Pros and Cons of Solar Shingles

solar shingle

You don’t need to be Elon Musk to understand the importance of clean energy and solar power. Solar energy is free and the Earth’s most abundant energy source. Nearly 4% of U.S. homes use solar energy, and experts expect this number to grow to 11% by 2025. We looked into the pros and cons of solar shingles to help you understand what makes the material so special and whether it is right for your next roofing project.

What Are Solar Shingles?

Solar shingles, also known as solar roof tiles, are thin photovoltaic sheets, or solar cells, that absorb the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity to power your home. These shingles look and perform like traditional asphalt shingles, protecting you and your home from the elements while saving you money on your electricity bill.

Solar shingles are an integrated component of your roof. A professional roofer can install them on top of your existing shingles, or they can install a new solar roof system if it is time to replace your roof. Some companies, like Tesla, only offer complete solar power systems with no re-roofing option. 

How Do Solar Roofing Shingles Work?

how solar power works

Solar shingles work the same way as standard solar panels. The sun shines on the shingle, which absorbs the light through photovoltaic cells. The photovoltaic cells lay between layers of semiconducting material like silicon. When hit with sunlight, the material energizes, creating an electric field. 

All solar roofs have an inverter and generate direct currents. The direct current passes through the inverter, which converts the direct current into alternating current to be used by your home, stored in your solar battery bank, or fed back into the national electricity grid.

How Are Solar Shingles Different From Solar Panels?

man installing solar panel on his roof
Solar Panel
Photo Credit: Pexels

Solar shingles and solar panels are building–integrated photovoltaics. All BIPVs convert the sun’s energy into electricity and have the same net metering policies – rules overseeing utility credits for excess energy sent back to the grid. 

Conventional solar panels are just one component of a roof, while solar shingles are an entire roof system. Some key differences include:

Solar ShinglesSolar Panels
AvailabilityLimitedMost regions
Cost$49,700 on average$20,000 on average
Durability25-30 years25-30 years
Roof TypeRoof replacement or asphalt shingles re-roofingMost roofing materials
Size12 inches x 86 inches and less than 1 inch thick39 inches x 65 inches
Weight13 pounds per square foot40 pounds each
InstallationMinimum 1 weekLess than 1 day
Output13 to 63 watts per shingle250 to 400 watts per panel

Pros of Solar Shingles

Solar shingles are a great way to harness the power of the sun to produce clean, independent energy. They are sleek, weather-resistant, and have a long lifespan.

Lower Utility Bills

Reducing energy costs is the number one reason homeowners install solar roof shingles. A typical residential installation comprises 350 tiles, and the setup lowers monthly energy bills by 40% to 70%.

Long Lifespan

Solar shingles have a longer lifespan than regular shingles. They maintain maximum output and efficiency for 25 to 30 years.

Solar companies offer their own warranties, and tile longevity depends on the manufacturer. For example, Tesla solar roofs come with a 30-year warranty. Be sure to check with your shingle manufacturer to understand your warranty and maintenance requirements. 

Weather Resistant

Like many traditional roofing materials, solar shingles are suitable for all climates. The outer shell comprises impact-resistant glass that is far from fragile. 

Many solar tiles boast impact ratings beyond the highest available rating of four. To receive a rating of four, the roofing material must withstand hail up to 2 inches in diameter, approximately the size of a tennis ball.  

In addition to impact resistance, solar tiles also can stand up to snow and ice. Snow will not damage solar shingles, however, accumulation blocks the absorption of the sun’s rays. 

Soar roofs are well-suited to wind- and hurricane-prone regions like Florida. The weather-resistant material can withstand winds up to 130 mph.  

Fire Resistant

The highest percentage of solar users in the U.S. live in western states prone to sunny and dry conditions. Solar roofs are manufactured to meet the highest fire rating of Class A, making the material a superb choice for fire-prone areas. 

Sleek Aesthetics 

Traditional solar panel systems are bulky and unattractive, and they don’t protect your home. Solar shingles‌ protect your home like traditional shingles and have a sleek and modern aesthetic that blends into your roofing materials

Increased Property and Resale Values

All new roofs increase property and resale values. A solar roof increases your home’s value by $20 for every $1 reduction in your annual energy costs, and according to Zillow, homes with solar power systems sell for 4% higher on average.

