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.
Solar Panels vs. Tesla Solar Roof: The Key Differences
It’s pretty obvious when you have solar panels. Less so if you have Tesla’s Solar Roof. But there’s a price to pay for that sleek design.
When you think of solar power systems. you probably imagine the classic solar array : some black panels that point toward the sky and absorb the energy of the sun’s light and convert it into usable electricity. But if you look closely at the roofs of some houses, you might notice a surprise.
In 2016, Tesla.- yes, that Tesla.- introduced something novel. Instead of solar panels that sit in your front yard or stand out on the roof, Tesla decided to turn every shingle into a solar panel. The Tesla Solar Roof replaces an existing roof and captures sunlight to help power your home in a clean and streamlined manner.
There are some significant downsides, namely that the Tesla Solar Roof is quite expensive. (Tesla does not operate a public relations department to field requests for comment.)
Can solar panels save you money?
Interested in understanding the impact solar can have on your home? Enter some basic information below, and we’ll instantly provide a free estimate of your energy savings.
For homeowners interested in solar energy, that creates the ultimate question: Should you go with the standard solar panel system or try the less intrusive.- but pricey.- Tesla Solar Roof? To help you with your buying questions, I have compiled the biggest differences between the two solar options below.
Solar panels should be relatively familiar by now, as they have been gaining popularity and have become more affordable in recent years. An array can be located on your roof or set to stand in your yard, depending on what works best for you. While there are a variety of different brands and types of panels, they all offer a clean energy alternative to fossil fuel sources like coal or natural gas. These panels can be expensive, and some are more difficult to install than others. But for the most part, you can expect cheaper energy bills, a smaller carbon footprint and increased property value.
Tesla Solar Roof
Instead of using panels, the Tesla Solar Roof turns your entire roof into your solar array. The Tesla solar roof uses tempered glass panels that replace your standard shingles, providing the same protection you’d expect from a traditional roof while also capturing solar energy. The Tesla Solar Roof is novel, but less proven and harder to transfer to another home if you move because they are custom made for each roof.
Solar panels or a Tesla Solar Roof?
Price is a tricky thing when it comes to solar systems, as a lot of it is going to be dependent on what your house and property is capable of supporting. There is the cost of solar panels, the infrastructure needed to support them, the installation costs.- and you have to account for the actual capacity of the system. In both cases, you can get tax credits and other incentives for installing these systems, so that will help to ease the price somewhat. Research suggests solar panels cost between 15,000 to 25,000 to buy and install.
Can solar panels save you money?
Interested in understanding the impact solar can have on your home? Enter some basic information below, and we’ll instantly provide a free estimate of your energy savings.
For the sake of simplicity: conventional solar panels are cheaper than the Tesla solar roof in terms of the overall cost. Tesla has also had some challenges keeping the price down for its solar roof system, which has been a point of issue for some people. Price estimates suggest can scale from 30,000 to 75,000, with some people reporting installation costs as high as 100,000.
The installation process for solar energy systems can be complicated. In general, traditional solar panels are easier because they can be installed in different places depending on the layout of your property.- either on your roof or on the ground. The Tesla Solar Roof can only be installed on your roof, obviously, and is a bit more of a to-do since it requires replacing your entire roof. There are fewer contractors familiar with the Tesla solar roof system than conventional panels, so this can create challenges in finding a capable installer.
Solar power capabilities
Both the Tesla Solar Roof and traditional solar panels will have a similar ability to meet your power needs, although your ability to scale your solar power system to your electricity needs might be more limited with the Tesla Solar Roof compared to panels. It will likely be easier to expand a setup with traditional solar panels in the future if you find your electricity needs have increased.
Mobility and longevity
One downside of the Tesla Solar Roof is the fact that it really can’t move with you. Because it is custom-fit to the roof of your home, you can’t pack it up and install it on another home. Conventional solar panels offer a bit more flexibility here, as you could potentially take your solar system with you.- though you may want to leave it to benefit from the boost in property value that they provide.
Winner for most: Solar panels
For now, conventional solar panels are the safer bet if you are looking to make the switch to solar power. They are a proven product. They are also typically cheaper and offer a bit more flexibility in terms of how you install them.
