Should you replace your roof with solar shingles?
We are an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. Our goal is to help you make smarter financial decisions by providing you with interactive tools and financial calculators, publishing original and objective content, by enabling you to conduct research and compare information for free. so that you can make financial decisions with confidence. Bankrate has partnerships with issuers including, but not limited to, American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi and Discover.
How We Make Money
The offers that appear on this site are from companies that compensate us. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site, including, for example, the order in which they may appear within the listing categories, except where prohibited by law for our mortgage, home equity and other home lending products. But this compensation does not influence the information we publish, or the reviews that you see on this site. We do not include the universe of companies or financial offers that may be available to you.
On This Page
Arrow Right Senior editor, Home Lending
Troy Segal is a senior editor for Bankrate. She edits stories about Homeownership in addition to stories about the finer points of mortgages and home equity loans.
The Bankrate promise
At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict editorial integrity. this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here’s an explanation for how we make money.
The Bankrate promise
Founded in 1976, Bankrate has a long track record of helping people make Smart financial choices. We’ve maintained this reputation for over four decades by demystifying the financial decision-making process and giving people confidence in which actions to take next.
Bankrate follows a strict editorial policy, so you can trust that we’re putting your interests first. All of our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts, who ensure everything we publish is objective, accurate and trustworthy.
Our banking reporters and editors FOCUS on the points consumers care about most — the best banks, latest rates, different types of accounts, money-saving tips and more — so you can feel confident as you’re managing your money.
Bankrate follows a strict editorial policy, so you can trust that we’re putting your interests first. Our award-winning editors and reporters create honest and accurate content to help you make the right financial decisions.
We value your trust. Our mission is to provide readers with accurate and unbiased information, and we have editorial standards in place to ensure that happens. Our editors and reporters thoroughly fact-check editorial content to ensure the information you’re reading is accurate. We maintain a firewall between our advertisers and our editorial team. Our editorial team does not receive direct compensation from our advertisers.
Bankrate’s editorial team writes on behalf of YOU – the reader. Our goal is to give you the best advice to help you make Smart personal finance decisions. We follow strict guidelines to ensure that our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers. Our editorial team receives no direct compensation from advertisers, and our content is thoroughly fact-checked to ensure accuracy. So, whether you’re reading an article or a review, you can trust that you’re getting credible and dependable information.
How we make money
You have money questions. Bankrate has answers. Our experts have been helping you master your money for over four decades. We continually strive to provide consumers with the expert advice and tools needed to succeed throughout life’s financial journey.
Bankrate follows a strict editorial policy, so you can trust that our content is honest and accurate. Our award-winning editors and reporters create honest and accurate content to help you make the right financial decisions. The content created by our editorial staff is objective, factual, and not influenced by our advertisers.
We’re transparent about how we are able to bring quality content, competitive rates, and useful tools to you by explaining how we make money.
Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. We are compensated in exchange for placement of sponsored products and, services, or by you clicking on certain links posted on our site. Therefore, this compensation may impact how, where and in what order products appear within listing categories, except where prohibited by law for our mortgage, home equity and other home lending products. Other factors, such as our own proprietary website rules and whether a product is offered in your area or at your self-selected credit score range can also impact how and where products appear on this site. While we strive to provide a wide range offers, Bankrate does not include information about every financial or credit product or service.
Any homeowner who’s concerned about carbon footprints and energy costs has considered solar power — usually, in the shape of solar panels. But now there’s another option: an entire solar roof.
Solar roofs are composed of solar shingles, aka solar tiles, that can fit over existing shingles or be installed on their own. So the energy-harvesting ability is baked into the roof itself. The shingles do everything regular shingles do, roof-wise (protect your house from the elements), are fire-resistant, and are quite durable. Plus, they look a lot more sleek and seamless than solar panels.
If you’re considering replacing your roof (or are building a new one for a new home), solar shingles may be a particularly timely choice. The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in August 2022, offers enhanced tax credits of up to 30 percent of the cost of installations, increasing the incentive to go solar.
Let’s shed more light on the subject.
What are solar shingles?
