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Solar Shingles Considerations and Installation. Solar shingle system

Solar Shingles Considerations and Installation. Solar shingle system

    Solar Shingles Considerations and Installation

    Juan Rodriguez is a former writer with The Balance who covered large-scale construction. He is an engineer with experience managing and overseeing large civil works construction.

    Solar shingles combine the benefit of solar-generated electricity with the reliability of traditional roof shingles. If your customer is considering a solar photovoltaic (PV) system but isn’t crazy about the look of conventional solar panels, solar shingles might be the right fit for them. Solar shingles can be used as the primary roofing material, or they can replace conventional shingles in specific areas of the roof.

    Solar Shingles as the Primary Roofing Material

    While flexible, or thin-film, solar roofing of the past had to be installed over a separate roofing material, today’s solar shingles are rigid materials that serve as shingles themselves. In other words, you install them in place of other roofing, not on top of other roofing. This means that a roof could be covered almost entirely with solar shingles, although this would be quite expensive.

    Cost of Solar Shingles

    It is most cost-effective to install solar shingles when replacing an old or damaged roof or during new house construction. This is because tearing off good shingles to install solar shingles means you lose the remaining value of the original shingles. As of August 2018, Tesla, the leading manufacturer of rigid solar shingles estimates the cost of solar shingles at about 22 per square foot, installed. At this price, the total cost of a new roof of solar shingles is about 33 percent higher than a comparable roof with conventional shingles and standard solar panels. Additionally, the roof of solar shingles may produce about 30 percent less electricity than its conventional counterpart.

    Solar Shingle Benefits

    The primary benefit of solar shingles, aside from the electricity generation, is their appearance. When viewed from the street, a roof of solar shingles can look very similar to a standard shingled roof. Solar shingles also come in several different styles that can mimic clay tile and slate as well as conventional asphalt shingles. A much lesser-known benefit of solar shingles is that they are extremely tough because they are protected by a layer of quartz glass. This makes solar shingles one of the toughest roofing materials available.

    Solar Shingles Power Generation

    Solar shingles can be used for both grid-tied and off-grid PV systems. Grid-tied systems are connected to the local utility’s power grid and can deliver excess electricity onto the grid. In some areas, homeowners can receive credits or payments for this excess power. Grid-tied systems rely on the grid for operation, so they don’t work when there’s a power outage.

    Off-grid systems do not connect to the power grid and use the solar-generated electricity to charge a large bank of batteries. The home (or other building) draws all of its power from the batteries. Grid-tied systems are most common in rural or remote areas where grid connection is difficult or unavailable.

    With both types of PV systems, the solar shingles generate direct current (DC) power, which is then converted to alternating current (AC) power via a power inverter for use in the home. The overall size of the PV system—and therefore how much area of the roof is covered with solar shingles—is typically based on the household’s annual electricity usage and how much the homeowners want to offset their utility-provided power with solar power.

    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.

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    The benefits of a solar roof

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

    The look

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

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

    Cost-effective roofing and solar combined

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

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

    A high-performance roofing solution

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

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

    Effective use of space

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

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

    No external wiring

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

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

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

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

    solar, shingles, considerations, installation

    Easier to repair and replace

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

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

    Are there any downsides to solar roofs?

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

    Cost and efficiency

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

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

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

    Why are solar shingles less efficient than solar panels?

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

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

    Lifespan and flexibility

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

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

    Other downsides to solar roofs

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

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

    solar, shingles, considerations, installation

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

    The best solar roofs: our top picks


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

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

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

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

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

    What we like about CertainTeed solar roofs

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

    solar, shingles, considerations, installation

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

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

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

    What we don’t like about CertainTeed solar roofs

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

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

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

    Tesla Solar Roof

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

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

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

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

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

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

    What we like about Tesla Roofs

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

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

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

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

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

    What we don’t like about Tesla Roofs

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

    What we like about SunTegra

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

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

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

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

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

    What we don’t like about SunTegra

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

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

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

    solar, shingles, considerations, installation

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

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

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

    Forward Solar Shingles

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

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

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

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

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

    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.

    Unveiling Solar Shingles: Understanding Their Mechanics and Advantages

    For many #homeowners, embracing residential solar power typically conjures images of photovoltaic solar panels perched atop rooftops. However, an alternative and innovative option has emerged in the form of solar shingles, offering a unique blend of aesthetics and functionality.

    As a relatively recent development, #solarshingles present a visually appealing alternative for homeowners seeking to integrate renewable energy into their homes without compromising on style. While solar shingles may appear more attractive than traditional PV panels, it’s essential to weigh various factors when determining the ideal renewable energy solution for your needs.

    Continue reading to explore the potential of solar shingles and decide if they constitute the perfect renewable energy choice for your home.

    What are Solar Shingles?

