Skip to content
Solar Installation. Integrated solar metal roofing

Solar Installation. Integrated solar metal roofing

    Solar Shingles: Turn Your Roof a Power Source (5 Brands)

    In the U.S., residential solar installations have been continuously increasing during the last few years, reaching 1GWDC in the Q4 of 2021.

    This solar energy adoption is driven by many factors, such as the cutting-edge technologies that are being developed, like instance solar shingles.

    Out there in the market, there are many solar shingle manufacturers. To help you decide which brand and product is best for your needs, we chose 4 different solar shingle companies as an alternative to Tesla solar shingles. For each brand, we will check out the products they offer, breaking down their characteristics and more importantly let you know if a solar shingle might be a good match for you.

    Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made from our affiliates through links in this article. (Learn )

    At are solar shingles and how do they work?

    Solar shingles are basically solar cells that convert the sun’s radiation into usable electricity, but also, they work as the roofing material for your home. These roofing solar cells are commonly shaped into shingles or tiles which are seamlessly arranged to provide structural support for the house roof and other types of buildings.

    Using solar shingles allows you to have a roof that achieves two functions: generate clean energy and give your home, office or any other of your buildings, an aesthetic look.

    Composition/Structure

    Solar shingles or tiles are made of solar cells that are commonly manufactured using semiconductor materials, such as monocrystalline silicon and copper-indium-gallium selenide. The cells are assembled in bands or strips to form the shingle or tile shape.

    In addition, since solar shingles are quite thin, this allows them to have greater flexibility and be lightweight.

    How do solar shingles work?

    Solar shingles or tiles perform as roofing material for your home. The main idea is to combine the solar cells with the roof sheathing rather than mounting solar modules on top of the shingles.

    Solar shingle’s basic principle works just the same as with conventional solar panels. In other words, the PV cells absorb sunlight in order to produce a flow of free electrons, which results in generating an electrical current that can power electrical equipment. The difference between solar shingles and solar panels is mainly their construction.

    Why should you choose solar shingle technology?

    In order to help you analyze whether choosing solar shingles for your photovoltaic system is the right option, we summarize and list the pros and cons of having them:

    Pros

    • Perfect solution for those cases in which a roof replacement is required.
    • Elegant and sleek design provides a futuristic look to your roof.
    • No obstructions from solar panels will be visible on the roof.
    • No external wiring that could be exposed to damage and cause potential hazards.
    • No weak spots on the roof from roof penetrations as with conventional solar systems.

    Cons

    • Higher upfront costs and lower return of investment (ROI) than conventional rooftop solar panels (unless roof is to be replaced).
    • Solar shingles generally have less energy efficiency than standard solar modules.
    • Few companies perform solar shingle installation.

    What is the average cost of solar shingle technologies?

    The amount of money you are going to pay for installing solar shingles in your roof is going to depend on your energy usage, the conditions, and age of your roof, the solar shingle manufacturer, and other factors.

    However, the cost of going with solar shingles can go anywhere from 20,000 to 70,000 whereas Tesla’s solar roof is generally located in the high-end scenario.

    Reviews of the best solar shingle brands

    Tesla’s Solar Roof

    Elon Musk presented the Solar Roof back in 2016. Since then, the product has gained huge popularity across the U.S. and other countries.

    It’s clear that the Solar Roof provides a futuristic and sleek look for homes and other types of buildings. Although, the Solar Roof is quite an expensive product and still not as efficient as conventional solar panels.

    Tesla’s Solar Roof consists of a rooftop built with solar shingles that contain solar cells. There are two types of shingles used in the final product design: the active ones, those which produce electricity, and the inactive ones, which just act as a roofing material. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using the Solar Roof.

    Advantages

    • Aesthetics: Solar Roof offers 4 different styles of tile. All have a modern and distinguished looking design.
    • Durability: It is claimed to be resistant to hail, wind, and fire, as well as to mechanical forces. Solar Roof is backed by ANSI standard tests.
    • Warranty: Offers a 25-year tile and power and weatherization warranty.
    • Renowned brand: Who is not excited to have a product of a brand like Tesla? Claimed to be one of the leaders of a zero-carbon emissions future.

