Solar Roof Tiles: How Solar Energy is Converted into Electrical and Thermal Energy

Solar Roof Tiles: How Solar Energy is Converted into Electrical and Thermal Energy

Elektrometal Green continuously studies trends and new technologies that have proven useful worldwide, with the aim of supporting its clients in the transition process to renewable energy sources in a way that best suits each user’s specific requirements. The current times daily pose the global question of pollution reduction and nature preservation, making it the focus of numerous discussions. We introduce you to a relatively new topic and technology that can make a significant contribution to this goal – solar roof tiles.

The use of solar roof tiles began in the late 1990s, but their wider implementation was limited due to high costs and insufficient technology. It is only with the development of advanced technologies and engineering in recent years that solar roof tiles have become increasingly popular and affordable for use in residential and commercial buildings. Today, they are being more frequently employed as an efficient way to utilize space and improve the aesthetic appearance of roofs, while simultaneously enabling homeowners to reduce their monthly bills and recover their initial investments. They are energy-efficient and have a positive impact on the environment.

The process of converting solar energy into electrical or thermal energy using solar tiles can be explained in several steps: Sun rays fall onto the solar panel, which contains layers of materials that absorb light. These layers can be made of semiconductor materials such as silicon or thin layers of metal alloys. Therefore, the materials used to produce solar tiles are thin photovoltaic (PV) panels that can be installed instead of or over existing tiles on the roof.

When sunlight contacts the solar panel, electrons in the material begin to move, creating an electric current that is then sent to an inverter, an electronic device that converts the direct current (DC) produced by solar tiles into alternating current (AC) used to power electrical devices in the house or returned to the electrical grid. If the electrical energy is not immediately used, it can be stored in batteries that accumulate electrical energy and can be used later when solar tiles do not produce enough power.

Solar roof tiles can also be used for water heating by collecting the heat from the sun’s rays and using it to warm water in pipes that pass through the solar tiles. This heated water can then be used for bathing, space heating, or pool heating.

The roof elements we are discussing are designed to seamlessly integrate with the appearance of traditional roofs while providing the added benefit of renewable energy generation. They are available in various colors and styles to match any architectural design. In addition to being environmentally friendly, solar roof tiles are durable and resistant to harsh weather conditions such as hail, strong winds, and extreme temperatures. Maintenance requirements are minimal, and installation is relatively simple, making them a practical choice for many homeowners and businesses.

Generally, both solar panels and roof tiles have a long lifespan of over 20 years. However, the durability depends on the manufacturer and the quality of installation. Warranties may vary, so it is important to pay attention to differences when making a purchase, as they can last several decades depending on their production, while warranties for tile durability can last until the end of the house’s lifespan.

The installation of solar tiles is a simple process as the tiles are lightweight, and the electrical connectors on the back allow for easy and safe connection. They can be integrated into any technology. The dimensions of solar roof tile panels may vary depending on the manufacturer and model. However, the most common dimensions are around 30 x 60 cm or 40 x 60 cm. These dimensions are designed to easily fit with standard roofs and roof structures. Additionally, these dimensions are large enough to provide an adequate surface area for solar energy collection but not too large to complicate installation and handling.

Specifications of solar tiles may vary depending on the manufacturer and model. Typical specifications for a solar tile per unit usually include nominal power (expressed in W), efficiency (expressed in %), and maximum system voltage (expressed in V). Efficiency typically ranges from 15% to 20%, which means that solar tiles can convert between 15% and 20% of solar energy into electrical power. The amount of solar energy that one solar tile can produce depends on various factors, including geographic location, roof orientation, and lighting conditions. However, on average, one solar tile typically generates between 5 and 10 W of power.

The maximum system voltage usually depends on the number of interconnected solar tiles and the specificities of the inverter used to convert DC to AC voltage for household use. The typical maximum system voltage for a solar roof can range between 300 and 600 V.

The selection of solar tiles should be focused on general characteristics that guarantee reliability and durability for any facility. The electrical properties should be tested under standard conditions, ensuring efficient solar energy production under optimal circumstances. The design should also be optimized for durability in various temperature and weather conditions, which is particularly important for a temperature range of -40°C to +85°C, as well as for meeting various certifications such as UL/IEC 61730-1, 61730-2, UL 790 Class A, FM4437 Class 4, ASTM D3161 Class F, TAS 100 (A), UL7103 31 Section, and UL2703.

