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GAF Energy wants homeowners to give rooftop solar shingles another try

A roofer puts down tiles of GAF Energy's solar shingles on a rooftop.
Image Credit: GAF Energy

Are rooftop solar shingles finally ready for primetime?

The idea of solar shingles was popularized by Elon Musk and Tesla, which first announced their product back with a huge splash back in 2016. In the intervening years, the company has yet to ship significant numbers -- and recently had to face lawsuits stemming from price hikes around solar installations.

Now GAF Energy, a subsidiary of the real estate development and industrial conglomerate Standard Industries, is hoping that homeowners will give its newly debuted rooftop solar tiles a try.

Launched at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, the company is billing its Timberline Solar Energy Shingle as the world's first solar shingle that can be installed by simply nailing the shingles to a roof.

The company said that its shingles are less than a quarter inch wide and integrate with traditional shingles.

The new shingles cost roughly $30,000 to put up for an average-sized home, according to a report in CNBC, which would make them cheaper than any solar roofing system (traditional or shingled) on the market.

“Solar roofs are the future of clean energy, and Timberline Solar is the game-changing innovation that will get us there,” said Martin DeBono, president of GAF Energy. “At GAF Energy, we have the capacity to scale this technology like no one else through GAF, bringing an integrated solar product that is weatherproof, affordable, and design-minded to homeowners across the country. We’re excited to lead the next generation of clean energy adoption.”

GAF Energy also has the benefit of being backed by an entity that also has a large real estate development and investment firm that could help juice adoption of its offering.

“Realizing our vision of a breakthrough mass-market solar roof has been our mission since we launched GAF Energy in 2019. What the team has accomplished is nothing short of extraordinary,” said David Winter and David Millstone, co-CEOs of Standard Industries. “Through our national roofing network, world-class talent, and aggressive investment in research and development, the Standard family of companies will transform the solar industry.”

The new product was developed in conjunction with one of the U.S. Department of Energy's research and development laboratories, the Sandia National Lab, to prove that it was ready to go to market and was certified as both a roofing product and a solar energy product.

There are open questions about the shingles' ability to generate significant amounts of power because of the reduced efficiencies of the material and their tendency to heat up faster than traditional panels.

Solar panels operate best when they're cooler, which is why shingles that are flush with a roof have not been as widely adopted. They simply haven't had the same return profile as traditional solar panels.

For the past decade homeowners wanting to put solar on their roofs have not only had to contend with the sticker price, but also neighborhood associations worried that the

They fundamentally operate at a lower efficiency,” Barry Cinnamon, founder of Silicon Valley-based solar installer Cinnamon Energy Systems told CNBC.

The shingles have the capacity to generate about 45 watts (enough to charge a 12 volt battery) under ideal conditions, according to the CNBC report. That's less than Tesla's 71.7 watt shingle or a traditional solar panel that clocks in at 300 watts.


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