With solar technology continuing to improve every year, homeowners are met with more decisions to make and more questions about what is best for their homes.
We want homeowners to feel confident and secure in their decisions to better their homes and future, especially when it comes to solar energy and other renewable energies.
Sun Badger Solar is more than just another solar company. Our goal is to bring lasting change to the communities we serve and to continually support them throughout the journey of learning more about solar energy.
Solar Shingles vs. Panels
In today’s post, we’re breaking down a decision some homeowners face when they start looking into solar for their homes: “Should I choose solar panels or solar shingles for my home?” To that, the team at Sun Badger will walk through some of the important differences below.
What Are Solar Shingles?
Solar shingles are essentially smaller individual solar panels that become a structural part of your roof and provide solar energy for the home and protection from rain, snow, and other elements in place of traditional shingles or other roofing materials.
While solar shingles provide some of the same benefits as solar panels, they are still very different from solar panels. One company that has caused some disruption in this realm is Tesla. The Tesla solar roof has helped show consumers and homeowners what some of the possibilities are for solar shingles or using solar roof tiles.
Tesla is by no means the only company that makes solar shingles, but because of the recent success that the company has had with their cars, they do carry a lot of weight whenever their name is in front of a product.
As you likely already know, solar panels are individual panels that are often around 4-5 feet long. These panels are placed on top of your roof or in another place on your property. The panels don’t replace your roof or insulate your house from bad weather, but they do provide you with plenty of electricity. The panels can also help extend the life of your roof because they shield it from harsh sunlight. When solar panels are installed on your roof, they are attached directly to whatever roofing material your home uses with a simple bracket.
Many homeowners will choose to have their roof redone before installing solar panels so that they don’t have to remove the panels in the future to install a new roof. A solar expert will be able to tell you if your roof is capable of handling solar panels. But, in most cases, you won’t need to do anything special to your roof to make it ready for solar.
Pros and Cons of Solar Shingles
Just like any other major home improvement, there are pros and cons to installing solar shingles. Because solar roof tiles and shingles aren’t nearly as common as solar panels, we’ll go into some detail on these benefits and drawbacks.
Pros of Solar Shingles
The obvious benefit of solar shingles is that you’re getting two things in one. Both a solar energy system and a roof system keep your home safe and dry. But you will need to pay for that luxury.
The time it takes to install solar panels is much shorter than installing solar shingles. Some installers will be able to get solar panels up on your home in just a single workday, making it a very straightforward and efficient process. Solar shingles, on the other hand, require removing your existing roof and then building an entirely new roof using the solar shingles. This process can take up to 4 weeks of dedicated work by a solar roofing crew.
Solar shingles look better than traditional solar panels and this is undoubtedly the main attraction. Most homeowners will agree that the look offered by solar shingles is more appealing than a set of solar panels. Yet not everyone will feel this way about solar shingles. Still, they offer a sleek design that closely mimics some of the designs regularly offered by other roofing materials, such as asphalt shingles.
- Installation of both a solar energy system and a roof system.
- Offers a more aesthetic design for homeowners to enjoy.
Cons of Solar Shingles
As with anything, there are some downsides and a few different things that make solar shingles less than desirable. But, at the end of the day, it’s up to you as the homeowner to decide if the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to solar shingles.
First off, solar shingles are very expensive. There are quite a few differences in the cost to install solar shingles. For one, you’re installing an entire roof system and not just individual solar panels that sit atop your roof. Additionally, the materials themselves are more expensive than many of the materials needed for traditional solar panels.
Solar shingles are significantly less efficient than solar panels. While solar panels can be tilted and adjusted to optimize the capture of the sun’s energy, solar shingles have to follow the contour, shape and angle of your roof design. Your roof cannot be moved after your home is built, so your solar shingles have to work with whatever sunlight falls on the roof. Another issue is that solar shingles have no ventilation underneath, forcing them to operate at higher temperatures than a solar panel mounted in the same place. Higher temperatures reduce electrical output, so solar shingles cannot produce power as effectively using the same amount of sunlight. And the higher temperature on your roof could easily transfer to the interior of the home – certainly a factor to consider when it’s warm outside and you’re running the air conditioner.
Solar shingles are a newer technology, making them more prone to failures and problems than traditional solar panels. It’s not uncommon for homeowners to need their systems checked for problems from time to time.
- Solar shingles are much more expensive than solar panels to install on your home.
- Lower operating efficiency makes solar shingles less productive.
- Higher failure rates where the systems need to be replaced or repaired.
One way that solar shingles are similar to solar panels is that they are expected to last anywhere from 20-40 years, depending on the installer and quality that you choose to install on your home. That holds up really well against the industry standard of 25-30 years of peak performance from traditional solar panels.
Finding the Right Solution for Your Home
Even after breaking down some of the pros and cons, it can be difficult to determine whether solar panels or solar shingles are right for your home. To help you make the right decision, we’ll walk you through some of the choices you’ll need to make below.
What’s Your Budget?
Your budget will play a huge role in whether or not you can afford solar panels in the first place. While there’s always the option to lease solar panels, we recommend that homeowners purchase solar panels for their homes because of the benefits that come only with owning your solar energy system.
Solar shingles are much more expensive than solar panels and for a good reason. They’re more expensive to manufacture, and they offer a different approach to capturing the sun’s energy while also protecting your home from weather and storms. Most homeowners should expect to pay double or even triple when installing solar shingles instead of solar panels.
Does the Look of Solar Panels Bother You?
If the look of solar panels on the roof system of your home or a neighbor’s home bothers you, then solar shingles might be worth the added cost. Not having to look at the panels on your roof can be a huge benefit and make for a much cleaner and polished way of capturing the sun’s energy.
But, what you gain in looks, you do lose efficiency. Bringing us to our last point.
If you don’t like the look of blue solar panels, more advanced black panels might look better in your eyes.
What’s Your End Goal?
What’s your end goal in installing solar on your home? Do you want to supplement your home’s electricity bill, provide all of your home’s electricity with solar or even more than all of it, and sell back the excess to the grid through net metering? These goals that you have will help determine which system to choose for your home.
Solar roof tiles look great on homes, but unfortunately, they don’t provide the same amount of energy production that solar panels do. Because of that, supporting all of the electricity needs for your home may be a bit challenging. With solar panels, you can install a system to support your home without needing to cover all of your roof with new shingles.
Since solar shingles are such a new technology, and arguably still not yet ready for the mass market, finding an installer qualified and capable to install them is not a given. Some installers have tried and decided the product is too difficult or unreliable to sell to their customers.
Ultimately the type of solar panels or solar roof shingles installed on your home is up to you. But, we hope that we’ve helped you to make an informed decision that you can stand by and be proud of. At Sun Badger Solar, we want our customers to feel supported in all of their residential solar needs. Reach out to us today if you have more questions or are interested in getting a quote for your home.