    Disadvantages

    • High upfront Cost: Compared to building a new roof or replacing an existing one plus adding a regular solar system mounted on the rooftop, it can be 2 to 3 times more expensive to buy the solar roof of Tesla. Depending on the complexity of your roof, you could end up paying a total of somewhere between 40,000 to 70,000 to install the solar shingles.
    • Low ROI: Depending on many factors like your energy usage habits, the size of the system, your location, and others, the solar roof may have a very low payback in a 25-year lifetime compared to conventional solar systems. In some cases, it could simply be not economically viable.

    Considering the previous facts, it would be interesting to look for possible alternatives to buy and install solar shingles. Let’s check out some of them.

    solar, installation, integrated, metal, roofing

    CertainTeed Solar Shingles

    Another important brand that has been leading the roofing technology in the US for a long time is CertainTeed. It offers two different product alternatives related to solar shingles.

    Design Choices

    • Apollo Shingle ll: This design has solar shingles that can be installed in a new or existing asphalt shingle roof. The result is a combination of regular asphalt shingles and active solar shingles.
    • Apollo Tile ll: This product offers a more integrated design by using tiles that are embedded to a new or an existing concrete tile roof.

    Performance

    In both Apollo Shingle II and Apollo Tile ll systems, 14 high-efficiency monocrystalline silicon solar cells are used in every tile/shingle with a power rating of 70 watts per piece. The conversion efficiency of the shingles and the tiles are 17.2% and 17.8% respectively. In addition, both have an operating temperature that can go anywhere between.40˚C and 90˚C.

    Both systems are relatively easy to install, they are placed directly into the roof sheathing using standard deck screws, just as conventional asphalt and concrete tiles are installed.

    Their weight is much less than conventional tiles at three pounds per square foot. over, they are long-lasting withstanding up to 250 pounds per square foot. Also, they are waterproof and can resist high wind velocities of 140mph.

    Aesthetics

    Apollo II provides all-black solar shingles which look like suitable solar stripes or bands placed over the roof.

    On the other hand, Apollo Tile II matches the profile of flat concrete tiles. These tiles look like black solar laminate with a custom-colored frame that can complement a wide variety of earth-toned concrete tile colors.

    Cost

    The cost might change depending on your energy requirements, the difficulty of installation, your roof inclination, and roof age. However, some estimations are shown in the following table.

    ProductCost per watt

    These figures are estimated and subject to changes depending on the specifics of the project, which can elevate the costs by 25%.

    Warranty

    CertainTeed offers a 25-year limited power warranty claimed to be all-encompassing. The coverage includes 25 years on installation workmanship, PV cells, microinverters, and mounting system. Also, comprises 12 years on optimized inverters, 10 years on wind, and 5 years on data monitoring hardware.

    Suntegra Solar Shingles

    Another important player in the solar roofing industry is Suntegra, which claims to give a 2-in-1 roof and solar solution by providing solar cells that generate electricity and a roofing material that protects your home or building. It gives installers a cutting-edge way to integrate solar directly into the sloped roof of a house, commercial building, or carport.

    Additionally, Suntegra products are regarded to be constructed with 50% fewer materials than conventional rack-mounted PV systems and thus, they might be an alternative to adjust efficiently to your budget.

    Available Options

    • Suntegra shingles: Like the Apollo ll system, Suntegra also includes a solar shingles that are placed on a new or existing roof composed by asphalt shingles.
    • Suntegra tiles: Similar to the Apollo tile design, this system integrates to the existing concrete tiles that are inserted in combination with inactive concrete tiles. They can also be used when a new roof is to be built.

    Performance

    The solar shingles of Suntegra offer 3 different models with a range of power output between 105W and 114W. All of them use 24 monocrystalline cells per piece, capable of achieving an electrical efficiency from 15.9% to 17.2%.

