In January, we reported that GAF, one of the largest manufacturers of roof shingles in North America, had invested more than a billion dollars to develop solar shingles that look very much like ordinary roofing shingles. The beauty is that roofers can install them using the same techniques they have been using for ordinary shingles for years, which reduces costs and eliminates the need for extensive retraining.
Some wondered if anyone would actually install the solar shingles, but as it turns out, a few people must have done so, because GAF Energy has just announced it is building a second 450,000 square foot factory in Georgetown, Texas, to manufacture its Timberline Solar Roof products. The new factory will increase its capacity by 500% and bring total production of its solar shingles to 300 megawatts annually. That in turn will make GAF Energy the largest producer of solar roofing in the world.
“The response from both consumers and roofers to our Timberline Solar roof has been tremendous and we’re thrilled to be expanding capacity to meet that growing demand. Georgetown has a long track record as a clean energy leader, so it is the perfect home for us to build the future of solar,” says Martin DeBono, president of GAF Energy. “We launched Timberline Solar because we believed that more consumers would choose solar if they had a more reliable, durable, and attractive option. The market has confirmed our belief. Now we’re turning that belief into reality and building the future of clean energy here in the US”
Once complete, the Georgetown manufacturing facility will result in hundreds of new US-based clean energy manufacturing jobs and build on GAF Energy’s track record of delivering a best in class solar roof product that is assembled in America. GAF Energy can draw on extensive manufacturing and R&D expertise, with access to the largest network of roofing partners in the industry. One out of every four new roofs in the US comes from GAF, which means it is uniquely positioning GAF Energy to bring residential solar to the mass market.
Timberline Solar shingles are reliable, durable, cost effective, easy to install, and aesthetically superior. The shingles are less than a quarter inch thick and integrate with traditional shingles to create a sleek and attractive look. “A number of companies have come out with what they call solar shingles, but they’re pretty much identical to regular solar panels, just small,” explains DeBono. He adds that previous solar roofs also required the installation of rails for the panels to be screwed to. The GAF Solar shingles are nailed to the roof substrate just like ordinary asphalt shingles.
They are the first products of their kind to receive UL’s 7103 certification to serve as both solar panels and construction materials. They consist of a special sandwich of glass, polysilicon solar cells, and a top layer of a proprietary fluorinated alkane ethylene polymer that’s fire resistant, impact resistant, textured to be walkable, and yet also transparent enough to let light through. He says the solar shingles have a Class A fire rating and can stand hail.
The solar roof shingles cost less than a new roof and a separate rooftop solar system. Using his own home as an example, DeBono says a new roof with a 6 kW rooftop solar system would cost about $44,000 after all available incentives. By comparison, a new roof using GAF solar shingles with the same 6 kW capacity would have a net cost of $30,000 — a saving of $14,000. The shingles are about 22% efficient — which is close to the same efficiency as the best solar panels — and come with a 25-year warranty from GAF.
The solar shingles will be available exclusively roof from the more than 10,000 contractors affiliated with GAF. They are available now on the East Coast of the United States and in Texas. Approval is pending in California and Florida, where the ability of the shingles to stand up to high winds is being tested. The company plans to offer them in other states over the next three years and anticipates they will be included in 10% of the more than 1 million new roofs installed with GAF products every year.
DeBono says his worry isn’t whether the shingles will sell, it’s whether the company can keep up with demand. “It looks great, goes up fast, and it’s legit. We think that many people will choose now to go solar.” If DeBono’s figures that suggest a 6 kW roof would only cost $6,000 more than a conventional roof are accurate, the shingles should pay for themselves in a few years, depending on the retail cost of electricity in the local area. For more information, contact any GAF approved roofing contractor or GAF Energy directly.
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