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Decotech solar roofing system. Decotech solar roofing system

Decotech solar roofing system. Decotech solar roofing system

    Roofing companies take the lead in solar shingle race

    Solar shingles, solar tiles, solar roofs — whatever you call them — are trendy once again with the announcement of a “nailable” product from GAF Energy. These products in the building-applied or building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) category of the market take solar cells and condense them into smaller panel sizes that attach to a residential roof on a lower-profile than traditional rack-mounted solar systems.

    The idea for solar-integrated roofing products has been around since the beginning of solar generation itself, but the more successful attempts have been made in the last decade. Promising lines of solar shingles (like Dow’s Powerhouse) have largely failed due to their lack of an installation network willing to get on the roof with the solar product.

    Tesla has been learning this the hard way with its whole-roof attempt at solar shingles. Solar installers aren’t always familiar with roofing needs, and traditional roofers aren’t versed in connecting glass tiles for electricity generation. This has required Tesla to learn on the fly, being responsible for managing every project instead of subbing out.

    “The solar shingle is something everyone’s interested in, but what Tesla is doing is very complicated,” said Oliver Koehler, CEO of solar shingle company SunTegra. “If you imagine replacing the whole roof, not just the solar area — it gets quite complex. It’s not something your average solar integrator even wants to be part of.”

    That’s why the more successful companies like SunTegra, which makes solar shingles that are installed in conjunction with traditional asphalt shingles or concrete tiles, have made their solar roofing products in sizes more familiar to roofers and solar installers alike, and reached out to those communities for installation expertise.

    SunTegra has been making 110-W solar shingles and 70-W solar tiles since 2014 and relies on a small group of authorized dealers to complete around 50 solar roof installs each year, mostly in the Northeast for upper-middle-class homeowners.

    “We have lots of leads doing literally nothing [other] than just having our website out there. A lot of homeowners love solar but don’t necessarily love solar panels. The issue for us is how do you satisfy that demand,” Koehler said. “Solar shingles and tiles are still a niche, but it can become a bigger part of the market. The costs have to come down and how it integrates with the standard solar installer has to become streamlined from both a sales and product perspective.”

    SunTegra may be succeeding with its modest installation record, but the real secret to growing the solar roof market is getting solar shingles on more middle-class homes through existing roofing installation channels. The two frontrunners in this race are roofing giants GAF and CertainTeed, although they’re banking on very different products.

    Focusing on roofs rather than solar

    The solar shingle with the most real-world experience is the Apollo II product from CertainTeed. On the market since 2013, Apollo can be installed on both asphalt shingle and concrete tile roofs (and slate and cedar-shake roofs). Mark Stevens, CertainTeed’s solar product manager, said the industry can expect a next-generation design within the next year, but right now the Apollo II solar shingle tops out at 77 W, using two seven-cell rows.

    CertainTeed Solar Apollo II

    Rather than covering an entire roof with solar tiles, CertainTeed keeps its solar shingle to 46- by 14-in. and allows traditionally sized CertainTeed-branded asphalt shingles to be used around the perimeter of the Apollo array. And although CertainTeed doesn’t make concrete tiles, the Apollo system can still be used on that specialty roof without custom tiles.

    “We’re a vetted solar shingle. We’ve been around almost 10 years. We know what our product is and how it performs,” Stevens said. “But right now, solar roofing is only 2% of the market.”

    That is why CertainTeed offers full-sized solar panels in addition to its solar shingle. Both products are assembled through an OEM in San Jose, California.

    “It’s important for us to have [traditional solar panels and solar shingles] to have a good presence in the industry. It gives us a good option and a better option,” Stevens said. “Apollo gets people interested because it’s low-profile [and] aesthetically pleasing. Then they see the price is slightly more.” But CertainTeed installers can offer traditional rack-and-solar-panel systems as a cheaper alternative.

    CertainTeed Solar Apollo II

    The key to CertainTeed’s success is working through its existing network of dealers. Customers may reach out for a bare reroof and then open to the idea of solar after talking to one of the thousands of certified CertainTeed roofers across the country.

    “Solar shingles have been out for a while. But having a company like GAF and CertainTeed bring that information to roofers is a big deal,” Stevens said. “It’s a struggle for those Dows and SunTegras to have those connections. They’re approaching roofers, but it’s a challenge because they’re not already associated on the asphalt shingle side.”

    decotech, solar, roofing, system

    Like CertainTeed, GAF and its solar division, GAF Energy, is turning to the company’s existing network of asphalt shingle roofing installers to generate buzz around GAF’s solar roofing product. Also already involved with full-sized module installations through its DecoTech offering, GAF Energy is now shifting FOCUS to its new nailable solar shingle: Timberline Solar Energy Shingle.

    Comparison of GAF Energy’s DecoTech product (full-sized solar panels) and Timberline Solar (solar shingles)

    “Our thesis from a design and development perspective was, ‘Let’s make a roof that can generate electricity vs. trying to take a solar form factor and squeeze that down to fit on a roof,’” said Reynolds Holmes, GAF Energy’s VP of services and product management. “GAF Energy is partnered with a company that has almost 10,000 certified contractors who are installing asphalt shingles. If you could take that base of an asphalt shingle, design a way to make [solar] installable just like an asphalt shingle, not change the labor force, not change the tool set but be able to provide electricity and energy through that product — I think we could knock it out of the park.”

    The Timberline Solar shingle is approximately 64- by 17-in, while the solar portion (one row of 16 half-cut cells that generates 45 W) measures 60- by 7.5-in. That extra non-solar portion is actually TPO roofing material and is nailed to a roof.

