Are Solar Shingles Worth It

Are solar shingles worth it? Solar shingles offer a superior aesthetic appeal compared to traditional solar panels due to their inconspicuous design. Not only do these shingles possess impressive durability and weather resistance, but they also deliver energy savings on par with leading solar panels. However, it is worth noting that they come with a considerably higher price tag.

At ESD Solar, we have crafted this comprehensive guide to help you assess the worthiness of investing in solar roof tiles. We address crucial questions and carefully evaluate the associated advantages and disadvantages.

What Are Solar Shingles?

Solar shingles represent a relatively new technology. They share similarities with solar panels but have a more discreet appearance when installed on your house. Functionally, they absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity, just like traditional solar panels. These shingles fall under the category of Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV), which aim to replace conventional building materials such as skylights and roofs with photovoltaic alternatives. This enables you to save money on building materials while harnessing solar power.

The introduction of solar shingles in the U.S. by Dow Chemical Company in 2011 sparked initial interest. However, the popularity of solar shingles surged in 2016 when Tesla acquired SolarCity and unveiled the Tesla Solar Roof. Since then, numerous solar manufacturers have expanded their product offerings to include solar tiles or shingles. While not as prevalent as solar panels, solar shingles have emerged as a viable alternative.

In terms of appearance, solar shingles closely resemble standard asphalt shingles. They consist of thin sheets of photovoltaic material covering a base glass. Solar shingles can be installed over existing roof shingles or serve as a complete replacement. Additionally, they are designed to withstand various weather elements such as rain, hail, and wind.

Solar Shingles: Pros and Cons

Below we’ve listed the advantages and disadvantages associated with solar shingles.


  • Built for durability and weather resistance
  • Can be used to replace traditional roofing materials
  • More aesthetically pleasing than solar panels
  • Roof replacement is a cost-effective solution


  • Low-efficiency rating and power output
  • More expensive than solar panels
  • Not as widespread as solar panels

Solar Shingles and Solar Panels

Both solar shingles and panels reduce energy costs through the generation of renewable energy. However, they differ in some important ways. Compare the two options below.

Factor Solar Panels Solar Shingles
Color Blue or Black Black
Efficiency As much as 24% From 14% to 18%
Longevity 25-40 years 20 years
Material Silicon cells Monocrystalline or Copper Indium Gallium Selenide Cells
Power output Power up to 400 watts 13 to 70 Watts
Size 39 inches wide by 65 inches long 12 inches wide by 85 inches long


Solar panels installed on the roof of a house tend to be more prominent and more visible. The appearance of solar panels can vary depending on the type installed. Polycrystalline panels, for example, have a distinct blue color that can stand out and potentially clash with the aesthetics of your home. On the other hand, monocrystalline panels are popular for their sleek black color. However, regardless of the type, any rack-mounted installation will still be noticeable.

In contrast, solar shingles have a smaller and more discreet profile. If you opt for a solar roof, your entire roof will be covered with uniform shingles. While not every shingle will be a photovoltaic one, most will be. This ensures a consistent look and offers the least conspicuous installation.

Efficiency and Power Output

Solar shingles operate similarly to solar panels but differ in terms of efficiency and power output. Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient, boasting high-efficiency rates of up to 24%. These panels can convert 24% of the absorbed sunlight into electricity. On the other hand, solar shingles have a lower efficiency rate ranging from 14% to 18%. It’s worth noting that more efficient solar panels require less power to meet your household needs.

In terms of power output, solar panels have a higher capacity. Solar shingles typically generate between 13 and 70 watts, while solar panels can reach 400+ watts. The power output of a single solar panel can be matched by as few as 20-30 solar shingles.


Solar panels have a lifespan of up to 25 years when properly maintained. On the other hand, solar shingles have a slightly shorter lifespan of around 20 years, although the exact timeframe is determined by the manufacturer. Homeowners need to review the warranties provided for solar shingles. Some manufacturers may offer separate warranties for durability and power production. It is recommended to carefully read the warranty to understand all the details and coverage.


The majority of solar panels are made using copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS), which enables the production of thin and flexible shingles while still efficiently converting energy. However, there are also solar shingles available that utilize monocrystalline silicon cell technology, which is the same technology used in high-quality monocrystalline solar panels.


Solar shingles are smaller in size compared to solar panels, typically measuring 12 inches by 86 inches. Each shingle weighs approximately 13 pounds per square foot. The weight of solar shingles is generally manageable for most roofs, eliminating the need for roof reinforcement. Additionally, solar shingles have a thickness of less than one inch, allowing them to maintain a low-profile appearance.

What Is the Cost of Solar Shingles?

Due to the requirement for additional solar panels, solar shingles tend to have a higher cost. According to various estimates, the cost of installing solar shingles can range from $20 to $30 per square foot. This translates to approximately $40,000 to $60,000 for a roof covering an area of 2,000 square feet.

In comparison, standard solar panels have a lower average cost, typically around $15,500 for a 5-kilowatt system, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. The cost of solar shingles can vary based on factors such as the desired power output, roof size, and chosen installer.

To help homeowners offset their costs, solar tax incentives and rebates are available. The federal tax credit provides a 30% reduction on installation costs, which can be carried over to the following year if the tax liability is lower than the credit received. For further information, it is advisable to consult the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE).

How Many Solar Shingles Do I Need?

Solar installers consider your energy requirements and the size of your roof when determining the number of solar shingles needed for your installation. It is important to note that solar shingles are not required to cover the entire roof. The installation process typically takes about a week to complete.

Roofers will also assess the condition of your roof before installing solar shingles. Any existing damage or broken shingles will need to be repaired or replaced before installation. This step is crucial in ensuring the proper functioning and installation of the solar panels. If your roof requires extensive repairs or replacement, it may be advantageous to consider installing a solar roofing system. Doing so can result in cost savings on traditional roofing materials.

The Bottom Line: Are Solar Shingles Worth It?

While solar shingles may seem like an attractive option due to their visually appealing design and ability to blend seamlessly with your roof, it’s crucial to consider their efficiency and power output when making a decision. 

In comparison to standard solar panels, solar shingles generally have lower efficiency levels and produce less electricity. Consequently, a larger number of shingles may be required to generate the desired energy output. 

It’s worth noting that solar roofs are especially suitable for homeowners who not only want to harness solar power but also have a need for roof replacement.

Looking for a Reliable Solar Solution? Choose ESD Solar

If you’re ready to make the switch to solar energy, ESD Solar is here to help. With our extensive expertise in solar installations and commitment to providing high-quality products, we ensure optimal energy generation for your home. Our team of experienced professionals will guide you through the process, helping you select the most efficient and cost-effective solar panels tailored to your specific needs. 

Take the first step towards a greener future and contact ESD Solar today.

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