Solar shingles or tiles are like regular roof shingles. But instead of being made of asphalt, clay or slate, they are made of glass that contain photovoltaic cells. Photovoltaic cells act as semiconductors and transfer energy collected from the sunlight into electrons, which can then become electrical current to power your home. Each shingle typically produces between 13 and 63 watts of energy, depending on the brand (one of the latest, by industry leader Tesla, claims to have a max power of 71 watts). While they both convert sunlight to energy, solar shingles are quite different from the solar panels (we’ll dig into the differences later).
The first solar shingles were developed by DOW Chemical Company, rolling out in 2011. But the concept began to get serious traction in 2016, when Tesla purchased manufacturer Solar City and began offering what it deemed the Tesla Solar Roof. Today, there are several brands of the solar roof tiles available through manufacturers like CertainTeed, GAF Energy, Luma, SunTegra and of course Tesla. (Dow dropped out of the game.)
The average size of a solar shingle or tile is about 12 inches wide by 86 inches long. It takes about 350 solar tiles for a standard-size roof. Tiles weigh about 13 pounds per square foot, so most roofs can handle them without additional reinforcement.
What do solar shingles cost?
Although the have been dropping of late, as more makers enter the market, solar roofs are expensive. On average, the cost to install solar roof shingles runs 21 to 25 per square foot or 2,100 to 2,600 per roofing square. So a total project could easily average 60,000 to 75,000 — at least. That’s considerably higher than the cost of a conventional roof (between 5,646 and 12,031. according to HomeAdvisor). Even expensive traditional materials like clay or slate (800 to 1,800 per square) cost less than solar tile.
What solar roof tiles will cost you depends on several factors including:
- Roof size: The bigger the roof, the more shingles needed.
- Roof pitch/slope: As is the case with any roof, the more extreme the angling, the more difficult/risky the installation will be, which affects the overall cost.
- Home location: Labor (installation) costs vary by city and state.
- Energy needs of your home.
- Particular manufacturer/brand of shingle or tile.
Still, solar shingle have dropped since their introduction, and they may continue to do so, given the Inflation Reduction Act’s significant incentives and grants for solar implementation, for builders as well as consumers. The Solar Energy Industries Association believes that the IRA’s investment in clean energy will spur “a renaissance in American solar manufacturing,” driving down costs. as its recent “Catalyzing American Solar Manufacturing” report put it.
What do you save in energy costs?
While expensive to install, a solar roof can save in the long run. Depending on the number of tiles on your roof, solar shingles can reduce energy costs by anywhere from 40 to 60 percent, according to the consumer education site SolarReviews. Additionally, you may be eligible for federal and state tax incentives.
Helping the immediate bite a bit: Per the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, eligible homeowners who install solar shingles will qualify for a 30 percent tax credit on the installation cost. Starting in tax year 2023, this credit continues through 2032 (and then at a reduced percentage through 2034). Several states offer credits, rebates and other incentives as well.
Solar shingles vs solar panels
Both solar shingles and solar panels can be a great option to take your home energy efficiency to the next level. But which is best for you? The advantages of each in a nutshell:
|weather-resistant and durable||Can be more energy-efficient depending on roof slope, sunlight exposure|
|Greater energy-bill savings||Shorter installation time|
|aesthetically pleasing (fewer potential HOA issues)||inexpensive to install|
What are the advantages of a solar roof?
When compared to conventional roofs and solar panels, there are some advantages to investing in solar shingles.
- They are projected to be long-lasting (30-40 years)
- They reduce energy use/carbon footprint and bills
- They blend in better and resemble traditional roof materials
- They are more cost effective per watt of solar energy than solar panels
- They are easier to maintain than solar panels
What are the disadvantages of a solar roof?
Downsides of solar shingles relate to their being such a new technology.
- Availability is more limited
- They are more expensive than conventional roofs and solar panels
- They have fewer style and color options
- Since part of the roof itself, they cannot be installed at an angle like solar panels can, to produce maximum energy
- They are not conducive to a DIY installation
The final word on solar shingles
Solar shingles are still pretty new, which means experienced installers and contractors may be limited in your area. And their exact lifespan and durability is still something of a question mark, of course: None have been around long enough to prove the current projections. Nor is there much sense, as yet, as to how they’d affect a house’s resale value (though eco-friendly features, in general, are getting more popular with homebuyers).