    “We designed it to be handled by one person with a nail gun. We reached that max length of anything longer than 60 in. of rigidity became unmanageable for a single installer,” Holmes said.

    GAF Energy Timberline Solar Energy Shingle

    Timberline Solar is installed alongside Timberline Solar HD shingles, which are specialty sized (40-in.) asphalt shingles for the solar roof. By having both products divisible by 10, the staggered pattern of shingles made by roofers can still easily be laid down. The whole Timberline Solar system (which is assembled in the 50-MW GAF Energy manufacturing facility in San Jose, California) was designed for ease of installation — the connectors are on top of the solar shingle and covered with a protective shield after the roof is fully installed.

    Texas roofing company Roof Fix is one of those 10,000 GAF dealers that will install the Timberline Solar product as it rolls out across the country. Shaunak Patel, home advisor at Roof Fix, said the company also previously installed the DecoTech product and was often fielding questions about other solar shingle companies, especially Tesla. Patel liked to reiterate that it’s more advantageous to work with a roofing company rather than a technology developer.

    “Tesla is effectively a rack-mount system. You have a ton of penetrations in your roof. You have all these potential failure points, especially from a company that doesn’t do roofing,” he said. “We’re a roofing company. We’re not a solar company that’s trying to do roofing.”

    GAF Energy Timberline Solar Energy Shingle

    While GAF Energy’s and CertainTeed’s solar roof products aren’t as visually cohesive as what Tesla is attempting, Holmes said realistic demands on aesthetics are not what’s impeding growth of the BIPV market — scale is.

    “You have to design and develop a great product that has an accessible price point, but you also have to build the infrastructure to scale this product,” he said. “The thing we’ve leaned heavily on and made design decisions maybe against being the highest power is making sure it’s installable by this 10,000-strong network. At the end of the day, if you have a great product that meets all needs but there’s no one who can install it, you might as well not have a great product.”

    About The Author

    Kelly Pickerel

    Kelly Pickerel has over a decade of experience reporting on the U.S. solar industry and is currently editor in chief of Solar Power World.

    Комментарии и мнения владельцев

    This product looks terrible. Every photo has a home that obviously has solar, so why not just get panels if you don’t care what it looks like? Bad looking installations just ruin the marketplace for those that do good work.

    Good article and couldn’t agree more with the final paragraph. The shingles are a nice product but what about the performance? Standard modules have much more air flow around them which will have considerably lower operating temps. With voltage directly and negatively affected by high temps, how do these roof shingles perform in the real word in comparison? I can see they are less efficient /sqft, so you need a larger array area to get the same rated power, but then once installed, how do they compare with real world production to standard systems? I am not looking for sales pitches, just real data to compare. I am not finding anyone providing this which makes me question the product in general. If it was good, wouldn’t they be bragging is my argument.

    GAF installs its first fully integrated solar roofing system DecoTech

    GAF, North America’s largest roofing manufacturer, announced that Bay Valley Contractors completed a fully integrated residential solar panel installation. The 5.1 kW DecoTech Solar Roofing System was installed on a home in Concord, Calif. This location follows several successful installations on test sites throughout the U.S.

    Simple installation and attractive design

    DecoTech Solar Roofing System is the sleek, low-profile, integrated solar roof system that GAF offers at an affordable price. The system provides a seamless aesthetic and is installed directly to the roof deck – unlike rack-mounted solar panel systems that sit above the roof and require multiple points of entry. Its unique fastening mechanism and flashed perimeter maintain the integrity of the roof and help protect against moisture and leaks.

    “Building on the GAF expertise in roofing and solar, we designed DecoTech to be intuitive for roofing contractors to install and affordable for homeowners to choose,” said Tommy Rodrigues, research scientist and head of solar product design and development at GAF. “Our high-output panels use best-in-class technology, allowing consumers to harness maximum solar energy.”

    “The DecoTech design simplifies the installation process,” said Ryan Diaz, vice president at Bay Valley Contractors, the company that completed the installation. “Other solar panel systems require contractors to drill into the roof to locate rafters, but DecoTech has an interlocking system that fastens directly to the roof deck, which helps cut down on installation time.”

    Heritage in roofing and solar

    GAF has a 130-year history in roofing and decades of experience in solar, including several patents on solar roofing products, a Solar Elite Contractor certification program, and proprietary solar financing relationships that have given the company a unique perspective on the market. The DecoTech Solar Roofing System, which is available for purchase and installation across the U.S., is the latest product in the growing GAF solar portfolio.

    “We are seeing accelerated interest in DecoTech among consumers seeking to lower energy costs and find sustainable solutions. GAF is proud to offer an elegant solution with exceptional warranty protections for homeowners,” said Patrick Brokaw, GAF senior residential solar program territory manager for the Western region. “DecoTech’s aesthetic appeal and ease of installation make it unique to anything on the market today, and we are committed to continued growth and innovation in solar.”

    GAF has multiple DecoTech Solar Roofing System installations scheduled across the country through-out the coming weeks and continues to introduce its offerings to leading roofing and solar contractors.

    DecoTech is the proprietary GAF Solar Roofing System. With a low-profile, sleek design and mono-chromatic Deco Black gloss finish, the high-output solar panels offer a seamless aesthetic. Its concealed wires, metal frame, and waterproofing elements provide durability and allow the panels to shed water just like shingles. The interlocking system, which fastens directly to the roof deck, is de-signed for simple and fast installation by GAF factory-certified roofing contractors.