    On the other hand, Suntegra tiles have lower efficiency than the shingles, ranging from 13.9% to 15.1%. Also, the tiles have 16 monocrystalline cells per piece.

    Both tiles and shingles have a maximum wind rating of 130mph and a maximum static load rating of 112 pounds per square foot or 5,400Pa. In addition, the temperature operating range is the same as the Certainteed product (between.40˚C and 90˚C).

    Aesthetics

    Both Suntegra shingles and tiles offer a low-profile, all-black, and pleasing-looking. They are characterized for being a discrete installation, almost hidden and barely noticeable from the ground level, which makes them an elegant design for any home or building.

    Price

    Just as we did with the CertainTeed shingles and tiles, estimations on the cost are shown in the table below, which are subjected to variations depending on the conditions of your roof, energy requirements, and location.

    ProductCost per watt

    Warranty

    For both shingles and tiles, Suntegra offers a 10-year product warranty and a 25-year power output warranty.

    Forward Solar Shingles

    In the few recent years, Forward startup company has had significant growth in the solar shingles market. Forward offers an engineered integration of the roof and the solar cells by the means of state-of-the-art technology and a unique aesthetic that matches the classical U.S. home.

    They offer their star product called Forward Metal Solar Roof, claimed to be a cost-effective and efficient solution that harvests a great amount of clean energy while it gives a sleek and futuristic appearance using shining metal standing seam type of roof. The system comes in 8 different possible colors to cover all requirements.

    It has a non-solar portions cost of 9.75 per square foot and a 3.75 per watt cost related to the solar parts, which are quite competitive compared to the previous brands mentioned. Also, it has a weatherization warranty of 30 years.

    The product is claimed to achieve an energy density of 19 watts per square foot while having an excellent thermal performance by the means of a passive ventilation system, which optimizes the heat dissipation and the airflow between shingles and your roof deck.

    Additionally, this design is claimed to be reliable, robust, long-lasting, and can withstand powerful mechanical forces. The most interesting fact about Forward is that they are probably the only valuable brand available that offers a solar-roof integrated solution based on metal standing seam roof type, making it perfect not only for homes but also for garages, barns, and other industrial types of roofs.

    Luma Solar Shingles

    Luma Solar is another important interesting solar shingle company that has been gaining momentum for many years in the US. It’s recognized by having solar shingles products with a high rate of electrical efficiency while also having a futuristic, seamless, and luxurious looking. Luma offers results in your house that have combinations between active and inactive solar shingles.

    The price changes depending on the conditions, roof complexity, energy requirements, and others. However, estimations set the average cost of the solar shingles of Luma at 4.5 per watt and could go up to 38 per square foot.

    Additionally, it offers a 25-year limited power warranty at 80% and a 5-year limited product warranty.

    Performance

    Luma Solar Roof claims to have solar shingles with an incredible conversion efficiency of 22,1%, which is even higher than standard solar panels. It uses 16 monocrystalline 80W cells per shingle.

    It handles a temperature operation range between.40˚C to 85˚C, having a great thermal and airflow management that maintains excellent levels of energy yields.

    solar, installation, integrated, metal, roofing

    Additionally, every shingle weighs 19.8 lbs., and they are designed to withstand mechanical forces of 2,400 Pa for static wind loading and 5,400 for static load snow loading.

    Aesthetics

    Luma offers a distinguished good looking for your house, not only because of its futuristic appearance but also because of the Matte black finish, which gives a sleek line.

    Are these “solar shingle technologies” right for you?

    All the products mentioned above will provide an extraordinary aesthetic view for your home. Not to mention that some of them will offer the functionality of performing as the roofing material and act as the structural support by the means of Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV).

    Replacing roof or just adding solar?

    If you are only looking for a solar PV system, installing solar shingles in the roof of your home can be an interesting alternative to go with if your requirements are more focused on aesthetical objectives than on cost-effective and efficient goals. From an economical point of view, it is still hard for solar shingles to compete with conventional solar panel systems.

