I know what you’re thinking: ahhh, shiny.
Which is just about the best two-word tribute to SolTech Energy’s glass roofing tiles we’ve heard lately, because not only are the roofing tiles shiny in the literal sense, but they are also one of the most awesome adaptations of passive solar to come along recently.
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The curved glass tiles are part of SolTech Energy‘s patented roofing system, which works on the principle of thermal imbalance; hot air rises. In this case, rigid horizontal frames, installed at intervals along the roof over a waterproof layer, allow air to flow through and around the channels like a subway train, until the superheated air reaches its destination in the building’s heating system.
These hot air loops are assisted by a fan, and covered by a fabric coated with a light-absorbing layer which provides superior heat transfer qualities, as well as being tear- and age-resistant, waterproof, and vapor-proof.
The glass tiles themselves work superbly in cold, snowy climates, using thermal imbalance not only to heat buildings but to melt accumulated snow on rooftops. No wonder that the SolTech system originated in Sweden, or that the company won the “Hottest New Material 2010” award from North Building Fair, or Nordbygg, a construction-related trade fair held in Stockholm. The tiles are also available in Spain.
Unlike building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) thin-film roofing applications, which can mimic clay tiles and actually convert photons to electricity, SolTech’s solution is purely passive, meaning there are fewer mechanical parts to break down. Even better, the icily elegant glass tiles meet all current standards for roofing materials, and last longer than clay or concrete tiles because the glass is UV-resistant and highly erosion-proof.
The SolTech glass roofing tile system works with most common heating systems, including gas or electric forced-air heating, ground-source heat pumps (a form of individual building geothermal energy), and wood, pellet or electric boilers where heated water is directed to old-fashioned radiators or, in more modern homes, into coils under the flooring.
SolTech Energy will reportedly offer the system to U.S. roofing and construction markets sometime next year, which should delight those of us living in cold climates who are just now starting to recall how cold toes can get in winter.