Solar PV modules that are “almost invisible” are becoming THE green technology choice for homeowners looking to reduce their carbon footprint and cut costs, according to NGRE.
The technology features “peel and stick” flexible solar modules which are bonded to the roof material itself rather than being mounted on top in racking, like traditional solar panels.
The bonding process can either be undertaken in a factory with the roof being installed as normal or retro-fitted to an existing roof.
NGRE, Oxfordshire commercial and domestic solar suppliers and installers, use a system called Flextron, produced by British manufacturer BIPVco.
Greg Bishop, managing director of NGRE, said: “We’re definitely seeing a trend in the popularity of this type of solution going hand-in-hand with an increase in popularity of metal roofs and we have fitted a number of these systems now with superb results.”
Building-integrated PV – BIPV
Flexible solar modules, like Flextron, are part of a group of solar solutions called Building-integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) which integrate solar cells onto materials that make up the building envelope itself rather than being bolt-on.
Ultra-thin and flexible Solar Renewable Energy
Flextron is a flexible module with integrated solar cells. The modules feature solar cells made using CIGS (Copper Indium Gallium Selenide) technology which allows them to be ultra-thin, in turn, making the modules themselves thin and flexible – 2.5mm! This is in contrast with traditional crystalline-based solar panels which are thicker and heavier.
Modules are available in three standard forms, 125w, 245w and 370w, but also available in non-standard sizes from 43w to 360w.
Simple “Peel and Stick” Installation
Flextron modules can be integrated onto an approved roofing materials (metals & non-metals) at an approved facility to create a roofing system that can be installed in the same way as a conventional roof or can be retro-fitted, with the modules delivered to site after the roof has been installed, ready to be bonded.
Greg said: “Installation is very simple for us. First, we use a cleaning agent to prepare the roof, then what’s called an ‘activator’, which essentially primes the roof ready for the solar to be bonded to it.
“The solar has sticky plastic on the back which is removed to reveal the adhesive side.
Once the solar is aligned, we simply unpeel the backing and roll it into place.”
Greg added: “As well as those researching options for their future self-build project it also offers existing building owners another interesting option.”
Bonded – No Solar Panel Mounting system
Unlike traditional crystalline-based solar panels, Flextron modules do not need any sort of mounting system. This is not only a cost savings but, as well as the modules being inherently lightweight, there is no added weight due to the racking framework or ballast systems used on flat roofs. Increased load on the roof becomes less of an issue. Wind uplift does not need to be factored either because the modules essentially become part of the roofs itself.
Aesthetics – “almost invisible” domestic renewable energy
The fact that the Flextron system is woven into the fabric of the building itself, forming part of the roof, provides a contrasting aesthetic to conventional systems.
Greg said: “Each customer and each project is different, and the Flextron system offers customers another option. Some customers like the bold look of the traditional panels whereas others will prefer this system.
“For example, one of our customers didn’t want to lose the lines of their metal roof and liked the fact that the modules sat between the standing seams not obscuring them. He said that, from a distance, they were almost invisible, and this aspect was important to him and his wife.”
He added: “Other customers have said that they think the system is a complement to the design of their new house or that they are discrete.”
Efficiency – Superior low-light performance
Greg said: “One of our customers was particularly impressed by its low-light performance and reported that on a January day, with a weak, low-level wintery sun, his system was still managing to generate more than half its power rating.”
Flextron modules have superior low-light and low pitch performance meaning they will continue to generate at the beginning and end of the day, in cloudy weather and with low-lying winter sun. The ‘multiple diode’ design means that they also do not lose power disproportionately to areas of shade which can affect crystalline-based modules.
Compromise in Power
Greg Said: “There is a slight compromise in power – you can get higher power ratings per panel with conventional solar systems – but customers have been able to add more modules to make up for the deficit.”
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NGRE specialise in the supply of the latest renewable energy solutions for homeowners, architects and builders in Oxfordshire and surrounding areas and have more than 10 years’ experience.
NGRE are also domestic solar battery storage suppliers and installers, suppliers and installers of solar EV charging points, and suppliers and installers of domestic Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR) systems.
NGRE are also commercial solar suppliers and installers and commercial battery storage suppliers and installers.
NGRE supply and install a range of products including BIPVco Flextron, REC solar panels, SolarEdge battery storage systems, SolarEdge EV charging systems, GivEnergy battery storage systems, and Zappi EV charging systems.