Solar roofs are becoming increasingly popular as solar system costs continue to drop. In 2023, the national average cost of a solar roof system is around $49,700, including materials and labor. The typical price for a solar roof can fall anywhere between $40,000 and $60,000 for a standard project, before the 30% federal solar tax credit.
On average, a homeowner can pay between $16.15 and $25.40 per installed square foot, or $4.50 to $8.00 per installed watt, making a solar roof one of the most expensive solar options.
Note: This guide is about the cost of solar shingles, not traditional solar panels. Solar shingles are photovoltaic (PV) cells, also known as solar cells, designed to resemble asphalt shingles. They have the same durability, flexibility, and beauty as standard tiles. Solar shingles use the same technology as solar panels to absorb sunlight and generate electricity.
For information about the cost of solar panels, see: How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?
In this article:
- Average Costs
- Cost Estimator by Size
- Other Factors That Affect Cost
- Related Services
- Solar Shingles vs. Solar Panels
- Cost by Location
Average Solar Roof Costs in 2023
|National Average Cost||$49,700|
|Typical Price Range||$40,000 – $60,000|
|Extreme Low-End Cost||$15,000|
|Extreme High-End Cost||$75,000|
The national average cost of a solar roof system is $49,700 for a standard project. This price includes materials and installation. Solar roofs are more expensive than solar panels, especially if you want to replace your existing roof. A typical solar roof installation for a homeowner costs between $40,000 and $60,000 before taxes.
The manufacturer of solar shingles will also play a role in the overall cost. Generally, the most popular brands will be on the higher price spectrum. For example, Tesla Solar Roof costs around $75,000 for a complex design.
However, if you have a smaller home or want to install only a few integrated solar shingles, you might be able to finish your project for as little as $15,000, with all fees included.
Solar Roof Cost Estimator by Roof Size
A solar roof can save you money on your energy bills, so you recoup the cost in the long run. The size of your solar array will determine how much you save. In order to determine the size of the solar array you need, follow these steps:
- Measure your roof.
- Calculate the square footage.
- Decide how much of your roof you want to cover with solar shingles.
The average cost is between $16.15 and $25.40 per square foot, or $1,615 and $2,540 per roofing square (1 roofing square = 100 square feet). Since an average house of 2,500 square feet has a roof area of about 2,000 square feet, the total cost of an average-sized solar roof project would be $32,300 to $50,800.
|Roof Size||Average Cost (Materials and Installation)|
|Cost per sq. ft.||$16.15 – $25.40|
|1,200 square feet||$19,800 – $30,480|
|1,700 square feet||$28,050 – $43,180|
|2,000 square feet||$32,300 – $50,800|
|2,500 square feet||$40,375 – $63,500|
To best tailor your solar energy system size to match your home’s electricity needs, you’ll need to know how much electricity your home is already using.
The average price of a residential solar roof system is between $4.50 and $8.00 per installed watt, making the average 5 kilowatts (kW) system cost between $22,500 and $40,000 before taxes (1 kW = 1,000 watts). A 5 kW system is usually enough to power a regular-sized home.
|Solar Roof System Size in kW||Before Tax Credit||After 30% Tax Credit|
|5 kW||$22,500 – $40,000||$15,750 – $28,000|
|9 kW||$40,500 – $72,000||$28,350 – $50,400|
2023 Notice: Federal Solar Tax Credit
The solar energy tax credit allows taxpayers to receive a percentage of the cost of their solar PV system as a credit on their federal income taxes. This can help offset the cost of solar and make it more affordable for homeowners.
Requirements to be eligible for the tax credit include:
- Purchase the solar system – not lease it
- Install the system in the United States during the tax year the claim is made
- Place the system at your primary or secondary residence
The tax credit will decrease in the future, but you still have plenty of time to take full advantage! See the chart below for information on when and how much the tax credit will decrease from 30%.
|Tax Credit Percentage||30%||26%||22%|
Other Factors That Affect Cost
Although a solar roof can help you save money in the long run, the initial cost is often a deterrent for homeowners. There are a few other key considerations when estimating the cost of a solar roof, such as the brand of solar shingles, your roof type, and installation fees.
