Solar Shingles For Your Roof [Data Facts]
Solar roof shingles are the best possible replacement for traditional solar panels. Although solar shingles have been around for a while, their popularity only spiked when Elon Musk announced his own Tesla solar roof. With a competitive price, sleek design, and unprecedented functionality, solar roof solutions are the best investment for those who do not want to compromise their roof looks and property aesthetics.
What are Solar Roof Shingles?
Solar roof shingles are roof tiles with built-in solar cells. The photovoltaic shingles can, therefore, completely substitute for your roof and look much better than standard solar panels added to the roof. Proponents of the technology also say that roof shingles are more durable than traditional solar panels and that they give multipurpose to the otherwise useless surface: generating electricity and staying protected from the elements now go hand in hand.
As yet another product on the solar market, solar tiles can help usher renewables into daily life and help mitigate climate change. Made from conventional roofing materials, with an added solar cell in each tile, they are a great substitute for building-integrated photovoltaics – a solution many disliked. The newer generation of solar tiles can cover the entire roof and give it a uniform, sleek design that you will want to see, not hide away from.
When choosing solar shingles, there are several factors you should consider. All of these are important in determining what your roof will look like, which brand you will use, how much energy you will get, and lastly, what the cost will be. The factors to consider when choosing solar shingles for your home include:
The lifespan of solar shingles is around 25-30 years. This means that your shingles will generate electricity for the next two to three decades after the installation is done. During this time, your shingles will produce energy that is enough to pay them off, especially as your energy costs will be almost nullified. Conventional shingles cannot do this.
When it comes to the size of your shingles solar array, it can be observed that the size can relate to the size of individual shingles and the size of the total solar array. In the former case, choosing shingles you think will work the best with your existing shingles is the most important factor. In the latter case, the size of your solar system is also important, as it should be large enough to produce all the energy your family needs, especially in the upcoming years. You may need an expert to help you with the calculations.
The number of roof shingles is also important. Here, you need to understand that each shingle produces only a limited amount of energy. This means that you need to divide your total energy needs with the DC output of the shingle model you would like to purchase. As most shingles can produce between 35 and 80 Watts a piece, you will need quite a few to cover your needs.
Bear in mind that the total cost of your installation and the average cost per foot sq. will depend on the ratio between active and inactive shingles. Tesla solar shingles, for example, come with both active and inactive shingles. However, their ratio is determined by your energy needs and roof size.
The material used in your shingles also has a big say in their looks and performance. In general, the basis for the shingles is asphalt, concrete, or metal. The solar cell inside can be polycrystalline or monocrystalline. Alternatively, thin-film solar cells can also be found. Monocrystalline shingles have the highest efficiency, while thin-film technology offers the lowest possible power output.
Different materials mean different efficiency, which, in turn, means differences in the energy generation capacity. With solar shingles, you can generally expect an energy generation capacity of between 35-80 Watts per shingle, which is great considering their cost and the number you need. Always take all these factors into consideration before making your purchase.
How Do Solar Shingles Work?
Solar shingles have been around for a while. They came into the market because many people complained that traditional PV panels simply do not look good enough on their roofs. With the advent of polycrystalline silicon solar cells and thin-film solar panels, the market was finally ready for solar shingles and their production. Thin-film solar cells are inexpensive to produce, but as the technology is still new, the cost of solar shingles is still relatively high.
Solar shingles are installed as regular shingles: they are mostly either screwed or nailed in place. Once there, they are connected either in series or using parallel connections and connected to your solar inverter and the solar battery. Once everything is connected, they act as regular solar panels, producing electricity when exposed to direct sunlight.
One of the biggest solar shingles pros is that they produce solar energy and act as a traditional roofing material. You get to use renewable energy in your home and do so at a high conversion efficiency: some solar shingles use monocrystalline technology – enabling around 20% conversion efficiency.
