A solar panel roof is made up of solar shingles or solar tiles, which are smaller versions of traditional solar panels. Many people prefer solar shingles and solar tiles because they more closely resemble a conventional roof with asphalt shingles. These types of solar alternatives are also not as noticeable on your roof as solar panels.
What are solar shingles?
Shingles and tiles can be a 2-in-1 product when they replace your roof and capture solar energy. However, some tiles and shingles are on top of your roof, similar to solar panels. For example, the Tesla Solar Roof is one brand of solar tiles that replaces your roof entirely, but not all solar tiles serve that function.
What is the difference between solar shingles and solar tiles?
Solar shingles and solar tiles are very similar, so you may see these terms used interchangeably. What’s the difference between solar shingles and solar tiles? Solar shingles tend to be smaller and resemble a non-solar roof. Solar tiles are usually a bit larger than shingles but still smaller than standard solar panels. Both tiles and shingles are visually appealing in a solar panel roof.
Are solar shingles efficient?
Because a solar panel roof is built to the slope of your existing roof, it can be less efficient than solar panels. Solar installers can modify standard solar panels to different angles to make the panels most efficient for your home. You can also use a solar battery to save solar energy for off-peak times.
Average cost of solar shingles
Currently, the cost of solar shingles and tiles is higher than standard solar panels. Solar panels cost between $15,000—$25,000. Brands like Tesla tend to be more expensive; however, they are doubling as your roof and a solar system. The price for solar shingles or tiles will depend on the size of your home and your energy use.
According to Modernize, “The average roofing installation price for a solar shingle roof costs anywhere between $60,000 to $75,000 depending on the slope, pitch, and size of your roof.” This equals roughly $21—25 per square foot.
Luckily, solar tiles and shingles still qualify for the Solar Tax Credit (ITC), which is a federal tax credit available for homeowners who install solar on their homes before 2022.
Are solar shingles worth it?
Solar shingles and solar tiles are worth it if you are concerned about the look of solar panels on your home but still want to have the great benefits of solar energy. Another reason people like to go with a solar panel roof versus solar panels is that solar shingles and tiles can be more easily approved by HOAs. Community standards’ boards like solar shingles because they closely resemble traditional roofing construction.
Benefits of solar shingles and solar tiles:
- Less obvious than standard solar panels
- Look like a conventional roof
- Can be easier to get approved by HOA
- Can reduce your electricity bills
- Increase your property values photovoltaic (PV)
How do solar shingles work?
Solar shingles work similarly to standard solar panels. The shingles or tiles use a photovoltaic (PV) system to capture sunlight and convert it into electricity. If you’re trying to get solar panels on your home, but you have a roof that needs to be repaired or replaced, then solar shingles or tiles might be the perfect fit for your home. Solar shingles that serve as a roof and as a solar system let you replace your roof and get the benefits of solar energy all at once. This plan can save time and money versus replacing your roof and then adding solar panels on top of it.
Pros and cons of solar shingles
|Aesthetics - looks like a traditional roof||Limited availability|
|More durable than regular shingles||More expensive, sometimes considerably|
|Uses green energy in the same way as standard solar panels||Less wattage per shingle (than a standard single solar panel)|
|Single install for both roof and shingles (Tesla)||Slightly less efficient than standard solar panels|
|Better for older roofs that cannot handle the weight of traditional solar panels||Cannot be adjusted to capture maximum sunlight|
|Increase property value||Could increase property tax|
Solar tiles comparison
Other than the popular Tesla Solar Roof, there are a handful of solar tile and shingle options. We took a look at the top solar shingle options and ranked them by size, efficiency, and wattage.
|Manufacturer||Size (L x W)||Efficiency||Wattage per shingle/tile|
|Tesla Solar Roof||8.7” x 14”||10.0%||12|
|Luma Solar||54” x 15”||22.1%||80|
|CertainTeed||46” x 13”||15.4%||70|
|SunTegra Tile||52’ x 17”||15.1%||70|
What are the best solar shingles?
Tesla Solar Roof
The Tesla solar roof consists of identical solar and non-solar tiles. The tiles are made of tempered glass and claim to be “three times stronger than standard roofing tiles.”
Luma is an upgradable shingle option that comes with a smartphone app for monitoring energy consumption. Luma solar shingles boast an impressive wattage per shingle and can withstand high winds, including hurricane-force gusts.
CertainTeed products only work with asphalt shingled roofs, so wood or metal roof owners may want to look elsewhere. The solar shingle system comes in a stock size of 14 monocrystalline cells with a standard 25-year limited-power warranty.
SunTegra is a low-profile shingle that installs without racking. Due to its lightweight design that needs 50% fewer parts than conventional solar panels, SunTegra may let you avoid extra building permits.
Solar shingles FAQs
Does the pitch of the roof matter with solar shingles?
Yes. The pitch or angle of the roof matters more with solar shingles than it does with traditional solar panels. This is because solar tiles will be at the angle of the roof. However, the angle of solar panels can be modified for the best efficiency that allows the panels to pick up the most solar energy throughout the day.
Does the amount of snow make a difference when choosing solar shingles?
Yes. Light snow does not affect solar shingles as much as a heavy downfall. According to Energy.gov, “A dusting of snow has little impact on solar panels because the wind can easily blow it off. Light is able to forward scatter through a sparse coating, reaching the panel to produce electricity. It’s a different story when heavy snow accumulates, which prevents PV panels from generating power. Once the snow starts to slide, though, even if it only slightly exposes the panel, power generation is able to occur again.”
Are there areas where Tesla solar shingles are not allowed?
Yes. There are areas of the country where it is not yet possible to get a Tesla Solar Roof. According to Inverse, “Tesla’s website accepts orders for its retrofit solar panels in 24 locations: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.”
Will I have to replace my entire roof to get solar shingles?
Possibly. Some solar tile manufacturers do not require a new roof because they are installed on top of your existing roof. However, some solar shingle systems will replace your current roof material.