In the U.S., residential solar installations have been continuously increasing during the last few years, reaching 1GWDC in the Q4 of 2021.
This solar energy adoption is driven by many factors, such as the cutting-edge technologies that are being developed, like instance solar shingles.
Out there in the market, there are many solar shingle manufacturers. To help you decide which brand and product is best for your needs, we chose 4 different solar shingle companies as an alternative to Tesla solar shingles. For each brand, we will check out the products they offer, breaking down their characteristics and more importantly let you know if a solar shingle might be a good match for you.
At are solar shingles and how do they work?
Solar shingles are basically solar cells that convert the sun’s radiation into usable electricity, but also, they work as the roofing material for your home. These roofing solar cells are commonly shaped into shingles or tiles which are seamlessly arranged to provide structural support for the house roof and other types of buildings.
Using solar shingles allows you to have a roof that achieves two functions: generate clean energy and give your home, office or any other of your buildings, an aesthetic look.
Solar shingles or tiles are made of solar cells that are commonly manufactured using semiconductor materials, such as monocrystalline silicon and copper-indium-gallium selenide. The cells are assembled in bands or strips to form the shingle or tile shape.
In addition, since solar shingles are quite thin, this allows them to have greater flexibility and be lightweight.
How do solar shingles work?
Solar shingles or tiles perform as roofing material for your home. The main idea is to combine the solar cells with the roof sheathing rather than mounting solar modules on top of the shingles.
Solar shingle's basic principle works just the same as with conventional solar panels. In other words, the PV cells absorb sunlight in order to produce a flow of free electrons, which results in generating an electrical current that can power electrical equipment. The difference between solar shingles and solar panels is mainly their construction.
Why should you choose solar shingle technology?
In order to help you analyze whether choosing solar shingles for your photovoltaic system is the right option, we summarize and list the pros and cons of having them:
- Perfect solution for those cases in which a roof replacement is required.
- Elegant and sleek design provides a futuristic look to your roof.
- No obstructions from solar panels will be visible on the roof.
- No external wiring that could be exposed to damage and cause potential hazards.
- No weak spots on the roof from roof penetrations as with conventional solar systems.
- Higher upfront costs and lower return of investment (ROI) than conventional rooftop solar panels (unless roof is to be replaced).
- Solar shingles generally have less energy efficiency than standard solar modules.
- Few companies perform solar shingle installation.
What is the average cost of solar shingle technologies?
The amount of money you are going to pay for installing solar shingles in your roof is going to depend on your energy usage, the conditions, and age of your roof, the solar shingle manufacturer, and other factors.
However, the cost of going with solar shingles can go anywhere from $20,000 to $70,000 whereas Tesla’s solar roof is generally located in the high-end scenario.
Reviews of the best solar shingle brands
Tesla’s Solar Roof
Elon Musk presented the Solar Roof back in 2016. Since then, the product has gained huge popularity across the U.S. and other countries.
It’s clear that the Solar Roof provides a futuristic and sleek look for homes and other types of buildings. Although, the Solar Roof is quite an expensive product and still not as efficient as conventional solar panels.
Tesla’s Solar Roof consists of a rooftop built with solar shingles that contain solar cells. There are two types of shingles used in the final product design: the active ones, those which produce electricity, and the inactive ones, which just act as a roofing material. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using the Solar Roof.
- Aesthetics: Solar Roof offers 4 different styles of tile. All have a modern and distinguished looking design.
- Durability: It is claimed to be resistant to hail, wind, and fire, as well as to mechanical forces. Solar Roof is backed by ANSI standard tests.
- Warranty: Offers a 25-year tile and power and weatherization warranty.
- Renowned brand: Who is not excited to have a product of a brand like Tesla? Claimed to be one of the leaders of a zero-carbon emissions future.
- High upfront Cost: Compared to building a new roof or replacing an existing one plus adding a regular solar system mounted on the rooftop, it can be 2 to 3 times more expensive to buy the solar roof of Tesla. Depending on the complexity of your roof, you could end up paying a total of somewhere between $40,000 to $70,000 to install the solar shingles.
- Low ROI: Depending on many factors like your energy usage habits, the size of the system, your location, and others, the solar roof may have a very low payback in a 25-year lifetime compared to conventional solar systems. In some cases, it could simply be not economically viable.
Considering the previous facts, it would be interesting to look for possible alternatives to buy and install solar shingles. Let’s check out some of them.