Solar Shingle Brands
New technology allows you to harness the power of clean energy without having solar panels on top of your house. Solar roof shingles can cost, on average, anywhere from $4.50 to $8.00 per watt, depending on the particular brand and style of tile. There are several providers to choose from, each with its own features and prices.
|Product||Average cost per watt (before incentives)||Efficiency|
|Tesla Solar Roof||$3.50 to $8.50||71.67 watts|
|CertainTeed Apollo Tile ll||$6.40||70 watts|
|SunTegra Tile & Shingle||$4.80||105 watts – 114 watts|
|Forward Metal Solar Roof||$4.30||19 watts per square foot|
|Luma Solar Shingles||$4.40||80 watts|
If you want a Tesla Solar Roof, be aware that you’ll need to buy the entire solar roofing system. The company doesn’t offer any retrofit options, so the only way to get a Tesla Solar Roof is by replacing your entire roof. The upfront cost of a Tesla Solar Roof is about $75,000 total.
On the other hand, solar shingles from Tesla’s competitors are often more affordable because they provide individual shingles that can be integrated into an existing roof.
Solar shingles come in a variety of wattages, depending on the brand and quality. On average, they can produce up to 80 watts per shingle. So, it would take around 13 tiles/shingles to produce 1 kilowatt (kW) of energy. Typically the residential system is 5 kW. To cover that much power, you’d need about 63 tiles, which would cost between $22,500 and $40,000.
|System Size||Solar shingles needed||Average Cost|
|1 kW||13 solar shingles||$4,500 – $8,000|
|5 kW||63 solar shingles||$22,500 – $40,000|
|10 kW||124 solar shingles||$45,000 – $80,000|
Types of Solar Shingles
There are two main types of solar shingles for residential roofs: silicon solar shingles and CIGS solar shingles. Both types have advantages and disadvantages, so it’s essential to weigh all factors before deciding.
Solar shingles range from $16.15 to $25.40 per square foot, making them more expensive than traditional asphalt shingles. CIGS solar shingles are on the lower end of this price range, while silicon solar shingles are typically more expensive.
|CIGS Solar Shingles||• Made from cadmium telluride or copper indium selenide|
• Thin and flexible
• Use film technology to generate solar power
• Conversion efficiency: 15% – 20%
|Silicon Solar Shingles||• Made from silicon crystals|
• Natural semiconductor
• Lightweight and flexible
• Can easily be integrated into roofs, providing a sleek, unobtrusive look
• Conversion efficiency: 15% – 20%
Inactive Solar Shingles
Solar roofs typically include two components:
- Active solar shingles – solar cells that produce electricity
- Inactive solar shingles – regular roofing shingles that cover the rest of the roof
The average cost of active solar shingles is between $16.15 and $25.40 per square foot, while the average price of an inactive solar shingle is about $14.00 per square foot.
Typical solar shingles are 12 inches wide by 86 inches long and weigh 13 pounds per square foot. It takes about 350 solar active and inactive shingles to complete a standard roof installation.
Labor Costs for Installing Solar Roofs
|Labor Cost to Install Solar Shingles||Price|
|Roofers per sq. ft.||$4.30 – $6.40/sq.ft.|
|Roofers / h||$45 – $70/h|
|Electrician||$50 – $110/h|
Typically, roofers charge between $4.30 and $6.40 per square foot for shingle installation. Some professionals may charge by the hour at rates of $45 to $70 per hour. A solar roof project will require the expertise of an electrician at some point for wiring and electricity, which will add $50 to $110 per hour to the total cost.
The total cost of materials and professional installation for solar shingles is between $4.50 and $8.00 per installed watt, so for a 5 kW system, you can expect to pay between $22,500 and $40,000 total, before tax credits.
If you have a sloped roof, the estimated cost of labor is about an extra 10% of the total system price. So, the added labor cost to install a 5kW system would be, on average, $2,250 to $4,000 in total.
Other factors that will affect the labor cost of installing solar shingles on your roof:
- The complexity of the roof and its age
- The period for solar shingle installation
- Sunlight amount your home receives
- Solar shingles needed to cover your roof
- The cost of labor in your area
The period for solar shingle installation may vary, depending on the solar company. It is generally a week-long process. The installation may take even longer if you are also replacing your roof. Remember that these are just estimates, and your specific project may differ in time requirements.
A backup generator is a wise investment for any home, as it can provide power in the event of a power outage. Solar shingles are a great way to generate electricity, but they cannot store it. This is where a backup generator comes in, as it stores solar power and makes it available when needed. The average price for a backup generator is between $6,000 and $20,000 in total.
Solar roofs are a great way to generate electricity and save money on energy bills, but they come at a high initial cost. It is essential to factor in all prices when deciding whether or not to install a solar roof on your home.
