Solar shingles are a type of solar panel that is designed to look alike normal roofing shingles. This is identified as a type of BIPV. The roof that is made using solar shingle or solar roof tiles is called a solar roof.
As this is a great discovery in solar technology this gets lots of attention. The roof made by using solar shingles is more durable than a roof made from normal shingles. Also, it has many advantages over solar panels too. So we can safely say that solar shingles deserve all the attention they get.
Even though many solar companies had released solar shingles, Tesla is the first company that successfully installed the “Tesla solar roof” in 2018 which is more modern looking.
What are solar shingles?
Solar shingles are a type of BIPV (Building Integrated Photovoltaic). These solar shingles are designed to look like normal roofing shingles. These solar shingles work as solar panels and generate electricity while protecting your house like normal shingles.
How does a solar shingle works?
Solar shingles act the same as solar panels. These solar shingles are made from silicon solar cells same as solar panels. Newer technology uses thin-film solar cells. When the solar cells are exposed to sunlight the energy is absorbed by the solar cells.
This absorbed energy is converted to the electricity inside the solar cells and given out as an output voltage.
Same as a normal solar panel system, the solar system with solar shingles also consists of a charging controller, solar battery, and an inverter
So as we already said solar shingles also work as normal solar panels and convert the sun’s energy into electricity. Then the produced DC voltage is stored in a solar battery for later usage or used to power up the equipment. If the equipment needs AC voltage the DC voltage will be converted to AC by using the inverter.
Pros and cons of solar shingles
- Decrease environmental pollution – Solar shingles produce electricity by using the sun’s energy. So this is a green energy source and you can reduce your carbon footprint on the earth by using solar shingles.
- More durable –solar shingles are more durable than normal shingles and normal solar panels.
- Need less maintenance than solar panels.
- No operating cost – after installing your solar roof you do not have to worry about paying for the operation of the system.
- Can save money –by using a solar roof you can save a lot by reducing your electricity bill. If you are living in an area with good sunlight then your electricity will become zero. You may also be able to earn from the extra power converted by your system (read more).
- Expensive – solar shingles will cost you more. They are more expensive than solar panels. For an average home, it will cost about $15 000 – $25 000 if you use average solar shingles. If you want to install Tesla solar shingles it will cost about $65 000 – $70 000.
- Not many service providers are available – as this solar roof is comparatively new there are not many service providers available. There are some companies like Tesla which provide the service and after service. But there are not many local solar providers who provide services for solar shingles.
- Still evolving industry – as solar shingles are still evolving there is much ongoing research about many facts related to solar shingles. As they are recently found some facts are not 100% proven like for solar panels.
- Not many designs available –right now there are not many designs available for solar shingles. There is a limited number of choices. But companies like Tesla, try to come up with new designs.
- You have to remove the whole roof –if you want the “Tesla solar roof” then you have to replace your whole roof. But you go for other companies who use solar shingles with asphalt shingles when installing the roof you can only replace the number of shingles you want. But it will not be aesthetically pleasing but it will cost you less. If you want to replace your whole roof it will only be cost-effective if your roof needs a replacement or you still hadn’t built the roof.
- Lengthy installation period –unlike solar panels, solar shingles require more time for the installation process. Tesla solar roofs require 1 – 2 weeks to complete the installation.
Solar shingles Vs solar panels
|Solar shingles||Solar panels|
|Same size as a normal roofing shingle.||Bigger than solar shingles.|
|Aesthetically pleasing and modern looking. Blend with the roof.||Stand out from the roof. Can be an eyesore. Bulkier looking and aesthetically not pleasing.|
|Long life span||Long life span.|
|Little to no maintenance is needed.||Need some maintenance work.|
|Easier to clean. Even can clean by ourselves.||Cleaning may need professional help.|
|More durable.||Less durable.|
|Efficiency can be limited by the roof geometry, location, etc.||Solar panels can be adjusted to get maximum efficiency.|
|The installation process requires more time.||The installation process does not need much time.|
|Always, have to replace the roof if the roof is already built.||No need to replace the roof if the roof is strong enough.|
|More expensive||Less expensive|
Will solar shingle work for you?
