With a clever in-roof solar system, the building shell becomes a power plant
As the sustainability and economic benefits of rooftop PV solar panels are increasingly recognized, this renewable technology is becoming more common – and solar panel designs are evolving. Solar panels have become a welcome addition to many rooftops in recent years. Houses around the world are now supplied with solar power from the roof. We have become accustomed to the look and feel of classic rooftop solar panels, which often protrude slightly from the roof.
But: in 2021 a survey was carried out on the appearance of solar modules. Overall, it was found that half of those surveyed aged 13-40 found solar panels attractive. Among the 57-72 year olds it is only 11%. And what about the 73-88 year olds? Zero respondents in this age group find solar cells attractive.
Roof-integrated solar panels – photovoltaic tiles that are integrated into the roof plane – were developed as an alternative to the traditional on-roof systems. So what are roof-integrated “or in-roof” solar panels and how do they differ? Well, they don’t sit in front of or on top of the roof tiles or slats, they replace them. This means that the solar panels ( either monocrystalline solar panels or polycrystalline solar panels) are part of the roof itself and not an addition to the roof.
Although they share the same goal – to generate solar energy while looking aesthetically pleasing – integrated panels and solar roof tiles are very different from each other. Integrated solar panels are placed on a property’s roof, while solar tiles replace the existing tiles. Solar roof tiles are also much more unobtrusive than integrated panels – sometimes it’s even hard to tell if they’re solar tiles or regular tiles when standing from a distance.
What are the advantages of roof-integrated solar panels?
– Cost savings
– quick installation
– improved aesthetics
– improved safety performance
– low maintenance requirements
This type of solar panel has several practical advantages over traditional rooftop solar systems
Whether it’s a roof for new build social housing or a roof renovation for an existing home, using integrated solar tiles can reduce costs and construction time. They can also increase a property’s attractiveness to buyers and ensure long-term cost and energy savings. When specifying a solar generator system, efficiency and power generation capacity are key.
Coherent design and aesthetics:
Integrated solar tiles are more visually appealing than on-roof systems. They look like a planned part of the construction and not added as an afterthought. Since they are flush with the roof surface, they also appear more streamlined. Integrated solar panels therefore look and feel more stylish, which could appeal to many homeowners looking to improve energy efficiency and be off the grid.
Faster and cheaper installation:
Many roof-integrated solar power systems are designed for quick assembly, with interlocking tiles and a modular format that allows for any number of tiles in a variety of configurations. And because roof-integrated solar panels act as a roof cover, fewer roof tiles are needed, reducing installation times and costs.
For homeowners, residents and renters, solar panels can bring a number of benefits such as: Increasing household self-sufficiency and reducing energy bills. However, the advantages of roof-integrated solar tiles are not limited to the residents – there are also advantages for planners.
Roof-integrated solar tiles outperform rooftop systems in terms of wind resistance, helping the finished system meet all relevant building codes. Because in-roof solar tiles are attached to the rafters and battens, there are no gaps for wind to penetrate, making them extremely secure.
Minimum maintenance effort:
Since there are no visible fasteners or gaps under the roof-integrated solar cells, dirt cannot collect anywhere on the roof. As a result, designers can rest assured that the finished roof will look great and last for many years. In addition, a roof-integrated system does not have to be dismantled when maintenance or repairs need to be carried out on the roof. When installing solar panels, one may not think about future roof repairs, but since there are no roof tiles behind in-roof solar panels, roof repairs can be easily performed while keeping the solar system in place – unlike on-roof solar panels. Integral panel maintenance is pretty much the same as regular rooftop panel maintenance. Want to keep your panels in top shape? Here are the top six things you should do to take care of them:
– have your panels serviced at least once a year
– clean your solar panels about twice a year
– regularly remove potential hazards
– keep the solar panels out of the shadows
– make sure the solar power inverter (12v inverter or 24v) is flashing green
Suitable for renovation projects:
Since the underlying roof construction does not have to be changed, in-roof solar systems can also be specified for existing roofs. The installation procedure is simple: parts of the old roof tiles are removed and the photovoltaic tiles are installed in their place.
Easier installation on new roofs:
Roof-integrated solar panels are designed to function as part of the roof covering, superior to more traditional on-roof systems mounted above the roof. If you already have a new roof installed, in-roof solar panels can easily be installed at the same time as the roof tiles.
Standard solar panels can be too heavy for some roofs, which can lead to maintenance issues for both the building and the panels. However, since roof-integrated systems are not attached to the roof tiles, do not require a mounting frame and are quite light themselves, they are much lighter overall.
Resistance to strong winds:
In-roof panels are very safe because there are no roof tiles behind the solar panels, so there are no gaps for wind to penetrate.
Integrated or not, solar panels generate electricity during the day, even in the dead of winter, which can power your home at night when combined with storage technologies like 12 volt deep cycle battery. This means you can use your electricity in the way that best suits your needs, day or night, or even on the road if you have an electric car.
And these are not the only advantages of generating your own solar power. There are many ways you can benefit from solar energy.
What are the disadvantages of roof-integrated solar panels?
While there are many advantages to using roof-integrated solar panels, there are also a few factors to consider before making your decision:
Roof-integrated modules operate at a higher temperature than rooftop modules, meaning they generate around 3% less energy than rooftop modules, but for many the improved aesthetics could be worth the slightly lower generation capacity.
Retrofitting rooftop solar panels to an existing roof is considered to be more complex and labor intensive than installing rooftop solar panels, but while this is often true, it only takes slightly longer than installing rooftop solar panels.
How much do roof integrated solar panels cost?
Although roof-integrated solar panels are typically slightly more expensive than traditional rooftop systems, the cost can be significantly reduced when installing as part of a renovation, new roof, new construction or home build. So if you are planning major construction work on your home or your future home, this solar option might be worth considering.