The total installed capacity of solar power in the U.S. reached 71.3 GW in the third quarter of 2019, with new capacity of 2.6 GW added during this quarter. It was also the best quarter in history for residential solar, which has experienced remarkable growth throughout the decade.
From 2010 to 2020, the number of residential solar panel installations in the U.S. has exceeded two million. With increasing innovation in technologies such as solar shingles, residential solar is expected to set new growth records in the 2020s.
What are solar shingles and how do they work?
Solar power shingles, also known as photovoltaic shingles, are solar panels that mimic the appearance and function of conventional roofing materials like asphalt or slate, while performing their core task of generating electricity.
Technically called BIPV (building-integrated photovoltaics), solar roof shingles present a unique and increasingly popular renewable energy solution. Studies backed by the Department of Energy in recent years have shown that solar roofing features such as solar shingles can boost the value of your home by as much as $15,000 or even more.
The average solar power roof shingle could easily last for two to three decades while delivering maximum energy output. Beyond its peak life, it will still continue to produce energy, but at a progressively reduced capacity.
In functional terms, solar roof shingles are similar to traditional solar panels, but in terms of size, they are smaller than most solar panels, with the average photovoltaic shingle being 12” x 86” in dimensions and weighing about 13 lbs per sq. ft.
The number of solar panel roof shingles it would take to power a home or building will depend on the building size and your average energy consumption, but even if you install just a few solar shingles, it will bring down your overall energy costs.
Many of today’s solar shingles are composed of TFSC or thin-film solar cells made from copper indium gallium selenide. This semiconductor is known to have one of the highest energy conversion efficiency rates at about 12 percent. Some of the PV shingle brands use mono-Si (monocrystalline silicon), which are usually costlier but have an average efficiency rate of up to 20 percent.
Why you should choose solar shingle technology
When you have to choose between traditional solar panels and solar shingles for your roof, you should carefully consider the pros and cons of both.
Pros of solar shingles
- More aesthetically appealing and sleeker compared to the bulky and somewhat unattractive traditional solar panels, and can blend in more easily with your existing roof design
- If you are building a new home or replacing your roof, solar power shingles could prove to be more cost-effective because you would save on the traditional roofing material and labor
- Solar panel shingles can usually be removed and reinstalled in a situation where you have to move your home
Cons of solar shingles
- Not every solar roofing installer may be offering solar shingles yet because they are still catching up in acceptance and popularity
- Not all types of solar roof shingles can be installed on an existing roof (unlike traditional solar panels, which can be installed on almost any type of roof)
- If you choose advanced options, such as Tesla solar shingles, you will most likely need to build a new roof, and the installation time may also be relatively longer
Solar shingles for sale—average cost
Solar shingles cost per square foot can vary widely between different brands, and your overall solar panel shingles cost will depend on the total square footage, typical energy needs, and your choice of manufacturer and installer.
The average solar shingles price for your roof could be in the range of $15,000 to $20,000, but if you choose a highly sophisticated system, such as Tesla solar roof shingles, it could cost you as much as $70,000 or more.
You should request the brands of your choice to provide you a free quote, and evaluate their features and unique selling propositions in the context of your budgetary limits in order to make the right decision.
The leader: Tesla solar shingles
If you want nothing but the best solar shingles for your home, the choice is actually quite simple: Tesla. Tesla solar shingles were launched in 2016 following the company’s multi-billion dollar acquisition of SolarCity. The Tesla brand name is associated with futuristic products with designer looks, and Tesla shingles will not disappoint you either on that count.
Tesla solar roof shingles are the elite brand on the market, highlighted by its cutting-edge technology and some compelling extras, such as Tesla’s in-house Powerwall battery as well as a custom monitoring mobile app for both iPhone and Android devices.
Tesla solar roof shingle—pros
- Unlike almost every other silica-based solar panel, Tesla shingles are quartz-based, which promises superior efficiency and resilience
- Tesla will directly handle the complete roofing project, from design to installation, including the removal of your old roof
- Tesla shingles offer the longest warranty period at 30 years for power output, which allows you a solid payback period at maximum energy efficiency
- The looks of a Tesla roof are stunning—you have a choice between textured tiles that blend in with your building and a futuristic glass roof that can give plenty of bragging points
- Tesla’s smartphone app will keep you updated about your battery storage levels and your energy usage at any point of time
Tesla solar roof shingle—cons
- Compared to almost every other brand on the market, Tesla solar power shingles will have a significantly higher cost at anywhere between $50,000 and $100,000 for most homes, including the price of PV tiles and Powerwall batteries
- While traditional installations may take about three days or less, a Tesla solar roof installation could take up to two weeks
- If you are using an electric car, and plan to recharge it with your Tesla solar roof installation, you will require an additional one or two Powerwall batteries
- Tesla roof installation will require a complete removal of your existing roof, which could be an unsavory prospect if your roof is still in good condition and doesn’t really need a replacement
Tesla solar shingles cost at present is $21.35 per square foot. This means, if you are looking to install a Tesla solar roof on a 3,000 square foot home, it could cost you somewhere around $60,000.