Types of Solar Roofing
As solar shingles became more popular over time, other types of solar products started appearing. Solar shingles or solar roofs became so popular because they already included the cost of replacing the roof and reduced the need to look for two separate contractors: one to replace the roof and one to install PV panels. For this reason, two new products have sprung up in the solar market:
Integrated Solar Metal Roofing
Integrated solar metal roofing is a type of multi-layer metal roofing that consists of glass coating, color, and a monocrystalline layer. The wiring and all other electrical components are hidden under metal for a clean look. The entire system is placed on a vented racking system, increasing its efficiency and power output.
Interlocking Solar Panel Roofing
In response to the ever-increasing of solar roofs, GAF and Suntegra introduced interlocking solar panel roofing. This kind of roofing helps you avoid the solar shingle cost and all the additional work accompanying solar shingles. A system like this is easy to install, competitive in price, and it makes a good compromise in an aesthetic sense, especially between regularly mounted solar panels and an interlocking, integrated system.
Solar shingles help Virginia homeowner sidestep HOA aesthetic objections
A former Tesla and SolarCity employee is helping to roll out a new roofing product called the Timberline Solar Energy Shingle that is easier and quicker to install than Elon Musk’s version.
by Elizabeth McGowan April 10, 2023 April 17, 2023
RESTON, Va. — If Jonathan Lockwood had to spring for a new roof, he was determined to find a versatile cover that could go beyond just keeping his 1981 townhome dry. He also wanted to slash his escalating electric bill.
Aware that greenlighting traditional rooftop solar panels would be a tough slog in his Hyper-regulated planned community in Northern Virginia, he opted for a lower-profile product that integrates solar technology into nailable asphalt shingles.
“If you’re going to reroof, you might as well put on this added benefit,” said Lockwood, while watching a proficient crew methodically install a sleek 3.86-kilowatt system atop his end unit in late March.
“And see how flat it is?” the 67-year-old asked. “It doesn’t look like a contraption from a Mars colony.”
That’s an apt description of what manufacturer GAF Energy launched last year as the Timberline Solar Energy Shingle roof. The company recently branched into Virginia, drawn by the state’s potential to be a pacesetter with residential sun power.
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Lockwood’s two-story Fairfax County home adjacent to a pond is one of about 100 in Reston’s Wharf Cluster, modeled after a New England fishing village.
As the first on his “block” to go solar, he and his wife, Kathleen, expect to be the envy of their neighbors when their triple-digit utility bills drop by as much as half, or 74 monthly, via a net-metering arrangement with Dominion Energy.
Jim Hester, an account executive with a Virginia branch of Homefix Custom Remodeling, lined Lockwood up with his new roof. Homefix, a longtime GAF partner, was selected as part of a pilot program when GAF Energy debuted Timberline on a limited basis.
Even though Homefix has a sister company that installs rack-mounted arrays, Hester leaned away from that option this time.
Why? One, he knew traditional panels would be a bear to install in a house with a loft, cathedral ceilings, and no attic to hide protruding infrastructure. And two, he feared tangling with notoriously strict homeowner associations.
“The HOAs can be brutal in Reston,” Hester said, recalling encounters on separate home improvement projects. “If you put in the wrong color mailbox, they practically want to put you in jail.
“But we had no blowback with the Timberline roof,” he said about dealing initially with the association affiliated with the Wharf Cluster and then the organization overseeing the whole town. “They just wanted us to dot our I’s and cross our T’s.”
Aesthetics matter when neighbors are so close, Hester said. It’s a bonus, he noted, that the two-in-one solar shingles relieve homeowners from handling pairs of contractors and warranties.
Panels might be a better fit if a roof is in good repair, he emphasized, but solar shingles are a “no-brainer” for a house with an old leaky lid.
Generally, a homeowner can expect a Timberline roof to be on par with the cost of a traditional shingle roof with bolt-on solar panels, according to a GAF Energy spokesperson. vary because they are set by the roofing partner contractor.
“These systems aren’t for everybody and they’re not cheap,” Hester said. “But in my personal opinion, they’re going to take over the solar world.”
Wait, didn’t Tesla already do this?
Those who recall Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity seven years ago might figure Elon Musk’s company had already cornered the market on solar shingles. But that hasn’t evolved as proposed.
Homefix CEO Adam Shampaine said it’s a common misperception among the public that the shingles produced by GAF Energy and Tesla are identical.
“The Tesla shingle wasn’t a shingle. It was thousands of little panels covering your roof,” he said. “It was so complicated that it took two weeks to install and needed specially trained people. It was cost-prohibitive and didn’t function very well.”
Those setbacks motivated GAF Energy to introduce a simpler system.
As was the case with Lockwood’s home, a trained roofing crew contracted by Homefix installs the solar shingles in one day. GAF Energy then sweeps in behind to add the inverter and other components, and complete the electrical hookup.
Rey Holmes, vice president of product at GAF Energy, joined the San Jose-based company in 2019 after stints in the engineering departments at both SolarCity and then Tesla. Holmes praised Musk’s roofing initiative as “pioneering.” However, the combination of an intricate product and a specialized labor force stymied its ability to expand at scale.
“It has taken roof-integrated solar 12 to 13 years to eliminate those bottlenecks because up until now it has always been solar companies trying to make roofing,” Holmes explained. “Here, it’s a roofing company making solar.”
GAF, which is GAF Energy’s sister business, is North America’s largest roofing and waterproofing manufacturer. It is connected to 8,500 certified contractors nationwide, including 400 in Virginia.
Homefix is one of the 15 contractors approved to offer homeowners throughout Virginia a Timberline roof.
“Yes, we’ll have competitors in the long term,” Holmes said. “But we don’t have competitors now.”
Virginia is one of 16 states where U.S.-manufactured Timberline shingles are available.
“We go where we already have a strong contractor network and a strong presence via GAF,” he said, adding that Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia are “an area of massive possibility.”
“That dual value is huge,” Holmes said. “We’re offering a different category of product. We have an ability to go places where other solar companies cannot and leverage roofing companies to be that trusted labor force.”
TESLA’s photovoltaic shingles #solarroof #roofinginsights #roofing #tesla #roofingexpo
Competitor welcomes shingles to solar table
While some solar companies might cast aspersions at a competing product, Herve Billiet of Fairfax County isn’t in that category. In fact, the CEO and co-founder of Ipsun Solar has adopted a more-the-merrier philosophy.
Billiet applauds GAF Energy, part of giant Standard Industries, for beginning to fill a gap in building-integrated photovoltaics when other companies have fallen short.
“I see this as a massive improvement,” he said. “We need more investments like this and all the innovation we can get.”
Even if his crews worked 24/7, Ipsun couldn’t possibly cover every Virginia rooftop.
“I can’t do this myself,” said Billiet, whose projects have generated more than 100 million kilowatt-hours of clean energy thus far. “The more people we have who are getting power from a clean, renewable source, the better off we are.”
The master electrician and renewable energy veteran said he started Ipsun because of the urgency to address climate change.
An array of panels will be the right solution for some, while shingles could be the correct match for a homeowner with an aged-out roof. Whichever route is pursued, Billiet recommended that customers gather several quotes and then figure out the financially sensible solution to their individual situation.
Even though Billiet is partial to panels, he anticipates shingles will continue to gain capacity and market share in his territory in and around the nation’s capital.
“If that technology surpasses us, we as the solar industry will have to adapt and all become roofers,” he speculated with a laugh. “I’m open to using whatever technology is available to me.”
For Lockwood, turning to the sun hinged on economics. He plans on reaping the added value of his new roof because he and his wife are content to stay put in the home they purchased in 2005.
Homefix and GAF Energy couldn’t provide specific numbers, but a just-released U.S. study revealed that traditional solar panels can boost the sale price of a home by roughly 4%. The amount varied depending on geographic location.
SunPower, a solar developer incorporated in Silicon Valley in 1985, released the March report drawing upon data from Zillow and EcoWatch.
While Lockwood admitted to admiring Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish climate activist, he emphasized that “I’m not a virtue-signaling environmentalist.”
“I’m doing this for practical-person reasons,” he said about his solar switch. “That includes a higher appraisal and savings on my power bill.
“What made it an even bigger sell is the federal government practically paying people to go solar.”
The reroofing of his house and adjacent garage — a total of 2,042 square feet — qualifies him for a 30% federal tax credit. Lockwood added that it’s a relief that the warranty on photovoltaics lasts 25 years and is double that for the asphalt shingles.
“They really put their money where their mouth is,” Hester said about GAF Energy.
He explained that Lockwood’s warranty guarantees his array will meet certain production standards during its lifespan. For instance, the company will reimburse him if it underperforms on producing a promised 6,519 kWh in its first year.
In addition, Lockwood has access to his system’s solar renewable energy credits. Briefly, one credit is created for each 1,000 kWh of electricity his system produces. In Virginia, each one is currently worth 52.
As Lockwood watched the roofers toil away on March 30, neighbors Neal and Pat Gause wandered over to gander at the high-up novelty. They were impressed it could simultaneously save their friend money while being bland and conforming enough to glide over the usual hurdles of a picky design review board.
The Gauses aren’t keen on following his lead immediately because their roof is shipshape and they spend half the year in Hawaii. But then again, they agreed that solar shingles could be a rational investment, especially if Lockwood provides uplifting updates.
He’s eager to start calculating results once his home is outfitted with the electrical infrastructure this month and he goes live with Dominion.
“I guess we’re the role model on the block for solar,” Lockwood concluded. “A lot of people are curious about how this will work out. We’ll see what happens.”
What are solar shingles?
Some solar industry stakeholders believe that solar needs to be rebranded as an aesthetic and technical improvement that can be a part of a home renovation rather than a hefty module affixed to your rooftop. That sentiment was emphasized in Elon Musk’s October 2016 launch of Tesla’s first roofing product. With the Solar Roof, the company aims to bring solar further into the mainstream by removing any sort of aesthetic concerns that homeowners may have.
“I think there’s quite a radical difference between having solar panels on your roof that actually make your house look better versus ones that do not, I think it’s going to be a night-and-day difference,” said Musk in a statement before the official launch of Tesla’s first solar roof. Two months later, he unveiled the solar roof using a crowded, suburban event in California to demonstrate that Tesla’s panel design was so seamlessly integrated that the entire audience of press needed to be altered to its presence on the house in front of them.
Using a Tesla Powerwall home battery with the Tesla Solar Roof
Tesla Solar Roofs come paired with energy storage in the form of a Tesla Powerwall battery. The Tesla Powerwall boasts a maximum power rating of 7 kW with no sun or 9.6 kW with full sun to go along with 13.5 kWh of usable capacity. It can also help provide solar power to your home during a power outage. It also comes with the Tesla app that allows users to monitor their energy production in real- time. Tesla Powerwalls are eligible for the federal tax credit.
What’s the latest news on the Tesla Solar Roof tiles?
Tesla has now installed Solar Roofs across the country, though the exact number of installations is unclear. This solar product has been gaining popularity among some consumers, leading to long installation wait times for customers who sign contracts. In April 2021, many of these customers were shocked when they received emails from Tesla quoting higher installation costs than their contract prices. The lack of explanation and transparency caused confusion and frustration among consumers, especially if they could no longer afford the hefty price tag.
During Tesla’s quarterly earnings call in April 2021, CEO Elon Musk affirmed that demand “remains strong” for the Tesla Solar Roof, despite increases in Solar Roof pricing. He did concede that Tesla “basically made some significant mistakes in assessing the difficulty of certain roofs.” Tesla has added roof complexity information to its website and a roof complexity disclaimer to its Solar Roof calculator; however, Tesla notes that your roof complexity won’t be determined until after you place an order for a Solar Roof. Tesla divides the complexity into three categories–simple, intermediate, and complex–based on the following criteria:
- Simple: single-level roof, uncrowded mounting planes, few obstructions (pipes, chimneys, skylights), low pitch
- Intermediate: multi-level roof (roof sections built on multiple stories of your house), more crowded mounting plane, more obstructions (pipes, chimneys, skylights), higher pitch
- Complex: multi-level roof (roof sections built on multiple stories of your house), heavily crowded mounting plane, many obstructions (pipes, chimneys, skylights), steep pitch
Based on previous reports, the price of a Tesla Solar Roof varies substantially depending on your roof’s complexity.
Timeline of key Tesla Solar Roof news and announcements
Tesla seems to have a pattern of overpromising and underdelivering in regard to its solar roof. Here’s a breakdown of what the past several years have looked like for the company and its customers.
- April 2016: Tesla purchases Solarcity and begins production on solar panels and the solar roof.
- May 2017: Tesla began taking orders for its Tesla solar tiles
- August 2017: Elon Musk revealed that he and another Tesla executive already had the roof installed on their respective properties.
- January 2018: The company announced it was ramping up production of the roof product at its Buffalo Gigafactory. Tesla then started initial installations with customers at the top of its waitlist in the California area in mid-March, roughly eight months after its initial estimate.
- May 2018: Tesla had about 11,000 orders for the solar roof and it was struggling to meet the demand.
- August 2018: Only 12 solar roofs had been installed in California, the leading state in the country for solar.
- September 2018: A report was released stating that solar roofs may not be widely installed for a long time. According to CNBC, Musk said they needed more time to work out all the details. “There’s only so much accelerated life testing that you can do on a roof. So before we can deploy it at a large number of houses we need to make sure that it’s that all elements of the roof are going to last for at least three decades,” said Musk in a summer 2018 meeting. The statement lacked both commitment and a clear timeline.
- November 2018: According to a Bloomberg report, the company began ramping up production, implementing 24/7 operating hours with about 80 employees per shirt for solar roof shingle production alone. Tesla’s head of energy operations, Sanjay Shah, stated that Tesla was gearing up for the solar roof side of its business to see “tremendous growth in 2019.” Musk himself tweeted that the first solar roof deployments would begin around summer 2019.
- June 2019: Despite continued delays and earnings losses, Musk tweeted that he hoped to manufacture about 1,000 solar roofs per week by the end of 2019.
- October 2019: Tesla announced the Tesla Solar Roof V3, which featured updates to increase manufacturing and deployment, and reduce prices.
- Late 2020: Tesla experienced some achievements for its solar roofs throughout the year, almost tripling its installations between quarter one and quarter two. In quarter four, Tesla announced that it had “made great progress growing [its] solar roof deployments,” but didn’t provide date to back up its claim.
- April 2021: Tesla Solar Roof customers have continued to experience delays and a lack of transparency from Tesla.
- May 2021: Some customers sued Tesla over unexpected hikes.
- June 2021: electrek confirmed that Tesla’s head of energy operations had left the company after months of rumors.
- October 2021: Tesla expanded solar roof installations to anywhere in the United States.
- November 2021: electrek announced that Solar Roof tiles will be more efficient, have higher capacity, and might be able to be installed over existing roofs.
These Aren’t Solar Panels, They’re…#tesla #solar #roofing #contractor
Is the Tesla Solar Roof a good deal?
Compared to other solar panel installations, a Solar Roof will be pricier. The price may be more or less justifiable depending on the condition of your current roof. If you’re due for a new roof, you’ll be writing a large check for that anyway.
If your goal is to generate solar for the least amount of money possible, a Solar Roof isn’t for you. Tesla’s online estimate for a house in Dallas offered 12.46 kilowatts of solar generation and a Powerwall battery for 168,400. Tesla estimates 12 kilowatts of regular solar panels and a Powerwall at the same location will cost 26,966.
Another factor that could alter the price of your system is the complexity of your roof. Steep pitches, multiple levels and a lot of obstructions could drive up the cost.
That Solar Roof estimate breaks down to 176,600 for the solar part of the roof and 29,600 for tearing off the old roof. (This house does have a large, 8,313-square-foot roof.) Optional Powerwalls are 10,500 each. The final price includes receiving 48,800 back from the federal government in tax credits. Without batteries, the system costs a whopping 12.87 per watt. This might be a function of roof size. Other estimates returned much lower costs. A Solar Roof without batteries in Illinois had an estimated cost of 5.72-6.54 per watt depending on roof complexity. Another estimate from Texas ranged from 6.05-6.77 per watt. All of these are higher than the average cost of residential solar in the US in 2021, as reported by consulting firm Wood Mackenzie: 5000.99 per watt for an 8-kilowatt system.
Roof size does significantly affect the overall cost of a system. A small roof (1,594 square feet) in Illinois could cost around 54,000 to 58,148 after the federal tax credit, Tesla estimates. That’s 3.78-4.05 per watt, much closer to the cost of solar panels, though still more expensive. (Tesla solar panels there would cost 5000.54 per watt after the federal tax credit.)
Tesla recommends regular maintenance by a professional. though the details of that recommendation aren’t clear.
In December 2021, it was reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating a whistleblower complaint that alleged Tesla wasn’t honest in its efforts to replace solar panels at risk of catching fire. While it did replace them, it didn’t offer to shut off at-risk systems or provide upfront reasoning to shareholders or customers, the complaint said. In response to an April request for comment, the SEC declined to comment and Tesla, which does not operate a press office, did not respond.
Does Tesla operate in my state? How do I order?
The best way to find out if you’re in Tesla’s service area is to go to the company’s site to enter your address for an estimate. Tesla reportedly has expanded its service area for the Solar Roof to the entire US, though some addresses still say unavailable when you request an estimate. Tesla is definitely expanding though, through the use of third-party contractors. In some areas, Tesla will refer you to the website or contact information of a certified installer instead of giving you an estimate.
To order through Tesla, create an account online. Tesla then uses satellite imagery of your roof to design a system and price estimate, which will be finalized when an Tesla agent visits your home to confirm the roof complexity, size and a few other details.
After you and Tesla agree on a design, it will pull permits and put you on the schedule to install. Tesla reportedly has some in-house teams, even while bringing on more third-party installers.
Is Tesla’s Solar Roof a good deal?
As with every major purchase, it’s important to shop around. This is especially true of solar systems, where a local provider might beat national companies, which often have higher overhead costs. Tesla has made its solar panel installations cheaper, though the Solar Roof doesn’t have any one-to-one comparisons.
If you really hate the look of solar panels or love the look of the Solar Roof, it might be the right choice for you. There really isn’t another solar product like it. You will have to pay a premium, though how much depends on the condition and layout of your roof. While the Solar Roof is an exciting product, it isn’t practical for most people. With a Solar Roof, you’ll get quality equipment backed by strong warranties, but another company may offer greater choice among panels, batteries and inverters (including some of those that Tesla offers) at a much lower price. And, there are online concerns about Tesla’s customer service (more on that below).
Other companies have rolled out their own solar shingle products, notably GAF Energy, earlier this year. While GAF aren’t public, in January a spokesperson said the cost would be about half of Tesla’s Solar Roof. recently GAF said a new roof with solar shingles will cost about the same as a new roof and solar panels. Its solar shingles look less like a regular roof than Tesla’s, however.
Tesla’s solar panel side of its energy business has a reputation online for poor customer service. There aren’t any reliable, public sources of customer service for the solar industry at this point, however. Online testimonials show that Tesla’s solar panel customer service was bad enough to make some people regret their choice, though others were happy to save money on Tesla’s cheap panel installations and put up with the service. If customer service for Solar Roofs is similarly bad, it’s even harder to accept the cost. Because there are fewer Solar Roof customers, it’s hard to get any kind of read on how customer service might differ.
There is the chance that, as Tesla tries to increase installations of Solar Roofs while its share of the solar panel market shrinks, it values customer service more for Solar Roof customers (though this is all speculation).
Tesla also runs a referral program. If someone orders a Solar Roof through your referral link, you can get 500 when their system is operational.
It’s important to note that while I researched Tesla‘s Solar Roof to the best of my ability, I did not test it in any hands-on or empirical way. Solar products are difficult to review in the traditional sense. Whenever possible, get multiple quotes from multiple installers, including those local to your area.