Becoming your own power company with roof shingles

SEMINOLE, Fla. - Over on Oakhurst Drive, the renovations on Karen Elfallah's dream house are almost done, and she couldn't be happier.
"I'm ecstatic," she said. "The only frustrating piece about the whole experience is that now I have to wait for Duke Energy to come."

But while most of us wait to have the power turned on, she's waiting for the company to take her home off the power grid because she's ready to become her own power source.

"I am," she said. "First in Pinellas County, and the second house in Florida."

Karen has re-roofed her home to capture the sun's energy by upgrading her shingles.

The shingle is the same size as a regular shingle you'd find on your roof, but the bottom half is a photo-voltaic solar cell.

"If you didn't know it was there -- weren't looking for it specifically -- it just looks like an ordinary tile roof except its got a a metallic look to it," she said.

And all that solar-energy is simply piped into the house, as Karen explained in nonscientific terms.

"The current -- direct current -- runs down through a conduit down through the house and then comes into my house through up here," she said. "It then goes into this magic box, which is the inverter, and it converts the electricity into AC."

The extra $10,000 to $15,000 spent on the re-roof was pricey, but between energy tax breaks and the decreased need for Duke Energy, she's confident this makes good economic sense.

"I would expect it to pay for itself in 6 to 8 years time," she said.

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