What’s New With Solar?

When considering building a new home or installing a new roof for an existing home, installing options in solar are becoming increasingly popular. Gone are the days of a singular option of a panel installation on a roof, there are now offerings of roof tiles, shingles, and films. Progress is being made on transparent solar glass, creating a product to be installed like a window that would also gather energy.

Increased affordability, especially through the extension of the solar tax credit, otherwise known as the investment tax credit (ITC) is a big part of the growth of solar.  The current federal tax credit towards a solar system is 30% of the cost of the system, but this credit will decrease to 26% in 2020. Many states offer additional incentives, which can be found at DSIREusa.org. Not only are the incentives a great stride in making solar options more affordable, but also increasing technology growth makes solar energy’s future much brighter.

Tesla announced in May the Solar Roof is now accepting deposits as a new cost effective solar option. The roof pays for itself over time, through its production of electricity for a home while also serving its function as a roof. The stated life expectancy of the Solar Roof is said to be the life of the house or infinity, making the argument that this is a cost effective option. Opponents claim that because a storage system for the energy gathered (a battery) is needed, the cost of permitting fees and the potential additional construction costs are not included, it is a much more expensive option. Tesla states that the “typical homeowner can expect to pay $21.85 per square foot for Solar Roof.” The average roof would be about 40% covered by Solar Roof, but the consumer can choose up to 70% and see what the price might look like for this option through their Solar Roof calculator, allowing home owners to input their specific info for a personalized estimate.

As far as the aesthetics, there are currently two options; smooth gray and black textured. Within the next year there will be additional offerings to include slate and Tuscan too. These tiles are lightweight and made of tempered glass in Buffalo, NY. They are made in the USA, offer a lower price point, and are Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), which sets them apart from previous products. BIPV is different from Building applied photovoltaics (BAPV) in that the PV is integrated into a building system instead of added onto one, such as an existing roof.  Tesla is not the first group to bring this idea to market, companies like CertainTeed with their Apollo line and DOW with their Powerhouse line, have offered similar products to the market for years. However, last summer DOW discontinued their offering. Currently Tesla is taking pre orders for their Solar Roof.  Installation will begin this summer in California and will be offered to additional markets in the future.





















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