Island Green Living – Solar Roof

Last week, Elon Musk unveiled a new SolarCity product called the “solar roof.” The specially designed glass roof tiles come in four different shapes that mimic slate, asphalt, clay tile, and smooth glass. Each tile contains a photovoltaic cell, and these connect with each other to make up a solar array.

Instead of having the typical solar panels mounted on it, your roof would look like a regular roof and have hidden solar panels mounted in the tiles.

From an aesthetic perspective, it will be wonderful.  “Their roof costs less than an equivalent roof when you include the projected savings from your utility bill.”  There are some drawbacks, though.

Your typical solar panel sits on a rack above the roof, with air space around it. That air space helps to keep the panel cool and working efficiently.

Roof tiles mounted to your roof will have a difficult time dissipating the heat. As the temperature rises higher and higher, their efficiency will drop lower and lower.

Also, most rack-mounted solar systems are rated to withstand winds of around 150 mph. Although these tiles have much better impact resistance than traditional roofing tiles, I am not sure whether they would stay on your house in hurricane-force winds.

Another concerning factor is that the new photovoltaic roof tile will be about 2% less efficient than the current solar panel modules. Which does not sound like much until you look at the annual losses.

Say for instance your solar system produces 2000 watts daily; a 2% loss would be 40 watts per day, times 30 days per month would be 1200 watts, times 12 months would be 14,400 watts !
Based on current WAPA rates that would equate to $4,608.00 annually !

I am sure Mr. Musk and his team will work on tackling all these issues. I think it is very beneficial that he promotes solar energy as much as he does. I am not trying to bash his initiatives, just point out where some flaws may be. There are pluses and minuses in everything. I believe that this product can and will be a huge step in achieving sustainable solar living

Just think if you had your house powered by solar 24/7 and also used that power to charge your car. Your dependence on oil would drop considerably, and your carbon footprint will be very minimal.

That would help the whole planet!

For a greener tomorrow,
Dan Boyd
Lovango Cay

Dan Boyd for TW websiteDan Boyd of Island Solar is a Virgin Islands Energy Office authorized vendor. For more information, call Boyd on his cell phone at 340-626-9685 or by email at


  1. i like the shingle idea..i will probably do it in a few years at my house in virgina after they get the kinks worked out…however, i think that your math may be a little off..say 2000 watts max cell output times 10 hours per day sunlight equals 20 kWH per day…in VA we are about .10 per kWH which would be about 2 bucks a day…i think in STT you are 3x more money? so like 6 bucks a day times 365 days is about 2k per year total difference…

    as an aside…i’m down in STJ all of the time and it still shocks me that there isn’t more solar down there…i think it will change once the LiOn battery package ( Telsa power wall among others ) becomes more commonplace…only a year or two away i believe