Solar roofs. Benefits & challenges

Solar roofs have become a real trend.
Take a stroll through any city and it should come as no surprise that solar panels are starting to appear on the roofs of single-family homes, blocks of flats and even businesses and industries. Because saving energy is now more important than ever.

What are solar roofs?

We consider a solar roof to be any roof with a photovoltaic element, whether they are solar panels or roofs made from photovoltaic tiles or shingles. Although, from a more technical point of view, a solar roof is only considered to be one in which the entire roof has been made with photovoltaic tiles.


How solar panels work on a house

Solar panels are made up of a series of semiconductor materials that are responsible for transforming the energy they receive from the sun’s rays into electrical energy. Solar cells, made of crystalline silicon or gallium arsenide, are responsible for transforming the energy.

Inside each cell, its main material is mixed with other components such as phosphorous and boron, resulting in the appearance of two distinct parts in each cell: one that is charged with positive electrons and one that is charged with negative electrons.

When the plate receives the sun’s rays, the photons move the negative electrons towards the part charged with positive electrons, and this is precisely what generates electricity.

The unused electrons return to the negative part of the panel, causing the whole process to start over and over again without pause.

What the panels do is to generate a direct current which, through voltage inverters, is converted into alternating current, which is what reaches homes and businesses.

It is common for solar panels to produce more energy than is consumed in the building, so the surplus is fed into the grid, for which the owner of the building is compensated.

How long do solar panels last?

If the panels are of good quality and properly maintained, they will last up to 25 to 30 years. Although their performance will decrease over time, their output should always be above 70 %.

The plates are designed for outdoor use, and it is rare for the internal elements to break down. This usually happens as a result of a bad installation or if there are severe weather conditions, such as a heavy hailstorm.


Advantages of sunroofs

Let’s now talk about the advantages of sunroofs:

Beautiful aesthetics

In new buildings, it is becoming more and more common to use solar roofs instead of installing solar panels, a decision that in many cases is made for aesthetic reasons.

One of the great advantages of solar roofing is that the tiles produce a visual effect very similar to that of traditional roof tiles. In fact, there are already solar tiles that are capable of perfectly imitating other materials such as terracotta or slate, giving roofs a classic and natural look.

Dual-use design

The solar roof provides electrical power to the home while protecting the building from rain, sun, wind and snow. It is part of what is known as sustainable architecture.

Long life

The materials used to make solar shingles are particularly strong, such as tempered glass, which can have a longer life than concrete or ceramic, which are other roofing materials.


Disadvantages of solar roofs

As with everything in life, there are also disadvantages to the use of solar roofs.

They are not orientable

Solar panels can be oriented to capture as much light as possible, and there are even motorised systems that move them. On the other hand, solar roofs do not have this possibility of orientation, because the tiles must cover the entire surface of the roof, and some will receive more light and others less.

Lower production capacity

While the solar panel is full of photovoltaic cells, the photovoltaic cell in the solar tile is much smaller. This makes the solar roof somewhat less efficient, as it needs more units to produce more energy.

Solar roofs are a current and future trend. Although they have some disadvantages, their benefits far outweigh their disadvantages, which is why their use is becoming more and more widespread.

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