Tesla’s Solar Roof shows a lot of promise, but the custom tiles can be cost-prohibitive and early troubles with the product make it hard to recommend at this stage. Future versions of the Tesla Solar Roof may improve and make good on the promising concept. For now, stick with what works so you can save on your energy bill and shrink your carbon footprint.
Solar Roof Shingles 2023 Cost and Buying Guide
Each product and or company featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Written by Kristina Zagame
Kristina Zagame is a journalist, editor and content writer with expertise in solar and other energy-related topics. Before joining EcoWatch, Kristina was a TV news reporter and producer, covering a wide variety of topics including West Coast wildfires and hurricane relief efforts. Kristina’s reporting has taken her all over the U.S., as well as to Puerto Rico and Chile. Learn About This Person
Reviewed by Karsten Neumeister
Karsten is an editor and energy specialist focused on environmental, social and cultural development. His work has been shared by sources including NPR, the World Economic Forum, Marketwatch and the SEIA, and he is certified in ESG with the CFA Institute. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the solar energy sector, studying energy policy, climate tech and environmental education. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace. Learn About This Person
Why You Can Trust EcoWatch
We work with a panel of solar experts to create unbiased reviews that empower you to make the right choice for your home. No other site has covered renewables as long as us, which means we have more data and insider information than other sites.
Jump to Section:
- Solar Shingles Cost is High Up Front But ROI is Higher
- Cost of Installing a Solar Shingle Roof
- How to Calculate the Cost of Your New Solar Roof Shingles
- Factors That Go Into Solar Roof Shingle Pricing
- Pros and Cons of Installing Solar Roof Shingles
- Lifetime and Durability of Solar Roof Shingles
- Are Solar Shingles Environmentally Friendly?
- Financing Your New Solar Roof Shingles
- Costs of Maintenance and Repairs for Solar Roof Shingles
- Costs of Cleaning Your Solar Shingles
- Are Solar Roof Shingles Worth the Cost?
- FAQs: Solar Shingles vs Solar Panels
Find the best price from solar installers in your area.
Solar Shingles Cost is High Up Front But ROI is Higher
The average cost of solar roof shingles ranges between 25,000 to 60,000. or between 15 to 35 per square foot. for the average U.S. roof size of 1,700 square feet. The total cost will depend on the solar roof tile brand and the roofing contractor you choose for installation.
Compared to traditional solar panels, solar shingles are much more aesthetically pleasing. They look like mini solar panels shaped in the form of traditional roof shingles, allowing homeowners to bypass the bulky appearance of standard photovoltaic (PV) panels.
If you are interested in adding solar panels to your new roof. solar shingles are a much more cost-effective option. With solar shingles, you’ll knock out the cost of a roof replacement and the cost of a renewable energy system with one combined price tag.
SunPower designs and installs industry-leading residential solar and storage solutions across all 50 states. With a storied history of innovation dating back to 1985, no other company on this list can match SunPower’s experience and expertise.
SunPower earns its position as the top national installer on our list for a handful of reasons: It installs the most efficient solar technology on the residential market, offers the most expansive service area and backs its installations with a warranty well above the industry standard. All the while, SunPower pioneers sustainability efforts within the industry.
If that weren’t enough, SunPower systems come packaged with products all manufactured in-house by its sister company, Maxeon. This means that your panels, solar cells, inverters, battery and EV chargers are designed to work together and are all covered under the same warranty.
SunPower’s biggest downside? Its high-efficiency panels are considerably more expensive than most of its competitors’ products. However, its powerful panels are workhorses that make up for the initial cost with more backend production (think about this like spending more money for a car that gets more miles per gallon).
Facts and Figures: SunPower
|Solar Panels, Solar Batteries, EV Chargers, System Monitoring|
|25-year all-inclusive warranty|
Blue Raven Solar
We like Blue Raven Solar because it understands that, for most homeowners, the cost of solar presents the biggest barrier to entry.
For that reason, Blue Raven Solar developed an innovative solar financing plan that offers in-house, flexible, zero-money-down options. The results speak for themselves, as Blue Raven Solar is now one of the fastest-growing solar companies in the nation and was recently acquired by SunPower. Its BluePower Plus plan (exclusive to Blue Raven) mimics the flexible structure of a lease while still providing the greatest benefits of owning your system.
Eligible homeowners enjoy 18 months of solar power before having to pay their first bill. When coupled with the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC), the initial energy savings can offset more than a third of the overall cost of a system before requiring a dollar down.
In contrast, other installers can only offer similar financing through solar leases, PPAs or third-party providers (such as Mosaic or Sunlight). Third-party loan providers can complicate the process, while opting for a loan or PPA will disqualify you from some of solar’s biggest benefits (additional property value, federal solar tax credit and local solar incentives).
Facts and Figures: Blue Raven Solar
|Solar Panels, System Monitoring|
|Trina Solar, Canadian Solar, SolarEdge, Silfab, SunPower|
|25-year manufacturer warranty; 10-year workmanship warranty, 2-year production guarantee|
ADT Solar sets the industry standard for warranty coverage by including a multifaceted guarantee, making it one of the top installers for homeowners who want added peace of mind.
Its warranty coverage includes all of the following for 25 years:
- Power Production Guarantee: Also known as a performance guarantee, this ensures your solar system will produce the amount of electricity that’s outlined in your proposal, or ADT will write you a check for the difference.
- Labor Guarantee: This covers any issues with the installation of your system and is also known as a workmanship warranty.
- Panel Module Performance Guarantee: This is what ADT Solar refers to the manufacturer warranty as, and it ensures that any manufacturing defects are repaired or your ineffective panels replaced.
- Enphase Microinverters Guarantee: This backs the performance of your inverters.
Though in recent years other solar companies have started to offer similar guarantees, ADT Solar has been at it since 2008, performing over 30,000 installations across the country.
Facts and Figures: ADT Solar
|Solar Panels, Solar Batteries, EV Chargers, Energy-Efficiency Upgrades|
|Silfab, Panasonic and others depending on location|
|25-year all-inclusive warranty|
Cost of Installing a Solar Shingle Roof
The overall cost for a solar shingle installation ranges between 25,000 to 60,000 for the average U.S. home, which comes out to around 15 to 35 per square foot.
But unlike regular shingles, shingles with solar cells — a type of building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) technology — are priced per watt. not per square foot. The cost of a solar shingle ranges between 3.50 and 8.00 per watt depending on the brand.
Most solar companies don’t advertise pricing online, but market research shows the total cost of a solar shingle installation is typically 15%-25% higher compared to a traditional solar panel system installation. The national average solar panel installation costs roughly 24,000, which puts the national average solar shingle installation at around 30,000.
Of course, there are some outliers. For example, a Tesla Solar Roof may cost as much as 70,000 or more for full roof installation, while the budget-friendly SunTegra solar shingles may run closer to 20,000 for the entire roof.
While solar roof shingles cost substantially more than asphalt shingles. you’ll be producing your own electricity, therefore lowering your electric bills (or in some cases completely offsetting) by producing your own clean energy.
“A solar roof is a great and obvious way to reduce energy use and has the added benefit of being environmentally friendly,” said David Snyder, CEO of Nova Home Buyers, LLC.
If you go solar, you’ll also be eligible for solar financial incentives and rebates, like the 30% federal tax credit and net metering credits.
How to Calculate the Cost of Your New Solar Roof Shingles
As discussed, BIPV solar shingles are priced per watt. So to calculate the cost of your solar shingle roof, you’ll need to know how much solar power you need to power your house.
The only way to know the exact cost of your solar roof is to get a professional estimate, but you can calculate it yourself by walking through the follow the following steps:
- Find out how much energy your home consumes (typically found on your energy bills)
- Assess your roof space and the amount of sunlight your home receives
- Figure out the average system size in your area to estimate necessary system size (you can also use our solar calculator to find an estimate)
- Check the wattage of the shingles you intend to purchase
- Divide the required wattage of your system by the solar panel wattage
The average U.S. home needs a solar system that produces 9,000 watts (or 9 kilowatts) to completely offset their utility bills. With the cost of solar shingles ranging between 3.50 and 8.00 per watt, a 9,000-watt solar shingle installation would range from 31,500 to 72,000.
