When considering an investment in solar energy, it’s essential to explore the available options. Choosing the wrong type of solar installation can cause you to lose money and face unnecessary frustration.

Solar shingles offer a unique twist on traditional solar panel technology. So when given the choice of buying solar shingles vs. solar panels, what should you do?

Let’s explore the 5 things you need to know before making your purchase decision.

1) What are solar shingles? 

Solar shingles are also known as solar roofs or solar roof tiles. They’re essentially small, thin solar panels. However, they’re fixed in place and replace existing roof materials.

In other words, solar shingles form an integrated roof system. The image above shows a solar shingle installation.

Similar to solar panels, solar shingles use photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight into electricity. They can also store excess energy in a battery for backup power, just like solar panels.

On average, a standard solar shingle is 12 inches wide, 86 inches long, and less than 1 inch thick. It weighs 15 to 20 pounds per square foot. These dimensions are generally consistent across different brands, although there might be some slight variations.

In comparison, the average solar panel weighs 40 to 50 pounds and measures 39 inches wide, 78 inches long, and 1.5 inches thick. These dimensions are also generally consistent.

Tesla is the most notable solar shingles company, with operations across North America. Other solar shingles manufacturers include PV Tech in Canada and SunTegra, CertainTeed, and Timberline Solar in the United States.

Next, we’ll explore the pros and cons of solar shingles and traditional solar panels.

2) Advantages of solar shingles

Solar shingles have a natural appearance, which is one of their main advantages. They’re slim and resemble a regular roof, making them more aesthetically pleasing than traditional solar panels.

Despite being small and lightweight, solar shingles are durable and can withstand harsh weather conditions. They don’t add any extra weight to an existing roof.

In addition, solar shingles can completely replace a roof. This is beneficial for new constructions or homes that are in need of a new roof.

Lastly, maintaining solar shingles is relatively simple since they function as a single power-generating roof.

3) Advantages of traditional solar panels

Solar panels have the advantage of being movable. This allows you to position them for optimal sun exposure and maximum solar energy capture. In contrast, solar shingles are permanently fixed in place once installed.

In terms of energy generation, an individual solar panel typically produces a minimum of 280 watts per panel. By contrast, an individual solar shingle only generates between 13 and 70 watts.

Moreover, solar panels are more efficient in terms of heat management because they are installed above an existing roof, allowing heat to escape. On the other hand, solar shingles, being the roof themselves, lack this benefit.

When it comes to installation time, professional solar panel companies can typically complete the installation within one to three days after the necessary consultation, assessment, and approval. In comparison, solar shingle installation takes at least one week following the same process. It sometimes even requires being placed on a waiting list.

In terms of energy bill savings, solar panels offer initial savings of approximately 75% and can eventually eliminate the need for electric bills altogether. Solar shingles can reduce electric bills by around 40% to 70%.

Solar panel technology is well-established, having undergone continuous improvement over the past century. On the other hand, solar shingle technology has been around since 2005, and thus has a shorter track record.

Additionally, there’s a wide selection of solar panel models, manufacturers, and providers available. However, solar shingles are only manufactured by a few companies, limiting the variety of choices and price points.

4) Where solar shingles and solar panels are equally good

Many of the benefits of going solar apply to both solar shingles and solar panels.

Both solar shingles and solar panels allow you to benefit from net metering. They’re both eligible for solar incentives and rebates. And both products leverage advanced technologies.

Moreover, both solar shingles and solar panels have lifespans of at least 25 years. And both products enhance the resale value of your property.

5) Cost – The major difference

By far, the most important difference between solar shingles and solar panels is the cost. Solar shingles are undeniably pricier than solar panels.

According to Freedom Solar Power, a solar shingle installation for an average-sized US home (2,000 square feet) costs between $40,000 and $65,000. Tesla solar shingles can cost as much as $84,000.

On the other hand, the average cost of a solar panel installation in the US is between $10,000 and $20,000.

These figures are broadly similar in Canada. Solar shingles cost an average of between $30,000 and $50,000. Meanwhile, traditional solar panels only cost an average of between $10,000 and $18,000.

So if budgetary considerations are your primary concern, it’s advisable to choose solar panels. They are not only more affordable but also more efficient, effective, and flexible.

Image Source: Dan Reicher, https://shorturl.at/bEV19