Solar Shingles For Your Roof [Data & Facts]
Solar roof shingles are the best possible replacement for traditional solar panels. Although solar shingles have been around for a while, their popularity only spiked when Elon Musk announced his own Tesla solar roof. With a competitive price, sleek design, and unprecedented functionality, solar roof solutions are the best investment for those who do not want to compromise their roof looks and property aesthetics.
What are Solar Roof Shingles?
Solar roof shingles are roof tiles with built-in solar cells. The photovoltaic shingles can, therefore, completely substitute for your roof and look much better than standard solar panels added to the roof. Proponents of the technology also say that roof shingles are more durable than traditional solar panels and that they give multipurpose to the otherwise useless surface: generating electricity and staying protected from the elements now go hand in hand.
As yet another product on the solar market, solar tiles can help usher renewables into daily life and help mitigate climate change. Made from conventional roofing materials, with an added solar cell in each tile, they are a great substitute for building-integrated photovoltaics – a solution many disliked. The newer generation of solar tiles can cover the entire roof and give it a uniform, sleek design that you will want to see, not hide away from.
When choosing solar shingles, there are several factors you should consider. All of these are important in determining what your roof will look like, which brand you will use, how much energy you will get, and lastly, what the cost will be. The factors to consider when choosing solar shingles for your home include:
- Material, and
- Energy Generation.
The lifespan of solar shingles is around 25-30 years. This means that your shingles will generate electricity for the next two to three decades after the installation is done. During this time, your shingles will produce energy that is enough to pay them off, especially as your energy costs will be almost nullified. Conventional shingles cannot do this.
When it comes to the size of your shingles solar array, it can be observed that the size can relate to the size of individual shingles and the size of the total solar array. In the former case, choosing shingles you think will work the best with your existing shingles is the most important factor. In the latter case, the size of your solar system is also important, as it should be large enough to produce all the energy your family needs, especially in the upcoming years. You may need an expert to help you with the calculations.
The number of roof shingles is also important. Here, you need to understand that each shingle produces only a limited amount of energy. This means that you need to divide your total energy needs with the DC output of the shingle model you would like to purchase. As most shingles can produce between 35 and 80 Watts a piece, you will need quite a few to cover your needs.
Bear in mind that the total cost of your installation and the average cost per foot sq. will depend on the ratio between active and inactive shingles. Tesla solar shingles, for example, come with both active and inactive shingles. However, their ratio is determined by your energy needs and roof size.
The material used in your shingles also has a big say in their looks and performance. In general, the basis for the shingles is asphalt, concrete, or metal. The solar cell inside can be polycrystalline or monocrystalline. Alternatively, thin-film solar cells can also be found. Monocrystalline shingles have the highest efficiency, while thin-film technology offers the lowest possible power output.
Different materials mean different efficiency, which, in turn, means differences in the energy generation capacity. With solar shingles, you can generally expect an energy generation capacity of between 35-80 Watts per shingle, which is great considering their cost and the number you need. Always take all these factors into consideration before making your purchase.
How Do Solar Shingles Work?
Solar shingles have been around for a while. They came into the market because many people complained that traditional PV panels simply do not look good enough on their roofs. With the advent of polycrystalline silicon solar cells and thin-film solar panels, the market was finally ready for solar shingles and their production. Thin-film solar cells are inexpensive to produce, but as the technology is still new, the cost of solar shingles is still relatively high.
Solar shingles are installed as regular shingles: they are mostly either screwed or nailed in place. Once there, they are connected either in series or using parallel connections and connected to your solar inverter and the solar battery. Once everything is connected, they act as regular solar panels, producing electricity when exposed to direct sunlight.
One of the biggest solar shingles pros is that they produce solar energy and act as a traditional roofing material. You get to use renewable energy in your home and do so at a high conversion efficiency: some solar shingles use monocrystalline technology – enabling around 20% conversion efficiency.
Types of Solar Roofing
As solar shingles became more popular over time, other types of solar products started appearing. Solar shingles or solar roofs became so popular because they already included the cost of replacing the roof and reduced the need to look for two separate contractors: one to replace the roof and one to install PV panels. For this reason, two new products have sprung up in the solar market:
- Integrated solar metal roofing, and
- Interlocking solar panel roofing.
Integrated Solar Metal Roofing
Integrated solar metal roofing is a type of multi-layer metal roofing that consists of glass coating, color, and a monocrystalline layer. The wiring and all other electrical components are hidden under metal for a clean look. The entire system is placed on a vented racking system, increasing its efficiency and power output.
Interlocking Solar Panel Roofing
In response to the ever-increasing prices of solar roofs, GAF and Suntegra introduced interlocking solar panel roofing. This kind of roofing helps you avoid the solar shingle cost and all the additional work accompanying solar shingles. A system like this is easy to install, competitive in price, and it makes a good compromise in an aesthetic sense, especially between regularly mounted solar panels and an interlocking, integrated system.
