While many Westchesterites want to reduce their personal carbon footprint, some are deterred by the idea of slapping the monstrosity that is a solar panel on their multi-thousand-dollar roofs. A new trend is emerging that provides renewable energy — possibly enough to power an entire house — in a more aesthetically pleasing way: solar shingles.
Solar shingles are photovoltaic cells meant to look like traditional asphalt roof shingles. Instead of being mounted on rooftops like their paneled cousins, solar shingles replace your roof’s asphalt tiles. They are the same size and shape as traditional shingles and are, according to some sources, similarly reliable.
Larchmont resident Oliver Koehler, CEO of SunTegra (formerly known as Integrated Solar Technology), explains the market: “Many homeowners today demand an option besides standard solar panels, and thanks to Elon Musk’s efforts in publicizing Tesla’s solar roof, there is today a much higher awareness that solar roofing products are available.” SunTegra, headquartered in Binghamton, NY, works with Briarcliff’s Sunrise Solar Solutions, a residential and commercial installer of solar photovoltaic systems, and Mamaroneck’s Murphy Brothers Contracting, to offer solar power to Westchester and the Hudson Valley.
Douglas Hertz, president and CEO of Sunrise Solar Solutions, says the primary advantage of solar shingles is aesthetic, a sentiment echoed by Murphy Brothers’ Michael Murphy. “Solar shingles are an excellent option for homeowners who want to save on their energy bills while choosing to be environmentally responsible but don’t like the bulky look of solar panels,” says Murphy.
Koehler says that while SunTegra’s products are typically installed with a new roof or reroof, customers have the option of reroofing only the area where the solar shingles will go. “Although they are a more expensive option, if you need a new roof, it can be a cost-effective approach,” Hertz says, adding that the permit process takes no longer than the typical solar-panel system. Hertz advises homeowners that homes with solar shingles must have accessible attics beneath them, as wiring will have to be run directly into the roof.
An added bonus: Installing solar shingles can provide tax credits and incentives to homeowners. According to Sunrise Solar Solutions, “Currently the federal tax credit is 30 percent of the gross system cost. New York is 25 percent, with a cap of $5,000 [most users hit the dollar-amount cap before the percentage cap]. These rates are good for 2019 but the federal rate begins to change in 2020.”