    However, in cases where changing your roof is necessary, solar shingles may present themselves as a more economically viable choice that combines both approaches into one for a cost similar to a solar panel system plus roof installation. In some other cases, replacing your roof may not be what you need, but the structural engineer may require you to replace the roof to make the solar panel installation feasible. If you find yourself in a situation like that, you may want to reconsider going with a solar shingle installation.

    New Home?

    Another situation where solar roof shingles can definitely be a great choice is for new houses. Choosing solar shingles since the construction process can drastically reduce the cost impact, increase your ROI, and ease the installation process.

    Compare Quotes!

    In any case, if you are interested in solar shingles, it is advisable for you to get a quote for your roof-specific layout and compare it with other conventional solar panel systems plus roofing installation quotes. This will allow you to find out which approach would best suit your needs. However, keep in mind that in the end, the house will always look better with solar shingles, which is a plus to consider for the value of your property.

    Shingled solar panels: A must-consider solar shingle alternative

    Finally, shingled solar panels are an innovative technology which is carrying out a wide range of advanced features in terms of solar energy optimization.

    They should not be confused with solar shingles, which are part of BIPV, whereas solar shingled panels are more similar to standard solar panels but with cells that are cut into several strips that are subsequently connected to form modules by the means of an electrically conductive adhesive (ECA).

    Major developments on this technology have taken place in the residential sector so far. Solar shingled panels are a promising technology that is much less expensive and more efficient technology than solar shingles.

    Final Thoughts

    We have examined multiple solar shingle products and brands with the objective to show you some of the best brands available in the market today. We learned that a solar roof shingle investment is a solution that must balance aesthetics and functionality where the new shingles of your roof will actually be generating electricity.

    However, we also learned that the decision to install it must be balanced with the costs for such type of project since they can be considerable depending on the house. New houses or cases where a roof replacement is required due to structural stability reasons, are probably the best ones for solar shingle installations. In these cases, the economics can definitely be balanced with the benefits of a high-end finish.

    Solar shingles still have a long way to go and with the variety of products available for multiple roof types that go from shingles, concrete standard tiles, and even metal standing seam, there are plenty of choices that you can consider to start generating clean energy and potentially improve the look for your house. comment

    Last updated: February 15, 2022

    Solar Installation

    If you’re a property owner looking to roof or re-roof your home or another structure, you must consider how your roofing decision will impact your future energy demand and costs. Failing to do this is short-sighted and will lead to your energy costs being higher than they need to be.

    Your Roofing Decision Impacts Your Future Energy Demands and Costs

    As a manufacturer of metal roofing, we have taken considerable steps to ensure that our products are energy efficient in terms of reducing summer heat gain. Our Green American Home metal roofs address all 3 forms of heat transfer – radiant, conductive, and convective – to achieve a roof system of maximum energy efficiency.

    While these components and attributes of our metal roofing products save energy through reduced air conditioning demand, we also have engineered methods for attaching solar panels to our roofs for property owners who want to create energy with their rooftops.

    Solar Energy Production System Life Expectancy vs. Investment

    When considering products that will allow you to use your rooftop to produce energy, it’s important to keep in mind that solar production continually gets more efficient with technology advancements. Because of this, it is wiser to buy a solar system with a 20-year life expectancy rather than one with a longer-term life expectancy. Any solar production equipment made today will be sadly outdated in 20 years, likely not making any sense to even operate it beyond that period of time.

    Cost-Effective Solar Energy

    The reality is that traditional crystalline photovoltaic panels offer the most cost-effective solar energy production. Their modular nature is very helpful in allowing repairs and replacement. Additionally, while they are durable and built to last 20 or so years, they do eventually need to be replaced, allowing property owners to step up to even more efficient energy production at that time.

    Metal Roofs and Solar Installation

    Traditional solar panels can be integrated nicely with metal roofs. With clip-fastened standing seam roofs, the panels can be clamped onto the raised seams so that no or very few actual roof penetrations are necessary. With other types of metal roofs, penetrations of the roof will be necessary but there are many commercially available fastening brackets designed for water tightness that work very well.