This depends on many factors.
As you can see solar shingles are installed by replacing your roofing materials. You cannot adjust them like solar panels So your roof geometry, location, etc. greatly affect the efficiency of solar panels.
So to get the most out of this huge investment, you have to make sure that your roof is at optimum conditions.
Follow are some factors you have to consider;
- Roof location– the roof has to be located at a place where there is good sunlight.
- Roof direction– by facing your roof in the optimal direction you can get the most out of the solar energy available. The optimal direction for your roof will change with the geographical location of your house E.g. – if you are living in the northern hemisphere the optimal direction is south.
- Roof geometry – your roof’s pitch/ steepness, angle, etc will decide the way your roof is exposed to the sunlight. E, g, – Throughout the day sun is not at the same level or direction. So if you built your roof flat then this only receive more sunlight at the midday. But, if you angled the roof you can get the most sunlight available.
- Shading– even though your roof had built according to all the requirements it is shaded then the efficiency will be less as the objects through the path will block the sunlight. So make sure there is little to zero shading to increase the amount of sunlight falling onto the solar shingles.
Is solar shingle worth the cost?
Yes, it is worth the cost.
If your roof needs a replacement or you are newly building your home investing in a solar roof will be worth the cost.
Many homeowners who like to use green energy hesitate to use solar panels as they can be an eyesore because of the bulky look and they are stand out. Also, some homes owners are afraid that installing solar panels will damage their roof due to all the drilling and the weight of the panels.
But with solar shingles, they do not have to worry about that. Solar shingles are installed the same as the normal roofing materials. They are integrated into the roof. So they do not stand out. Also, they do not need additional drillings for fixing.
If you like more modern-looking solar roofs you can go for “Tesla roof”, which is more modern looking and aesthetically pleasing.
Even though the installation price is very high by using solar shingles you can reduce your electricity bill. The reduced amount will depend on your electricity usage, the output of your system, the unit price of your country, etc. If you are living in an area with optimal environmental conditions then you can save a lot from your electricity bill.
We can safely say that the money you had invested can be covered by 7 – 10 years, which is very advantageous as you can use the system for more than 25 years.
But if you are living in an area with less sunlight and more shading and your roof does not satisfy the optimal conditions, this will not be a good investment for you.
Are all the shingles/ roof tiles used for the solar roof can convert energy and produce electricity?
No, they don’t
Not all the solar shingles on a solar roof can produce electricity. Only the required amount of tiles/ shingles with solar cells is used. The other shingles are normal and made from materials like Asphalt.
In the early years, solar providers used solar shingles with normal asphalt shingles which make the roof less pleasing.
But Tesla had introduced a solar roof that contains shingles and solar shingles that looks identical. This looks modern and is very aesthetically pleasing.
What is the lifetime of a solar shingle?
The lifetime of a solar shingle is about 25 years.
Same as solar panels, solar shingles also have a quite long life span. So you do not have to worry about replacing or repairing your roof from time to time.
How to increase the lifetime of a solar shingle?
Proper maintenance is the key to an extended lifetime of solar shingles.
Solar shingles do not require much maintenance. All you have to do is, keep them clean. You do not need professional help to clean the shingles. You can keep them clean by yourself.
Make sure there is no dust, snow, or leaves accumulated on the roof that obstructs the sunlight.
How to increase the efficiency of solar shingles?
Like solar panels, you do not get much room to increase efficiency by adjusting the shingles.
As we explained earlier your roof has to satisfy optimal conditions. Also, your system will work very efficiently if the environmental and other factors are beneficial to the system (read more).
Solar shingles are a type of BIPV. It is a solar panel designed to look like a shingle. Solar cells used for these solar shingles are made from semi-conductive materials such as monocrystalline silicon. Newer findings have used thin-film solar cells. Tesla is the first company that comes up with the first modern-looking successful solar roof that attracted many buyers. Tesla, Sun Tegra, Looma, and Certain Teed are some of the best solar shingle providers in today’s solar market. Even though this solar roof is a huge and very expensive investment, it gives you many advantages.