The process of solar roof installation implies several other services as well, such as:
- Roof inspection to make sure it can support the weight of solar shingles
- Permits and approval from local authorities
- Roof repair or replacement – if necessary
- Wiring and electrical work
Which additional services you need will depend on your specific project, but they can add several thousand dollars to the total cost of a solar roof.
Installing a New Roof
The national average cost to install a new roof (with standard materials, not solar shingles) is $4,643, while the typical upfront cost to install a solar roof is $49,700 and $34,700 after the 30% federal tax credit. Many factors will affect the cost of installing a new roof on your house, such as:
- The size of your roof
- The type of roofing materials you choose
- The complexity of the roof’s design
- The labor costs in your area
- Whether or not you need to remove and dispose of the old roofing materials
Replacing Your Roof
If you need to replace your roof before installing solar shingles, the cost will depend on your roof type and the size of your house. The average cost to replace your roof with standard shingles is $1.59 per square foot, or $159 per square, including roofing materials and labor.
If you want to go solar and save money in the long run, you can expect to pay between $16.15 and $25.40 per square foot for solar shingles.
|Solar Roof Average Cost||Regular Roof Average Cost|
|$49,700 before taxes||$34,700 after taxes|
Cost to Remove Old Shingles
In order to install a new roof, you will likely need to tear off the old shingles first. The cost of removing old shingles can range from $21 to $27.50 per square in disposal fees.
Factors that will affect the cost:
- The size of the roof
- The type of shingles that need to be removed
- Whether the contractor charges by the square foot or by the hour
Solar Shingles vs. Solar Panels
Solar shingles are a newer technology that has not been widely adopted yet. Solar panels are the more traditional way to install solar energy systems in homes and are considerably less costly than solar shingles. The average solar panel cost is $15,000 to $26,000 for a standard-size house before tax credits and other incentives.
|Solar Shingles||Solar Panels|
|Average Cost (Before Incentives)||$4.50 – $8.00 per watt||$2.50 – $3.50 per watt|
|Average Efficiency rating:||14% to 21%||19% to 23%|
|Average Production (w per shingle/cell)||85 watts per shingle||170 – 350 watts per panel|
Solar Shingles vs. Solar Panels Pros and Cons
|✓ Solar shingles are less visible on the roof than solar panels.|
✓ Solar shingles can be integrated into the roof, making them more aesthetically pleasing.
✓ Solar shingles are easier to install than solar panels.
|✗ Solar shingles are more expensive than solar panels.|
✗ Solar shingles are less efficient than solar panels.
✗ Solar shingles have a shorter lifespan than solar panels.
Solar Roof Cost by Location
On average, a given location receives 60 to 75 days of full sun annually. Typically, solar roof systems are more expensive in areas with more sun, such as California. In contrast, places with less direct sunlight exposure, like Alaska, will need more solar shingles to produce adequate power and therefore spend more on installation.
FAQ About Solar Roofs
1) Can you install solar shingles DIY?
Solar roof installation isn’t a DIY project. It’s difficult, and it’s best to hire professionals with the training and equipment for the job. Additionally, most solar manufacturers will not honor the warranty if a certified installer does not install the roof.
2) How long will a solar roof last?
Solar roofs have an average lifespan of approximately 20 – 25 years.
3) Does the solar roof come with a warranty?
Most solar manufacturers will offer a warranty on their products. It is essential to check with the manufacturer to see what is covered under warranty. Tesla Solar Roof, for example, offers a 25-year warranty on its solar roof shingles.
4) How much will my energy bills be reduced?
This aspect will depend on your solar system’s size and efficiency and the sunlight your home receives. In general, you can expect a 40-70% reduction in energy bills.
5) What is the payback period?
The payback period is the amount of time it will take for you to recoup your initial investment through savings on your electric bill. It can vary depending on the cost of installation, the size of your system, the amount of sunlight your home receives, and the price.
A solar roof is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and save money on energy bills. The average cost of a solar roof system is $16.15 to $25.40 per installed square foot or $4.50 to $8.00 per watt.
However, this price can vary depending on your home’s size and the solar shingles manufacturer. The 30% federal solar tax credit can also significantly reduce the cost of a solar roof system.
It’s important to note that solar roofs require a significant upfront investment. If you’re considering a solar roof for your home, be sure to research and compare different brands and models to find the best option.
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Main Photo Credit: Markus Winkler on Unsplash