    If you as a homeowner have plans for solar in the future, discuss those plans with your roofing contractor the next time you roof your home. Depending upon the type of roof you choose to have installed, it may be possible for the installer to take steps now that will simplify solar installation in the future.

    Metal roofs are ideal for solar installation. The durability of the metal roof will hold up to roof traffic when the solar array is installed and serviced. The metal roof will also easily last as long as the solar panels themselves. Additionally, a cool metal roof from Green American Home can help to increase the efficiency of the solar panels themselves. And, finally, using a metal roof to save energy while producing energy at the same time with solar, is the best of both worlds.

    Solar Shingles in the Future?

    While our current recommendation today, is to stick to the tried and true traditional photovoltaic panels (which keep getting better all the time), we are pleased to say that there are other things on the horizon. We are anxiously watching the development of “solar shingles” and look forward to integrating them with our metal roofing systems. This truly will be a fully integrated solar roof that makes sense.

    questions about using your roof for energy conservation and production? Ask our expert, Todd Miller.

    The Homeowners Guide To Roofing

    Read our Homeowner’s Guide to Roofing and you’ll get valuable tools and information you’ll need to pick the right roofing product and hire the best contractor to install your home’s new roof. And the best part is. all this information is FREE!

    8 Factors that Determine the Cost of a Metal Roof

    Green American Home 8510 Industry Park Drive Piqua. OH 45356 888-705-5656 All images and content ©2010-2023 Isaiah Industries, Inc. Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy Site Maintained by StoryRidge Marketing

    X This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We’ll assume you’re ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Read RejectAcceptSettings

    Privacy Overview

    Green American Home (a division of Isaiah Industries) uses cookies to improve your experience on our website. You have the option to accept or reject these cookies in several categories. You can enable or disable each category using the buttons to the right. You can also review our Privacy Policy here.

    This is an necessary category.

    These cookies help us to understand where our visitors come from and how they use our site.

    Advertising cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

    These cookies help us to meet our marketing objectives, and are anonymous unless you fill out a form to request information from us.

    Solar Mounting Brackets Systems

    Pairing solar PV with metal roofing is a wise decision. A roof-mounted solar plant is a big investment! Modules today typically have an average service life of more than 30 years.

    Are you mounting your system with equally durable and dependable brackets?

    At S-5!, we first FOCUS on designing attachment solutions to maintain their integrity for more than 50 years. Rest assured that if this objective is not met, we will not sell it. We will never compromise the durability, longevity and weather integrity of a finished solar-roof system.

    Your chosen mounting method can have a profound effect on the cost of materials, total installation time and labor, material handling, and logistics, freight expense, etc. We consider all of these factors with our diverse product offerings.

    When it comes to mounting method preferences, S-5! covers all options with the PVKIT, a rail-free (or direct-attach™ ) solution, along with products for mounting rail-based systems. We also offer solutions for mounting balance of system components.

    Need Help Deciding Which Solar Mounting System is Best for Your Project?

    We’ve put together a series of questions to help evaluate whether your project would be best suited for railed or rail-less solar mounting. Download the quick guide version to use on your next project.

    Find the Metal Roof Solar Mounting System that Best Suits Your Application.

    There are multiple options when mounting solar on a metal roof, the details of which can impact installation costs and lifetime performance. Metal rooftop mounting consists of two basic parts: the (roof) mounting hardware and the actual solar panel attachment interface. Choosing to go with a rail-based or rail-less installation method depends on a variety of factors and is also a personal preference. S-5! offers attachment solutions for both methods.

    Rail-free (direct-attach™) Solar PV Mounting

    The PV module attachment and the roof attachment are a single assembly, so rails are not needed to provide a separate interface.

    Rail-Based Solar PV Mounting

    You can mount solar using rails that interface between the module attachments and the roof mounting attachments.

    Balance of System (BOS)

    Clamps, brackets, and interface hardware to attach service walkways, conduit, wire trays, optimizers, other module-level power electronics (MLPE), and monitoring equipment.

