Reference: Integrated Solar Technology
The company Integrated Solar Technology has developed electricity generating photovoltaic solar panels which also serve the same function as roofing shingles. Just like shingles, they protect roofs from the elements, and have an aesthetic appeal which many homeowners may prefer over typical rooftop solar installations in which panels are placed on framework that is placed on top of roofs. This system has the disadvantage of potentially requiring more effort to re-shingle a roof. In some cases, the solar panels may have to be completely dismantled from the roof to allow the shingles to be replaced. But with the solar shingles this problem is avoided since they comprise the actual roof covering.
The applicable standard from the NGSS is:
HS-ETS1-3 (high school). Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
Discuss the solar shingles with respect to the standard.
In terms of safety, do you think a roof covered with solar shingles (as shown) is more or less safe to walk on than a roof covered with regular shingles?
Judging by their appearance, it looks like the smooth appearance of the solar shingles could also mean they are slippery to walk on, especially when the roof is wet during, or after, a rainfall.
If the glass surface of the solar shingles is made rougher so that slipping on them is less likely, this will probably block some of the sunlight from passing through the glass surface (and reaching the photovoltaic material underneath) which will mean that less electricity is produced by the solar shingles. This is known as a “trade-off” which is common in engineering design.
Read this link describing the product features of the solar shingles, and discuss which descriptions are more likely to be fact-based and which ones are more marketing-based (in which performance and function is exaggerated).