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A complete solar roof shingles buying guide

Renewable energy sources have been taking the world by storm and have good chances to replace fossil fuels. In the US alone, residential solar installations reached 1GWDC in 2021. Households and businesses massively switch to green energy to become more independent from electricity grids and add value to their property. The solar energy adoption trend is driven by many factors, including government-initiated rebates, cutting-edge equipment, and technological progress. Solar shingles roofing is one of the perfect examples of how every home can become totally green-powered. Not only it's a solid roofing material that lasts for years, but also it's an excellent solution to save a bunch of money on utility.

A complete solar roof shingles buying guide

We developed this mini guide to help you decide whether solar shingling is the appropriate option for your home. Keep reading to learn the difference between solar shingles and solar panels, as well as the average spending on the installation and upkeep of this roofing solution.

What are solar shingles?

Solar roof tiles come into the range of advanced solar technologies that aim to integrate green energy adoption into everyday life. Solar shingles imitate the look of ordinary asphalt roofing that either overlays or replaces the existing coverage on a roof. Tiles made of thousands of photovoltaic sheets connected together possess the same or even better durability and water resistance than regular shingles. 

However, the best part of solar tiles is absorbing natural light and converting it into electricity to power the house. Each shingle produces between 13 and 63 watts which is enough to cover the electricity needs of an average household. Besides, you can always get ground-mounted PV panels and storage batteries to ensure you have more than enough electricity for all your needs. 

Solar shingles' composition

Tiles that convert solar energy into electricity are made of cells manufactured from semiconductor materials, such as monocrystalline silicon and copper-indium-gallium selenide. These materials make shingles lightweight and flexible enough to fit roofs of almost any pitch. The average size of the shingle is about to 86 inches long and 12 inches wide. Tiles are less than an inch in thickness and weigh not more than 15 pounds per square foot. Depending on the manufacturer and semiconductor quality, they ensure a conversion efficiency rate ranging from 10% to 20%. 

Solar shingles' work principle

The key idea of solar tiles is to combine shingling with solar cells, avoiding mounting bulky PV panels on the rooftop. As a result, you kill two birds with one stone, getting a durable roofing coverage and generating renewable energy. 

The primary work principle of solar shingles is similar to regular solar panels. Cells absorb UV rays and process them into an electrical current that powers electrical equipment in the house. However, there is still a difference in the construction of solar tiles and shingles. Further details on their distinctive features will be given later in the text. 

Solar shingles' types

You can come across two types of PV solar tiles - traditional silicon solar cells and up-to-the-minute copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS) thin film photovoltaics.

  • Silicon solar shingles. These tiles are pretty close to regular solar panels in their functionality and appearance. They are thin yet rigid and proportional to conventional roofing materials.
  • CIGS solar shingles. These tiles are built using advanced film technology to generate green power. Copper-indium-gallium-selenide is transformed into lightweight and flexible shingles and is easily bland with an existing roof.

Solar shingles' expected lifetime

You can expect your solar roofing to serve you from 20 to 30 years, giving the maximum energy output declared by the manufacturer. Solar tiles will continue to generate energy even after the end of the claimed service life, but the amount of power produced might decrease drastically. Please note that solar roof shingles require regular and proper upkeep. Consider maintenance spending when making up your buying decision. 

Solar shingles vs. solar panels

If you consider whether to install traditional PV panels or shingles on your roof, take a closer look at the pros and cons of both solutions. 

The primary advantage of solar shingles is their appearance. Tiles match the roofing materials like asphalt or concrete, enhancing the home's curb appeal. Many homeowners give their preference to this aesthetic solution rather than large solar panels attached to the roof. Besides, tiles are lightweight and more durable. When you deal with PV panels, there is always a risk of damaging roof coverage that may result in leakage and further repairs. Another competitive advantage of solar roof shingles is their cost effectiveness. You make a one-time investment, getting both a roof and a solar power plant. Plus, tiles can be removed and reinstalled if you're moving homes. 

The drawback of solar shingles is that they're less power efficient than PV panels. While shingles are distributed evenly through the roof, covering areas exposed to the sun and those in the shade, solar panels are adjusted to capture most of the ultraviolet rays. Thus, panels produce more power per watt and give a better return on investment.

It's also crucial to highlight the difference between installing solar shingles and installing solar panels. First off, you need to find a team of trained professionals who have a valid certification from a manufacturer. As the solar roofing market is still developing, the number of licensed pros is limited. So, it might be more challenging to hire a reliable contractor who works with solar tiles than those installing PV panels. Secondly, installing solar shingling is time-consuming and takes from 7 to 14 days, depending on the location, roof pitch, and other factors. Besides, if your roof is not in the best shape, you need to replace or repair it before adding solar tiles. When it comes to solar panel installation, the job can be finished within a day or two. However, the roof should also be ready for the process. That is why an initial inspection is a must. 

What to know about solar shingles' cost?

If you're about to install solar tiles on the roof of a standard-sized single-story home, you should expect to pay from $2.100 to $2.500 per square. The whole project may cost you about $70.000 depending on the shingles' brand, contractors' rates in your region, as well as the size, slope, and pitch of your roof. 

Please note that solar shingle roof costs more than solar panels, even the most efficient ones. Price difference is explained by the number of materials needed for installation and the labor intensiveness of the process. The budget you need to mount residential PV panels of 8kW varies from $12.000 to $28.000 depending on the home's geographical area, panels' brand, and local solar installers’ rates. 

So, when deciding between solar roof shingles and PV panels, it's crucial to understand the average electricity consumption of your household and the budget you can invest in the project. HomeQuote is your reliable assistant in estimating the average solar shingles roof installation price in your area and the possible return on investment. If you want to calculate your potential savings and pick the right local solar installer, leave your request on our platform. It's not binding and completely free.

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