    What Products Does S-5! Offer for Rail-Free Solar Applications?

    The S-5-PVKIT is a rail-less mounting solution that uses the metal roof’s integrated “rails ” to attach solar modules. It reduces the weight of the mounting system, provides better load distribution and lowers overall material costs when compared to traditional rail mounting.

    S-5-PVKIT®

    Save up to 35% on material cost and up to 50% installation time when mounting solar PV. Use your metal roof’s “built-in” rails and the PVKIT direct-attachment system. (Compatible with all S-5! clamps and most brackets.)

    What Makes the S-5-PVKIT an Ideal Choice for Mounting PV on Metal Roofs?

    Most metal roofs are uniquely different from other roof types. They give the roof covering structural capacity (beam strength), due to their longitudinal seams or rib configurations. As we like to say at S-5!, “ The seams (or ribs) of the roof are the rails!” The PVKIT attaches the modules directly to the seams or ribs of the roof without the need for the addition of rails. This leads to savings in material, equipment needs, shipping, logistics and install time. [link to content]

    The PVKIT is mounted to S-5 clamps and brackets according to roof type. The distance from the roof surface to the back sheet of the module is approximately 4” or more, an ideal height for module cooling and performance.

    Wire management is easier than you might think. In the words of our customers, “. it’s a piece of cake…”

    When using the seams or ribs of the roof as rails, the modules are installed in landscape using the manufacturer’s prescribed mounting zones, which must be aligned with mounting locations.

    The weight of PVKIT mounting is about 15% of rail mounting. Think of the savings in freight and logistics, not to mention added load to the roof structure!

    The S-5-PVKIT is a great option for mounting to a metal roof. Just use the rails that are already there – they are free!

    The 7 Best Solar Roof Options for 2023

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

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

    Table of Contents

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

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

    Solar Panels:

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

    How a solar roof works

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

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

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

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

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

    Go solar at home

    Get matched with a LeafScore approved solar company

    • 100% free to use
    • Get matched in under 3 minutes
    • LeafScore rated solar companies

    The benefits of a solar roof

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

    The look

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

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

    Cost-effective roofing and solar combined

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

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

    A high-performance roofing solution

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

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

    Effective use of space

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

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

    No external wiring

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

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

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

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

    Easier to repair and replace

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

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

    Are there any downsides to solar roofs?

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

    Cost and efficiency

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

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

    Go solar at home

    Get matched with a LeafScore approved solar company

    • 100% free to use
    • Get matched in under 3 minutes
    • LeafScore rated solar companies

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

    Why are solar shingles less efficient than solar panels?

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

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

    Lifespan and flexibility

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

    solar, installation, integrated, metal, roofing

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

    Other downsides to solar roofs

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

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

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

    The best solar roofs: our top picks

    CertainTeed

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

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

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

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

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

    What we like about CertainTeed solar roofs

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

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

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

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

    Go solar at home

    Get matched with a LeafScore approved solar company

    • 100% free to use
    • Get matched in under 3 minutes
    • LeafScore rated solar companies

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

    Specifications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    What we don’t like about CertainTeed solar roofs

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

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

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

    Tesla Solar Roof

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

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

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

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

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

    Go solar at home

    Get matched with a LeafScore approved solar company

    • 100% free to use
    • Get matched in under 3 minutes
    • LeafScore rated solar companies

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

    What we like about Tesla Roofs

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

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

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

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

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

    What we don’t like about Tesla Roofs

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

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

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

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

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

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

    SunTegra

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

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

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

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

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

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

    What we like about SunTegra

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

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

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

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

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

    What we don’t like about SunTegra

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

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

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

    Go solar at home

    Get matched with a LeafScore approved solar company

    • 100% free to use
    • Get matched in under 3 minutes
    • LeafScore rated solar companies

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

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

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

    Forward Solar Shingles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    What we like about Forward

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

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

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

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

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

    What we don’t like about Forward

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

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

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

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

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *