Should you replace your roof with solar shingles?
We are an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. Our goal is to help you make smarter financial decisions by providing you with interactive tools and financial calculators, publishing original and objective content, by enabling you to conduct research and compare information for free. so that you can make financial decisions with confidence. Bankrate has partnerships with issuers including, but not limited to, American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi and Discover.
How We Make Money
The offers that appear on this site are from companies that compensate us. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site, including, for example, the order in which they may appear within the listing categories, except where prohibited by law for our mortgage, home equity and other home lending products. But this compensation does not influence the information we publish, or the reviews that you see on this site. We do not include the universe of companies or financial offers that may be available to you.
On This Page
Arrow Right Senior editor, Home Lending
Troy Segal is a senior editor for Bankrate. She edits stories about Homeownership in addition to stories about the finer points of mortgages and home equity loans.
The Bankrate promise
At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict editorial integrity. this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here’s an explanation for how we make money.
The Bankrate promise
Founded in 1976, Bankrate has a long track record of helping people make Smart financial choices. We’ve maintained this reputation for over four decades by demystifying the financial decision-making process and giving people confidence in which actions to take next.
Bankrate follows a strict editorial policy, so you can trust that we’re putting your interests first. All of our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts, who ensure everything we publish is objective, accurate and trustworthy.
Our banking reporters and editors FOCUS on the points consumers care about most — the best banks, latest rates, different types of accounts, money-saving tips and more — so you can feel confident as you’re managing your money.
Bankrate follows a strict editorial policy, so you can trust that we’re putting your interests first. Our award-winning editors and reporters create honest and accurate content to help you make the right financial decisions.
We value your trust. Our mission is to provide readers with accurate and unbiased information, and we have editorial standards in place to ensure that happens. Our editors and reporters thoroughly fact-check editorial content to ensure the information you’re reading is accurate. We maintain a firewall between our advertisers and our editorial team. Our editorial team does not receive direct compensation from our advertisers.
Bankrate’s editorial team writes on behalf of YOU – the reader. Our goal is to give you the best advice to help you make Smart personal finance decisions. We follow strict guidelines to ensure that our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers. Our editorial team receives no direct compensation from advertisers, and our content is thoroughly fact-checked to ensure accuracy. So, whether you’re reading an article or a review, you can trust that you’re getting credible and dependable information.
How we make money
You have money questions. Bankrate has answers. Our experts have been helping you master your money for over four decades. We continually strive to provide consumers with the expert advice and tools needed to succeed throughout life’s financial journey.
Bankrate follows a strict editorial policy, so you can trust that our content is honest and accurate. Our award-winning editors and reporters create honest and accurate content to help you make the right financial decisions. The content created by our editorial staff is objective, factual, and not influenced by our advertisers.
We’re transparent about how we are able to bring quality content, competitive rates, and useful tools to you by explaining how we make money.
Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. We are compensated in exchange for placement of sponsored products and, services, or by you clicking on certain links posted on our site. Therefore, this compensation may impact how, where and in what order products appear within listing categories, except where prohibited by law for our mortgage, home equity and other home lending products. Other factors, such as our own proprietary website rules and whether a product is offered in your area or at your self-selected credit score range can also impact how and where products appear on this site. While we strive to provide a wide range offers, Bankrate does not include information about every financial or credit product or service.
Any homeowner who’s concerned about carbon footprints and energy costs has considered solar power — usually, in the shape of solar panels. But now there’s another option: an entire solar roof.
Solar roofs are composed of solar shingles, aka solar tiles, that can fit over existing shingles or be installed on their own. So the energy-harvesting ability is baked into the roof itself. The shingles do everything regular shingles do, roof-wise (protect your house from the elements), are fire-resistant, and are quite durable. Plus, they look a lot more sleek and seamless than solar panels.
If you’re considering replacing your roof (or are building a new one for a new home), solar shingles may be a particularly timely choice. The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in August 2022, offers enhanced tax credits of up to 30 percent of the cost of installations, increasing the incentive to go solar.
Let’s shed more light on the subject.
What are solar shingles?
Solar shingles or tiles are like regular roof shingles. But instead of being made of asphalt, clay or slate, they are made of glass that contain photovoltaic cells. Photovoltaic cells act as semiconductors and transfer energy collected from the sunlight into electrons, which can then become electrical current to power your home. Each shingle typically produces between 13 and 63 watts of energy, depending on the brand (one of the latest, by industry leader Tesla, claims to have a max power of 71 watts). While they both convert sunlight to energy, solar shingles are quite different from the solar panels (we’ll dig into the differences later).
