I was impressed to learn that these "barrel-style" roof tiles pictured above actually contain photovoltaic cells that generate electricity. They're constructed from a light-weight performance polymer free from toxins and are virtually unbreakable. See more information after the jump ...
This is the future: solar-energy-capturing products that look just like their non-solar counterparts. The Solé Power Tile is an electricity-generating tile that can be installed alongside traditional clay tile roofing (but only those made by US Tile). They're made from a lightweight polymer, so they're lighter than traditional tiles. The biggest catch is that they only come in one color.
These tiles can generate up to 500 watts per 100 square-feet — comparable with that of traditional solar panel installations. According to the manufacturer, about 20-25% of an average roof would feature the solar tiles and the rest would use traditional tiles, but they all look pretty much the same (but perhaps a bit more glossy).
- The roofing systems produce a natural air flow beneath the tiles which claim to reduce cooling requirements of the home by 5-20%. If only they came in white.
- According to the manufacturer, the tiles take less time than conventional solar panels to generate the same amount of energy required to produce them.
- Cadmium free and non-toxic.
- The polymers employed in the tile can be recycled once the product reaches the end of its life.
Solar arrays are expensive no matter what type, but they do pay back in electricity. According to SRS Energy, the cost of the Solé Power Tile is comparable to other building integrated photovoltaic solutions. The best part is that with the right financing, the energy savings will be more than the monthly cost. According to the Seattle Pi, a typical home needs about 1,000 sq-ft of solar tiles (which can be installed for about $25,000 - $30,000) before state and federal capital investment energy rebates.