Are Solar Shingles Worth It in 2023?

With the rise in the popularity of solar power, people have continuously expressed the desire to have more options in terms of solar products. Some of the more popular ones are solar shingles.

Solar shingles — sometimes known as photovoltaic shingles — are essentially just solar panels designed to look like and function as conventional roofing materials while generating electricity. Solar roof shingles are considered a type of solar energy solution known as building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV).

Solar shingles are worth it, especially for homeowners who need a new roof and want to retain aesthetics and roof functionality. Solar roof shingles and solar tiles are more durable than ordinary shingles, so investment in multifunctional roof coverings can be considered as a lifetime investment. Also, solar shingles are more suitable for roofs that can not take much weight.

To make your home eco-friendly, but also budget-friendly, the solar industry has a lot to offer. Alternative materials, higher conversion efficiency, and a varied range of applications spawned solar shingles, solar tiles, and solar façade. The solar industry wants to remind us not to waste space, and to increase property value.

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    Types of Solar Roofs

    • Solar tiles – durable, multilayer tiles with integrated thin-film solar cells, monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon solar cells

    • Solar shingles – durable shingles with integrated monocrystalline silicon solar cells

    Some solar shingle types are embedded with existing rooftop coverings. Still, some types must be the part of exact matching rooftop shingles, which are also offered by the solar shingle manufacturers, such as is Tesla Solar Roof.

    Tesla Solar Roof Overview

    As was mentioned earlier, solar shingles are gaining traction nowadays. And the primary reason for that is because of the Tesla Solar Roof, a product announced by Tesla back in October 2016 and first released in 2018.

    Technically, Tesla is not the first company to launch a solar roof product. The development of solar roof tiles and solar shingles has been ongoing for a couple of years now. The only reason why it’s Tesla that’s broadening this conversation is because of the company’s revolutionary innovation, which is the production of a solar system that is a roof first.

    BIPV solutions have indeed been around for some time, but it is still a relatively new concept to have a complete solar roof. Hence, the popularity of the Tesla Solar Roof.

    Tesla solar shingles might be worth it if there is a need to build or renovate an entire roof, which will eventually pay off for itself. For homeowners with new roofs, this can be an extremely high initial investment in solar power. Therefore, built-in solar shingles to suit any roof covering could be a more affordable option.

    Homeowners should know that Tesla solar shingles are mostly covering 35% of the roof, and the rest 65% of the roof consists of matching Tesla’s non-solar shingles. Tesla emphasizes the solid structure of its solar tiles, which are 3x more durable than standard roofing tiles. This bold statement can be decisive if you are looking for a long-lasting roof covering that will improve your home budget.

    Moreover, Tesla reported that its Solar Roof is made of quartz and that it is offered in four designs: Tuscan glass tile, slate glass tile, textured glass tile, and smooth glass tile. With these four designs, Tesla will be able to make progress in both the solar industry and the roofing industry and offer competitive advantages for both.

    Solar Shingles Electricity Generation

    Since solar shingles are BIPV products, they understandably work like traditional solar panels. In other words, solar shingles make use of sunlight to generate electricity.

    Sunlight strikes the solar single with the silicon semiconductor, and this semiconductor will then contain the captured energy. After some time, the electrons from the particles of light get loose and move freely, and these freed electrons travel through an electrical circuit to an area where other electrons are stored. This collection of electrons will then be harvested to generate a current, which can be used for electrical power.

    How Much Power Do Solar Shingles Produce?

    To achieve high yields from a limited roof space with suitable light solar shingles solutions, manufacturers had to unify all the solar panel’s features into rooftop covering. The challenges they faced were materials, roof-mounting solutions, dimensions, and output.

    Every homeowner is interested in the overall output from the solar roof system – or how much power do solar shingles produce? As shown in the table above, one solar roof tile covering can produce from 50Watts to 114Watts. 

    Another important thing that homeowners need to pay attention to is roof sides. The best roof side for solar shingles installation is the true south in the US. Even if the roof is facing southwest and southeast, solar roof shingles can be an excellent decision for your future. The northern sides of the roof should be covered with ordinary matching shingles since it will not be able to achieve optimal efficiency.

    Solar Shingles Maintenance

    Since solar shingles look like traditional roof tiles, their maintenance will be much simpler. Sure, you still have to look out for snowfall and leaves, but you don’t need specialized equipment to keep to clean the shingles. A garden hose is enough equipment to be used. Solar shingles are typically lightweight but can withstand large front loads, gusts of wind, and hail.

    Solar shingles don’t require that much maintenance from you. Some would even say that even with no maintenance, solar roof shingles can last between 25 and 30 years just like traditional solar panels.