The first solar shingles were developed by DOW Chemical Company, rolling out in 2011. But the concept began to get serious traction in 2016, when Tesla purchased manufacturer Solar City and began offering what it deemed the Tesla Solar Roof. Today, there are several brands of the solar roof tiles available through manufacturers like CertainTeed, GAF Energy, Luma, SunTegra and of course Tesla. (Dow dropped out of the game.)
The average size of a solar shingle or tile is about 12 inches wide by 86 inches long. It takes about 350 solar tiles for a standard-size roof. Tiles weigh about 13 pounds per square foot, so most roofs can handle them without additional reinforcement.
What do solar shingles cost?
Although the have been dropping of late, as more makers enter the market, solar roofs are expensive. On average, the cost to install solar roof shingles runs 21 to 25 per square foot or 5000,100 to 5000,600 per roofing square. So a total project could easily average 60,000 to 75,000 — at least. That’s considerably higher than the cost of a conventional roof (between 5,646 and 12,031. according to HomeAdvisor). Even expensive traditional materials like clay or slate (800 to 450,800 per square) cost less than solar tile.
What solar roof tiles will cost you depends on several factors including:
- Roof size: The bigger the roof, the more shingles needed.
- Roof pitch/slope: As is the case with any roof, the more extreme the angling, the more difficult/risky the installation will be, which affects the overall cost.
- Home location: Labor (installation) costs vary by city and state.
- Energy needs of your home.
- Particular manufacturer/brand of shingle or tile.
Solar Power Installation On Tiled Roof
Still, solar shingle have dropped since their introduction, and they may continue to do so, given the Inflation Reduction Act’s significant incentives and grants for solar implementation, for builders as well as consumers. The Solar Energy Industries Association believes that the IRA’s investment in clean energy will spur “a renaissance in American solar manufacturing,” driving down costs. as its recent “Catalyzing American Solar Manufacturing” report put it.
What are solar roof shingles?
Solar shingles are roofing shingles that contain solar cells. They are designed to look and offer the same protection as traditional asphalt shingles while generating solar electricity at the same time.
Many homeowners are hesitant to install solar power systems on their roof, despite the positive economics, because they don’t like the look of traditional solar panels. Solar roof shingles are the answer to this dilemma. they allow homeowners to still get all of the benefits of solar without having to sacrifice the aesthetic of their home.
What sets Tesla’s solar panel shingles apart from other solar shingles on the market?
Tesla is one of the first solar shingle manufacturers to make a truly cohesive solar shingle product. When you install a Tesla solar roof, you get two kinds of shingles from Tesla: active shingles (that generate electricity) and inactive shingles (that don’t generate electricity).
Because you get all of the roofing material from Tesla, it makes your roof look entirely uniform. you can’t really tell the difference between the solar portion and the non-solar portion. Most other solar shingle brands only sell the active shingle portion, so they aren’t designed to look identical to the remaining shingles on your roof.
On the downside, this means that you do have to get an entire roof replacement when you install Tesla solar shingles, while other shingle brands only require you to replace a portion of your roof. The upside, however, is you wind up with a great looking roof that generates solar energy.
How much do solar shingles cost to install?
The cost to install solar shingles varies, depending on the brand you choose and how you choose to compare the costs.
If you’re looking strictly at the cost of solar, Tesla is the cheapest at 450.80 per watt before incentives. Other solar shingle brands will cost between 3.80 to 7.00 per watt.
However, it’s important to note that Tesla requires you to invest in a total roof replacement when you install their solar shingles. This means that the overall cost of a Tesla solar shingle installation could be much higher than that of other brands, like CertainTeed, that can be installed with your existing roof. especially because Tesla’s roofing materials can get expensive.
Find out which solar incentives your home could qualify for
Solar shingles cost compared to a conventional roof replacement cost
The cost of a solar roof is going to seem a bit high compared to a traditional roof replacement or a conventional solar installation, but it’s important to keep in mind that a solar roof installation includes the value of both a roofing material and a solar panel system.
When you install a Tesla solar roof, you install both active and inactive shingles. The active shingles convert sunlight into energy for your home, while the inactive shingles just act as regular shingles.
Based on Tesla’s estimates, the solar shingles come to 450.80 per watt. This is lower than the average cost of traditional solar panels, which is around 3.00 per watt.
