Solar Shingles: Pros, Cons, How to Choose


Solar shingles are roof shingles made of photovoltaic (PV) cells, the same electricity-generating material found on solar panels. These shingles are produced by solar energy installers like Tesla, SunTegra and Luma Solar, and the roofing material company CertainTeed, which also produces traditional shingles.

The total price for installing solar shingles typically ranges from about $35,000 to $75,000, making them a more expensive option than solar panels. But they’re a durable and attractive alternative to solar panels, and an appealing choice for many.

Solar shingle pros and cons

Does double duty as a roof and solar system.

Typically not as efficient as traditional solar panels.

Higher upfront cost than solar panels.

Can increase property value.

Helps you save money on energy.

May not be a good fit for all roof types or conditions.

May be eligible for tax credits and solar incentives.

Requires specialized installation expertise.

Easier to maintain than solar panels.

Newer technology; not as time-tested as solar panels.

Cost-effective if you are building a new roof.

Can’t be positioned to increase efficiency.

Solar shingles vs. solar panels

While solar panels are mounted on your roof (or on your property), solar shingles function as your roof, providing shelter from the elements and producing solar electricity. Here’s how these two technologies stack up.

Price: Solar panels win

Solar panels use an older technology and are less expensive to purchase upfront than solar shingles. If your roof is in good condition, solar panels might be a more cost-effective option. However, if you’re planning to replace your roof anyway, solar shingles might make more sense.

Appearance: Solar shingles win

Solar shingles are designed to look like standard roofing materials, while solar panels are engineered to capture maximum sunlight. Your choice depends on whether you’re more concerned with getting the most efficient system possible, or stronger curb appeal.

Flexibility: Solar panels win

Solar shingles only work with tilted or sloped roofs, so if you’ve got a flat roof, they’re not an option. Solar panels, on the other hand, are compatible with all roof types — and they can also be installed on the ground.

Efficiency: Solar panels win

While both solutions generate solar energy, solar shingles typically aren’t as efficient as solar panels because there’s no air flow under them. Because of this, they get hotter and produce energy at a lower rate. Unlike solar panels, which can be positioned to catch the most sunlight, solar shingles are fixed and have to be positioned as your regular roof shingles would. Depending on the orientation of your roof, this may also result in less than maximum potential efficiency.

Lifespan/durability: It’s a tie

Both technologies are designed to last for about 25 to 30 years on average. But solar shingles may be more durable since they can better withstand extreme weather conditions compared with solar panels and can also be fire-resistant.

Types of solar shingles

There are two main types of solar shingles:

  • CIGS (copper-indium-gallium-selenide) solar shingles. These shingles use more recently developed thin-film technology to generate home solar power. They can also be made into more flexible and lighter shingles to blend into existing or new roofs.

  • Silicon solar shingles. These rigid solar shingles are more like traditional solar panels and are proportioned to fit with conventional roofing materials.

Top solar shingles providers

Some major providers of solar shingles include:

Luma Solar

Luma Solar says it’s the first company to develop rooftop solar shingles in North America. Designed with hurricane-force winds in mind, these shingles can withstand winds of 200 mph and higher. The company offers a power warranty of 25 years and a limited lifetime shingle warranty.

SunTegra

SunTegra’s solar shingles have excellent ratings for weather conditions, including snow, wind and fire. The company also offers a limited product warranty of 10 years and a 25-year limited power warranty.

Tesla

Tesla’s fully integrated solar roof shingles are designed to withstand fire, high winds and hail. They come with a power and tile warranty for 25 years.

CertainTeed

CertainTeed’s shingles can withstand winds of up to 110 mph and are rated for installation in any wind zone, including Florida’s hurricane zone. It offers a 25-year warranty.

How to choose solar shingles

Here are some factors all prospective buyers can consider when shopping for solar shingles:

  • Appearance. Look for shingles that go well with your home. You can find solar shingles in styles that range from modern to traditional, so there should be something out there that suits your house.

  • Budget. You’ll need to find a solution that you can afford. When considering the financial impact of this decision, research possible tax incentives that could offset your upfront costs, and factor in projected energy savings over the coming years.

  • Suitability of your roof. Evaluate your roof’s orientation, size, shape and amount of sun it receives to make sure you’d generate enough electric power from solar shingles to make your investment worthwhile.

  • Energy requirements. Calculate your home’s energy usage to make sure you select a solar shingle system that’s sufficient to meet or offset your energy consumption without being too powerful for your needs.

  • Efficiency ratings. Look for the most energy-efficient shingles within your budget to get the best return on your investment.

  • Provider. Choose a reputable manufacturer, known for a high-quality, durable product that comes with solid warranty protection.

Frequently asked questions



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