Solar shingle that can get nailed right on to your roof

GAF Energy, a spinoff of the world’s largest roofing company, launched a new solar roof today that it believes can succeed—and that could help radically speed up the adoption of home solar.

“The potential for solar is enormous, but we haven’t come close to meeting it,” says Martin DeBono, president of GAF Energy, which is part of parent company Standard Industries, which also owns GAF. “When you have a heritage in roofing, and you see solar panels going up the same way in 2020 as they were put up in 1990, yeah, you realize there’s an opportunity for innovation.”

The new design, called Timberline Solar, builds solar cells into a standard shingle. “All you need to install the solar shingle is a nail gun,” he says. “It goes up just like a regular shingle that can be nailed on the roof like any other shingle.” It required several rounds of innovation to work—like other shingles, it had to form a waterproof barrier to protect the home. It had to be fireproof. And it had to be something that workers could walk on if they had to access the roof. The engineers worked to find the right material and form to let light through, so the solar cells inside could generate energy, while meeting the other requirements.

Because it can be nailed down, the solar shingle can be installed very quickly—in two days rather than the weeks required for other solar roofs. That means that it’s much less expensive. Other solar roofs also spend as much as $5,000 per customer in marketing expenses. GAF, which is partnering with GAF Energy on the project, will work with its network of thousands of roofers to share the product instead. “When it rains out, that’s all the advertising a roofer needs,” DeBono says. “People call roofers.” The company also used materials that are available at a much larger scale than the specialty materials in competitive products.

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