Solar Shingles: Turn Your Roof a Power Source (5 Brands)
In the U.S., residential solar installations have been continuously increasing during the last few years, reaching 1GWDC in the Q4 of 2021.
This solar energy adoption is driven by many factors, such as the cutting-edge technologies that are being developed, like instance solar shingles.
Out there in the market, there are many solar shingle manufacturers. To help you decide which brand and product is best for your needs, we chose 4 different solar shingle companies as an alternative to Tesla solar shingles. For each brand, we will check out the products they offer, breaking down their characteristics and more importantly let you know if a solar shingle might be a good match for you.
Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made from our affiliates through links in this article. (Learn )
At are solar shingles and how do they work?
Solar shingles are basically solar cells that convert the sun’s radiation into usable electricity, but also, they work as the roofing material for your home. These roofing solar cells are commonly shaped into shingles or tiles which are seamlessly arranged to provide structural support for the house roof and other types of buildings.
Using solar shingles allows you to have a roof that achieves two functions: generate clean energy and give your home, office or any other of your buildings, an aesthetic look.
Solar shingles or tiles are made of solar cells that are commonly manufactured using semiconductor materials, such as monocrystalline silicon and copper-indium-gallium selenide. The cells are assembled in bands or strips to form the shingle or tile shape.
In addition, since solar shingles are quite thin, this allows them to have greater flexibility and be lightweight.
How do solar shingles work?
Solar shingles or tiles perform as roofing material for your home. The main idea is to combine the solar cells with the roof sheathing rather than mounting solar modules on top of the shingles.
Solar shingle’s basic principle works just the same as with conventional solar panels. In other words, the PV cells absorb sunlight in order to produce a flow of free electrons, which results in generating an electrical current that can power electrical equipment. The difference between solar shingles and solar panels is mainly their construction.
Why should you choose solar shingle technology?
In order to help you analyze whether choosing solar shingles for your photovoltaic system is the right option, we summarize and list the pros and cons of having them:
- Perfect solution for those cases in which a roof replacement is required.
- Elegant and sleek design provides a futuristic look to your roof.
- No obstructions from solar panels will be visible on the roof.
- No external wiring that could be exposed to damage and cause potential hazards.
- No weak spots on the roof from roof penetrations as with conventional solar systems.
- Higher upfront costs and lower return of investment (ROI) than conventional rooftop solar panels (unless roof is to be replaced).
- Solar shingles generally have less energy efficiency than standard solar modules.
- Few companies perform solar shingle installation.
What is the average cost of solar shingle technologies?
The amount of money you are going to pay for installing solar shingles in your roof is going to depend on your energy usage, the conditions, and age of your roof, the solar shingle manufacturer, and other factors.
However, the cost of going with solar shingles can go anywhere from 20,000 to 70,000 whereas Tesla’s solar roof is generally located in the high-end scenario.
Reviews of the best solar shingle brands
Tesla’s Solar Roof
Elon Musk presented the Solar Roof back in 2016. Since then, the product has gained huge popularity across the U.S. and other countries.
It’s clear that the Solar Roof provides a futuristic and sleek look for homes and other types of buildings. Although, the Solar Roof is quite an expensive product and still not as efficient as conventional solar panels.
Tesla’s Solar Roof consists of a rooftop built with solar shingles that contain solar cells. There are two types of shingles used in the final product design: the active ones, those which produce electricity, and the inactive ones, which just act as a roofing material. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using the Solar Roof.
- Aesthetics: Solar Roof offers 4 different styles of tile. All have a modern and distinguished looking design.
- Durability: It is claimed to be resistant to hail, wind, and fire, as well as to mechanical forces. Solar Roof is backed by ANSI standard tests.
- Warranty: Offers a 25-year tile and power and weatherization warranty.
- Renowned brand: Who is not excited to have a product of a brand like Tesla? Claimed to be one of the leaders of a zero-carbon emissions future.
- High upfront Cost: Compared to building a new roof or replacing an existing one plus adding a regular solar system mounted on the rooftop, it can be 2 to 3 times more expensive to buy the solar roof of Tesla. Depending on the complexity of your roof, you could end up paying a total of somewhere between 40,000 to 70,000 to install the solar shingles.
- Low ROI: Depending on many factors like your energy usage habits, the size of the system, your location, and others, the solar roof may have a very low payback in a 25-year lifetime compared to conventional solar systems. In some cases, it could simply be not economically viable.
Considering the previous facts, it would be interesting to look for possible alternatives to buy and install solar shingles. Let’s check out some of them.
CertainTeed Solar Shingles
Another important brand that has been leading the roofing technology in the US for a long time is CertainTeed. It offers two different product alternatives related to solar shingles.
- Apollo Shingle ll: This design has solar shingles that can be installed in a new or existing asphalt shingle roof. The result is a combination of regular asphalt shingles and active solar shingles.
- Apollo Tile ll: This product offers a more integrated design by using tiles that are embedded to a new or an existing concrete tile roof.
In both Apollo Shingle II and Apollo Tile ll systems, 14 high-efficiency monocrystalline silicon solar cells are used in every tile/shingle with a power rating of 70 watts per piece. The conversion efficiency of the shingles and the tiles are 17.2% and 17.8% respectively. In addition, both have an operating temperature that can go anywhere between.40˚C and 90˚C.
Both systems are relatively easy to install, they are placed directly into the roof sheathing using standard deck screws, just as conventional asphalt and concrete tiles are installed.
Their weight is much less than conventional tiles at three pounds per square foot. over, they are long-lasting withstanding up to 250 pounds per square foot. Also, they are waterproof and can resist high wind velocities of 140mph.
Apollo II provides all-black solar shingles which look like suitable solar stripes or bands placed over the roof.
On the other hand, Apollo Tile II matches the profile of flat concrete tiles. These tiles look like black solar laminate with a custom-colored frame that can complement a wide variety of earth-toned concrete tile colors.
The cost might change depending on your energy requirements, the difficulty of installation, your roof inclination, and roof age. However, some estimations are shown in the following table.
These figures are estimated and subject to changes depending on the specifics of the project, which can elevate the costs by 25%.
CertainTeed offers a 25-year limited power warranty claimed to be all-encompassing. The coverage includes 25 years on installation workmanship, PV cells, microinverters, and mounting system. Also, comprises 12 years on optimized inverters, 10 years on wind, and 5 years on data monitoring hardware.
Suntegra Solar Shingles
Another important player in the solar roofing industry is Suntegra, which claims to give a 2-in-1 roof and solar solution by providing solar cells that generate electricity and a roofing material that protects your home or building. It gives installers a cutting-edge way to integrate solar directly into the sloped roof of a house, commercial building, or carport.
Additionally, Suntegra products are regarded to be constructed with 50% fewer materials than conventional rack-mounted PV systems and thus, they might be an alternative to adjust efficiently to your budget.
- Suntegra shingles: Like the Apollo ll system, Suntegra also includes a solar shingles that are placed on a new or existing roof composed by asphalt shingles.
- Suntegra tiles: Similar to the Apollo tile design, this system integrates to the existing concrete tiles that are inserted in combination with inactive concrete tiles. They can also be used when a new roof is to be built.
The solar shingles of Suntegra offer 3 different models with a range of power output between 105W and 114W. All of them use 24 monocrystalline cells per piece, capable of achieving an electrical efficiency from 15.9% to 17.2%.
On the other hand, Suntegra tiles have lower efficiency than the shingles, ranging from 13.9% to 15.1%. Also, the tiles have 16 monocrystalline cells per piece.
Both tiles and shingles have a maximum wind rating of 130mph and a maximum static load rating of 112 pounds per square foot or 5,400Pa. In addition, the temperature operating range is the same as the Certainteed product (between.40˚C and 90˚C).
Both Suntegra shingles and tiles offer a low-profile, all-black, and pleasing-looking. They are characterized for being a discrete installation, almost hidden and barely noticeable from the ground level, which makes them an elegant design for any home or building.
Just as we did with the CertainTeed shingles and tiles, estimations on the cost are shown in the table below, which are subjected to variations depending on the conditions of your roof, energy requirements, and location.
For both shingles and tiles, Suntegra offers a 10-year product warranty and a 25-year power output warranty.
Forward Solar Shingles
In the few recent years, Forward startup company has had significant growth in the solar shingles market. Forward offers an engineered integration of the roof and the solar cells by the means of state-of-the-art technology and a unique aesthetic that matches the classical U.S. home.
They offer their star product called Forward Metal Solar Roof, claimed to be a cost-effective and efficient solution that harvests a great amount of clean energy while it gives a sleek and futuristic appearance using shining metal standing seam type of roof. The system comes in 8 different possible colors to cover all requirements.
It has a non-solar portions cost of 9.75 per square foot and a 3.75 per watt cost related to the solar parts, which are quite competitive compared to the previous brands mentioned. Also, it has a weatherization warranty of 30 years.
The product is claimed to achieve an energy density of 19 watts per square foot while having an excellent thermal performance by the means of a passive ventilation system, which optimizes the heat dissipation and the airflow between shingles and your roof deck.
Additionally, this design is claimed to be reliable, robust, long-lasting, and can withstand powerful mechanical forces. The most interesting fact about Forward is that they are probably the only valuable brand available that offers a solar-roof integrated solution based on metal standing seam roof type, making it perfect not only for homes but also for garages, barns, and other industrial types of roofs.
Luma Solar Shingles
Luma Solar is another important interesting solar shingle company that has been gaining momentum for many years in the US. It’s recognized by having solar shingles products with a high rate of electrical efficiency while also having a futuristic, seamless, and luxurious looking. Luma offers results in your house that have combinations between active and inactive solar shingles.
The price changes depending on the conditions, roof complexity, energy requirements, and others. However, estimations set the average cost of the solar shingles of Luma at 4.5 per watt and could go up to 38 per square foot.
Additionally, it offers a 25-year limited power warranty at 80% and a 5-year limited product warranty.
Luma Solar Roof claims to have solar shingles with an incredible conversion efficiency of 22,1%, which is even higher than standard solar panels. It uses 16 monocrystalline 80W cells per shingle.
It handles a temperature operation range between.40˚C to 85˚C, having a great thermal and airflow management that maintains excellent levels of energy yields.
Additionally, every shingle weighs 19.8 lbs., and they are designed to withstand mechanical forces of 2,400 Pa for static wind loading and 5,400 for static load snow loading.
Luma offers a distinguished good looking for your house, not only because of its futuristic appearance but also because of the Matte black finish, which gives a sleek line.
Are these “solar shingle technologies” right for you?
All the products mentioned above will provide an extraordinary aesthetic view for your home. Not to mention that some of them will offer the functionality of performing as the roofing material and act as the structural support by the means of Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV).
Replacing roof or just adding solar?
If you are only looking for a solar PV system, installing solar shingles in the roof of your home can be an interesting alternative to go with if your requirements are more focused on aesthetical objectives than on cost-effective and efficient goals. From an economical point of view, it is still hard for solar shingles to compete with conventional solar panel systems.
However, in cases where changing your roof is necessary, solar shingles may present themselves as a more economically viable choice that combines both approaches into one for a cost similar to a solar panel system plus roof installation. In some other cases, replacing your roof may not be what you need, but the structural engineer may require you to replace the roof to make the solar panel installation feasible. If you find yourself in a situation like that, you may want to reconsider going with a solar shingle installation.
Another situation where solar roof shingles can definitely be a great choice is for new houses. Choosing solar shingles since the construction process can drastically reduce the cost impact, increase your ROI, and ease the installation process.
In any case, if you are interested in solar shingles, it is advisable for you to get a quote for your roof-specific layout and compare it with other conventional solar panel systems plus roofing installation quotes. This will allow you to find out which approach would best suit your needs. However, keep in mind that in the end, the house will always look better with solar shingles, which is a plus to consider for the value of your property.
Shingled solar panels: A must-consider solar shingle alternative
Finally, shingled solar panels are an innovative technology which is carrying out a wide range of advanced features in terms of solar energy optimization.
They should not be confused with solar shingles, which are part of BIPV, whereas solar shingled panels are more similar to standard solar panels but with cells that are cut into several strips that are subsequently connected to form modules by the means of an electrically conductive adhesive (ECA).
Major developments on this technology have taken place in the residential sector so far. Solar shingled panels are a promising technology that is much less expensive and more efficient technology than solar shingles.
We have examined multiple solar shingle products and brands with the objective to show you some of the best brands available in the market today. We learned that a solar roof shingle investment is a solution that must balance aesthetics and functionality where the new shingles of your roof will actually be generating electricity.
However, we also learned that the decision to install it must be balanced with the costs for such type of project since they can be considerable depending on the house. New houses or cases where a roof replacement is required due to structural stability reasons, are probably the best ones for solar shingle installations. In these cases, the economics can definitely be balanced with the benefits of a high-end finish.
Solar shingles still have a long way to go and with the variety of products available for multiple roof types that go from shingles, concrete standard tiles, and even metal standing seam, there are plenty of choices that you can consider to start generating clean energy and potentially improve the look for your house. comment
Last updated: February 15, 2022
Are Black and Blue the Only Options for Colored Solar Panels
Are black and blue the only options for colored solar panels from Ridge Valley Exteriors. Most solar panels on rooftops come in two colors: black and blue. There are only two options for color solar panels, so if either of them doesn’t fit with your aesthetic or your HOA has rules regarding roof colors, you may be less likely to install solar power. Tesla’s initial Solar Roof tile designs might make you want to wait and see if other colors become available.
However, it is for specific reasons that solar panels aren’t widely available in different colors. A broader range of colors could soon become available to people interested in investing in home solar. Still, some challenges need to be understood and available in the future.
Do Solar Panels Come in Different Colors?
There are a variety of colors available for residential solar panels.
The long answer is that solar panels can’t be ordered in different colors to match your home. They’re pricier and produce less power when they’re colored. Smaller, specialty manufacturers often have them as a result. Solar panel manufacturers currently use dyes or coatings to make solar panels other than blue and black, which reduces their efficiency.
Also, solar installers are less inclined to buy these panels. Solar panels are used to lower energy costs, so most customers don’t want fancy panels that cost more and work less well just because they’re different colors.
Therefore, making colored solar panels available for a single customer would be impossible for a solar energy company. In addition, buying in bulk from their preferred solar manufacturer saves the company money by purchasing one or two types of solar panels.
Why are Most of the Solar Panels Black and Blue?
Manufacturers do not choose the color of solar panels just for aesthetic reasons. During the manufacturing process, silicon becomes black and blue, which is the natural color of solar cells. Commercially available solar panels fall into two categories: monocrystalline and polycrystalline.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels are Black
A monocrystalline solar cell consists of a single crystal of silicon. Black is more light absorbing than blue, making them significantly more efficient. Usually, newer solar panel installations use black monocrystalline panels due to their higher efficiency as costs drop.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels are Blue
Solar panels that appear blue are made of polycrystalline silicon, in which each cell contains several silicon crystals and their interaction with sunlight results in a blue appearance. Multi-crystal solar cells are less efficient at generating electricity due to their slower conduction due to their multiple crystals. Older installations are more likely to have blue panels because polycrystalline technology used to be cheaper.
Can Solar Panels Be Different Colors?
As we mentioned earlier, solar panels can certainly be colored using dyes and coatings. This reduces panel efficiency, however. Solar panels created with this method have a lower efficiency of up to 45% than blue or black solar panels. Solar PV systems are expensive upfront, which can slow down your return on investment.
New technology is being explored to create better-colored panels with a broader range of colors for a wide range of environments, colors, and aesthetics. Dutch researchers, for instance, developed a soft-print lithography technique that enables panels to reflect specific colors.
Does the Tesla Solar Roof Offer Colored Solar Panels?
Tesla announced in 2017 that they would release four different styles of Solar Roof—essentially photovoltaic panels that resemble regular roof tiles. Smooth glass, textured glass, and Tuscan were among the options advertised. As a result, homeowners guessed that Tesla would soon be offering solar panels in several colors and styles to match their roof types.
Can You Get Colored Solar Panels?
If you want to install colored solar panels on your roof, you can do so. While black and blue solar panels are significantly cheaper and more efficient than the current commercially available technology, you’ll need a specialized installer to order and install them.
In 25 years, colored panels will likely lose their vibrance due to dyes and coatings that don’t hold up well to tough conditions. As such, this aesthetic improvement doesn’t justify the lost efficiency and higher cost to the average homeowner
Due to how silicon is created during the manufacturing process, most solar panels are black or blue due to the lower efficiency issues and high costs of the current-colored solar panels. Furthermore, manufacturers, installers, and most customers are focusing on efficiency. It would be necessary to find an installer who would create a PV system based on those lower-efficiency panels and still produce the most power.
For more information, contact Ridge Valley Exteriors in Kennesaw, GA, Raleigh, NC, and Tampa, and Marco Island, FL at 844-741-7663.
However, it is for specific reasons that solar panels aren’t widely available in different colors. A broader range of colors could soon become available to people interested in investing in home solar. Still, some challenges need to be understood and available in the future.
Roofing giant takes on Tesla to make solar roof shingles more affordable
When Elon Musk unveiled the Tesla Solar Roof in 2016, it was the first that many people had heard of solar shingles. But the idea of a roofing product that can both generate energy and blend in with regular asphalt shingles has been around for decades.
Companies from Dow Chemical Company to the now defunct BP Solar have given the solar shingle a shot, but many of these products are no longer on the market. Solar shingles have been expensive to manufacture and install, and are not yet as efficient as regular solar panels. That’s kept them from breaking into the mainstream.
Now GAF Energy, the sister company to one of the largest roofing companies in the world and a division of privately held Standard Industries, is launching a new solar shingle effort. It just released a product called Timberline Solar, which the company says will be cheaper and more reliable than Tesla’s Solar Roof. It just won the Best of Innovation Award for Smart Cities at CES.
What sets GAF Energy apart
We’re part of the world’s largest roofing manufacturer. We have access to materials that typical solar companies don’t have access to, said Martin DeBono, President of GAF Energy. No one has ever specifically tried to make a solar product that a roofer can install. And we’ve done it, and our product goes on with just a nail gun. It goes on twice as fast as typical solar.
Timberline Solar can be nailed to the roof just like a regular shingle, which GAF Energy says will reduce the complexity and cost of installation. At 17 inches tall and 64 inches long, the shingles are also larger than Tesla’s, meaning there are fewer parts to manufacture and fewer individual wiring connections, which the company expects will also decrease costs while increasing reliability.
However the larger and bulkier design also means that GAF Energy’s shingle doesn’t blend in as well as Tesla’s product, which is nearly indistinguishable from normal roofing material.
Gabriela Bunea, Senior Vice President of Solar RD at GAF Energy, holds the company’s new solar shingle.
GAF Energy says its deep ties to the roofing sector will also help it save on sales and marketing expenses, since the company can attract solar customers from the large pool of people already coming to GAF for a new roof.
The natural moment to actually put solar on a roof is that moment when you’re already about to replace your roof. It makes literally no sense to put brand new PV on an old roof that’s well into its warranty, said David Winter, Co-CEO of Standard Industries.
Winter says that one out of every three asphalt shingle roofs in the U.S. is a GAF roof. So we’re the people that are sitting at the proverbial kitchen table with the homeowner at that moment that they need to replace their roof, where we can introduce the idea of solar.
Read more about energy from CNBC Pro
According to Wood Mackenzie, customer acquisition costs usually make up 23% of the total cost of a residential solar system, so saving here could be key.
GAF Energy also touts the fact that it assembles and partially manufactures its shingles at its facility in San Jose, California. While the company imports its PV cells from Thailand, it believes that having some domestic manufacturing is advantageous.
What that allows us to do is take improvements in our product from the lab and get them to instantiate in the product very, very quickly, DeBono says. Alternately, teams would have to fly overseas to execute changes. And what you see is changes to your product take quarters and years, literally, whereas here it takes hours and days.
Only real world performance over the product’s 25-year warranty will show if GAF Energy has really cracked the code to an affordable and reliable solar shingle product.
GAF Energy did not provide CNBC with specific pricing information, though DeBono estimated that on average, Timberline Solar could cost about twice as much as replacing a roof with normal asphalt shingles.
Let’s say in many parts of the country, you have a fifteen thousand dollar cost for the roof. Getting a solar system, adding that would be another fifteen thousand, DeBono said.
Getting a 30,000 solar roof would be far cheaper than anything on the market today, and could cost less than getting a new roof plus regular solar panels.
For comparison, Tesla’s projected cost for an average-sized 1,700 square foot Solar Roof in the Bay Area is about 40,700 before solar subsidies. But Tesla’s product has been known to cost much more than initial estimates. The company was hit with a class-action lawsuit last year after it dramatically hiked Solar Roof for customers who had already signed contracts. (Tesla later told some customers it would reverse the price increases, according to legal filings.)
The efficiency of GAF’s shingles in a real-world environment is also an open ended question, since previous solar shingle products haven’t been comparable to regular panels.
They fundamentally operate at a lower efficiency, said Barry Cinnamon, founder of Silicon Valley-based solar installer Cinnamon Energy Systems. And the reason is that they’re flush with the roof and the roof is hot. And so hot solar cells don’t work as efficiently as cooler solar cells in conventional modules.
GAF Energy says that it’s using high-efficiency mono-PERC cells, which perform better than traditional monocrystalline PV cells at high temperatures. Yet given the Timberline Solar shingle’s dimensions and its stated 45 watt capacity, in ideal conditions it would still generate less energy per square foot than Tesla’s latest 71.7 watt shingle or an average-sized 300 watt solar panel. Because GAF Energy’s shingles overlap, each one has a lot of inactive material. The company claims that if you look only at the active solar cells, its shingle’s efficiency is on par with Tesla’s shingles, though still less efficient than a standard solar panel.
At the time of CNBC’s interview with Cinnamon, GAF Energy’s shingle had not been released. But speaking about solar shingles generally, he was doubtful that they would ever appeal to the masses.
I really don’t see anything that’s going to change with any of these factors that are going to make it a widespread mainstream product. I think it’s always going to be a niche product like a fancy sports car.
Yet Gabriela Bunea, Senior Vice President of Solar RD at GAF Energy, maintains that Timberline Solar will be able to compete when it comes to cost, efficiency and reliability.
It is my hope that maybe in five, ten years when you are thinking about changing your roof, you will pick the solar roof, because it makes economic sense, because it’s attractive and because you will have the same warranty as the rest of the roof.
Watch the video to see CNBC’s early look inside GAF Energy’s RD and manufacturing facility in San Jose, California, where it’s assembling Timberline Solar shingles.
Lora Kolodny contributed to this report.
Solar Shingles vs Solar Panels Tiles: How to Pick Cost per Square Foot
When you decide to switch to solar energy power, you’ll likely notice the option to choose between solar shingles vs solar panels.
But, knowing how to pick between the two and how much of the cost per square foot will run can be critical to ensure that you maximize your budget and receive the most for your money.
The significant difference between solar shingles vs solar panels and tiles is their aesthetic features, where panels stand out while shingles fit into the roof, not easily detectable.
This complete guide explains the additional differences based on outstanding features like cost per square foot, output, size, installation, maintenance, and other aspects.
What Are Solar Shingles?
DOW company introduced solar shingles/ solar roof tiles in 2011.
They increased in popularity when Tesla launched them in 2016, and to date, more people are adopting them as an excellent solution to renewable energy use. 5
These shingles consist of thin PV panels that transform the sun’s energy into electricity that powers residential homes.
Manufacturers market it as a unique alternative to solar panels since they blend into your roof’s design.
It takes a keen eye to notice them since they become part of your roof. It works if you want to avoid the PV system sticking out from the top.
The downside of the panels is that they can’t ‘move’ to collect direct sunlight.
Solar panels equipped with tracking systems follow the path of the sun to maximize their output and efficiency.
What Are the Benefits of Solar Roof Shingles?
Not many understand how solar shingles work, but from experience, users hail them for their impressive aesthetics and modern convenience. For one, the shingles blend effortlessly into your roof, remaining inconspicuous to passers-by.
They look like polished asphalt shingles, ideal for homeowners who want solar power minus the sticking put panels. Tesla is also working to produce the shingles in fun colors matching various roof types.
Secondly, many solar roofs have advanced tech, facilitating tracking of energy output, making them more modern, unlike panels. They also increase your home’s value which is an excellent investment if you resell.
Disadvantages of Solar Roof Tiles
While solar roofs have incredible qualities, you should also watch out for some downsides as a first-time buyer. Since they are relatively new to the market, unlike panels, it is more challenging to find installers, and it can take a while to set them up.
The price tag is one of the deciding factors in the solar shingles vs. solar panels war. Solar roof tiles are comparatively pricier than panels, given their features, and many find them worth it only when they need to replace their roofs. 6
Another disadvantage is that shingles fit into the roof’s angle. Therefore, you cannot adjust them according to the sunlight.
(Image: National Institute of Standards and Technology 13 )
The power output will be too low if the spot doesn’t receive sufficient rays.
Moving houses also becomes challenging because you may have to leave them intact for the next buyer to avoid tampering with the roof.
Lastly, note that there are more shingles for every panel in the same square foot, increasing the points of failure due to several electrical connections. 3
What Are Solar Panels?
The use of solar power dates back to over 100 years ago when people used it for locomotion in steam production.
Only later did Edmond Becquerel discover the Photovoltaic effect of the sun’s rays, leading to the invention of the first solar cell.
Solar panels developed from this, harnessing the sun’s photons and using them to disrupt electrons in the photovoltaic (PV) cells, which generates a direct electrical current (DC).
Today there are various types of solar panels for all your household and commercial needs, efficiently powering appliances and equipment.
Solar Shingles vs Solar Panels: How Do They Work?
Solar shingles and panels have the same working principle, transforming the sun’s rays into energy and electricity. The rays hit the shingles or the PV cells, and the system absorbs the light and does the rest.
The PV cells between the silicon materials and other semiconductors convert the sunlight into energy thanks to the electric field.
The shingles and panels working with the inverters transform the direct current to alternating current (AC) that powers all your home, vehicle, or appliances.
Solar Shingles vs Solar Panels: Cost and Other Comparisons
Solar shingles vs solar panels are a dilemma for first-timers, causing the need to know how to pick the better version as per their needs.
They work the same but have distinct concepts, including design, efficiency, installation mode, and price points.
The following are the significant differences.
One of the most impressive features of solar shingles is how they enhance a building’s aesthetics. 7 They go unnoticed thanks to how effortlessly they integrate with your roof; you can install them in place of new roofs if you have renovation plans, saving money for new roofing systems.
They are trendy, attractive, sleek, and lightweight. In contrast, you will always spot solar panels since you install them on your roof.
They are more massive and seem bulkier, which is unsuitable for a subtle look.
Solar roof tiles are similar to standard shingles, measuring 12 by 86 inches and less than an inch thick. They weigh 13 pounds a square foot, making them lighter and more flexible than typical panels.
They don’t apply excessive pressure on your house; you don’t need to install brackets and mounts. However, the size of standard solar panel differs since they measure 39 by 65 inches and weigh 40 pounds. 2
It explains why installers insist that your roof should be in excellent condition before set up; otherwise, it won’t survive the panels’ weight.
Solar shingles and panels are long-serving, maintaining their efficiency for 25-30 years. Thanks to advanced tech and improved performance, they can withstand the harsh elements and stay effective for over two decades, after which their output declines.
Solar panels have circulated in the market for longer than solar shingles. They are available in most areas and are the go-to for many wanting to install solar power in their homes and businesses.
However, solar roof tiles are scarce due to less supply in the market. Only a few brands are currently manufacturing them, contributing to the long waiting time when you want to install them.
Solar roofing shingles cost more than twice the price of standard solar panels, ranging between 40,000- 60,000 before tax credit based on the manufacturer, type of roof, and how you want it installed.
Generally, it costs 15-25 per square foot.
Solar installation is usually costly, but panels are relatively friendlier, costing 15,000- 26,000. 8
If you are worried about how much do solar panels cost, you will find them the cheaper alternative, costing 4-10 a square foot.
If you are in a hurry to set up solar power, the best way to go is to install solar panels because the process takes only a day, and you can DIY to save on extra costs. The only rule is that your roof must be in excellent condition.
However, solar shingles installation takes longer, averaging a week or two, depending on the nature of your roof and the design you want. It is more skill intensive and tasking to DIY, and you may have to leave it to the professionals.
Another critical deciding factor to consider when comparing solar shingles and solar panels is their output levels. 4 Since you can adjust panels and point them directly beneath the sun’s rays, you can significantly improve their performance.
They usually produce 250-400W, which is higher than the performance of shingles. Solar roofs are less effective because you cannot adjust them, and they don’t allow for proper airflow beneath them.
Most produce only 13- 63W, lower than panel performance.