    Solar shingles are an innovative roofing solution that incorporates photovoltaic cells to harness sunlight and a balance of system components to transform solar energy into usable electricity. Functioning similarly to PV solar panels, these shingles are designed to resemble and operate like conventional slate or asphalt shingles.

    In contrast to traditional rooftop #solarpanel installations, which rely on mounting hardware and frames, solar shingles are seamlessly integrated into the roof during construction, replacing ordinary shingles. Consequently, they are also referred to as Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV).

    As solar shingles are designed to be incorporated into a home’s structure, they are generally more suitable for new constructions or when replacing an aging roof. Retrofitting solar panels onto an existing building is comparatively more straightforward.

    Offering dual functionality, solar shingles not only protect your home against the elements but also generate electricity to power your household. In some cases, they can prove more durable than traditional roofing materials like asphalt, potentially lasting longer before necessitating replacement.

    Due to their embedded nature within your home’s roof, solar shingles are less likely to dislodge during windstorms or sustain damage from hail and other severe weather events when compared to PV panels. However, it’s worth noting that they tend to be less efficient and more expensive to purchase and install than a rooftop #solarpanelsystem.

    How Do Solar Shingles Work?

    Solar shingles operate using the same principles as other photovoltaic technologies. These photovoltaic cells capture sunlight and facilitate the flow of electrons, generating solar energy in the form of direct current (DC) electricity. A power inverter or balance of system then converts this DC electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity suitable for household use.

    Unlike solar panels, which require mounting hardware for installation on top of your roof, solar shingles are an integral part of your roofing structure, replacing traditional asphalt or slate shingles. Designed to mimic the appearance and functionality of conventional roofing materials, solar shingles blend seamlessly into the roof, making them particularly beneficial for angular residential roof designs.

    However, the placement and angling of solar shingles to maximize sunlight capture are constrained by your roof’s design and construction. This limitation, along with the available roof space that receives direct sunlight, can impact the overall efficiency of solar shingles in comparison to their panel counterparts.

    How Many Types of Solar Shingles Are There?

    There are two primary categories of photovoltaic shingles: silicon-based and CIGS-based.

    • Silicon Solar Shingles: These shingles are constructed from the same material as most PV panels and function in a similar manner. Designed to be thin and emulate the size and shape of standard asphalt or slate roof shingles, silicon solar shingles offer a familiar aesthetic.
    • CIGS Solar Shingles: Standing for copper-indium-gallium-selenide, CIGS solar shingles employ a thinner, lighter, and more cost-effective material than silicon. The appealing balance of affordability and durability offered by these shingles has led to an increased adoption of this technology in the PV shingle market.

    While silicon panels currently enjoy greater availability, CIGS panels continue to maintain and expand their market presence, providing consumers with additional options to consider when selecting a solar shingle solution.

    What Are the Differences Between Solar Roof Shingles and Solar Panels?


    Photovoltaic shingles typically measure 12 x 86 inches (990mm x 1,651mm), making them smaller than an average rigid solar panel, which can be 68 x 45 inches (1,722mm x 1,134mm). PV shingles are also considerably thinner and lighter, adding less weight to your roof. However, due to their lower efficiency, they may require more space for a complete installation compared to solar panels.


    Solar panels are predominantly made of silicon, with monocrystalline silicon cells being the most efficient type currently available. Monocrystalline panels consist of a single silicon crystal, while polycrystalline panels comprise multiple crystals fused together. In contrast, PV shingles can be made from either silicon or copper indium gallium selenide, with the latter being lighter and more durable. This thinner design allows shingles to integrate into the roof structure rather than being mounted on top.


    Under ideal conditions, solar panels can generate up to 400W of electricity per panel per hour. Factors that can impact output include angle, air temperature, Cloud cover, and obstructions such as tree branches casting shade. PV shingles, on the other hand, are smaller and less efficient, yielding between 13-70W of electricity per shingle. To generate sufficient electricity to partially power your home, expect to purchase more shingles and utilize a larger portion of your rooftop space than you would for a traditional PV panel array.


    While solar panels are mounted on your roof, solar shingles are integrated directly into the building structure, offering a more seamless visual appearance. Shingles are designed to blend into the roof, with their black color complementing most roof designs. As a result, many people find PV shingles more aesthetically appealing than rooftop panels. Although the price for enhanced aesthetics may be steep, it could be worthwhile for some homeowners, particularly if their homeowners association (HOA) imposes restrictions on rooftop installations.

    Efficiency and Rated Power

    Solar panels boast higher efficiency levels than PV shingles, with panels reaching up to 23-24% efficiency, while shingles generally achieve only 14-18%.

    Efficiency in solar power refers to the proportion of direct sunlight that is converted into electricity by PV panels or solar shingles. Rated power, on the other hand, represents the maximum amount of electricity a solar panel or shingle can produce in one hour under ideal conditions.

