We’re all familiar with the sight of arrays of solar panels atop roofs of houses and businesses alike now. Some of us love the sight, whereas others of us wish they weren’t so – obvious…
This is where solar tiles or shingles come in. They work in the same way as panels – they convert sunlight to electricity, which is then fed into the house and/or the grid via an inverter. However, the PV magic is embedded in a roof tile, rather than in a panel set on top of an existing roof. They blend in more and, to many eyes, look sleeker and more modern.
Are they right for you?
If you’re concerned about the aesthetics of a solar array, then shingles may be a good bet. However, as they are integral to the roof, you may need to be building a new house or be having an entire new roof fitted. Otherwise, your disdain of solar panels may be overcome by the increased cost of installing solar shingles.
The cost of solar tiles has reduced in recent years, but they will still cost around twice the amount of a regular solar array. Solar panels themselves are becoming cheaper at a faster rate than solar shingles, too.
It could be a good investment, though
While any solar array will bump up the price of your house, the average panel array will add just $15,000, whereas solar tiles could add up to 10% of the entire value.
How well do they work?
Of course the amount of power produced depends on how much sunlight they receive, as well as the pitch and direction of the roof. The more solar shingles you have, the more electricity you’ll receive. Solar tiles tend to have 20-year warranties rather than 25- or 30-year warranties, but as they become more widespread and the tech improves, this may get better. So far, very few people have had problems or replacements.
They need less maintenance than solar panels and there’s no moving parts or rust-prone areas to wear out. However, they are, at present, not as efficient as solar panels.
Solar tiles may be right for you if:
- you’re especially concerned with the appearance of your roof;
- if you’re building a new house or having a new roof put on, and
- you’re not after 100% solar power in your home.
Solar panels may be best for you if:
- you want the best long-term return of investment;
- you’re on a smaller budget, and
- you’re not bothered about the appearance of the panels.