But don’t let those numbers scare you. Remember, your solar shingles don’t need to power your entire home.
Having a roof that produces any amount of clean energy can still significantly reduce your energy bills and your carbon footprint, making it much more impressive than a regular roof made of asphalt.
Solar Shingles vs Solar Panels Tiles: How to Pick Cost per Square Foot
When you decide to switch to solar energy power, you’ll likely notice the option to choose between solar shingles vs solar panels.
But, knowing how to pick between the two and how much of the cost per square foot will run can be critical to ensure that you maximize your budget and receive the most for your money.
The significant difference between solar shingles vs solar panels and tiles is their aesthetic features, where panels stand out while shingles fit into the roof, not easily detectable.
This complete guide explains the additional differences based on outstanding features like cost per square foot, output, size, installation, maintenance, and other aspects.
What Are Solar Shingles?
DOW company introduced solar shingles/ solar roof tiles in 2011.
They increased in popularity when Tesla launched them in 2016, and to date, more people are adopting them as an excellent solution to renewable energy use. 5
These shingles consist of thin PV panels that transform the sun’s energy into electricity that powers residential homes.
Manufacturers market it as a unique alternative to solar panels since they blend into your roof’s design.
It takes a keen eye to notice them since they become part of your roof. It works if you want to avoid the PV system sticking out from the top.
The downside of the panels is that they can’t ‘move’ to collect direct sunlight.
Solar panels equipped with tracking systems follow the path of the sun to maximize their output and efficiency.
What Are the Benefits of Solar Roof Shingles?
Not many understand how solar shingles work, but from experience, users hail them for their impressive aesthetics and modern convenience. For one, the shingles blend effortlessly into your roof, remaining inconspicuous to passers-by.
They look like polished asphalt shingles, ideal for homeowners who want solar power minus the sticking put panels. Tesla is also working to produce the shingles in fun colors matching various roof types.
Secondly, many solar roofs have advanced tech, facilitating tracking of energy output, making them more modern, unlike panels. They also increase your home’s value which is an excellent investment if you resell.
Disadvantages of Solar Roof Tiles
While solar roofs have incredible qualities, you should also watch out for some downsides as a first-time buyer. Since they are relatively new to the market, unlike panels, it is more challenging to find installers, and it can take a while to set them up.
The price tag is one of the deciding factors in the solar shingles vs. solar panels war. Solar roof tiles are comparatively pricier than panels, given their features, and many find them worth it only when they need to replace their roofs. 6
Another disadvantage is that shingles fit into the roof’s angle. Therefore, you cannot adjust them according to the sunlight.
(Image: National Institute of Standards and Technology 13 )
The power output will be too low if the spot doesn’t receive sufficient rays.
Moving houses also becomes challenging because you may have to leave them intact for the next buyer to avoid tampering with the roof.
Lastly, note that there are more shingles for every panel in the same square foot, increasing the points of failure due to several electrical connections. 3
What Are Solar Panels?
The use of solar power dates back to over 100 years ago when people used it for locomotion in steam production.
Only later did Edmond Becquerel discover the Photovoltaic effect of the sun’s rays, leading to the invention of the first solar cell.
Solar panels developed from this, harnessing the sun’s photons and using them to disrupt electrons in the photovoltaic (PV) cells, which generates a direct electrical current (DC).
Today there are various types of solar panels for all your household and commercial needs, efficiently powering appliances and equipment.
Solar Shingles vs Solar Panels: How Do They Work?
Solar shingles and panels have the same working principle, transforming the sun’s rays into energy and electricity. The rays hit the shingles or the PV cells, and the system absorbs the light and does the rest.
The PV cells between the silicon materials and other semiconductors convert the sunlight into energy thanks to the electric field.
The shingles and panels working with the inverters transform the direct current to alternating current (AC) that powers all your home, vehicle, or appliances.
Solar Shingles vs Solar Panels: Cost and Other Comparisons
Solar shingles vs solar panels are a dilemma for first-timers, causing the need to know how to pick the better version as per their needs.