    Listen to more in-depth conversations on Solar Builder’s YouTube channel

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    Power Forward! | A collaboration with BayWa r.e. to discuss higher level industry topics.The Buzz | Where we give our 2 cents per kWh on the residential solar market.The Pitch | Discussions with solar manufacturers about their new technology and ideas.

    GAF Solar Shingles – Bel Air’s Premier Residential Solar System

    GAF Solar Shingles feature superior affordability and cutting-edge technology. That makes these shingles the premier residential solar system for residents in Bel Air or the greater Baltimore area.

    Have you been considering solar technology for your roof? Did you know that you have options besides the rack-mounted solar panels offered by solar companies? Keep reading to learn more about integrated roofing systems provided by GAF Energy.

    This article will detail GAF Energy’s solar roofing products and why they are a no-brainer for providing reliable solar energy.

    What Are GAF Energy’s Integrated Roofing Systems?

    GAF Energy has two fantastic solar options for customers. One is an integrated panel system, and the second integrated option has solar technology incorporated into the shingles themselves.

    GAF solar products are third-party tested by companies like UL for quality control and are installed by select GAF-certified roofing companies rather than solar companies.

    We will look at each of these options from GAF in a little more detail.

    GAF Energy DecoTech

    GAF Energy DecoTech is an integrated solar system. That means that instead of solar panels being mounted on racks on top of an existing roof, GAF Solar options are built onto the roof deck.

    GAF Energy DecoTech offers solar technology added to a roof with superior waterproofing to traditionally mounted panels. These panels are sleek and low-profile for optimal aesthetics.

    Timberline Solar™ Shingles

    Timberline Solar™ Shingles are a new technology that simplifies solar roof installation. Even though GAF Solar Shingles are still rolling out to some parts of the country, these shingles are available in Harford County.


    GAF Energy Solar Products are more affordable because roofers with standard roofing equipment install them. On the other hand, most solar products are installed with specialized equipment by a solar company.

    Instead of needing a roofing and solar contractor, you just need the roofer!

    GAF certifies selected roofing contractors to install their products. This also means that waterproofing and construction are completed by workers who know roofs best.


    GAF offers its best warranties to products installed by contractors with certifications unique to its products. When installed by a GAF-certified contractor, the warranty on the solar products matches the warranty for the entire roof.

    GAF Energy Is a Dependable Brand

    GAF Energy has been a trusted brand in roofing products for 135 years. GAF’s longevity sets them apart in the world of solar residential options.

    Since GAF makes more than solar shingles, they have a standing in the roofing market. This allowed GAF to invest in developing solar shingles and supports business longevity. Customers can rest assured that GAF will stick around to honor warranties.

    GAF Energy won 2022 Best of Innovation Award for Smart Cities at CES for their unique and cost-saving approach to the solar shingle.

    GAF’s Solar Shingle Competition

    We’ll explain why GAF Energy’s solar shingle competition lacks momentum. Many solar-specific companies have risen and fallen over the years despite the popular demand for solar technology for residential roof shingles.

    The expensive development costs for solar shingles make it hard for small, new businesses to remain steady. Solar technology has been historically unaffordable to many households, so these fragile companies have small customer bases.

    Larger companies like Dow and BP Solar have also sold Solar Shingles but haven’t been able to present reliable and affordable options to the public.

    While Tesla’s solar tiles have been available since 2016, the high price point has prevented many homeowners from being able to afford them. GAF Energy has made unprecedented strides in offering affordable solar shingles.

    Cost Mitigation for Solar Roofing: Will Solar Shingles Pay for Themselves?

    It’s possible, over time, for solar shingles to pay for themselves. There are a couple of ways that shingles save or earn money for homeowners.

    Incentives for Solar Energy

    Check with current local, state, and federal incentives for solar products. These change yearly but can help offset the price of investing in solar technology.

    Energy Production

    How much energy the roof produces depends on available sunlight. This is impacted by trees and other buildings, the angle of the roof, and the product’s energy production. In turn, this determines the amount saved or earned.

    • Savings: Producing solar energy means a lower or nonexistent power bill.
    • Earnings: Excess Solar energy is purchased from the power company. This is called Net Energy Metering (NEM). The rate and availability of NEM vary from location to location.


    GAF’s new solar system is a wonderful addition to what we offer at Tar Heel Construction Group. We’ve written another article here on the 3 best solar roof systems for Maryland residents.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How long will solar shingles last?

    GAF Energy’s solar shingles have a warranty of at least 25 years against manufacturing defects. With special installation, these shingles also have wind protection (for winds up to 130 mph) for up to 15 years.

    Do solar shingles increase your home value?

    Solar shingles frequently increase home value because home buyers are willing to pay more for a house with functioning solar shingles than a similar home without. The exact amount varies based on the local market.

    Can solar shingles be walked on?

    Roofing contractors may step on solar shingles without damaging them. However, homeowners are not advised to walk on rooftops due to safety concerns.

    The 7 Best Solar Roof Options for 2023

    Leigh Matthews is a sustainability expert and long time vegan. Her work on solar policy has been published in Canada’s National Observer.

    Tesla may have been the first company to introduce a full solar roof, but they weren’t the first to make solar shingles. Here, we give you the basics of solar roofs, as well as our top picks for the best solar roof options, including Tesla, with pros and cons for each.