Solar Roof: Installation Cost & Average Cost
Solar shingles worth thousands of dollars are sold every minute in the US. But what is the cost of a roof installation for you? The answer to how much money you should cash out for solar shingles on your rooftop depends on the following factors:
- The age and the condition of your roof,
- The orientation and the slope of the roof,
- The average insulation in your area (in hours/year),
- The average solar irradiation in your area (in W/m2),
- Your energy habits and needs,
- Any future plans for introducing new electricity-powered devices.
All these factors will significantly influence the cost of solar shingles and roofs in each case. These factors, especially your energy needs (on an average monthly basis), will determine the number of solar shingles or integrated solar panels you need, as well as which type of solar shingle products you will need. A solar shingle roof can therefore cost anywhere between $15,000 to $20,000+, with additional costs if you need a new roof.
Solar Roof Brands
As solar shingle roofs have proven to be reliable, cost-effective, and aesthetically pleasing, more homeowners wanted to add these to their new homes. The increase in demand drove the prices up and has made the solar roof business more lucrative. For this reason, many companies offer one form or another of solar roofs. Tesla solar roof tiles ushered the way to the new area.
Although solar shingles have been sound for several years now, it was the Tesla Solar Shingle that has really brought it to the full attention of the market. With the Tesla solar roof, Tesla promises, you will pay around the same price as for a standard roof and solar panels combined. In reality, Tesla mostly matches their promise as they approach each rooftop individually.
In most cases, depending on your home size and energy needs, your Tesla solar roof will consist of both active solar tiles and inactive solar tiles. This approach gives Tesla more chances to come up with an ideal solar roof for you, as well as to limit the expense. However, standing at $13.50 per square foot of inactive solar shingles, Tesla solar roof is still way more expensive than a standard asphalt shingle, constant at around $3.50-$5.50 per square foot.
Luma Solar Roof
Luma Solar roof, on the other hand, comes with greater solar power – each of its solar tiles is rated at an 80 Watt power output. The solar panel shingles they place have inactive shingles as well so that you can have a uniform look and feel to your solar roof without any compromises. The inactive solar shingle installation also costs less, as they are cheaper to manufacture. This way, you keep the costs at an acceptable level: Luma Solar Shingle solution costs around $4.50 per Watt of DC capacity.
CertainTeed Apollo II
CertainTeed offers two solar products for partial or full roof replacement. The company offers Apollo II Shingles and Apollo II tiles. Both come with monocrystalline solar cells and are sure to fit in with your existing roof pretty well. As they are monocrystalline solar cells, these two products have high-efficiency levels and are comparable in their performance to the Tesla Solar Roof.
Suntegra also offers two lines of products to its customers: solar shingles and solar tiles. Their solar shingles come in the following power output ratings:
- 105 Watts,
- 110 Watts, and
- 114 Watts.
They are made of high-quality, durable material, comparable to asphalt shingles in their durability. Unlike a traditional solar panel, they do not have the blackish hue that most solar shingles have. Unlike most solar panels, they are quite expensive, as their price starts at $3.80 per Watt of DC power.
The Suntegra solar tiles, on the other hand, come at a higher price range: $6.16 – $6.57 per Watt of DC power capacity. They come with slightly lower efficiency and power output: 64 and 70 Watts. If you still decide to install solar shingles by the same company, you will get more residential solar power from the same roof surface area.
GAF Materials Corporation
GAF is currently one of the largest producers of roofing materials in the US. Recently, it has introduced its own line of solar shingle solutions, which are supposed to cover the entire roof in solar cells. Some of its solar tiles are made from asphalt, so the installation is similar to the installation of traditional asphalt shingles – they are nailed into the underlying construction.
Total roof replacement with GAF solar roof tiles may cost you around $30,000 for a standard US roof. Each tile is certified at 45 Watts of output power, giving you more than enough electricity for an average US residence.
Forward Solar Roofing
Forward Solar Roofing has come up with a solution for integrated solar metal roofing. This way, the company can offer active solar shingles (or solar roofing) that cost around 50% per square foot compared to Tesla solar roof. As solar shingles cost a lot of money, a complete solar roof may be quite pricey. Forward solar roofing avoids these costs and saves you money.
Installation & Maintenance
Solar shingles are much like your standard roofing tiles – occasional rain will do most of the cleaning and maintenance for you. Still, if you live in an area with a lot of trees or even an area with heavy snowfall, you may want to invest some time in clearing the shingles from anything that may shade them, especially during the autumn and winter part of the year.
Besides this, there is very little maintenance. It is usually suggested that an electrician should visit the site once a year and check the wiring and solar batteries (if you happen to have them), but there is very little work that actually needs to be done once your new roof is in place.
Cost Comparison Between Solar Shingles & Conventional Roof
Many homeowners do not want to install traditional solar panels, as solar shingles look so much better. Made to resemble conventional roofing materials, they are the way to go for everyone who can afford them. Cost, in particular, is the biggest issue, as solar shingles are even more expensive than conventional solar panels.
For this reason, it is recommended that you only consider solar shingles on a new property or if you are already planning to replace the entire roof. This will give you a unique opportunity to explore different options and solar roofing brands available out there. As more solar shingle manufacturers come to the market, traditional roofing materials are likely to fall behind in the production lines, leaving space for the next-gen technology.