The cost of the inactive shingles depends on the complexity of your roof, so it will cost between 20 per square foot of total roof space. This is higher than the average for traditional asphalt shingles, which is somewhere between 3.50 to 5.50.
Based on these quotes, a traditional roof replacement would cost around 9,350 for a 1,700 square foot roof and a conventional 10 kW solar system would be 30,000, before incentives. That brings you a grand total of 39,350. The entire Tesla solar roof for the same home, assuming it has a simple roof complexity, would come out to around 52,000 not including roof tear off costs.
That’s not too much higher than a conventional roof replacement and solar panel system, but that’s assuming the lowest price Tesla will give you for roofing materials.
Tesla solar roof tiles vs. competitors
While it does seem like Tesla is the only solar shingle manufacturing company out there, they actually aren’t. Believe it or not, there are quite a few other companies that manufacture solar shingles, including Luma Solar, CertainTeed, and Suntegra.
GAF Energy’s Timberline Solar Energy Shingles created quite a buzz when they were released, due to their rumored low and easy installation. Image source: GAF Energy
One of the newest solar shingle products available is GAF’s Timberline Solar Energy Shingles. If GAF sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because they’re one of the most well-known names in roofing. In fact, there’s a good chance GAF is already on your roof.
GAF Energy’s solar shingles are designed with roofers in mind. the top portion of shingles are made of asphalt, so they can be nailed into the roof just like regular shingles.
There are no official specifications posted on GAF’s website, but some product data sheets online state that each shingle has a power rating of 45 watts. There is also no indication on the official pricing of GAF’s shingles, aside from some installation totals quoted by their president that suggests a total roof replacement and the solar shingles would cost about 30,000, including incentives.
Luma Solar is one of the original solar shingle innovators. Image source: Luma Solar
Luma Solar developed the first fully-integrated solar roof system in the U.S., referring to their solar shingles as a ‘luxury product’ that can be upgraded in the future in order to meet future needs.
Luma Solar is probably the closest you can get to Tesla’s solar roof in terms of aesthetics, because they too have inactive shingles that help the solar panels blend in.
Luma’s shingles have a power rating of 80 watts each, and come with a 25-year production warranty and a 5-year limited product warranty. Their shingles are also rated to withstand 200 mile per hour winds, and have received the Category 5 Miami-Dade Hurricane Rating Classification, so you can trust they’ll stay on even in the windiest conditions.
There is no official pricing listed on Luma’s website, but pricing started at 4.50 per watt for an older iteration of their shingles that had a slightly lower power rating than the current version. So, it’s likely the current shingles could cost a little bit more. The price can also vary based on roof complexity and the system design.
CertainTeed Apollo II
CertainTeed’s Apollo II solar shingles don’t require you to replace your whole roof, but they are a little more noticeable on your roof than some other solar shingles on the market. Image source: CertainTeed
CertainTeed, a leading brand of traditional roofing shingles, began offering solar products in the late 2000s. Currently, they have two solar shingle products to choose from: the Apollo II shingles and the Apollo II tiles.
Both are 70 watts with monocrystalline solar cells. The Apollo tiles have a slightly higher efficiency, a lower profile, and we can assume are slightly more expensive than the Apollo shingles, but CertainTeed does not list pricing on their website.
CertainTeed solar shingles don’t require you to replace your entire roof, and they can even be installed on top of existing asphalt shingles. This likely makes a CertainTeed solar shingle installation cheaper overall than other types of solar shingle installations, because you don’t have to pay for a total roof replacement.
Unfortunately, this does make CertainTeed solar shingles stand out a little more from the rest of the shingles on your roof.
Suntegra’s solar roof tiles can be installed with concrete roofing tiles and are more discreet than conventional solar panels. Image source: Suntegra
Suntegra is another popular brand manufacturing solar shingles. Like Certainteed, Suntegra offers a solar shingle and solar roof tile so you can choose which integrates better with your roofing material. The solar tiles are designed to integrate with concrete roofing materials.
The low-profile monocrystalline solar shingles are attached directly to the roofing to blend in with traditional asphalt shingles. Suntegra shingles come in three different wattages: 105 watts, 110 watts, and 114 watts. The cost varies from 3.80 to 4.25 per watt, depending on which wattage shingle you choose.
Advantages of Solar Tiles for Building Design
- Discrete design means no bulky solar panels sitting on top of your roof. This allows much more seamless integration into your property’s appearance.