    Standard Test Conditions are used to determine both efficiency and rated power. However, it’s essential to remember that these ideal conditions rarely occur in real-world situations. Therefore, when planning and purchasing a solar power system, it’s crucial to keep this in mind.

    A solar panel with a rated power of 400W and 23% efficiency will not necessarily achieve that level of electricity generation during every daylight hour. Efficiency and power output are influenced by design, but they are also heavily impacted by the unit’s position and angle relative to the sun. Solar panels can be positioned and angled to optimize sunlight capture, while photovoltaic shingles must work within the constraints of the existing roof angle and orientation.


    Solar shingles are generally more suitable for residential installations where aesthetics are a top priority. Due to their cost and integration into a building’s structure, shingles are ideally suited for new constructions and full rooftop replacements.

    In contrast, photovoltaic panels offer much greater versatility. Rigid solar panels can provide on-the-go power when installed on vans or RVs, while portable solar panels can be folded and used to generate electricity for off-grid activities such as camping. Flexible solar panels can be molded and adhered to virtually any type and shape of surface, further expanding their potential applications.

    Pros and Cons of Solar Shingles

    Solar shingles provide a sleeker look that some homeowners find more aesthetically pleasing, but when it comes to performance and price, PV panels continue to be the preferred choice for residential solar power.


    • Aesthetics: Since PV shingles integrate seamlessly into your home’s roof structure, many people find them more visually appealing. This factor can be crucial if your homeowners’ association (HOA) has restrictions on photovoltaic panel usage.
    • Durability: Both PV panels and PV shingles have a long lifespan, with high-quality PV shingles able to withstand various weather conditions, including hail, which not all PV panels can endure during extreme weather events.


    • Cost: Solar shingles are significantly more expensive than photovoltaic panels, with installation and purchase costs ranging from 60,000 to 75,000—often more than double the price of PV panels.
    • Efficiency and Power Production: Solar panels are far more efficient than shingles and generate more electricity per unit, requiring fewer panels and less overall space compared to PV shingles.
    • Positioning: Solar panels can be set up at the optimal angle to maximize direct sunlight throughout the day. However, PV shingles do not offer this flexibility; you must work with the existing roof angle and purchase more shingles to meet your home’s power needs. If you’re planning a new construction, consider the roof’s position and angle relative to the sun during the design phase to optimize your solar shingle system’s efficiency and output.

    How to Make the Switch From Solar Panels to Solar Roof Shingles

    Transitioning from solar panels to PV roof shingles can be challenging and costly. First, you’ll need to remove the solar panels. Then, a professional installer or roofer should be hired to remove your existing roof tiles and install the shingles one by one. This process involves connecting the tiles to each other and linking the entire array to your balance of system.

    Given the complexity of this process, it’s most practical to consider PV shingles when you’re due for a roof replacement. Doing so will align the cost more closely with that of a standard roof replacement.

    However, due to the higher efficiency and longer lifespan of solar panels, it’s difficult to identify situations in which switching from panels to PV shingles would be a financially sound decision.


    In conclusion, solar shingles present an aesthetically pleasing and durable alternative to conventional solar panels. However, they also involve higher costs, lower efficiency, and more complex installation processes. While they can increase your home’s value and boast a long lifespan, solar shingles are best suited for new constructions or roof replacement projects. For most homeowners, solar panels remain the more practical and cost-effective choice for harnessing renewable solar energy. To make the most of your solar investment and ensure dependable energy storage, consider incorporating POMCube’s energy storage systems. These systems can smoothly integrate with your solar power setup, providing consistent power whenever you need it.


    Is It Easy to Install Solar Shingles on a Roof?

    Installing solar shingles on an existing roof is a complex process. The installation involves fitting the shingles into place, connecting them, and connecting the entire array to your balance of system. Professional installers are necessary, and the time and labor costs can be substantial. Solar shingle installations are best suited for new construction or during a roof replacement. In contrast, solar panels are much simpler to retrofit onto your home’s existing roof.

    Will Solar Shingles Increase Your Home’s Value?

    Yes, solar shingles can increase your home’s value. On average, in the US, solar power adds 20 to your home value for every 1 you save on your electricity bills. PV shingles are less visually obtrusive than solar panels and offer a durable rooftop that generates electricity while providing structural stability.

    What’s the Lifespan of a Solar Shingle?

    Solar shingles typically have a lifespan of at least 25-30 years. With proper maintenance and care, they can last even longer. Solar shingles can be an appealing option for new home builds and roof replacements, as their longevity compares favorably to the 15-30 year lifespan of a traditional asphalt roof.

    What Are Solar Shingles? How Do They Work?