Solar Shingles vs Solar Panels: Pros and Cons
Solar panels and roof tiles are fantastic ways to reduce your family or business’s carbon footprint. They work the same but are two different technologies, and the following breakdown may help you pick your favorite.
|Solar roof tiles are aesthetic, sleek, attractive, and modern.
|They are more expensive.
|They don’t stick out and can go undetected while on the roof.
|They have a low power output, unlike panels.
|They help increase your property’s value.
|Their failure rate is higher.
|They feature more advanced tech.
|They are scarce in the market since they are new products.
|They are more affordable
|They are bulkier and stick out more while on the roof.
|They are more readily available in the market.
|Your roof must be intact before installation.
|They are more efficient; have a high power outpu
|They need more room on the roof since they are larger.
|They are less likely to fail.
|Installation is simple and takes a short time; you can DIY and customize it.
Solar Shingles Can Be Nailed In
A striking difference between solar panels and shingles is their installation methods. However, manufacturers like GAF Energy have introduced a new solar tile concept where you nail the sheets onto your roof.
The best aspect of this design is that installation takes a day or two, unlike conventional shingles, which need more than a week.
Additionally, the shingles that you nail down are usually cheaper.
When To Use Tesla Solar Roof vs Solar Panels
The Tesla solar roof, courtesy of Tesla energy, is an impressive design gradually gaining traction in the market. 9 Like other products from the company, it is high-tech and sleek and stands out from other designs from various manufacturers.
You can go for it if the budget is not an issue, although it is usually a deal breaker for many first-timers. It costs almost thrice the price of standard solar panels, but you get your money’s worth if going for the aesthetic appeal.
If panels stick out too much for you, subtle solar roof tiles are better options. They are also lighter and slimmer; you don’t need extra support or harnesses to keep them up.
Are Solar Shingles Right For You?
One of the first questions from homeowners is, are solar shingles worth it? They are new to the scene, highly innovative, and have an impeccable design, but with some downsides.
They are more expensive and less efficient than solar panels.
(Image: National Renewable Energy Laboratory 14 )
However, improving your house’s value and wanting an inconspicuous look is worth the investment. It often goes unnoticed and integrates effortlessly with your roof.
It is also long-lasting, like panels, and can serve you for over 20 years. 1
Solar panels and shingles are viable solutions to help reduce your utility bills while being kind to the environment. 10 Solar roof tiles win in aesthetics thanks to their sleek, lightweight, and modern design.
The only challenge is that they cost more per square foot and are less efficient than panels.
On the contrary, solar panels are cheaper, more effective, and readily available. The problem is that they are heavier, which can be a detriment on an older roof installation.
The solar shingles vs solar panels comparison is close because each has a fair share of ups and downsides, and the solution narrows down to personal preference.
Solar Shingles vs Solar Panels, Which Is Expensive?
Given the advanced sleek design, solar shingles are more expensive than panels. They retail at and cost 40,000- 60,000 before tax credit.
In contrast, solar panels are significantly cheaper, at 4-10 a square foot, and usually cost 15,000- 26,000, making them ideal if you are on a budget.
How Much Does Solar Roof Cost?
A solar roof is the most expensive in the market, and it can set you back 40 000- 60 000 based on factors like the brand and installation method.
It is usually 15-25 per square foot, hence only affordable for some homeowners. However, the sleek, lightweight look is worth every penny if your budget is flexible.
What Are Solar Shingles Cost Per Square Foot?
Solar roof tiles are the pricier option of other designs, considering that it is a new tech and careful construction that fits into roofs. They usually cost 15-25 per square foot, the most expensive rate in the solar power market.
Are There Solar Panels That Look Like Shingles?
Since there are many solar panel manufacturers in the market, tight competition leads to designing slimmer and lightweight panels. You can check your local stores for brands that produce the sleekest design.
They may not precisely look or work like solar roof tiles but may come close in design and tech advancements. The installation method will also be the same as any other panel, but the different look makes it stand out.
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5 This Old House. (2023, October 3). Should You Buy Solar Shingles? Retrieved March 25, 2023, from This Old House
6 National Renewable Energy Laboratory. (2000). Solar Roofing Shingles: Office of Power Technologies (OPT) Success Stories Series Fact Sheet. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Retrieved March 25, 2023, from
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