Saving the Planet

Review: All you need to know about solar roofs

solar roofs - cleanbuild
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With the ever-increasing popularity of solar energy, solar panels have become a common sight to many people. While commercial solar power is projected to grow around 2 GW per year from 2021-2025, household or residential solar power is another major driver of the renewable energy revolution.

What do people know about solar power? For most, residential solar power is about placing solar panels on their roof, garage, or any other area where they receive abundant amounts of sun. Perhaps you’re thinking of purchasing a solar roof, this piece will explain all you need to know about it.

Professionally called Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV), solar roofs present a unique and increasingly popular renewable energy solution.

They are solar panels that are configured as roofs that are integrated into the traditional asphalt-type roof and protect your building from rain but with the added advantage of converting solar energy into electrical energy.

One of the first solar buildings created in 1973, “Solar One”, was attributed to the University of Delaware. The construction was run on a combination of solar thermal and solar photovoltaic power. Instead of using solar panels, solar was integrated into the building’s rooftop.

Solar roofs imitate the appearance and function of conventional roofing materials while performing their core task of generating electricity.

Some of the first solar panel roofs were made with massive solar panels that could be tilted to catch the sun’s rays. However, modern versions are much more discreet.

The reason why people use solar roofs instead of solar panels is a matter of aesthetics. Solar roofs appear more like traditional roofs which quite a good number of people prefer over roof-mounted solar panels that are installed on mounting systems which are usually elevated off of the roof’s surface.

They are a technology designed to protect roofs and have the same durability and flexibility as regular roofs while harnessing the sun’s solar energy to generate power.


In functionality, solar roofs are similar to conventional solar panels, but in terms of size, they are smaller than most solar panels. Many of today’s solar roofs are composed of thin-film solar cells (TFSC) made from copper indium gallium selenide, a semiconductor that has one of the highest energy conversion efficiency rates.

Some of the PV roofs brands use monocrystalline silicon (mono-Si) which is usually expensive but has an average efficiency rate of up to 20 percent. There are currently two basic types of photovoltaic solar roofs used to generate solar power.

  • Silicon solar roofs
  • Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) thin-film photovoltaics
Silicon solar roofs

Silicon solar roofs are very much like traditional solar panels. They are stiff and in a frame yet made thin and in proportion to traditional roofing materials. They are installed in line with existing roofing materials.

Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) solar roofs

CIGS photovoltaic roofs are newly developed. They utilize the newest thin-film technology for producing home solar power. CIGS are able to be made into more flexible and lighter-weight roofs that are able to blend into existing or new roofs.

Benefits of solar panel roofs

They are reliable: Solar energy is more reliable than other sources of energy. It’s a given that the sun rises and sets every day, even though clouds may affect the amount of energy the panels receive. The upside is that you can predict how much sunlight you can get each day.

They are sustainable: As renewable sources of energy, you cannot possibly exhaust them inasmuch as the sun rises and sets every day. It also reduces carbon footprints and discourages pollution which leads to climate change.

They cost less: In the long run, using solar roofs can save you money by cutting your electricity bill to a reasonable percentage.

Despite the evident efficiency of solar roofs, some factors continue to set it back a few miles.

Roof size

Solar roofs are installed in place of traditional roofs and therefore are subject to the orientation of the roofs. This can be a problem because some roofs are not built to maximize solar energy or photovoltaic efficiency which can reduce the amount of electricity produced by the solar roofs.

This inefficiency can be overcome by increasing the size of the area covered with solar roofs.

Installation cost

Installing solar roofs is quite expensive. Increased coverage also leads to increased costs.

How many solar panel roofs do you need?

Building size and average energy consumption are determinants of the number of solar panel roofs it would take to power a building. However, whether there are four or ten, solar roofs will definitely reduce your overall energy cost while keeping the environment safe. It’s a win-win situation for you and our ecosystem.

What’s the life span of an average solar roof?

The average solar roof can last for more than a decade while delivering maximum energy output. Beyond its peak, it will still continue to produce energy, but at a low capacity. Indeed, solar panel roofing has evolved over the past decade.

Installing a solar panel roof today benefits both you and the environment. So, irrespective of your building’s architectural structure, it’s easy to find a solar roofing option that fits your needs.