Cost Comparison Between Solar Shingles & Conventional Solar Panels
Before comparing solar shingles and panels, it is important to note that, although they serve the same function, they are different products. Solar shingles are considered more of a high-end product and are meant for:
- Homeowners who want to preserve the aesthetic aspect of their home,
- Homeowners who want a more sleek and durable product that will last for decades,
- Homeowners who want to replace their roof and install panels – solar shingles reduce workforce costs and save time.
With this in mind, we can compare the pricing. Solar shingles will cost between $15,000 and $20,000 for an average American home. An average solar panel installation will cost around $16,000 for an average US home. This puts them in pretty much the same price range, depending on the brand and the size of the system.
However, if you need to replace your roof and get access to solar energy, then shingles are a much better option. Do not forget that solar panel installations demand a good and sturdy roof. Replacing the roof will cost thousands of dollars. With solar shingles, the costs are absorbed, as you do not need to pay extra for the tiles/shingles as you do with a standard roof.
Another important aspect to consider is the manufacturer. Tesla solar shingles, for example, often cost multiple of those other producers. That is because Tesla solar shingles are considered a premium product, and there is even a lengthy waiting list for those who would like to install them. However, in both cases, you can count on solar tax credits and other incentives.
Benefits of Solar Roof Shingles
Like any other solar product, solar shingles have many benefits. Being able to make your own residential solar power from your roof without compromising the look of your property on its own is a benefit high enough for many American homeowners to go with this product. The major benefits of solar shingles include:
- Reduction in carbon footprint,
- Saving on your electric bill,
- Being able to apply for tax credits (under the Federal ITC) and solar rebates,
- Preserving or improving the looks of your home and the roof.
Drawbacks of Solar Roof Shingles
However, most solar shingles have their drawbacks as well. As it goes, solar shingles are a relatively new product on the market. They are still considered a high-end, luxury product that costs a significant amount of money. As the solar industry keeps rolling out new solar power systems and cheaper solar shingles, it can be expected to see more of them on the roofs around the US. The major drawbacks of solar shingles include:
- The very high initial price per square foot and project – as most solar shingles need to be mounted on a new structure (to ensure safety and durability for years to come), you may also need to have a full roof replacement,
- Solar roofing comes in limited styles. Unlike traditional roofing shingles, solar shingles contain silicon solar cells. This solar energy solution, for this reason, needs to have a surface that can interact with sunlight – giving you a limited availability of colors and patterns,
- Solar shingles are similar to solar panels – they need exposure to direct sunlight, always at a certain angle that’s supposed to help generate the most electricity. These thin-film solar cells need to face the South – if your home roof does not face the South, it may be impractical to install solar shingles, as solar panels will yield the maximum energy output if tilted or re-oriented. We cannot say the same for solar shingles, as they have to be laid flat on the roof surface.
Are Solar Roofs included in Solar Incentives and Tax Credits?
Yes, your solar shingle roof is included in solar incentives and tax credits. As this type of roof can produce renewable energy, it is eligible for most state and federal solar incentives and taxes. You should apply for the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit, state solar incentives, as well as state and utility company rebates. The Federal ITC gives back around 22%of investment value back, while rebates and incentives can give back up to $1 per Watt of DC capacity.
Do homes with solar sell faster?
Yes, homes with solar sell faster. Many new homeowners are eco-conscious people who know that a solar roof increases the value of the property without an increase in property taxes. Furthermore, the freedom of having no or very low power bills is attractive to many. If you are thinking about installing solar panels on your existing roof before selling, this may be a good option, as every kW of solar capacity installed on your roof increases your property value by around $6,000.
Are Solar Roofs Worth it?
Yes, solar roofs are worth it. Most solar roofs (such as Tesla solar roof) are comparable in cost to a conventional roof with solar panels installed. The Tesla solar roof also has the benefit of a unified look of the roof, as not everybody is comfortable with the sight of solar panels on their existing roof. The best thing to do to ensure you have a solar roof in place is to start planning one before your house is built to ensure that all equipment can be installed right away, with no delays.
What time of day are solar panels most efficient?
Solar panels and solar roof tiles are most efficient during the solar noon – around 2 PM during the summertime in the Northern hemisphere. You will see the highest net solar power production from your solar panels or solar roof tiles between 10 AM and 4 PM, as this is the time when the Sun is at its highest position in the sky. Besides time, there are other factors that can influence the efficiency of your solar panels, such as orientation, shading, longitude and latitude, and the time of the year.
Do solar panels work during rain?
As the sky is mostly overcast during the rain, your solar panels will not work. This is especially true for dark, gloomy days with thick clouds in the sky. However, your solar panels can still produce some electricity in the event of a slightly overcast sky. The biggest benefit of mixing rain and solar panels is that your solar system will be free of dust after rain and will be able to produce much more electricity than before.
Solar shingles are considered the next generation of solar panels. Relatively cheap and perfect for those who are looking to upgrade their property and change their roof, solar shingles are the energy source of the future. As they produce free electricity and are eligible for tax incentives, you can also expect to have significant savings on your power bill. Now is the right time to choose between traditional solar panels and solar roof shingles.