CertainTeed Solar Shingles
Another important brand that has been leading the roofing technology in the US for a long time is CertainTeed. It offers two different product alternatives related to solar shingles.
- Apollo Shingle ll: This design has solar shingles that can be installed in a new or existing asphalt shingle roof. The result is a combination of regular asphalt shingles and active solar shingles.
- Apollo Tile ll: This product offers a more integrated design by using tiles that are embedded to a new or an existing concrete tile roof.
In both Apollo Shingle II and Apollo Tile ll systems, 14 high-efficiency monocrystalline silicon solar cells are used in every tile/shingle with a power rating of 70 watts per piece. The conversion efficiency of the shingles and the tiles are 17.2% and 17.8% respectively. In addition, both have an operating temperature that can go anywhere between -40˚C and 90˚C.
Both systems are relatively easy to install, they are placed directly into the roof sheathing using standard deck screws, just as conventional asphalt and concrete tiles are installed.
Their weight is much less than conventional tiles at three pounds per square foot. Moreover, they are long-lasting withstanding up to 250 pounds per square foot. Also, they are waterproof and can resist high wind velocities of 140mph.
Apollo II provides all-black solar shingles which look like suitable solar stripes or bands placed over the roof.
On the other hand, Apollo Tile II matches the profile of flat concrete tiles. These tiles look like black solar laminate with a custom-colored frame that can complement a wide variety of earth-toned concrete tile colors.
The cost might change depending on your energy requirements, the difficulty of installation, your roof inclination, and roof age. However, some estimations are shown in the following table.
|Product||Cost per watt|
|CertainTeed Apollo ll||$6.40-$8.00|
|CertainTeed Apollo Tile ll||$7.64-$10.00|
These figures are estimated and subject to changes depending on the specifics of the project, which can elevate the costs by 25%.
CertainTeed offers a 25-year limited power warranty claimed to be all-encompassing. The coverage includes 25 years on installation workmanship, PV cells, microinverters, and mounting system. Also, comprises 12 years on optimized inverters, 10 years on wind, and 5 years on data monitoring hardware.
Suntegra Solar Shingles
Another important player in the solar roofing industry is Suntegra, which claims to give a 2-in-1 roof and solar solution by providing solar cells that generate electricity and a roofing material that protects your home or building. It gives installers a cutting-edge way to integrate solar directly into the sloped roof of a house, commercial building, or carport.
Additionally, Suntegra products are regarded to be constructed with 50% fewer materials than conventional rack-mounted PV systems and thus, they might be an alternative to adjust efficiently to your budget.
- Suntegra shingles: Like the Apollo ll system, Suntegra also includes a solar shingles that are placed on a new or existing roof composed by asphalt shingles.
- Suntegra tiles: Similar to the Apollo tile design, this system integrates to the existing concrete tiles that are inserted in combination with inactive concrete tiles. They can also be used when a new roof is to be built.
The solar shingles of Suntegra offer 3 different models with a range of power output between 105W and 114W. All of them use 24 monocrystalline cells per piece, capable of achieving an electrical efficiency from 15.9% to 17.2%.
On the other hand, Suntegra tiles have lower efficiency than the shingles, ranging from 13.9% to 15.1%. Also, the tiles have 16 monocrystalline cells per piece.
Both tiles and shingles have a maximum wind rating of 130mph and a maximum static load rating of 112 pounds per square foot or 5,400Pa. In addition, the temperature operating range is the same as the Certainteed product (between -40˚C and 90˚C).
Both Suntegra shingles and tiles offer a low-profile, all-black, and pleasing-looking. They are characterized for being a discrete installation, almost hidden and barely noticeable from the ground level, which makes them an elegant design for any home or building.
Just as we did with the CertainTeed shingles and tiles, estimations on the cost are shown in the table below, which are subjected to variations depending on the conditions of your roof, energy requirements, and location.
|Product||Cost per watt|
For both shingles and tiles, Suntegra offers a 10-year product warranty and a 25-year power output warranty.
Forward Solar Shingles
In the few recent years, Forward startup company has had significant growth in the solar shingles market. Forward offers an engineered integration of the roof and the solar cells by the means of state-of-the-art technology and a unique aesthetic that matches the classical U.S. home.
They offer their star product called Forward Metal Solar Roof, claimed to be a cost-effective and efficient solution that harvests a great amount of clean energy while it gives a sleek and futuristic appearance using shining metal standing seam type of roof. The system comes in 8 different possible colors to cover all requirements.
