What Are My Solar Options?

If you're thinking about taking advantage of some of your free roof space to install a solar system, you have a few choices available. The most common rooftop solar option are traditional solar panels. Solar panels are a reliable staple for many homeowners looking to reduce their electricity bill­—and they're not going away any time soon. On the other hand, Tesla's solar roof has been making noise in the residential solar space, offering a unique alternative for solar enthusiasts.

Are you having a hard time choosing between solar panels or shingles? We're here to make things a little easier for you. 

Solar Panels vs Solar Shingles: What Are they?

Solar Panels

You've probably seen a few solar panel systems installed in your city or neighbourhood. The panels are made out of solar cells from a semiconductor material such as silicon. These cells absorb the sun's energy, converting it into electricity for your home. Solar panels can vary in efficiency and price depending on the type and brand of panel you use. As of now, the two most popular types of solar panels are monocrystalline and polycrystalline.

Solar Shingles

In 2016, the popular EV company, Tesla, ventured to create an alternative to solar panels. While Tesla started the solar roof trend and was the first to come up with this type of technology, other companies, such as GAF and SunTegra have thrown their hats in the ring.

Solar roofs are made out of tempered glass solar shingles that replace your standard roofing material, turning your roof into a functioning solar system. Since solar shingles are made out of monocrystalline solar cells, they come in a dark grey colour that works effortlessly with your house. 

Are Solar Panels or Solar Shingles Right For You—5 Things to Consider

A solar installation—whether it's panels or shingles—is a huge home upgrade and a long-term commitment. We've compiled a list of things you should consider before making your big decision.

Cost 

If price is your main deciding factor, you might want to cross solar shingles off your list. Solar shingles tend to be very expensive due to both high manufacturing and installation costs. The installation process for the Tesla Solar Roof is complicated. Although Tesla is working on a new model to simplify installation and reduce costs, it's still significantly more than an average solar panel system. On average, solar shingles can be up to 70% more expensive compared to a similarly sized solar panel system.

Find out how much solar panels cost.

Lifespan

Solar panels and solar shingles have very similar lifespans and warranties of about 25 years. However, since solar panels have been on the market longer, we have seen many cases of solar panels lasting for up to 30-40 years without having to be replaced. We might see a similar pattern with solar shingles, but it's still too early to tell.

Efficiency

Solar panels are generally more efficient. Both your panels and shingles work more efficiently when they're at a cooler temperature. Solar shingles tend to get hot easily since they're installed directly on your roof, leaving less room for airflow. 

On the other hand, a racking system gives solar panels the edge in both temperature and angle. The racking system raises the panels above the roof and places them in a better position for absorbing sunlight. 

Due to this, solar shingles are generally 20-30% less efficient than a solar panel system of the same size.

Aesthetic

One of the main attractions of solar shingles is their ability to blend seamlessly into the roof. Not everyone loves the look of having large solar panels installed on the house, and shingles offer a subtler solution for homeowners who want to power their house with solar energy. 

Availability

Compared to solar panel manufacturers, there aren't as many options for solar shingles. Tesla is the most popular option, and they've recently paused scheduling solar roof installations in the US. They've opened installations back up to certain cities, so you should check out their website to see if they install in your area. Other companies like GAF have stepped up to the plate with their own variation, but finding an installer might still be difficult depending on your location.

Solar Panels vs Solar Shingles: The Verdict

Here is a chart that summarizes everything we've learned so far about solar panels and the solar shingles

 Solar PanelsTesla Solar Roof
EfficiencyMore EfficientLess Efficient
Average Price (10kW System)$28,000$64,000
AestheticBulkier and less aesthetically pleasingLooks like regular shingles
AvailabilityHigh availabilityLow Availability
Lifespan25 Years25 Years

With all the facts laid out in the open, we suggest installing solar panels. Since most homeowners install solar to save on energy bills, installing a higher-performing system at a significantly lower price just makes the most sense financially. There's really no downside to installing solar panels over shingles unless you absolutely hate the look of panels on your roof.

However, we understand everyone's situation is different, and we can't make the final decision for you. If your roof needs a major upgrade and you love the look of a Tesla Solar Roof, solar shingles might work for you. 

As always, we suggest getting multiple quotes from installers in your area before making any sort of commitment. Don't forget to ask lots of questions so you can make the most informed decision.

If you're looking for a solar quote, we have you covered. Simply fill out our quick survey, and we can connect you with one of our highly trained solar specialists for a free quote and consultation. 

Sources: 

https://news.energysage.com/tesla-solar-roof-price-vs-solar-panels/#more-6926

https://www.cnet.com/home/energy-and-utilities/solar-panels-versus-tesla-solar-roof/