Cons of Solar Shingles

Solar shingles on a roof
Photo Credit: ben west / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

Solar shingles are a relatively new technology. They are expensive, limited to certain regions, and have a lower output than traditional solar panels.


Solar shingles are the most expensive roofing material on the market. Factors affecting the cost of solar shingle installation include brand, roof type, and installation costs. A solar roof costs between $40,000 to $60,000 before the federal solar tax credit.  

Cost Per Installed WattCost Per Installed Square FootNational Average With Labor
Solar Shingles$3 to $8$15 to $25$49,700
Tesla Solar RoofStarts at $5.50$35$75,000 to $115,000
CertainTeed Apollo II$6.40$17 to $27$47,000 to $75,000
SunTegraStarts at $4.80$15 to $21$42,000 to $60,000
Luma$4.40Up to $38$43,000
GAF Energy Timberline Solar$3 to $5$15 to $20$42,000

Limited Availability

Solar shingles account for a tiny 1% of all solar installations. Still in their infancy, many regions do not have access to the new technology because of limited brands and production. 

Lower Efficiency

It takes an average of 350 tiles to lower utility bills by 40% to 70% while the average solar panel installation reduces energy costs by 90%. 

Solar shingles are less efficient than traditional panels, and constricted airflow underneath the shingles decreases energy efficiency. Most solar tiles produce between 13 to 63 watts of power.


Solar roofs require highly specialized installation, including a licensed electrician for wiring. If your existing roof is in good condition, re-roofing installation can take as little as one week. However, if you are replacing your roof, it can take two or more weeks to install, depending on your roofing company.  

Return on Investment

Like most roofs, you can recover up to 100% of your investment when installing a new roof. However, because of the new technology, solar roofs are expensive. 

It takes the average homeowner approximately 15 years to recover their full investment with solar shingles, while it only takes five years to recover the full investment when installing traditional solar panels.

Are Solar Shingles Right for Your Home?

Many states are requiring solar systems for all new residential construction. Solar shingles are still a relatively new and expensive technology. However, they are worth considering if you need a total roof replacement. 

When deciding whether solar panels or solar shingles are right for your home, consider the following factors: 

  • Budget: Solar shingles are more expensive.
  • Location: You cannot adjust the angle of solar shingles, and snow and ice slide off the surface of traditional panels more easily.
  • Availability: Solar panels are available in most locations, but solar panel manufacturers and installers are more scarce.  

FAQ About Solar Shingles

Do solar shingles qualify for incentives or rebates?

Solar shingles are eligible for the same government tax credit as solar panels. Solar roofs installed between 2020 and 2021 are eligible for a 26% tax credit, while those installed between 2022 to 2032 are eligible for a 30% credit. There is no maximum amount a homeowner can claim and expenses include: 

Solar panels or cells 
Contractor labor costs, including permitting fees and inspection costs
Balancing equipment, including wiring, mounting equipment, and inverters
Energy storage devices with a capacity rating of 3 kilowatt-hours or greater
Sales tax on expenses

Many states also have policies governing renewable energy, offering their own incentives and rebates. 

Can I DIY install solar shingles?

No. Solar shingles need to be installed by a professional solar provider. Solar shingles are part of a new roof system or installed over your existing roofing materials.

Can I use a solar storage battery with solar shingles?

Yes, solar storage batteries work with traditional panels and solar shingles. They are an upgrade to your solar roofing system and cost between $7,000 to $14,000

Solar Roof Installation Next Steps

Solar electricity has been around since 1839. Thankfully, the technology has come a long way, and solar upgrades are more efficient than ever. 

If you are in the market for a new roof or want to explore solar upgrades, contact a roofing pro to learn about the process and materials for your next big project. 

Main Image Credit: Unsplash

Kimberly Magerl

Kimberly Magerl

Born and raised in Springfield, Illinois, Kimberly Magerl enjoys growing fruits and vegetables in her garden. When she isn't gardening, Kimberly enjoys trying new recipes and cooking with her home-grown herbs.