- Because solar tiles are a part of your roof, they’re inherently much more durable. A typical solar panel system on a roof is at a greater risk of weather damage, especially in high-wind areas. This is because solar panels are mounted on a metal rack that’s slightly raised from the roof, so they are naturally more exposed to the elements. However, to make it clear, modern solar panels are still designed to withstand weather extremes, it’s just that solar tiles are more durable by default.
- Solar tiles, like all solar systems, can help reduce your electricity bill by up to 50% and give you access to clean energy.
- They’re long lasting, with a predicted lifespan of between 25 and 40 years. Admittedly this is only a prediction, albeit a well-informed one, because solar tiles are a relatively new technology having only been widely available for around 10 years.
- Low maintenance. Solar tiles, when properly installed require very little in the way of upkeep, but again, because it’s a new technology we won’t have all the answers until around 15-20 years from now.
- High upfront costs. Solar tiles are definitely more expensive than ordinary solar panel systems, with the typical cost per roofing square (100 square feet) sitting around 450,100–5000,600. It’s understandable because solar tiles are a new technology, but it’ll give many people interested in switching to solar pause for thought.
- Lengthy installation time. Properly installing a solar tile system requires specialists trained in both roofing and electrical work. It will usually take around two weeks to fully install a solar roof and you’ll likely need a team of around 10-15 people to do it! As technology improves and more people opt for solar tiles, the installation process will no doubt get quicker and require less people to do it.
- The return on investment isn’t great, with the expected ROI of roof with solar tiles taking around 15-20 years. These days, a solar panel system has an ROI of roughly five years.
- Lower efficiency than solar panels. Until technology improves, solar tiles currently have to trade efficiency for aesthetics. By efficiency we mean how much sunlight solar tiles convert into electricity–right now, solar panels average at around 25-30% efficiency, compared to solar tiles which operate between 10-20%.
The Best Solar Tiles Overall
Each of the BIPV systems we’ve listed here are different in their own ways, which we’ll go into in more detail in the sections below. For now, here’s an overview of the best solar tiles available on the US market.
Best Solar Tiles for Design: Tesla Solar Roof
World-renowned clean-energy brand Tesla first introduced its Solar Roof in 2016 and since then, it has become one of the most popular solar tile options in the United States.
Solar panels on a tile roof. how your roof is sealed
Purely from a design perspective, Tesla’s Solar Roof wins hands down. You get access to four different tiling options, with each carrying the same sleek design expected of Tesla products.
Because of the variety in choice, it’s remarkably easy to blend Tesla’s PV slates into your home’s overall design. A statement on their website reads “each tile looks great up-close or from the street, complementing your home’s natural aesthetic styling.”
Looking through the example images it’s hard to disagree. A key advantage is that Tesla will replace your entire roof with their slates, although not every slate will be solar capable. This helps add to their seamless appeal, as most PV slate systems can still stand out against existing roof tiles.
One oddity of Tesla’s Solar Roof is that the company is yet to officially reveal its efficiency rating, leaving owners of their solar tiles in the dark. This is a bit strange considering Tesla is well known for talking proudly and in detail about its technological achievements.
A notable downside of Tesla’s Solar Roof is that it cannot be added to an existing roof – instead, you will need to replace the entire roof with their tiles. Naturally this comes at some expense, with the average cost of roofing a 2,000 sq ft home being around 55,300.
Compare this to the typical cost of a non-solar roof on a 2,000 sq ft home, which is roughly 14,000. Or, the cost of adding an ordinary solar panel installation, which will set you back 18,000 for a 6 kw system.
Tesla Solar Roof specifications:
- Dimensions per tile/shingle: L 45” x W 15” x H 2mm
- Can withstand wind speeds up to 166 miles per hour
- Maximum power per tile/shingle: 71.67 watts
- Weight per tile/shingle: 7 lbs
- Warranty: 25 years (12.5 for the inverter)
Solar Shingles Cost is High Up Front But ROI is Higher
The average cost of solar roof shingles ranges between 25,000 to 60,000. or between 15 to 35 per square foot. for the average U.S. roof size of 1,700 square feet. The total cost will depend on the solar roof tile brand and the roofing contractor you choose for installation.
Compared to traditional solar panels, solar shingles are much more aesthetically pleasing. They look like mini solar panels shaped in the form of traditional roof shingles, allowing homeowners to bypass the bulky appearance of standard photovoltaic (PV) panels.