    How Much Does a Tesla Solar Shingle Cost Compared to Regular Roofing Materials?

    Unlike solar panels, solar shingles have a dual purpose: to function as both solar panels and a roof. As a result, you can expect the cost of solar shingles to be high.

    To be more specific, Tesla has claimed that their roof will cost $21.85 per square foot. This would then mean that for a home that needs 2,000 square feet of roofing, the total cost for a Tesla Solar Roof would be about $44,000 for Tesla solar tiles and Tesla non-solar tiles. This price reduces after the tax incentives.

    Meanwhile, conventional roofing materials usually cost around $3.50 to $5.50 per square foot. Most homeowners would spend between $6,000 and $10,000 to install a roof using conventional roofing materials.

    Long story short, as you can see, solar roofing costs more than traditional roofing materials. Luckily, several manufacturers have offered the market solar tiles that fit into the existing roof.

    Alternatives to the Tesla Solar Roof

    Considering that the Tesla solar shingle roof costs more than many can afford, some people want to know if there are alternatives. Luckily, there are many alternatives out there, and here is a list of the most popular ones:

    • CertainTeed Apollo II. Unlike the Tesla Solar Roof, CertainTeed Apollo II doesn’t make use of glass louvers or hydrographic printing, thus making it not as attractive as the Solar Roof. However, the Apollo tiles are still undeniably more attractive than a standard solar module. CertainTeed Apollo II solar shingles cost about $4.82 per watt.

    • Luma Solar Roof. Just like Tesla, Lumo Solar Roof is a complete solar roof replacement product that includes both non-solar and solar cell components. This product costs about $4 per watt.

    • SunTegra Tile and Shingle. The SunTegra Shingle can be mounted on top of existing asphalt shingles while their Tile is pitched as a replacement for concrete tile products. Both of them make use of monocrystalline cells and have a peak output of 70-110 watts. The price range starts from $3.80 per watt up to $4.25. 

    • Exasun X-Tile and X-Roof. The X-Roof product is a complete roof replacement while the X-Tile resembles a terracotta tile.

    • Forward. The Forward intends their line to be a whole-roof replacement product that includes PV and non-PV components. They have two styles in development: Metal, which resembles a steel roof, and Tile, which resembles terracotta.

    • Hanergy HanTile. The Hanergy HanTile mimics a dark terracotta roofing tile and integrates thin-film PV.

    Dimensions (inch) Max power per shingle (W) Conversion efficiency (%) Weight (lbs) Cell type Power warranty (years)
    Certain Teed Apollo II 46x13-3/4 63 15.4 12 Mono 25
    Suntegra shingles 52-5/8x23-1/8 114 15.9 18 Mono 25
    Suntegra tiles 57-3/4x16-7/8 70 15.1 15 Mono 25
    Exasun X-Tile 32-9/32x16 50 18.5 14.5 Mono N/A
    Exasun X-Roof 32-9/32x23-5/8 75 18.3 20 Mono N/A

    Can Solar Incentives and Tax Credits Be Applied to Solar Roof Tiles?

    Yes, solar shingles and solar roof tiles qualify for solar tax credits and incentives. The US federal government provides a 30% tax credit for homeowners in 2023. On top of that, states and local jurisdictions offer even additional incentives, which further reduce the cost of installing solar shingles.

    The Future Is Bright for Solar Roof Tiles

    Our world is in dire need of solar energy to combat the power problems that we’re currently facing. And though standard solar panels and other solar systems are great, they’re not the most practical at times, especially in terms of the space needed for installation.

    That is why more people would like to have products that are already building-integrated photovoltaics because they solve multiple problems at the same time. And a perfect example of a BIPV product is the solar shingle.

    Moreover, when you install solar shingles, you save time and money in the long run, as they only require a single installation crew and a single product for roofing and solar energy production. They don’t need that much maintenance as well.

    Additionally, solar shingles can produce as much energy as conventional solar panels, which makes them highly efficient. And most importantly, solar installation prices continue to fall, so homeowners will grow more accustomed to owning PV systems instead of using third-party financing. As a result, differentiated solar products, like solar shingles, will increase market share.

    Although the roof has its own feature to keep your home a cozy and safe place for your family; solar manufacturers added a new feature to it – electricity generation. Solar roof shingle companies are continually improving their products to make them cheaper and more affordable, so we can expect to see more beautiful and stylish rooftop coverings that can also harvest power directly from the sun, for decades.

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    • HTML Pro

      HTML Pro is passionate about promoting renewable energy and tackling climate change. He developed these interests while studying at beautiful Middlebury College, Vermont, which has a strong focus on sustainability. He has previously worked in the humanitarian sector — for Doctors Without Borders — and in communications and journalism.