Dow solar shingles
Dow Chemical Co. is another major manufacturer of solar shingles, which originally introduced the popular Dow Powerhouse shingles. In early 2018, RGS Energy signed an exclusive licensing agreement with Dow to produce the Powerhouse 3.0 solar shingles.
These new-generation RGS Powerhouse solar shingles are manufactured using silicon instead of CIGS (copper indium gallium selenide). Silicon solar cell technology allows these Powerhouse solar roof shingles to be more cost-competitive without compromising on the energy conversion efficiency.
RGS has more than four decades of experience in the installation and servicing of solar panels. As part of their agreement with Dow Chemical Co. for solar shingles sales and distribution, RGS is also servicing all warranty agreements for the older-gen Dow Powerhouse solar installations as well.
RGS solar shingles could cost approximately $3.89 per watt on average for a new construction project, as per the pricing information available from the company. This includes the cost of labor, electrical work, and the equipment kit. Roofing installation costs are extra, which will add another $0.85 per watt, resulting in an aggregate cost of about $4.74 per watt of solar power.
To put this price in perspective, you may compare it with the cost of a Tesla photovoltaic shingle installation, which could cost you significantly more.
CertainTeed solar shingles
CertainTeed solar power shingles are manufactured using the same technology as traditional solar panels—mono-crystalline solar PV cells. But unlike the traditional panels that use a racking system for affixing the panel to the roof, CertainTeed solar roof shingles are installed as an integral element of your existing roof. So, what you get is an unobtrusive, low profile solar roof that goes well with your existing roof tiles.
You can choose between two solar panel shingles from CertainTeed: the Apollo II and the Apollo Tile II system. Power out remains the same for both these options at 60 watts from 14 solar cells. The Apollo Tile II system is designed to match with concrete tile roofs, while the Apollo II system will integrate well with an asphalt shingle roof.
Product specs of CertainTeed solar shingles will show that the conversion efficiency of the Apollo II system is 15.4%, while it is 16% for the Apollo Tile II system. In general, these efficiency ratings are at the lower end for similarly sized traditional solar panels, which can deliver an average efficiency between 16% and 20%.
CertainTeed solar power shingles are one of the ideal choices when you are seeking a low-cost option along with high long-term savings. This system will cost you substantially lesser than Tesla shingles. As an average customer, you can expect to cover up to 90 or 95% of your electricity bills with this installation.
SunTegra solar shingles
SunTegra solar roof shingles offer an attractive alternative if you are looking for an affordable and practical solar roofing solution. These solar shingles will directly integrate into your roof, providing a low profile, sleek solar power system along with a durable roof.
SunTegra’s integrated wiring and lightweight design minimizes complexity and cuts down the installation time by up to half compared to a traditional rack-mounted solar panel roof. Dual functionality as a roof and a solar energy system will improve the resale value of your home and savings on roof costs because you will not require roofing tiles or shingles underneath this system.
SunTegra solar roofs are available in two options: SunTegra Shingle system and SunTegra Tile system. The Shingle system is built to match with asphalt shingle roofs, while the Tile system will integrate with concrete roof tiles. Each shingle includes 16 solar cells with a power output of 64 to 67 watts.
SunTegra photovoltaic shingles are based on the same solar technology that is used for standard solar panels: silicon solar PV cells. Product specs of SunTegra show that the Shingle system has a conversion efficiency rate of 14.4% to 15.9%, which is quite comparable to the rate of CertainTeed solar power shingles.
SunTegra solar shingles come with a product warranty of 10 years, and a power output warranty of 25 years. In comparison, CertainTeed offers an installation and workmanship warranty of 15 years, and a wind warranty of 10 years. Tesla, on the other hand, offers a 30-year warranty for power output and weatherization, apart from an “infinite” warranty on the physical roof tiles.
Luma solar shingles
Luma solar power shingles distinguish themselves from other brands by positioning the system as the only “upgradable” solar roof shingle system. Luma Solar has an experience of several years in solar roof installation in more than 20 states across the U.S..
Luma solar shingles promise a higher conversion efficiency rate of 21%, which is even higher than the standard rack-mounted solar panels. According to the company, Luma’s patented shingle design enables airflow beneath the shingle and its smaller shingle profile ensures that the shingles will usually “turn on” earlier in the day.
Luma solar roof shingle pricing varies according to the complexity of the system. If you just want to solarize a part of your roof, it will cost you about $4.50 per watt. However, the cost could go up to $38 per square foot for an edge-to-edge customized solar roof system. A custom roof will take into account your energy use, average sun exposure, and your budget.
A sunny outlook
The solar rooftop market in the U.S. is highly dynamic, and with the advancing technology and innovations in solar shingles, high growth is expected in this market in the foreseeable future.
High initial capital costs are still a deterrent for many people who would otherwise prefer to install solar shingles. But with the growing demand, the per-unit cost of production and installation is likely to come down, which could dramatically expand the market for solar shingles in the years to come. comment