If you are interested in adding solar panels to your new roof. solar shingles are a much more cost-effective option. With solar shingles, you’ll knock out the cost of a roof replacement and the cost of a renewable energy system with one combined price tag.
SunPower designs and installs industry-leading residential solar and storage solutions across all 50 states. With a storied history of innovation dating back to 1985, no other company on this list can match SunPower’s experience and expertise.
SunPower earns its position as the top national installer on our list for a handful of reasons: It installs the most efficient solar technology on the residential market, offers the most expansive service area and backs its installations with a warranty well above the industry standard. All the while, SunPower pioneers sustainability efforts within the industry.
If that weren’t enough, SunPower systems come packaged with products all manufactured in-house by its sister company, Maxeon. This means that your panels, solar cells, inverters, battery and EV chargers are designed to work together and are all covered under the same warranty.
SunPower’s biggest downside? Its high-efficiency panels are considerably more expensive than most of its competitors’ products. However, its powerful panels are workhorses that make up for the initial cost with more backend production (think about this like spending more money for a car that gets more miles per gallon).
Blue Raven Solar
We like Blue Raven Solar because it understands that, for most homeowners, the cost of solar presents the biggest barrier to entry.
For that reason, Blue Raven Solar developed an innovative solar financing plan that offers in-house, flexible, zero-money-down options. The results speak for themselves, as Blue Raven Solar is now one of the fastest-growing solar companies in the nation and was recently acquired by SunPower. Its BluePower Plus plan (exclusive to Blue Raven) mimics the flexible structure of a lease while still providing the greatest benefits of owning your system.
Eligible homeowners enjoy 18 months of solar power before having to pay their first bill. When coupled with the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC), the initial energy savings can offset more than a third of the overall cost of a system before requiring a dollar down.
In contrast, other installers can only offer similar financing through solar leases, PPAs or third-party providers (such as Mosaic or Sunlight). Third-party loan providers can complicate the process, while opting for a loan or PPA will disqualify you from some of solar’s biggest benefits (additional property value, federal solar tax credit and local solar incentives).
Cost of Installing a Solar Shingle Roof
The overall cost for a solar shingle installation ranges between 25,000 to 60,000 for the average U.S. home, which comes out to around 15 to 35 per square foot.
But unlike regular shingles, shingles with solar cells — a type of building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) technology — are priced per watt. not per square foot. The cost of a solar shingle ranges between 3.50 and 8.00 per watt depending on the brand.
Most solar companies don’t advertise pricing online, but market research shows the total cost of a solar shingle installation is typically 15%-25% higher compared to a traditional solar panel system installation. The national average solar panel installation costs roughly 24,000, which puts the national average solar shingle installation at around 30,000.
Of course, there are some outliers. For example, a Tesla Solar Roof may cost as much as 70,000 or more for full roof installation, while the budget-friendly SunTegra solar shingles may run closer to 20,000 for the entire roof.
While solar roof shingles cost substantially more than asphalt shingles. you’ll be producing your own electricity, therefore lowering your electric bills (or in some cases completely offsetting) by producing your own clean energy.
“A solar roof is a great and obvious way to reduce energy use and has the added benefit of being environmentally friendly,” said David Snyder, CEO of Nova Home Buyers, LLC.
If you go solar, you’ll also be eligible for solar financial incentives and rebates, like the 30% federal tax credit and net metering credits.
How to Calculate the Cost of Your New Solar Roof Shingles
As discussed, BIPV solar shingles are priced per watt. So to calculate the cost of your solar shingle roof, you’ll need to know how much solar power you need to power your house.
The only way to know the exact cost of your solar roof is to get a professional estimate, but you can calculate it yourself by walking through the follow the following steps:
- Find out how much energy your home consumes (typically found on your energy bills)
- Assess your roof space and the amount of sunlight your home receives
- Figure out the average system size in your area to estimate necessary system size (you can also use our solar calculator to find an estimate)
- Check the wattage of the shingles you intend to purchase
- Divide the required wattage of your system by the solar panel wattage
The average U.S. home needs a solar system that produces 9,000 watts (or 9 kilowatts) to completely offset their utility bills. With the cost of solar shingles ranging between 3.50 and 8.00 per watt, a 9,000-watt solar shingle installation would range from 31,500 to 72,000.
But don’t let those numbers scare you. Remember, your solar shingles don’t need to power your entire home.
Having a roof that produces any amount of clean energy can still significantly reduce your energy bills and your carbon footprint, making it much more impressive than a regular roof made of asphalt.