Solar roofs consist of solar panels, also known as solar tiles, that can fit over existing panels or be installed on their own. So the ability to accumulate energy is baked into the ceiling itself. Shingles do everything regular shingles do, in terms of roofing (protecting your home from the elements), fire-resistant, and extremely durable. In addition, they look more elegant and streamlined than solar panels.
If you are considering replacing your roof (or are building a new roof for a new home), solar panels may be a good option. Let us shed more light on this topic.
What are solar shingles?
Shingles or solar tiles like regular roof shingles. But instead of being made of asphalt, clay or slate, it is made of glass that contains photovoltaic cells. Photovoltaic cells act as semiconductors and transfer the energy collected from sunlight to electrons, which can then become an electric current to power your home. Each shingle typically produces between 13 and 63 watts of power, depending on the brand (one of the latest, by industry leader Tesla, claims to have a maximum power of 71 watts). While both convert sunlight into energy, solar panels are very different from solar panels (we’ll look at the differences later).
DOW Chemical developed the first solar panels, which were introduced in 2011. But the concept began to gain serious traction in 2016, when Tesla bought manufacturer Solar City and began offering what it considers to be a Tesla solar roof. Today, there are many brands of solar roof tiles available through manufacturers such as CertainTeed, GAF Energy, Luma, SunTegra and of course Tesla. (Daw is out of the game.)
The average size of solar panels or tiles is about 12 inches long and 86 inches long. Accommodates approximately 350 standard size roof solar tiles. The tiles weigh about 13 pounds per square foot, so most surfaces can handle them without additional reinforcement.
What is the cost of solar shingles?
Although prices have been dropping recently, with more manufacturers entering the market, solar roofs are quite expensive. On average, the cost to install solar roof panels ranges from $21 to $25 per square foot or $1,100 to $2,600 per roofing square. So the average project total could easily be anywhere from $60K to $75K — at least. That’s significantly higher than the cost of a traditional roof (between $5,601 and $11,729, according to HomeAdvisor). Even expensive, traditional materials like clay or slate ($800 to $1800 per square) cost less than solar tiles.
The cost of solar roof tiles depends on several factors including:
- Ceiling size: the larger the ceiling, the greater the need for shingles.
- Slope/sloping roof: As with any roof, the steeper the slope, the more difficult/dangerous the installation, which affects the overall cost.
- Home Location: Labor (installation) costs vary by city and state.
- The energy needs of your home.
- Manufacturer/owner brand of slab or tile.
What do you save on energy costs?
While installing a solar roof is expensive, it can save in the long run. Depending on how many tiles you have on your roof, solar panels can reduce energy costs anywhere from 40 to 60 percent, according to consumer education site SolarReviews. Additionally, you may qualify for federal and state tax incentives.
Help with the instant bite a little: Qualified homeowners who install solar panels will qualify for the 26% federal solar tax credit, which is 26% for rooftops installed in 2022, and 22% for systems installed in 2023. Several states offer credits, discounts, and Other incentives as well.
Solar shingles vs solar panels
Both solar panels and solar panels can be a great option to take your home’s energy efficiency to the next level. But what is best for you? The advantages of each in a nutshell:
|More weather-resistant and durable||It can be more energy efficient depending on the slope of the roof and exposure to sunlight|
|Greater savings on energy bill||Installation time is shorter|
|More aesthetically pleasing (fewer potential HOA issues)||More expensive to install|
What are the advantages of a solar roof?
When compared to traditional rooftops and solar panels, there are some advantages to investing in solar panels.
- Expected to be long lasting (30-40 years)
- They reduce energy use/carbon footprint and bills
- It blends better and is similar to traditional ceiling materials
- It is more cost effective per watt of solar energy than solar panels
- It is easier to maintain than solar panels
What are the disadvantages of a solar roof?
The downsides of solar panels are related to their being a new technology.
- Availability is more limited
- It is more expensive than traditional roofs and solar panels
- They have fewer choices in style and color
- Since it is part of the roof itself, it cannot be installed at an angle like solar panels to produce maximum energy
- They are not conducive to DIY installation
The last word on solar panels
Solar panels are still very new, which means that an experienced installer and contractor may be limited in your area. And their exact age and durability is still a question mark, of course: none have been around long enough to substantiate current expectations. Nor does it make much sense, yet, about how it might affect a home’s resale value (although eco-friendly features, in general, are popular with homebuyers).
However, if you are an environmentally conscious homeowner and need a complete roof replacement or a roof for a new build, solar panels are worth considering. With some states now requiring newly built homes to be equipped with solar power, and the federal tax credit valid only until 2023, the time to switch to solar might now be.