    Table of Contents

    • How a solar roof works
    • The benefits of a solar roof
    • The look
    • Cost-effective roofing and solar combined
    • A high-performance roofing solution
    • Effective use of space
    • No external wiring
    • Easier to repair and replace
  • Are there any downsides to solar roofs?
  • Cost and efficiency
  • Lifespan and flexibility
  • Other downsides to solar roofs
  • The best solar roofs: our top picks
  • CertainTeed
  • What we like about CertainTeed solar roofs
  • Specifications
  • What we don’t like about CertainTeed solar roofs
  • Tesla Solar Roof
  • What we like about Tesla Roofs
  • What we don’t like about Tesla Roofs
  • SunTegra
  • What we like about SunTegra
  • What we don’t like about SunTegra
  • Forward Solar Shingles
  • What we like about Forward
  • What we don’t like about Forward
  • GAF
  • What we like about GAF
  • What we don’t like about GAF
  • DecoTech
  • What we like about DecoTech
  • What we don’t like about DecoTech
  • Luma Solar Roofs
  • What we like about Luma Solar
  • What we don’t like about Luma Solar
  • Other solar roof companies to watch
  • Solar roofs FAQ
  • Solar Roofs vs. Solar Panels

    • Solar shingles and tiles
    • Little change in home appearance
    • Costs 20,000 – 100,000
    • No drilling into your roof (with some options)
    • Easier to repair
    • Less efficient
    • Shorter warranty (10-20 years typically)
    • Shorter lifespan (commonly, 20 years)
    • Fewer skilled installers
    decotech, solar, roofing, system

    Solar Panels:

    • Solar panels
    • Solar array mounted to roof
    • Costs 15,000 – 40,000
    • Typically requires drilling into roof
    • Harder to repair
    • efficient
    • Longer lifespan (25-40 years)
    • Longer warranty (25 years)
    • installers available

    How a solar roof works

    Tesla introduced its solar roof in 2016, shaking up the solar industry forever. But how does a solar roof work?

    The Tesla roof uses tempered glass shingles to replace all the standard shingles on your home’s roof. Some of these shingles are also solar panels, meaning that nearly every inch of your roof could, in theory, generate electricity.

    Because most roofs have a few spots that don’t get much sunlight, Tesla Roofs also include a few inactive panels. These look the same as the solar shingles but don’t produce energy, which helps to keep down the cost of installation and saves resources.

    Tesla Roofs are the only full solar roof currently available, but they’re not the only option for going solar without solar panels. In fact, the first solar shingles were brought to market in 2009 by DOW Company, and several other companies also make solar shingles.

    What’s the difference? Solar shingles are just that: shingles. They’re designed to either integrate with your existing or new roof shingles or tiles or to sit on top of them. Either way, the look isn’t quite as seamless as a full Tesla Roof.

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    The benefits of a solar roof

    There are many benefits to going solar, and solar roofs and shingles offer all these and more.

    The look

    Solar roofs provide all the benefits of a rooftop solar array without dramatically changing the appearance of your home. That’s because solar shingles are designed to look as much like regular roof shingles as possible. Most solar shingles can be integrated into an existing tile or shingle roof, or can be laid over top as a sort of second skin for your roof. Even if they’re attached on top of your roof’s regular tiles, the profile of solar shingles is a lot lower than with mounted solar panels.

    With a Tesla Roof, all the tiles look the same, regardless of whether they’re active solar shingles or inactive tiles. This makes a solar roof or solar shingles a great fit for homeowners who don’t like the look of more conventional solar panels. A solar roof may also enable homeowners to benefit from solar without invoking the ire of homeowner associations.

    Cost-effective roofing and solar combined

    A new roof can be a costly proposition, as can a solar installation. What if you could combine the two and save some cash?

    If your roof is due for an upgrade, consider a solar roof. Sure, it will cost more than a regular roof, but it will typically cost less than a regular roof plus a conventional solar array with similar power output.

    A high-performance roofing solution

    Worried that a solar roof won’t be as good as a regular roof? There’s no need for concern. These roofing shingles perform just like regular shingles, only they produce electricity while keeping your home watertight and safe from the elements.

    The key here is that solar shingles combine solar cells with the roof sheathing. In more conventional solar arrays, solar modules are mounted on top of shingles (or other roofing material).

    Effective use of space

    Solar shingles can be a great way to go solar if you have a small roof that makes a standard solar set-up difficult or even impossible. For the same reason, solar shingles can be a good choice for a roof with awkward space constraints, such as dormers, skylights, and so forth.

    After all, a shingle is far smaller than a solar panel. This means you can squeeze a few shingles onto a small area and maximize your rooftop real estate. You might even decide to skip your rooftop entirely and instead install a solar roof on your garage, shed, or an auxiliary dwelling, especially if these get more sun exposure than your home.

    No external wiring

    Standard solar panel installations require external wiring that connects the mounted solar panels to the inverter and main service panel inside your home. With a solar roof and most solar shingles, all the wiring is internal and hidden. This reduces the risk of damage from wind, rain, birds and other wildlife, and so forth.

    Standard solar arrays also have to be mounted on top of roofing material, which usually means drilling into the roof. Some metal roofs allow for solar modules to be clicked into place, but regular roof shingles and tiles require solar installers to penetrate the roofing material, which can cause damage and create weak spots.

    These problems are unlikely if you use an experienced and skilled solar installer, but they’re still a risk with regular arrays.

    Some solar shingles are direct to deck, acting like both a solar panel and a roofing shingle. Others attach to existing roofing shingles or tiles. As such, the potential for damage to an existing roof varies greatly between differing solar roofing options.

    Easier to repair and replace

    Another key benefit to solar shingles is that they’re lightweight and relatively easy to repair and replace. If one or two get damaged, you can quickly replace these with fresh solar shingles or inactive shingles as needed. It’s much harder and more costly to replace or repair an entire solar panel.

    Solar shingles are also built to withstand rain, snow, and wind. And if something does go wrong, most companies offer a good warranty, so you can get your shingles replaced for free. Tesla even offers a lifetime warranty for its physical shingles, which is great if you’re planning on staying in the same home for a long time. If you think you’ll move home in the next 25 years or so, though, that lifetime warranty might not be all that useful, given it’s hard to take your solar roof with you (unlike solar panels).

    Are there any downsides to solar roofs?

    So far, so good, but what about the disadvantages of solar roofs?

    Cost and efficiency

    As discussed, solar shingles aren’t cheap, despite being more cost-effective per watt. Compared to the price of a standard rooftop solar installation (15,000 to 40,000), the Tesla solar roof has been reported as ranging from 30,000 to nearly 100,000. What’s more, Tesla has shifted its dramatically, and without warning, several times, catching customers off guard. Tesla also now insists that solar roof customers buy the Tesla Powerwall battery, which raises the cost even more.

    Tesla isn’t the only name in town, though, and you definitely pay a premium for the brand.

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    High-efficiency shingles from other companies tend to be less expensive and just as efficient as Tesla’s shingles, but they’re all less efficient than the best solar panels. In general, a solar shingle typically produces between 13 and 63 watts. They need high sun exposure and a good slope to meet their maximum output, though.

    Why are solar shingles less efficient than solar panels?

    The main reason is that building-integrated solar panels (BISPs, or BIPVs) don’t typically allow for air to circulate underneath, which means they overheat quickly, which impairs electricity production.

    This lack of efficiency combined with higher upfront costs can mean a longer payback period for solar roofs. In fact, solar roofs don’t offer anything like the return on investment of a standard solar array, unless you’re in need of a new roof anyway.

    Lifespan and flexibility

    Solar roofs and shingles also have a shorter lifespan than most regular solar panels. While a standard solar panel can usually keep producing electricity at around 80% of original output for 25 years or more, solar shingles usually maintain that level of output for just 20 or so years. They also produce less electricity to start with.

    One other downside of a solar roof is that it can be hard to take with you if you move. Unlike solar panels, solar roofs are custom-made to fit your home. Solar shingles or DecoTech integrated panels may be able to go with you if you move, depending on the type of roof at your new home.

    Other downsides to solar roofs

    While solar roofs are increasingly popular, you might not be able to find a skilled installer in your area. In contrast, conventional solar installers are easy to find, which also means the labor cost of an installation is typically lower than for a solar roof.

    The same goes for solar shingles. While there are more installers for these than for Tesla Roofs, it’s still very hard to find a credentialled installer in most places, especially if you live outside of a big city.

    Finally, you’ll want to consider the environmental cost of installing a solar roof. Chances are you’re interested in these products because you want to live a greener lifestyle. Sending your current, perfectly respectable roof to a landfill just so you can install a solar roof isn’t very sustainable.

    The best solar roofs: our top picks


    Highlights: Solar shingle option with an impressive amount of experience in the roofing industry making products that integrate well into your existing roof, negating the need for a total roof upgrade.

    • Excellent reputation and roofing experience
    • Company offers full roofing solution incorporating solar tiles/shingles
    • Works with asphalt and concrete roofs
    • Well-established brand
    • Much lower cost than a Tesla Roof
    • Water, wind, and fire resistant
    • Excellent, transferrable warranty
    • Quick and easy installation and maintenance
    • No waitlist!
    • High-efficiency monocrystalline solar cells
    • Includes inverter and wiring as needed
    • Not a full solar roof
    • Solar shingles/tiles look different to regular roofing
    • No specific pricing available on website

    CertainTeed has been offering solar shingles for longer than Tesla and has more than one hundred years of experience in the roofing industry. The company currently offers two designs for solar roofs:

    Apollo Shingle 11 can be installed as part of a new roof or with an existing asphalt roof. These shingles are all-black and can be placed in strips or patches on part or most of the roof. Each shingle measures 46.75 inches wide and 17 5/8 th inches deep.

    Apollo Tile II is suitable for concrete tile roofs. These tiles have a black laminate look and come with a custom frame color to match various earth-tone concrete tile colors. Each tile measures 47 inches wide and 17.25 inches deep.

    What we like about CertainTeed solar roofs

    Unlike with a Tesla Roof, you can easily integrate solar shingles from CertainTeed into your existing roof. This avoids the need for a total roof upgrade and makes for a much lower cost installation. (In some situations, Tesla might be able to add its Solar Roof on top of your existing roof.)

    A CertainTeed solar roof is typically a lot less expensive than a Tesla Roof. CertainTeed solar shingles are also more widely available in the U.S. The company has been in the roofing business for more than a century and has hundreds of service personnel ready to install its solar shingles. With no waitlist and more roofing experience than any other solar shingle manufacturer, CertainTeed is a great choice if you need a new roof or just want to add a few solar shingles to get started.

    CertainTeed makes its solar shingles and tiles in the U.S. Every installation includes fire-resistant underlayment (where relevant), flashing accessories, starter strip and wind clips, home run wiring, an optional string inverter, and an optional monitoring system.

    Both types of solar shingles are easy to install as they use the same low-tech system as regular asphalt and concrete tiles. That is, your installer will attach the shingles to the roof’s sheathing using standard deck screws. This makes for a far speedier and more straightforward installation than with more complex solar shingles.

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    The tiles are also easy to maintain, with open space under the modules and built-in wire clips allowing for easy wire management and installation.


    CertainTeed uses higher-efficiency solar technology than most solar shingle companies (and is transparent about specifications!). Every active tile has 14 high-efficiency monocrystalline silicon solar cells. These tiles have a power rating of 70 watts each, which is higher than most solar shingles. The efficiency rating of Apollo Shingle 11 is 17.2%, while Apollo Tile 11 has a 17.8% efficiency rating.

    CertainTeed shingles are very lightweight and just as flexible as regular shingles. The Apollo Shingles weigh just 2.7 lbs. per sq. ft., which is around the same as a standard asphalt shingle. The Apollo Tiles weigh 3.1 lbs. per sq. ft., which is far less than a concrete roof tile.

    While lightweight, these solar shingles can withstand an impressive 250 lbs. per square foot. They’re also resistant to water, fire, and wind and even carry Florida Building Code High Velocity Hurricane Zone rating (Vult 194mph).

    The Apollo Shingles 11 and Apollo Tiles 11 have a power temperature coefficient of.0.37%. While nowhere close to the coefficients of REC solar panels, this is actually fairly similar to many of the best solar panels. Not bad for a solar shingle or tile packed tight to a roof!

    Both types of roofing materials have an operating temperature between.40 and 194 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 and 90 Celsius).

    CertainTeed also offers a comprehensive warranty that covers all system components. This includes a 25-year warranty on power output and a 10-year warranty covering the inverter, all other system components, and a 110-mph wind warranty.

    Given the company’s long history, there’s also a good chance CertainTeed will be around to honor that warranty in 25 years. If you work with a CertainTeed-credentialed solar installer, the professional installation of your system is also covered for up to 25 years. You can even transfer the warranty if needed, which is a huge plus when trying to sell your home.

    What we don’t like about CertainTeed solar roofs

    The main downside to CertainTeed solar shingles is that they’re not a ‘hidden’ solar installation. While these tiles and shingles can be integrated, the color mismatch with non-solar shingles and tiles is very obvious on most roofs. That said, if a low profile is your main concern, CertainTeed is a great choice.

    The second key downside to CertainTeed is that the company doesn’t offer any specific pricing information on its website. To get a sense of how much your installation will cost, you’ll need to contact the company or find a local installer that works with these shingles or tiles.

    It’s reasonable, however, to assume that a fairly standard installation would cost somewhere between a full Tesla Roof and a standard solar panel setup. The cost will largely depend on the size, shape, and type of roof, its age, and whether you plan on replacing the whole roof, integrating a few solar shingles, or packing as many solar tiles or shingles as you can into the space you have.

    Tesla Solar Roof

    Highlights: Seamless, sleek, and inconspicuous design with a brand name attached at the cost of a lengthy waitlist, and a pricetag to match.

    • The complete package, with matching shingles throughout
    • 25-year tile and power and weatherization warranty
    • Sleek, modern designs (four styles of tile available)
    • Well-established brand
    • Can add significant curb appeal and value to your home
    • Backed by ANSI standard tests for durability
    • Typically takes just 5-7 days to install
    • Can be installed on top of some existing roofs
    • Tesla offers a payment program (loan) and upfront payment options
    • You may be on a waitlist for years
    • Now only available with Powerwall battery storage
    • You pay for the name
    • Not as efficient as solar panels
    • Hard to customize or reconfigure with non-Tesla products (such as a wind turbine or microhydro system)
    • Can take up to 14 days to install (versus a day for some solar panel projects)
    • Requires permits in some locations / not allowed by some Homeowner Associations
    • Very expensive compared to a regular roof, regular solar panels, and other solar shingles

    Tesla first presented its Solar Roof in 2016, wowing onlookers with its sleek, futuristic look. These days, there are at least four styles of Tesla Solar Roof tile to choose from. Each roof is custom-made and incorporates glass solar tiles, glass roofing tiles and architectural-grade steel tiles.

    The three types of tile are indistinguishable from each other, creating a seamless design. All of the tiles act as roofing material, though only some generate solar power. This helps avoid wasting resources by installing solar shingles in areas of your roof that get very little sun.

    Once you place your Solar Roof order, Tesla asks you to upload a recent utility bill. This helps the company size your solar roof according to your electricity needs. Tesla will also schedule an on-site assessment to determine the complexity of installing a solar roof. The more mounting planes, obstructions (chimneys, skylights, vents, and fans), and peculiar pitches, the trickier and more expensive the roofing project.

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    Tesla Solar Roofs include the shingles themselves, all the wiring and the inverter, and a Powerwall battery to store excess energy produced by your array. This provides backup power should the main electricity grid go down.

    What we like about Tesla Roofs

    The best thing about a Tesla Roof is that it’s a full roof. Unlike most other companies making solar shingles, Tesla offers the full package and a seamless, inconspicuous design. If money is no object and you want a full roof upgrade, a Tesla Roof is a great choice.

    Other good things about Tesla roofs include a generous 25-year warranty for defects in design and materials from the date of installation. Tesla also offers a weatherization warranty which states that “Your Solar Roof will remain in place and prevent damage to your home caused by the passage of wind and rain through your Solar Roof for 25 years”.