It has a non-solar portions cost of $9.75 per square foot and a $3.75 per watt cost related to the solar parts, which are quite competitive compared to the previous brands mentioned. Also, it has a weatherization warranty of 30 years.
The product is claimed to achieve an energy density of 19 watts per square foot while having an excellent thermal performance by the means of a passive ventilation system, which optimizes the heat dissipation and the airflow between shingles and your roof deck.
Additionally, this design is claimed to be reliable, robust, long-lasting, and can withstand powerful mechanical forces. The most interesting fact about Forward is that they are probably the only valuable brand available that offers a solar-roof integrated solution based on metal standing seam roof type, making it perfect not only for homes but also for garages, barns, and other industrial types of roofs.
Luma Solar Shingles
Luma Solar is another important interesting solar shingle company that has been gaining momentum for many years in the US. It’s recognized by having solar shingles products with a high rate of electrical efficiency while also having a futuristic, seamless, and luxurious looking. Luma offers results in your house that have combinations between active and inactive solar shingles.
The price changes depending on the conditions, roof complexity, energy requirements, and others. However, estimations set the average cost of the solar shingles of Luma at $4.5 per watt and could go up to $38 per square foot.
Additionally, it offers a 25-year limited power warranty at 80% and a 5-year limited product warranty.
Luma Solar Roof claims to have solar shingles with an incredible conversion efficiency of 22,1%, which is even higher than standard solar panels. It uses 16 monocrystalline 80W cells per shingle.
It handles a temperature operation range between -40˚C to 85˚C, having a great thermal and airflow management that maintains excellent levels of energy yields.
Additionally, every shingle weighs 19.8 lbs., and they are designed to withstand mechanical forces of 2,400 Pa for static wind loading and 5,400 for static load snow loading.
Luma offers a distinguished good looking for your house, not only because of its futuristic appearance but also because of the Matte black finish, which gives a sleek line.
Are these “solar shingle technologies” right for you?
All the products mentioned above will provide an extraordinary aesthetic view for your home. Not to mention that some of them will offer the functionality of performing as the roofing material and act as the structural support by the means of Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV).
Replacing roof or just adding solar?
If you are only looking for a solar PV system, installing solar shingles in the roof of your home can be an interesting alternative to go with if your requirements are more focused on aesthetical objectives than on cost-effective and efficient goals. From an economical point of view, it is still hard for solar shingles to compete with conventional solar panel systems.
However, in cases where changing your roof is necessary, solar shingles may present themselves as a more economically viable choice that combines both approaches into one for a cost similar to a solar panel system plus roof installation. In some other cases, replacing your roof may not be what you need, but the structural engineer may require you to replace the roof to make the solar panel installation feasible. If you find yourself in a situation like that, you may want to reconsider going with a solar shingle installation.
Another situation where solar roof shingles can definitely be a great choice is for new houses. Choosing solar shingles since the construction process can drastically reduce the cost impact, increase your ROI, and ease the installation process.
In any case, if you are interested in solar shingles, it is advisable for you to get a quote for your roof-specific layout and compare it with other conventional solar panel systems plus roofing installation quotes. This will allow you to find out which approach would best suit your needs. However, keep in mind that in the end, the house will always look better with solar shingles, which is a plus to consider for the value of your property.
Shingled solar panels: A must-consider solar shingle alternative
Finally, shingled solar panels are an innovative technology which is carrying out a wide range of advanced features in terms of solar energy optimization.
They should not be confused with solar shingles, which are part of BIPV, whereas solar shingled panels are more similar to standard solar panels but with cells that are cut into several strips that are subsequently connected to form modules by the means of an electrically conductive adhesive (ECA).
Major developments on this technology have taken place in the residential sector so far. Solar shingled panels are a promising technology that is much less expensive and more efficient technology than solar shingles.
We have examined multiple solar shingle products and brands with the objective to show you some of the best brands available in the market today. We learned that a solar roof shingle investment is a solution that must balance aesthetics and functionality where the new shingles of your roof will actually be generating electricity.
However, we also learned that the decision to install it must be balanced with the costs for such type of project since they can be considerable depending on the house. New houses or cases where a roof replacement is required due to structural stability reasons, are probably the best ones for solar shingle installations. In these cases, the economics can definitely be balanced with the benefits of a high-end finish.
Solar shingles still have a long way to go and with the variety of products available for multiple roof types that go from shingles, concrete standard tiles, and even metal standing seam, there are plenty of choices that you can consider to start generating clean energy and potentially improve the look for your house. comment↓
*Last updated: February 15, 2022