They work the same but have distinct concepts, including design, efficiency, installation mode, and price points.
The following are the significant differences.
One of the most impressive features of solar shingles is how they enhance a building’s aesthetics. 7 They go unnoticed thanks to how effortlessly they integrate with your roof; you can install them in place of new roofs if you have renovation plans, saving money for new roofing systems.
They are trendy, attractive, sleek, and lightweight. In contrast, you will always spot solar panels since you install them on your roof.
They are more massive and seem bulkier, which is unsuitable for a subtle look.
Solar roof tiles are similar to standard shingles, measuring 12 by 86 inches and less than an inch thick. They weigh 13 pounds a square foot, making them lighter and more flexible than typical panels.
They don’t apply excessive pressure on your house; you don’t need to install brackets and mounts. However, the size of standard solar panel differs since they measure 39 by 65 inches and weigh 40 pounds. 2
It explains why installers insist that your roof should be in excellent condition before set up; otherwise, it won’t survive the panels’ weight.
Solar shingles and panels are long-serving, maintaining their efficiency for 25-30 years. Thanks to advanced tech and improved performance, they can withstand the harsh elements and stay effective for over two decades, after which their output declines.
Solar panels have circulated in the market for longer than solar shingles. They are available in most areas and are the go-to for many wanting to install solar power in their homes and businesses.
However, solar roof tiles are scarce due to less supply in the market. Only a few brands are currently manufacturing them, contributing to the long waiting time when you want to install them.
Solar roofing shingles cost more than twice the price of standard solar panels, ranging between 40,000- 60,000 before tax credit based on the manufacturer, type of roof, and how you want it installed.
Generally, it costs 15-25 per square foot.
Solar installation is usually costly, but panels are relatively friendlier, costing 15,000- 26,000. 8
If you are worried about how much do solar panels cost, you will find them the cheaper alternative, costing 4-10 a square foot.
If you are in a hurry to set up solar power, the best way to go is to install solar panels because the process takes only a day, and you can DIY to save on extra costs. The only rule is that your roof must be in excellent condition.
However, solar shingles installation takes longer, averaging a week or two, depending on the nature of your roof and the design you want. It is more skill intensive and tasking to DIY, and you may have to leave it to the professionals.
Another critical deciding factor to consider when comparing solar shingles and solar panels is their output levels. 4 Since you can adjust panels and point them directly beneath the sun’s rays, you can significantly improve their performance.
They usually produce 250-400W, which is higher than the performance of shingles. Solar roofs are less effective because you cannot adjust them, and they don’t allow for proper airflow beneath them.
Most produce only 13- 63W, lower than panel performance.
Solar Shingles vs Solar Panels: Pros and Cons
Solar panels and roof tiles are fantastic ways to reduce your family or business’s carbon footprint. They work the same but are two different technologies, and the following breakdown may help you pick your favorite.
|Solar roof tiles are aesthetic, sleek, attractive, and modern.||They are more expensive.|
|They don’t stick out and can go undetected while on the roof.||They have a low power output, unlike panels.|
|They help increase your property’s value.||Their failure rate is higher.|
|They feature more advanced tech.||They are scarce in the market since they are new products.|
|They are more affordable||They are bulkier and stick out more while on the roof.|
|They are more readily available in the market.||Your roof must be intact before installation.|
|They are more efficient; have a high power outpu||They need more room on the roof since they are larger.|
|They are less likely to fail.|
|Installation is simple and takes a short time; you can DIY and customize it.|
Solar Shingles Can Be Nailed In
A striking difference between solar panels and shingles is their installation methods. However, manufacturers like GAF Energy have introduced a new solar tile concept where you nail the sheets onto your roof.
The best aspect of this design is that installation takes a day or two, unlike conventional shingles, which need more than a week.
Additionally, the shingles that you nail down are usually cheaper.
When To Use Tesla Solar Roof vs Solar Panels
The Tesla solar roof, courtesy of Tesla energy, is an impressive design gradually gaining traction in the market. 9 Like other products from the company, it is high-tech and sleek and stands out from other designs from various manufacturers.
