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Solar Icing on the Cake

Solar is a great way to green your house and save money. And with government tax breaks and direct grants coming on line, it’s more cost effective than ever.

SUNSLATES roofing tiles. Manufactured by Atlantis Energy Systems.

The latest twist on solar are roofing tiles with mini-solar panels built right in. Think of it - in most installations, you first pay the cost of putting up your roof, and then afterward you pay to build supports for the solar panels. That costs extra, and the framework isn’t all that strong, and aesthetically, even in the best of circumstances they look like they were tacked on as an afterthought. Instead, Atlantis Energy Systems offers fully-integrated SUNSLATES roofing tiles. Based on the very popular Eternit roofing tiles from Europe, SUNSLATES offer a sleek look, energy savings, and a much longer lifespan than your average roofing product. Not bad.

One example: the Lakeside Court house in Evanston, Illinois. Utilizing 480 slates on the garage and main roofs, the family estimates they save about 80 percent of their electric usage.

“The slates are rated at 10 watts per square foot, or 13.3 watts/slate. Thus the theoretical output of all the slates combined is 6,384 watts (480x13.3), making it a 6.4 KW system,” they say on their website. “A grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs ($6/watt, for a total of $38,311) underwrote a significant portion of the cost of the purchase and installation of the slates.”

Another SUNSLATES benefit: Atlantis says they function well even when they’re not oriented due south, with only a dropoff of 10 to 15 percent on due east or west exposures.

What about extreme environments? Atlantis has done more than 100 installations around their Sacramento, California home base, where summer temperatures regularly reach a roasting 100 degrees. “We have an installation at about 8000 feet in Truckee, California receiving an average of 217 inches of snow per year,” they brag. “The SUNSLATES™ actually cause the snow to slide off due to the tempered glass surface. We have an installation near the ocean with no ill effects to the SUNSLATES due to salt spray, although inverters must be chosen and located carefully.”

Posted April 10th, 2008 by Jeremy Bloom


  • Barry

    Great find - I am one of those solar enthusiasts whose somewhat loved PV panels on roofs because of the glass surface. That said, I tend to dislike the PV framing which somewhat disrupts the aesthetic. So again this roof tiles is pretty nifty.

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