In 2009, the “Tejas Solares” project was presented to the Minho University and the Nova University of Lisbon. At that time, it was considered one of the most innovative solar energy projects in the world, it was exploring the possibility of harnessing solar energy through photovoltaic tiles.
Today, photovoltaic solar tiles are already a reality that arouses the interest of consumers, more and more seduced by this new technology. In fact, Tesla sells them already integrated into its solar roof, with a lifetime warranty.
Photovoltaic tiles may be the future because of the possibility of making our homes independent from the commercial power grid, they can easily generate electricity through solar photovoltaic energy, and this technology can already be installed in the construction of new homes.
What are photovoltaic tiles.
An interesting sustainable bet, similar to conventional models, tiles or tiles that integrate mini solar panels inside, in different shapes and models. Currently on sale, most are ceramic and have 4 photovoltaic cells, the installation goes under the roof of the converter.
With the installation of these solar tiles over an area of 45 m², it is possible to generate 3 kW and meet the energy demand of a house. Its installation is similar to that of any conventional tile.
Manufacturers of photovoltaic solar tiles.
Two large Italian companies have joined forces to develop these photovoltaic tiles, Area Industrie Ceramiche and REM. They are already sold and installed by several European countries. They produce a tile model called “tegolasolare”, a red tile with four solar cells. 40 m2 of tegolasolare tiles could generate up to 3 kWh of electricity.
The company renewable energy SRS, has also launched a photovoltaic tile. Solé is a dark blue, unbreakable, lightweight and recyclable high performance polymer.
The Italian company REM SPA has also launched the Techtile system, a new system that turns the roof of your house into a solar roof thanks to the solar tiles they have designed. These are injection molded plastic tiles from PLEXIGLASS. TECHTILE tiles are very similar to a traditional tile, but contain photovoltaic cells or solar thermal modules inside to be able to heat water or generate electricity.
With Techtile, you can generate electricity or heat for free with different levels of integration. Made of ceramic, the “solar tiles” are the same as the classics (maybe a little more beautiful;)). The only difference is that they are filled with four photovoltaic solar cells, capable of producing 3 kW of energy for 40 m² of installed surface. According to the builder, this is more than enough to meet the energy demand of an average house. Its installation is very simple, like any other roof.
The system responsible for converting the solar energy captured by the tiles into electricity is completely hidden behind the roof, in the attic of the house, so as not to compromise the aesthetics.
The only downside to popularizing the product is the cost, which is higher than that of conventional solar panels. However, the difference can be compensated over time by reducing the electricity bill.
A south-facing roof with a size of 18 square meters and a tilt angle of 30 ° can produce up to 1,650 kilowatt-hours per year.
The latest innovation to reach this market comes from the hand of Tesla / SolarCity, which a few months ago launched its first roof with integrated solar cells. A new integrated sunroof that eliminates the need for separate solar panels. The photovoltaic cells fit perfectly into the roof giving an attractive and elegant finish.
Another system that uses roofs but not in the same way as the previous ones is the SolTech Energy system, a unique heating system with transparent glass tiles.
The Dutch from ZEP BV have also designed their photovoltaic solar panels integrated into ceramic tiles.
Solarcentury has also launched its C21t solar tiles, in a system that combines solar photovoltaic and thermal energy in a single tile.
The Spanish company Mascarell has also developed a photovoltaic glass roof tile.
These types of tiles are so similar to conventional tiles that they do not affect the traditional aesthetics of the building and in addition to producing electricity, they are used to generate heat. They can cover the roof completely or partially.
EXASUN’s black solar tiles are striking, photovoltaic tiles that promise far superior performance to conventional solar panels.
The last we have heard about are the solar photovoltaic tiles from the German Autarq. The price for customers varies from 25 to 30 euros per tile. Each tile has a power of 10 to 12.5 W, depending on the size, and a power density of 127 to 135 W per square meter.
And little by little more and more systems will appear very similar to the ones we are talking about, because solar energy will power our homes in the future, hopefully not too far away.
Advantages of solar tiles.
Photovoltaic solar tiles have many advantages, the most important of which are:
- Its aesthetic adaptation to roofs.
- They help you save electricity and gas.
- If you have enough roofing to install photovoltaic solar tiles, you can cover 100% of your home’s electrical demand.
- In some countries, you can even sell your excess electricity, recovering part of the investment and expenses.
- You can store the energy you produce in solar batteries, there are already some that are marketed for the domestic market at an affordable price.
- If for some reason a solar tile breaks or breaks down, it can be changed individually without affecting the entire installation.
- They can be installed both on sloping roofs (recommended), and also on roofs where the orientation is not ideal.
Disadvantages of solar tiles.
- Today, it is more expensive technology, although Tesla proposed this change.
- The initial investment for its installation is significant, even if it will pay off over time.
- Solar tiles are more difficult to clean and maintain, due to their difficult access.
- Its fixed orientation compromises its efficiency compared to other photovoltaic solutions.