Technology for photovoltaic solar cells has been evolving and improving over the years, earning a second look from some skeptics. Now Dow Powerhouse Solar Shingles have redefined the roof, providing both protection and energy in a single unit. These solar shingles are constructed to install just like traditional asphalt shingles, with a couple of significant differences.

Each Powerhouse Shingle is individually wired with biscuits that snap together on the edges, creating a parallel circuit. Once the shingles are connected, and nailed to the roof—just like traditional shingles— the end pieces are fitted with the wiring that will pass through the roof to the inverter. The wiring is arranged so that the through-roof holes are kept to a minimum: a three-inch hole for about every 100 shingles. (100 shingles produces roughly 1 kilowatt of power.)

Powerhouse Solar Shingles are designed to be rugged, watertight and weatherproof, with a life expectancy similar to a traditional 20-year architectural shingle. One system was put to an extreme test in Bellmore, N.Y., (on the southern shore of Long Island) when the  shingles were installed just prior to Super Storm Sandy and a strong Northeaster storm just four days later. (Read more here.) The roofing contractor who installed the shingles was amazed that they had survived this severe test intact and functional.

The Powerhouse Solar system is designed specifically for each individual home to maximize the electrical output. The company is presently rolling out product and technically trained dealers in specific areas, so you’ll need to check their website (and with your roofing contractor) to determine availability in your area. For new construction, incorporating these shingles into the design early may require some slight home orientation adjustments to maximize the solar angles.

Powerhouse Shingles are designed to be a grid-linked system, so excess energy produced is net-metered or fed back to the utility, further reducing the electricity bill. The system includes Proactive Performance Monitoring with web-based access for homeowners and an email or telephone alert network should the system detect an abnormality.  The system can also take advantage of any local, regional, state or Federal incentives for alternative energy production.

The Powerhouse Solar shingles are viable for the entire U.S., though they will operate most optimally in areas that experience cooler mean temperatures and higher numbers of solar days.