Still, if you’re an environmentally-conscious homeowner in need of a full roof replacement or a roof for a new build, solar shingles are worth considering. With some states now requiring that newly built homes be solar power-equipped, and enhanced federal tax credits in effect starting in 2023, the time to go solar may be now.
How Much Will a Solar Roof Cost in Los Angeles?
When you think of solar roofs, you probably think of big, bulky solar panels. Less than a decade ago, that was your only option. But now, you have another choice. At Guardian Roofs, our roofing experts use photovoltaic tiles, which mimic the design of a regular roof. Your neighbors won’t be able to tell that your roof is any different and it will blend in with your Los Angeles home’s current style.
Los Angeles Solar Roofing Cost
In Los Angeles, the starting cost of photovoltaic tile is about 21 per square foot. The final cost will depend on the size of your roof and the materials you select. When considering installing a solar roof, its size will be determined by a few key factors, such as where you live, the characteristics of your roof, and your current energy use.
The price of your solar roof can change depending on a number of factors, including those listed below.
You may notice variations in installation depending on your roof’s complexity. Grouped into simple, intermediate, and complex, the classification is intended to reflect the difficulty of installing a new roof onto your home. Though your roof may not meet all the criteria of a given category, in general:
- A simple roof is a single level with a low pitch and few obstructions
- An intermediate roof is multi-level with a higher pitch and more obstructions
- A complex roof is multi-level with a steep pitch and many obstructions
Though there is no known set rate of increase between classifications, based on our hypothetical estimates using the Solar Roof calculator, you can expect a difference of 1,400 on your electric bill.
The Solar Roof is meant to be installed on top of a single-layer 3-tab asphalt or composition shingle roof that is less than 20 years old. For any other roofing material, or on any buildings more complex, the roof must be replaced entirely. At its cheapest, requiring a roof replacement will add between 10,000 to 16,100 to your total.
Additional Costs and Upgrades
Depending on the current infrastructure present in your home, it may be necessary to perform additional upgrades during installation. This includes services such as extra electrical work or the installation of a Solar Roof on a shed or deck. are quoted directly to you upon inspection, but it is important to note that they are not included in the Solar Roof calculator estimate.
Federal or state-level incentives may deduct a significant amount from your final bill. The Solar Roof calculator helpfully factors in these incentives, which you can find on our website. While incentives vary at the state level, any roof installed on a residential building from 2020 to 2023 can expect a 26% Federal Tax Credit.
The Installation Process
A Solar Roof may take a while to install. You can purchase your Solar Roof directly from us, then we’ll work with you to design a Solar Roof system specifically for your house, using the information you provide and satellite imagery.
Then, any authorizations or permits that must be granted have to be approved. After that, installation of the roof will take place, followed by a necessary inspection from local authorities and then the final connection of the system to your utility grid. The exact timeline and requirements for finishing any of these steps will vary depending on a number of factors. This includes, but is not limited to, your location, the number of third parties that must be involved, and the weather.
Is It Worth It to Get a Solar Roof?
If you’re willing to pay the high price point, need to replace your roof, and like the idea and sleek aesthetic of photovoltaic tiles, it may be worth getting a Solar Roof. Otherwise, more traditional solar panel systems may make more financial sense while still increasing your home’s energy efficiency.
If you’re ready to experience what solar roofing can do for your Los Angeles home, contact the Guardian Roofs team today!
Solar Panel Cost
Affiliate Disclaimer: All products and services featured are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Solar panels are a considerable investment—not just for the sake of your community and planet, but for your home’s value. Various factors influence how much a solar system costs. including the panels you choose, your home’s energy needs. and applicable state and federal tax incentives.
We have conducted in-depth research on the best solar companies in the United States and the industry overall. This guide breaks down the significant factors that influence what solar panels cost, as well as the national average for a solar energy system.
Compare Solar Companies
Available in 50 states Has been in the industry since 1985 Provides its own monocrystalline solar panels
Available in 23 states 25-year warranties for the product, labor, and inverter Power protection guarantee
25-year workmanship and product warranty Perks for new construction homeowners Available in 20 states
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Each State?
Solar panel costs can vary according to your state’s energy rates and access to solar technology. Check the table below to get an idea of what solar panels might cost you in your state.
This cost data was based on the national average from multiple sources including EnergySage, SolarReviews, and Ecowatch.
Solar Panel Cost Breakdown
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) estimates that the national average cost for a typical 6-kilowatt (kW, or 6,000 watts) residential rooftop solar system is roughly 18,000 before any federal tax credits or local incentives. Overall, you should expect to pay anywhere between 10,000 and 24,000, depending on your system size and location. The total cost of a solar system includes solar panel. which vary in price by brand and type, installation labor, and additional equipment. A solar installation company will charge a combination of labor costs and a price per watt for each solar panel. Based on a May 2019 report
Types of Solar Panels
- Monocrystalline: The most popular solar panel on the market today, monocrystalline panels offer the highest efficiency rate, at an average of 24%. However, they are also the most costly. The average cost for monocrystalline solar panels is 1 to 1.50 per watt. Therefore, a standard 6kW system costs between 6,000 and 9,000.
- Polycrystalline: Polycrystalline panels are a more cost-effective option up front. However, they feature a lower efficiency rate than mono panels, at an average of 20%. The average cost for polycrystalline solar panels is 0.90 to 1 per watt, or 5,400 to 6,000 total.
- Thin-film: Thin-film solar panels are less popular for residential solar systems. They tend to cost around 1 to 1.50 per watt.
Solar Panel Installation Cost
Installation costs range between 100% and 200% of the cost of the solar panel system itself. So, for example, if you purchase a 6kW monocrystalline solar panel system for 9,000, then a solar installation company will likely charge approximately 18,000 to 27,000 for the system and the installation, combined. The installation of a larger system will naturally increase labor costs.
Residential solar systems also typically require a battery to store energy and an inverter, which converts the variable direct current (DC) output of your PV solar panel s into alternating current (AC). Most solar companies will include these components in your solar system’s design. However, if you request specific brands of inverters or batteries, they may come at a premium.
Other Factors to Consider About Solar Panel Costs
In addition to the cost per watt for each solar panel, other factors influence the overall cost of a solar power system. We have listed some of the most critical factors for you below.
Take note of your current cost of electricity. as switching to solar may or may not save you money on your energy costs. The larger your home and higher your monthly electric bill. the more benefits you are likely to see from switching to solar. A solar system can eliminate a homeowner ’s electricity bill in some instances.
On the other hand, if you already have relatively low utility bills. you may not see enough savings to justify the expense of installing a home solar system.
The location of your home plays a vital role in how much money solar panels can save you. Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the data analysis site Stacker determined that the following 10 states are the sunniest in the continental United States:
You can use a solar panel system even if you don’t live in these blue-sky states. Most solar panel installers use photovoltaic (PV) panels, which can absorb both direct and indirect sunlight. However, these solar panels generate the most energy on angled roofs that allow maximum sun exposure. On the other hand, a flat roof will require the construction of angled platforms, which will add to your labor costs and increase the overall cost of your solar system installation.
Additionally, south-, west- or southwest-facing roofs get more sun exposure. For example, a home that experiences less shade and has a south-facing roof with a slope between 15 and 40 degrees will receive the most sunlight. Therefore, these homes receive and retain more solar energy. On the other hand, a home with trees around it or in a less sunny region, like the Pacific Northwest, may not save as much money as a homeowner in Arizona or California.
Your roof’s age and structural soundness will also influence the overall cost of solar panel installation. Repairing your roof or upgrading your roofing material to support panels will come at an additional expense ahead of installation and affect your total cost.
Both state and federal governments provide solar incentives to help offset the up-front costs of switching to solar. Namely, the federal solar tax credit, or solar investment tax credit ( ITC ), plays a significant role in helping to make residential solar panels a better investment. This tax credit provides 30% off your total price of solar panel installation.
Local incentives vary by state. For example, some states allow you to earn and sell credits for the electricity your solar system produces through a net metering program. Others offer solar rebates. We recommend using the Database of State Incentives for Renewables Efficiency to see what rebates and state tax credits you can receive.
Solar providers offer various payment methods that influence how cost-effective your investment in solar is. Here are the four payment options you can choose from with most solar companies :
- Purchase: Paying for your solar system up-front is the most cost-effective payment method for a solar system. Not only will you avoid paying interest over time, but you will also be eligible to file for the federal tax credit at your next income-tax filing.
- Solar Loan: Solar companies understand that not every homeowner is willing or able to pay for their system up-front. so they partner with a lending company to provide loan options. As with all bank loans, your interest rate will depend on your credit score.
- Solar Lease: Some homeowners may elect to lease their solar panel systems. With this arrangement, the solar company still owns the system, and you pay a set monthly amount for the installed solar panels. This option is not as cost-effective over time as purchasing or financing your system, as you are not eligible to receive state or federal incentives. However, you avoid paying hefty up-front sums.
- Power Purchase Agreement (PPA): A solar PPA lets you pay little to nothing for the actual installation of the PV system. Instead, you pay monthly payments to a utility company based on the energy generated by the system. Think of this as if you are paying for your usual electricity bill. As with a lease, you don’t own the system and are thus ineligible for tax incentives.
Residential solar panels help you cut both your electricity costs and carbon emissions. To ensure switching to solar is a sound investment for you, pay attention to your current utility rates. If you notice that your utility bill tends to be on the mid to upper end of your state’s average, you are nearly guaranteed to save money with solar in the long run.
In addition, if you can purchase or finance your solar system. you are making a more cost-effective decision than if you lease or sign a PPA.
We suggest using the tool below to see which solar installation companies service your zip code and get a sense of what a solar provider near you charges for installation.
What is the Average Cost of Solar Panels?
The average cost of solar panels as of Spring 2023 was 3.30 per watt, excluding financing. This price includes hard costs, like hardware and equipment, and soft costs, like installation labor and required permitting.
This cost data comes from a March 2023 Report by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) in partnership with Wood Mackenzie Power Renewables.
All that to say, there is no set price for a solar panel system, despite what the internet may say. In reality, your system price will be custom to your specific situation and will depend upon a variety of factors that each solar installation company accounts for a bit differently, including:
- Your energy usage and electricity bill
- System size and efficiency
- Solar panel make and model
- Your location within the U.S.
- Eligible tax credits, incentives, and solar rebates
- Local permitting and utility requirements
- Condition and layout of your roof
Now, we introduced lots of concepts in the first two paragraphs: price per watt, incentives, hard costs, soft costs. It can be a lot to take in. In the rest of this article, we’ll break down these ideas and key terms so you can understand them better. We’ll even provide you with an average savings amount per state so you can get a better sense of how much money you could potentially save on monthly costs should you make the decision to go solar.
If you’re ready to estimate your costs now, head on over to our solar panel cost calculator. Using proprietary Mapdwell technology, we analyze the solar potential of your specific roof to provide you with a preliminary system size recommendation, along with cost and savings estimates.
How Are Solar Energy Systems Typically Priced?
There are many ways solar companies share the price of solar panels. The three most popular include:
In our opinion, the most comprehensive method for pricing solar panels is the gross cost. Let’s explain why and then discuss each pricing model in detail.
A lot of work goes into ensuring that you can safely turn on your solar power system–much more than simply attaching solar panels to your roof. The gross or total cost of solar panels will typically encompass everything you need to lawfully turn your system on before financial incentives, such as the Federal Solar Tax Credit, are applied.
Yes—that’s right. You cannot lawfully install or power on your system without getting permission from the “authority having jurisdictions” (AHJs) for your area, which are often government entities. Other entities requiring permission may include your local building department and utility company, though the specifics will vary by location. If your home is part of a homeowners association or HOA, there may be additional approvals required.
Other costs not often mentioned but necessary to the successful completion of your solar panel system include:
- System design and engineering
- Equipment and hardware (e.g. module, inverter, racking, and electrical wiring)
- Permitting and inspections
- Installation cost and labor
At Palmetto, our solar estimate factors in these costs so you can better understand what it takes to begin generating electricity with your solar panels.
Price Per Watt
While we prefer using gross cost as our metric, we cannot discount the importance of price per watt. Price Per Watt—or PPW—is based on the maximum power output of a solar energy system, and is shown as the dollar amount per watt of solar energy a system can produce.
Because solar panels vary in both size and efficiency, this allows homeowners to compare costs based on overall system performance, rather than the number of panels or square feet of roof space. PPW is calculated by taking the gross cost of a solar panel system and dividing it by the total wattage, or power capability, of that system.
How do you calculate the size of the solar system you’ll need? That will depend on your energy usage (which you can see on your electricity bill) and how much of that electricity you want to come from solar panels. This is called solar offset, or the percentage of your total energy needs that can be offset by the electricity your solar panels generate in optimal conditions.
Many homeowners target a 100% solar offset when selecting the right system size for their home. The ability to do this will depend on preference, roof specifications, and utility guidelines. To calculate yours, you can use our free solar design and savings estimator tool.
The difference between gross cost and PPW is that the former already factors in system size, while the latter does not. Using PPW, you’ll be able to measure the comparable value of several solar power system quotes that may differ in solar panel types, wattage, and more.
Price Per Panel
You might also see solar panel systems priced by the panel. This metric is often used to price DIY solar panel kits, which we may recommend for your RV or boat, but not for your home.
It’s true that panels do differ in price depending on their make, model, and efficiency. Higher efficiency panels will likely cost more; however, you will not need as many of those panels to generate the same amount of energy created by a larger system that uses cheaper, low-efficiency panels. You could even spend more on those lower efficiency panels because you need to buy more panels for the same amount of electricity.
We rarely see this metric used to price residential solar energy systems because it leaves a lot of valuable information out of the equation.
Understanding the Hard and Soft Costs of Solar
It’s important to understand that the price tag of solar almost always includes more than just the equipment costs. It includes the costs necessary to install and get your system online. Let’s go over hard costs and soft costs so you can better understand them.
Hard Costs of Solar
The hard costs of solar refer to the physical equipment of your solar panel system, including the following:
- Solar panels
- Solar inverter
- Electrical panel
- Mounting and racking
- Electrical equipment
These will vary by solar company, as not all installers offer the same equipment.
Soft Costs of Solar
The soft costs of solar include labor and time taken to make sure you have all the relevant permits and licenses needed to operate your system. This may include but is not limited to the following:
- Permitting fees
- Inspection fees
- Interconnection fees
- Sales taxes (if applicable)
- Supply chain costs
- Installation costs
- Customer acquisition costs
- Transactional fees
The benefit of choosing a solar installer like Palmetto is that we factor these services into the cost of our system. We work on behalf of our customers to make sure their installations meet strict quality standards and that their system receives the correct permits in order to lawfully operate.
What Does It Cost to Lease Solar Panels?
A solar lease is a financial arrangement where the company that installs your solar panel system retains ownership, and you pay a fixed monthly amount to use any electricity the solar panels produce. Leasing solar also helps you lower your utility bill, and is often ideal for homeowners who are on fixed incomes and/or may not be eligible for the solar tax credit.
With this arrangement, you typically don’t pay any upfront costs for the residential solar installation, and your costs are just the subsequent monthly rent. You’ll make that monthly payment for the duration of your lease, and the solar installer is fully responsible for installation and maintenance.
To learn more about solar leases, visit our article that compares leasing vs. buying solar panels.
How Much Do Solar Panels Save?
Because savings may vary by state, we’ve compiled a table of Palmetto customers’ median system size and median estimated total savings. We sorted the data by state, and forecasted savings based on a 25-year lifetime of the system, before breaking that down into monthly savings.
Monthly savings figures are based on median estimated total savings over 25 years for recent Palmetto customers. Actual savings may vary. This information is current as of March 2023.
Calculate the Cost of Going Solar with Palmetto
Want to see how much you could save by installing solar panels on your home? Using Mapdwell technology, Palmetto has mapped the solar potential of more than half of all rooftops in the United States. To see what your roof could look like with solar panels, and to get a custom quote, use our free solar design tool and cost calculator. You can begin your journey toward a cleaner energy future today!