Solar shingles are solar panels incognito. Instead of mounting on your roof, they become your roof or integrate seamlessly with the existing roof shingles. In many cases, they can be stapled to the sub-roofing the same as an ordinary shingle. On average, shingles are about 12 inches wide by seven feet long. There are also solar roof tiles that integrate well with mission-style housing common in the sunny Southwest. Solar shingles, like most thin-film BIPV products currently on the market, are less efficient than silicon solar panels. But, again like other Building Integrated Photovoltaic ( BIPV )innovations, are a burgeoning work in progress.

Until now, solar energy’s two challenges have been cost and acceptance. Dow is working to change all that. Dow has been developing BIPV building materials that enable solar energy cells to be incorporated directly into the design of commercial and residential building materials such as roofing systems, exterior sidings, fascias and more.

The DOW™ POWERHOUSE™ Solar Shingle delivers true building-integrated aesthetics by integrating PV functionality into an asphalt roof-shingle form factor. It utilizes high-efficiency, CIGS-based, PV cells manufactured on a flexible substrate. These cells are laminated and subsequently over-molded into the final shingle design using conventional materials and polymer processing methods. Dow’s groundbreaking technology integrates low-cost thin-film photovoltaic cells into a roofing shingle design, which represents a multi-functional solar module. The innovative product design reduces installation costs because the conventional roofing shingles and solar generating shingles are installed simultaneously.




Consumer Report Video:

The challenge of harnessing the sun’s energy

The sun is everywhere. So why isn’t solar power everywhere? Passive solar power is. It lights our rooms when we open the blinds in the morning and it melts the snow on a sunny day. But converting solar energy into electricity that can be used to power appliances or generate heat has traditionally required overcoming challenges, including:

  • High system costs
  • Limited solar cell efficiencies
  • Grid connection issues
  • Building code acceptance
  • Unattractive panels
  • Time consuming installations
  • Solar Power Is More Affordable Than Ever

    In addition to being easy to install, solar shingles are more affordable than you think. Everyone in the U.S. qualifies for a 30% federal tax credit. These credits are still available, plus there may be state and local incentives in your area to make your initial costs even lower. Not to mention what you will save on your electric bills once your house is making its own energy.

    Link to federal tax credit:

    Link to check you local state incentives:

    Firefighting Concerns: 


    • Slipping/Tripping


    Could you see this at night? Beware of Slip/Trip hazards

    • Electrical shock

     A photovoltaic system generates electricity when the sun is shining,  and when it is receiving sunlight it is operational and generating electricity. This creates additional challenges for the fireground task of shutting off the utilities and the electrical power in the structure that could be a dangerous source of electric shock. 

    • Battery hazards
    The batteries can maintain electrical current at nighttime and when the rest of the system has been isolated, thus presenting an additional electric shock hazard. Further, depending on the types of batteries, they can present leakage and hazardous materials concerns, and special attention is required for any battery storage systems that have been damaged in a fire.
    • Inhalation exposure
    If solar power components are involved in a fire, care should be taken to avoid exposure to the products of combustion due to the somewhat unusual materials involved. In addition to inhalation concerns, dermal exposure from solar power system materials damaged by fire should also be handled with caution regardless of the type of solar power system.
    • Flame spread

     Another common hazard regardless of the type of solar power system is the potential flame spread characteristics of the modules, such as from an adjacent exposing building fire or an approaching wildland fire. The components exposed to sunshine and other exterior elements of weather need to have highly durable characteristics, and certain materials that have traditionally performed well in this regard (i.e., certain types of plastics), do not necessarily have good fire-resistant characteristics. Further work is needed to clarify the fire resistance and fire spread characteristics of these panels.


    • Daytime = Danger; Nightime = Beware of your scene lighting
    • Inform IC that a PV system is present
    • Securing the main electrical does not shut down the PV modules
    • Cover all PV modules with 100 percent light-blocking materials to stop electrical generation
    • Do not break, remove, or walk on PV modules, and stay away from modules, components, and conduit


    Fireground Tactics

    “Components are always hot!” The single most critical message of emergency response personnel is to always consider photovoltaic systems and all their components as electrically energized. The inability to power-down photovoltaic panels exposed to sunlight makes this an obvious hazard during the daytime, but it is also a potential concern at nighttime for systems equipped with battery storage.


    Operate normally, but don’t touch. Fire service personnel should follow their normal tactics and strategies at structure fires involving solar power systems, but do so with awareness and understanding of exposure to energized electrical equipment. Emergency response personnel should operate normally, and approach this subject area with awareness, caution, and understanding to assure that conditions are maintained as safely as possible.


    Size-up, identify and validate hazard . Accurate knowledge of the hazards present on the fireground is essential for minimizing personnel injuries. Identifying the type and extent of a solar power system during the emergency event size-up is critical to properly addressing the hazards they present. In particular, it is important to distinguish between a solar thermal system and a photovoltaic system, and the hazards presented by each type of system.


    Stress key message for tactical approach (especially large commercial systems) . The tactical approach to solar power equipment in a building with a structure fire needs to be stressed with all fireground personnel (i.e., stay clear). Serious injury can occur with equipment such as photovoltaics on a sunny day, and the danger to fire service personnel is real and deserves attention. Of paramount concern are large commercial photovoltaic systems that generate significant levels of electricity and can create daunting strategic challenges for fire fighters as they are trying to address a building fire.


    Leave the scene in a safe condition . Emergency response personnel address and mitigate hazards, and turn the scene back over the owners and/or occupants after the scene is stabilized. They need to be aware of unanticipated dangers and leave the scene in a safe condition. An example would be a photovoltaic solar power system damaged during a nighttime fire, which once exposed to sunlight, begins to generate electricity and creates a shock hazard or re-kindling of the fire.


    For the complete report check out this link:


    Stay Safe

    Lt. John Shafer

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