    Tesla also offers a module warranty promising that your Solar Roof will still operate at 95% or more of its Rated Peak Power at the 5-year mark, with production declining by no more than 0.5% annually for the next 20 years. All-in, that puts operating capacity at 85% or more after 25 years. Pretty good!

    Despite these warranties, Tesla Roof tiles are built to last. The shingles are tested for durability by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and hold up well against wind, hail, fire, and rain. You can also choose to install a Tesla Roof on top of your existing roof, assuming it meets certain conditions.

    Tesla also uses higher-efficiency monocrystalline solar cells for its shingles.

    What we don’t like about Tesla Roofs

    Tesla Roofs are expensive. There’s no getting around the fact that you pay for the name. To make matters worse, Elon Musk announced on in April 2021 that “Tesla Solar Panels Solar Roof will only be sold as an integrated product with Tesla Powerwall battery.” So, if you were looking for just a Tesla Roof, your cost outlay just got a lot higher (and you’ll need somewhere to store that battery).

    The idea is that solar power from the Tesla roof would feed exclusively to Powerwall and that Powerwall will then interface with utility meters and a home’s main service panel. The trouble, of course, is that some customers want a grid-connected system without battery storage. After all, batteries are expensive, require regular maintenance, and typically need replacing every 5-15 years.

    This also gets to another downside of a Tesla Roof: inflexibility. Sure, the shingles themselves might be quite flexible, but the system isn’t. The whole thing is designed for seamless integration with other Tesla products, meaning you’re going to struggle to MacGyver anything. If you do, you’ll likely invalidate any warranties. So, if you’re thinking you might want to eventually go off-grid, hook up a generator, or even add a wind turbine or microhydro system, a Tesla Roof, inverter, and Powerwall system can make that far trickier.

    Tesla Roofs can also take a while to install, especially if your roof is complex. This means greater disruption and a higher installation cost. And that’s assuming you can install a Tesla Roof where you live. Some homeowner associations won’t allow these roofs and even if they do, you might be on a waitlist for years before finding out your roof isn’t suitable.

    Installers are also hard to find, with Tesla Roofs most readily available in California and a handful of other test markets.

    Finally, Tesla continues to be shady about the specifications of its solar roof. It has never published efficiency ratings or temperature coefficients, for instance, which are important factors when choosing solar equipment.


    Highlights: Low-profile solar shingle option that can integrate into existing rooftops, but with significantly larger shingles.

    • Quick and easy installation and maintenance
    • No waitlist!
    • Works with asphalt and concrete roofs
    • Much lower cost than a Tesla Roof
    • Water, wind, and fire-resistant
    • Low profile makes shingles/tiles barely visible from the ground
    • Not a full solar roof
    • Solar shingles/tiles look different from regular roofing
    • No specific pricing available on website
    • Much lower efficiency than solar panels and some solar shingles/tiles
    • Bigger size may make for less flexible installs
    • Less generous warranty than CertainTeed, Tesla, and Forward
    • Poor temperature co-efficient / unsuitable for very hot climates

    SunTegra is another good option for a solar roof. This company, like CertainTeed, offers solar shingles that can be installed in an existing roof or as part of a full roofing package.

    SunTegra offers both asphalt and concrete tile options for solar roofs. Like CertainTeed’s Apollo systems, these tiles can be placed on, or integrated into, a new or existing roof.

    The shingles are significantly larger than CertainTeed’s shingles at 53 5/8 th inches wide and 23 1/8 th inches deep. The tiles are also a lot larger at 52 3/4 th inches and 16 7/8 th inches.

    While there’s no pricing information available on SunTegra’s website, the company offers free, no-obligation estimates based on where you live and your home’s solar potential.

    What we like about SunTegra

    SunTegra, formerly known as Integrated Solar Technology (IST), is fully dedicated to solar solutions. The company’s founder, Oliver Koehler, previously worked at BP Solar and SunPower and branched out to provide more innovative solar solutions for homeowners, buildings, and businesses.

    While a smaller business than CertainTeed, SunTegra is expanding rapidly in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. There is currently no waitlist for a SunTegra installation, so this is a great choice if you’re looking to add a few solar shingles or tiles to your roof right away.

    SunTegra solar tiles and shingles are rated to withstand 112 lbs. per sq. ft. and a maximum wind speed of 130 mph. The operating temperature range is the same as CertainTeed’s at.40 and 194 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 and 90 Celsius).

    SunTegra’s tiles and shingles are barely visible from ground level, thanks to their low profile. The lightweight design avoids the need for structural engineering and building permits. SunTegra also claims that their installation process is much simpler and faster than for Tesla or Forward and uses “50% fewer parts than conventional rack-mounted systems.” Integrated wiring makes for fast and easy installations and maintenance.

    SunTegra also plans to introduce new solar products for garden and patio spaces and for the sides and facades of commercial and community buildings.

    What we don’t like about SunTegra

    While low-profile, the all-black aesthetic is very apparent on most roofs. If you’re looking for something more seamless, a Tesla Solar Roof or Forward installation is your best option.

    SunTegra is only a solar company; it doesn’t offer a full roofing service. As such, if you need to replace your roof, you’ll have to coordinate installations with two companies. Both products come with a 10-year product warranty and a 25-year power output warranty, which is less generous than the warranties offered by CertainTeed, Tesla, and Forward.