The mentioned certifications are standards used by solar panel manufacturers and other solar products to ensure their safety and compliance with standards and regulations.

UL/IEC 61730-1 and 61730-2 are standards for the safety of photovoltaic panels and system components. They cover requirements for the design, installation, operation, and maintenance of solar elements and other products that utilize solar cells.

UL 790 Class A is a fire resistance standard for roofing materials to ensure fire safety.

FM4437 Class 4 is a wind resistance standard for roofing materials to guarantee their stability and safety in case of strong winds.

ASTM D3161 Class F is a standard for storm and rain resistance of roofing materials to ensure their ability to withstand strong winds, storms, and rain.

TAS 100 (A) is a standard for testing impact resistance and penetration for roofing materials to ensure their ability to withstand hail and other falling objects on the roof.

UL7103 31 Section is a standard for electrical properties of solar elements. It defines requirements for electrical characteristics, including voltage, current, and power, to ensure their reliability.

UL2703 is a standard for mounting systems of solar elements. It defines requirements for the design, installation, and maintenance of mounting systems.

Each tile must also meet the standard nominal power requirements and support the maximum voltage of the system, while the entire system must be designed to provide a high level of performance and reliability.

A high level of performance for the solar system implies that the system generates sufficient electrical energy to meet the user’s needs. This includes the efficiency of converting solar radiation into electrical energy, as well as adequate energy storage capacity for use during periods of insufficient sunlight. Additionally, a high level of performance also encompasses efficient system control and monitoring, enabling the maintenance of optimal operating temperatures and effective system functionality.

When it comes to reliability, a solar system should provide a stable and uninterrupted source of electrical energy. This implies that the system needs to be designed to withstand various weather conditions, including high temperatures, rain, snow, and wind. Additionally, reliability also entails efficient diagnostics and problem-solving in the event of system failure or damage.

We will conduct a comparison between solar roof tiles and conventional solar panels, highlighting both their advantages and disadvantages. Unlike panels, which can be adjusted to achieve the optimal angle for capturing solar energy, tiles remain in the same position they were initially installed. Additionally, adding new tiles to a roof can be more expensive than adding new panels. There are several other factors to consider when evaluating this type of roofing solution. One of the main drawbacks is their high cost, which can increase the overall installation expenses compared to traditional roofing materials. Moreover, the efficiency of solar roof tiles in generating solar power may be lower compared to traditional solar panels. The installation of solar roof tiles may be limited to specific roof types and slopes as they are heavier than traditional roofing materials and require a stronger roof structure. Solar roof tiles also require regular maintenance to maintain their optimal efficiency in generating solar power and can be more susceptible to damage compared to traditional roofing materials, leading to costlier repairs.

The main difference between solar panels and solar tiles lies in their design and primary purpose. Solar panels are intended for direct electricity production, while solar tiles are designed to combine the function of a roof covering with electricity generation. Solar panels are predominantly installed on roofs and oriented towards the sun to capture as much sunlight as possible and generate electrical energy. On the other hand, solar tiles have the same appearance and function as regular roof tiles but also incorporate integrated solar cells that convert solar energy into electricity.

The lifespan of solar tiles depends on the quality of the materials and technical characteristics of the panels. However, most manufacturers provide a warranty of 20-25 years for panel efficiency and performance.

To prevent water leakage, careful planning of the installation is necessary, along with the use of appropriate waterproofing and adhesive materials during the installation process to ensure roof integrity and avoid water leakage issues. Specialized heaters can be used to prevent snow or ice accumulation on solar tiles, keeping them warm and preventing the buildup of snow and ice.

Solar tiles are the most prevalent choice for covering roofs of state-protected cultural heritage buildings. This type of technology is highly beneficial and environmentally friendly.

We hope that this text has provided you with useful information about solar tiles.

Elektrometal Green is focused on research in all domains of renewable energy sources, and we are currently in negotiations with suppliers who produce high-quality solar tiles that meet the standards we have described. This enables us to respond promptly to such demands, which will inevitably become a standard in the construction industry in the coming years.

Our initial offering, which is readily available, includes solar panels with inverters and batteries, as the most optimal option for various conditions and purposes at the moment. However, we also look towards the future and are prepared to accommodate special requirements if you consider this new technology as an option for your home.

Elektrometal Green empowers its clients to leverage the advantages of all new technologies and makes them accessible in our market.