Potential consumers of solar roofs are always concerned about whether the installed PV module affects their home’s exterior design. After all, no one wants to put a bulky blue panel, somewhat out of place, on the roof. To resolve these concerns, California-based solar roofing company GAF Energy developed a low-key solar shingle called Timberline Solar, which can directly be “nailed” to the rooftop. The product was also showcased at CES 2022 in Las Vegas.
When speaking of solar shingles, you might instantly think of Tesla’s Solar Roof system, which looks like an ordinary roof covering from afar but actually contains solar cells inside. GAF Energy’s Timberline Solar shingles can be installed onto the rooftop using a nail gun and couple of screws, just like average roofing materials.
GAF Energy president Martin DeBono specified that the construction of the solar system, including roof removal and reinstallation, only takes days instead of weeks. DeBono also indicated that the Timberline Solar is the first product certified by UL’s Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) 7103, which can serve as a PV panel as well as building material.
Timberline Solar is approved by the UL 7103 certification mainly because of its unique “sandwich” structure of glass, polysilicon solar cells and a layer of fluorinated alkane ethylene in between. The transparent polymer is fire- and impact resistant, can withstand hail and winds up to 209 kph and features elegant texture. The design team claims that the solar shingle is as thick as average tiles with lower density, lighter weight and a relatively simple installation process compared with other products of its kind.
The Thai cell that powers the shingle has a conversion efficiency of 22.6%. Because the size of a roof shingle is smaller than that of a PV panel, more shingles are required for the same target capacity. The company has yet to announce the price of each shingle, but DeBono said that the cost will be equivalent to that of installing a new rooftop and solar system.
In 2021, GAF Energy moved all the production lines from South Korea to the US. The 50MW plant, which is located in San Jose, California, occupies an area of 12,000 km2. Despite the small capacity, DeBono emphasized that this is only the first production base they have and that many others are on the way.
During the CES event, the Timberline Solar shingle won The Best of Innovation Award for Smart Cities.
(Photo: GAF Energy)