    SunTegra’s solar tiles have 16 monocrystalline cells each and a power output of 64 to 70 W. Their efficiency ratings are 13.9%, 14.5%, and 15.1% for the STT 64, STT 67, and STT 70, respectively. These are much lower than most solar panels. In fact, you may need to cover 50% more of your roof to produce the same amount of electricity as a standard solar array.

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    The solar shingles are more efficient than their tile counterparts but less efficient than CertainTeed’s shingles. There are three shingle models available, with outputs between 105 W and 114 W. The higher wattage is because all of the shingles have 24 monocrystalline cells. The efficiencies, however, are just 15.9%, 16.6%, and 17.2% for the STS 105, STS 110, and STS 114 respectively.

    SunTegra’s solar tiles and shingles also have a poorer temperature co-efficient (-0.404%) than CertainTeed’s products. If you live somewhere very hot, these tiles are unlikely to be a great option currently.

    Based on reports in the press, SunTegra shingles appear to cost around 15% more than conventional solar panels, or about 3.65/Watt. For a 5 kW installation, then, this would amount to 18,250. However, because the tiles and shingles are less efficient at converting sunlight into electricity, their payback period would be longer than a standard solar panel system.

    Forward Solar Shingles

    Highlights: The very first complete solar roofing solution offering a metal solar roof as a viable and attractive alternative to the Tesla Solar Roof.

    • A complete solar roofing package
    • Much lower cost than a Tesla Roof
    • Modern, standing seam metal roof design
    • Available in 8 colors
    • 30-year weatherization warranty and 40-year roof guarantee
    • Can add significant curb appeal and value to your home
    • Typically takes just 2-3 days to install
    • No data on cell efficiencies
    • No data on temperature co-efficient
    • You may be on a waitlist for years
    • Currently only being installed in a small part of California
    • No further details available about the warranties
    • Not as efficient as solar panels
    • No payment program (loan) option available, unlike with Tesla

    Forward began life in New York State through an unsuccessful Kickstarter, around the same time as Elon Musk started talking about his Solar Roof idea. So, while Forward is still far smaller than Tesla, this company actually pipped Musk to the post in publicly launching the first complete solar roofing solution.

    Fast forward to 2022 and the now California-based company offers its Metal Solar Roof as a viable and attractive alternative to a Tesla Solar Roof. This galvanized metal standing seam type of roof comes in eight colors and must be installed as a complete roof solution.

    Forward uses tempered glass-metal monocrystalline solar roof panels on portions of the roof exposed to the sun. On shaded areas or other parts not suited to solar, Forward uses roll-formed metal with a baked-on enamel in a similar color and matching style.

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    If you’re interested in a Forward roof, you can pay a deposit of 1,000 to reserve a spot on the waitlist. The company then offers a free consultation that includes hard numbers on anticipated total costs and expected energy output. You have a 90-day window to decide to move ahead with your order, during which time your price is locked in.

    If the product doesn’t seem like a good fit after the consultation, your deposit is returned in full. If you go ahead, you’ll get an expected installation date and regular updates through an assigned representative. You can also opt to change the color of your roof up to a month before installation is scheduled.

    Forward offers a 30-year weatherization warranty and the roof is guaranteed for 40 years.

    What we like about Forward

    The solar sections of a Forward roof are made with tempered glass over high-efficiency solar cells. These sections are the same size and shape as a standing seam metal roof. The cells are designed with a transparent optical layer below the glass (to let sun in) but look opaque when viewed from the ground below. This makes for a more modern, seamless aesthetic than solar shingles or tiles from CertainTeed or SunTegra.

    Forward is the only solar roofing company currently offering an integrated solar roof based on a metal standing seam design. This makes Forward a good fit not only for homes but also for barns, garages, and even industrial type roofs.

    Forward solar roofing can be installed in just two to three days and is suitable for roofs with at least a 1:12 pitch. This makes Forward a good fit even for flatter roofs which may be unsuitable for other types of solar shingles. All of the wiring runs through your attic space and you can ask for optional snow guards to prevent snow from shedding in areas such as over doorways.

    Forward combines inactive and active roofing components with pricing at 9.75 per square foot for non-solar portions. The solar sections come in at 3.75 per Watt, with an energy density of 19 W per square foot. For a 5 kW solar roofing system, then, you’d be looking at a cost of 18,750 for the solar cells. Assuming this occupied around 263 sq. ft. of a 1200 sq. ft. rooftop, the total cost would come in at around 17885.75 (18,750 plus 9135.75).

    Forward acknowledges that asphalt shingles are a major problem for landfills. So much so, the company has partnered with emerging asphalt recycling facilities to repurpose the asphalt shingles it removes and turn these into road surfacing material.

    What we don’t like about Forward

    Forward isn’t very forthcoming with technical specifications or other important details. For instance, it doesn’t reveal the efficiency ratings of its solar cells, though it claims to have a higher energy density than standard solar panels.

    According to Forward, its roof offers more efficient use of roofing space to increase opportunities for electricity production. Given the eight color options, however, it’s worth noting that each one would block a different part of the visible light spectrum, which would affect the cells’ ability to create electricity.

    Forward also offers no information on its temperature coefficient, nor any additional information on its warranties. It’s also not clear how robust the roofing material is against hail, wind, snow, water, or fire.

    Finally, even six years after its Kickstarter, Forward is still only installing solar roofs in a test area around San Francisco. One might surmise, then, that the current waitlist is quite lengthy. In fact, Forward actually recommends reserving your spot years in advance of when you think your roof might need replacing. Basically, if you’re interested in a Forward solar roof, don’t wait until your roof leaks to get in line.

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