    Solar shingles offer solar power with a sleeker roofline, but often at a higher price.

    Russell McLendon is a science writer with expertise in the natural environment, humans, and wildlife. He holds degrees in journalism and environmental anthropology.

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    Solar shingles are small solar panels designed to resemble and replace traditional roofing materials. They are incorporated into the roof itself to generate energy.

    While solar shingles are an effective source of solar power, they aren’t the most efficient or economical option. To shed more light on this method of generating solar power and new developments in the technology, here is a closer look at solar shingles, including how they work and how they compare with other solar options.

    What Are Solar Shingles?

    Solar shingles have been commercially available since 2005. They are designed by merging solar panels with the roof instead of just mounting them on top of it.

    All solar shingles are designed to function as both roofing materials and power sources, but they can achieve that dual purpose in a few ways. Some solar shingles use silicon as a semiconductor, as do most conventional solar panels. Others rely on thin-film solar cells, which feature super-thin layers of certain photovoltaic materials.

    The thinness of these solar cells makes them lighter and more flexible. While older versions of flexible thin-film solar roofing had to be installed on top of another roofing material, newer products are rigid and sturdy enough to serve as shingles themselves.

    Solar shingles look like asphalt shingles. Solar tiles are another type of solar roofing but are made to resemble other roofing types, like terracotta.

    What Are Solar Tiles?

    Solar tiles are similar to solar shingles, but while the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they also can refer to different types of roofing material. Solar shingles tend to be those designed to look like asphalt shingles, while solar tiles may mimic the appearance of conventional roofing tiles. Some companies sell both solar shingles and solar tiles.

    Many integrated solar roofing materials off conversation efficiency of about 15% and an expected life span of 20 years or longer.

    How Do Solar Shingles Work?

    Like traditional rooftop panels, solar shingles convert solar energy into electricity by harnessing the flow of electrons released when sunlight hits a semiconducting material. While solar shingles and solar panels generate electricity with the same fundamental photovoltaic effect, they have significant installation differences.

    Solar shingles are not mounted on racks like other solar panels. Instead, they are attached directly to the roof deck in place of conventional roofing shingles.

    Solar shingles are typically installed at the same time as the roof, either during new construction or when replacing an old or damaged roof. This helps homeowners avoid replacing older but functional shingles before necessary and can be performed by a single roofing contractor.

    The Cost of Solar Shingles

    The installation of solar shingles tends to be more expensive than that of traditional solar panels, especially if you want them to cover your entire roof.

    Tesla has become an industry leader in solar shingles. Tesla’s solar roof features solar shingles that are “more than three times stronger than standard roofing tiles” and “engineered for all-weather protection,” the company says. They can reportedly withstand winds of up to 166 mph and hail up to 1.75 inches in diameter.

    The news about Tesla solar roofs is not all positive, though. In April 2021, CEO Elon Musk acknowledged the company has made “significant mistakes” with the solar roof project, leading to service delays and cost increases—with the latter affecting existing customers as well as new ones. Some customers have even sued the company over the price increases.

    Tesla now charges by roof complexity. A complex roof reportedly could now cost more than 19 per square foot, but even a simple roof may cost 14 per square foot. Previous estimates from Tesla suggested a 10-kilowatt solar roof in California could cost around 34,000. With those increases and the now-required battery, the estimated total cost of a Tesla solar roof is over 100,000.

    Solar Shingles vs. Solar Panels

    Solar shingles are sleek and durable. Their benefits include:

    • Aesthetics. solar shingles enable homeowners to generate electricity with a sleek roof.
    • Endurance. many solar shingles are designed to withstand hail and hurricane-force winds, which can be difficult for mounted panels.

    Solar shingles can be less efficient and more expensive. Their disadvantages include:

    • Cost. renders solar shingles impractical in many cases unless they’re part of a newly constructed or rebuilt roof.
    • Availability. solar shingles may not be offered by some solar installers, and the cost can vary widely between providers.
    • Efficiency. there can be issues with sunlight exposure depending on the slope of the roof.

    The advantage of solar shingles is largely aesthetic. They are known for being more expensive and less efficient than standard solar panels, although they may become more practical for many people as better technology improves their performance.

    Depending on the size of your roof, solar shingles can cost anywhere from less than 30,000 to more than 100,000. They’re quite expensive outright, but experts argue they’re more economical if they’re installed as part of a regular roof installation.

    Although walking on solar shingles shouldn’t cause any damage to the shingles, it has sparked a safety debate in the solar industry. Tesla has admitted that its solar shingles are quite slippery and unsafe to walk on.

    You can technically go off-grid with solar shingles—and Tesla says with its roof, that’s a very attainable option—but shingles are known to be less efficient than traditional solar panels, so you would need a lot of cover and sun exposure, plus a battery to store the solar power, for it to work.

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