You can go for it if the budget is not an issue, although it is usually a deal breaker for many first-timers. It costs almost thrice the price of standard solar panels, but you get your money’s worth if going for the aesthetic appeal.
If panels stick out too much for you, subtle solar roof tiles are better options. They are also lighter and slimmer; you don’t need extra support or harnesses to keep them up.
Are Solar Shingles Right For You?
One of the first questions from homeowners is, are solar shingles worth it? They are new to the scene, highly innovative, and have an impeccable design, but with some downsides.
They are more expensive and less efficient than solar panels.
(Image: National Renewable Energy Laboratory 14 )
However, improving your house’s value and wanting an inconspicuous look is worth the investment. It often goes unnoticed and integrates effortlessly with your roof.
It is also long-lasting, like panels, and can serve you for over 20 years. 1
Solar panels and shingles are viable solutions to help reduce your utility bills while being kind to the environment. 10 Solar roof tiles win in aesthetics thanks to their sleek, lightweight, and modern design.
The only challenge is that they cost more per square foot and are less efficient than panels.
On the contrary, solar panels are cheaper, more effective, and readily available. The problem is that they are heavier, which can be a detriment on an older roof installation.
The solar shingles vs solar panels comparison is close because each has a fair share of ups and downsides, and the solution narrows down to personal preference.
Solar Shingles vs Solar Panels, Which Is Expensive?
Given the advanced sleek design, solar shingles are more expensive than panels. They retail at and cost 40,000- 60,000 before tax credit.
In contrast, solar panels are significantly cheaper, at 4-10 a square foot, and usually cost 15,000- 26,000, making them ideal if you are on a budget.
How Much Does Solar Roof Cost?
A solar roof is the most expensive in the market, and it can set you back 40 000- 60 000 based on factors like the brand and installation method.
It is usually 15-25 per square foot, hence only affordable for some homeowners. However, the sleek, lightweight look is worth every penny if your budget is flexible.
What Are Solar Shingles Cost Per Square Foot?
Solar roof tiles are the pricier option of other designs, considering that it is a new tech and careful construction that fits into roofs. They usually cost 15-25 per square foot, the most expensive rate in the solar power market.
Are There Solar Panels That Look Like Shingles?
Since there are many solar panel manufacturers in the market, tight competition leads to designing slimmer and lightweight panels. You can check your local stores for brands that produce the sleekest design.
They may not precisely look or work like solar roof tiles but may come close in design and tech advancements. The installation method will also be the same as any other panel, but the different look makes it stand out.
1 Greenlancer. (2022, May 18). Solar Shingles Vs. Solar Panels. Retrieved March 25, 2023, from Greenlancer
2 Magerl, K. (2022, October 28). Solar Shingles vs. Solar Panels: What Are the Differences? Retrieved March 25, 2023, from Lawn Starter
3 Noor, U. (2020, June 24). SOLAR SHINGLES VS. SOLAR PANELS: CONSIDERATIONS, BEST PRACTICES AND MORE. Retrieved March 25, 2023, from 8M Solar
4 Stillwell, D. (2022, July 17). Solar shingles vs. solar panels. Retrieved March 25, 2023, from Consumer Affairs
5 This Old House. (2023, October 3). Should You Buy Solar Shingles? Retrieved March 25, 2023, from This Old House
6 National Renewable Energy Laboratory. (2000). Solar Roofing Shingles: Office of Power Technologies (OPT) Success Stories Series Fact Sheet. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Retrieved March 25, 2023, from
7 Kinkaid, M. (2021, December 10). Solar Panels: Are Aesthetics Important Than the Environment? [email protected] of Nebraska – Lincoln. Retrieved March 25, 2023, from
8 National Renewable Energy Laboratory. (n.d.). Solar Manufacturing Cost Analysis. Solar Market Research Analysis. Retrieved March 25, 2023, from
9 Wikipedia. (n.d.). Tesla Energy. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved March 25, 2023, from
10 US Department of Energy. (n.d.). Reducing Electricity Use and Costs. Energy Saver. Retrieved March 25, 2023, from
13 National Institute of Standards and Technology. US Department of Commerce. Retrieved from