Solar Shingles to Power your Home Theater

Sara Johns Cool, Energy Management, Home Theater, Newsletter, Solar

Be good to your wallet and the environment by using Solar to power your Home Theater.

The desire of fed-up homeowners to lower their utility bills, enticing fed and state tax incentives and increasing concern over dwindling natural resources, has caused Solar’s popularity to go through the roof.

In the past five years, the industry has become more architecturally savvy, offering up solar-powered shingles that blend almost seamlessly with traditional roofing materials. These systems-called “building-integrated photovoltaics,” or BIPVs-combine solar cells with slate, metal, fiber-cement, even asphalt roofing. One shingle by itself doesn’t produce a whole lot of power-between 50 and 200 watts, enough to run a window fan-but harness hundreds of square feet of them together, and you can generate enough electricity to power a whole house.

The shingles get installed over new or existing roof sheathing, then an electrician (or trained roofer) has to wire the units together and tie them in to your home’s electrical system.  The cost of generating solar electricity has fallen 95 percent since the 1970s according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. But that doesn’t mean it’s cheap: The economics of whether or not to install a system depend heavily on where you live. Solar payback is strongly affected by local electric rates.

Ascent Solar Technologies has also pioneered flexible solar panels that can be used in tents and wrapped around poles to provide power in various off-grid scenarios. Dow received a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop these shingles.  The U.S. military is also exploring similar solar-powered tent-applications called Power Shade, TEMPER Fly and QUADrant.

You can use Solar to power your Home Theater and be good to the environment.