DOW Finally Making Solar Panels That Double As Roof Shingles

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Imagine buying a house and being offered “the solar roof option.”

It sounds like science fiction, but it’s going to be a reality.

Dow Chemical is rolling out one of the coolest–and most logical–alternative energy inventions ever: Solar rooftop shingles.

The solar shingles can replace the traditional tar shingles that sit atop houses. Because they only have a 10% efficiency rating at converting sunlight into energy, homes with shingles aren’t going be able to power themselves entirely. Solar shingles will be able to replace 40% to 80% of a home’s energy consumption.

Dow says the shingles will be considerably cheaper than a typical roof mounted solar installation. Of course, they’ll also be much more expensive than a set of tar shingles. They’ll be tested starting in 2010.

Unlike a typical solar rooftop installation, these can be installed by a roofer. An electrician is still needed to make a connection, but the shingles all connect together and have electricity flowing through them.

While the solar array will be costly, as an upfront investment, if installed on new homes it will probably provide a net savings. Plus, it will take a big load off the grid without sticking out like a sore thumb.

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