturers’ other products, so turning to them to also install integrated systems is only natural.
Perhaps the biggest barrier that homeowners perceive about solar is that it will be prohibitively expensive. True, solar roof tiles do come with a cost, but at least with an integrated system, you are also purchasing a new roof at the same time. In other words, if you were already going to invest in a replacement roof, taking the next step to integrate the latest solar technology isn’t going to be quite the jump in price that you might think. Also, the federal government and Maryland offer rebates to homeowners who choose solar, thus adding to the affordability
The green factor is a significant reason why homeowners may choose solar roof tiles, but the return on investment is also attractive. Although your initial costs for solar are not minor, the savings realized in the form of lower energy bills are a clear benefit. Average homeowners can enjoy a 50 to 75 percent drop in their monthly energy bills with solar. With integrated systems, contractors handle everything, from each component of the roof to the electrical connections, so that all you need is a sunny day to begin harnessing energy. Contact a professional roofer that specializes in solar to learn more.
Have you investigated installing solar roof tiles on your home?