If you are a homeowner or you want to rebuild your roof, and you have been considering the idea of going solar, you probably feel stuck between two options – solar roof shingles or solar panels?

Created by Tesla in the mid-2000s, solar roof shingles are a relatively new addition to the clean energy market. The difference between the two? Solar panels undergo installation on top of an existing roof, while solar roof shingles integrate into the roof with other roofing materials.

If you are a new homeowner, you must be wondering if they are more expensive than traditional solar panels. How long do they last? And are they equally efficient? This article will tell you everything you might want to know about the differences between solar roof shingles and solar panels!

Key Takeaways

  • Solar panels are generally more efficient than solar roof shingles due to their customization, compatibility with various roof types, and ability to capture maximum sunlight. However, solar roof shingles may be suitable for new construction or full roof replacement.
  • Solar panels are initially cheaper than solar roof shingles, but installation costs for panels can be higher when factoring in an existing roof. Solar roof shingles have become more affordable over time due to technological advancements.
  • Solar panels are more versatile and widely available than solar roof shingles, with the ability to power various applications and off-grid systems. Solar roof shingles are limited to rooftop installations but require less maintenance and may offer better long-term ROI in the future.

What are Solar Roof Shingles and Solar Panels?

Solar panels convert direct sunlight into electricity, which will further power electrical loads. They have various applications, such as remote power systems for cabins, remote sensing, and electricity production by commercial and residential solar electric systems.

These panels undergo construction on top of an existing roof. That is where solar roof shingles break away. They follow the same concept of sunlight conversion into electricity. However, these structures integrate directly into the roof without any external components.


The most important factor for you to consider before choosing either solar roof shingles or solar panels is efficiency. Currently, solar panels rank higher on the efficiency index primarily for three reasons:

  • Since their installation takes place on top of an existing roof, they remain unaffected by the foundational roofing material.
  • You can also rotate each panel individually to face the sun. That makes the structure highly customizable and will allow for maximum capturing of sunlight.
  • Solar panels will work for all types of roof designs.

One of the drawbacks of solar roof shingles is that they are not compatible with all roof types and designs. Moreover, the amount of sunlight that they can capture is not customizable. It depends on the roof orientation and the geographical location of the house.

Photovoltaic Solar Shingle


At first glance, it would seem that solar panels are significantly cheaper than solar roof shingles. In terms of total expenditure, they will definitely be lighter on your wallet. However, try to keep these factors in mind:

  • Since the installation of solar panels takes place on top of an existing roof, it serves as an overhead cost. You will have to bring in more money on top of all the construction costs. On the other hand, solar roof shingles are part of the construction costs.
  • When solar roof shingles first made their entry into the market, their price was almost double that of your average solar panel. However, since then, costs have come down and are slightly more affordable due to technological advancements.

Regardless, solar roof shingles will cost you more money than solar panels. They will make the most sense only if you are looking to replace your entire roof due to other issues you may be facing or building a new home from the ground up.

Ease of Installation

Solar panels have been around for a significantly longer time than solar roof shingles. More contractors are familiar with its installation and technological advancements, and they have been a durable option for a long time now.

They also don’t need to cover the entirety of the roof’s surface to prove their efficiency. How big your structure heavily depends on other factors, such as your home’s energy usage, the size of your home, and so on.

In contrast, solar roof shingles require integration into the roof and hence, need to cover the whole surface area. They essentially serve as replacements or alternatives to traditional asphalt roofs.

There are limitations on the types of roofs that are best suited to solar roof shingles. As mentioned earlier, they work well only if you are building a new home or replacing your entire roof.

Lastly, since solar roof shingles are relatively new, fewer companies and contractors are familiar with its technology and installation. You might face some difficulty finding a local contractor who knows enough about solar roof shingles to ensure safe installation.

Visual Appeal

Since solar roof shingles integrate into the roof, they do not stand out like solar panels. Their design presently comes in varying shades of blue and black, and the shingles often take on the color of the solar cells.

Moreover, Tesla, which currently leads the market in terms of solar roof shingles and their production, has hinted that they might roll out several options in a variety of colors.

On the other hand, solar panels come only in two colors – single shade blue and black. Since their construction takes place on top of an existing roof, they stand out and automatically lose visual appeal to homeowners when compared to the solar roof shingles.


Since solar panels have been around for such a long time, their durability is undisputed. Most solar panels come with a guaranteed warranty period of at least 20-25 years.

Several homeowners also have experiences with solar panels that lasted much longer than the indicated warranty period.

Companies like Tesla promise a warranty period of approximately 30 years for their solar roof shingles, but this is not yet proven. The company even offers an “infinite tile warranty,” which promises that the solar roof shingles will continue to extend as long as the house remains standing.

Failure Rates

All of the solar roof shingles require an electrical connection with one another. You might observe that there are far more shingles than panels, which translates to more connection points between the shingles in comparison to the panels.

The risk of failure is much higher with solar roof shingles than solar roof panels. A single loose connection, combined with the possible unfamiliarity of the contractor with the new technology, and the entire structure may not work.

Solar Panels on Roof

Environmental Friendliness

Whether you choose solar roof shingles or solar panels, going solar is a great decision and will do good for the environment in the long run.

However, solar roof shingles are more likely to perpetuate the trend strongly since it is an environmentally-friendly structure built into your home.

Solar panels can seem like an afterthought, but solar roof shingles may give way for more homes to be up for sale with pre-installed environmentally friendly solar roofs.


Solar panels have been around since before the 2000s, and shingles only came in somewhere around 2005. However, solar panels are widely used since they are well-known.

Many companies have started producing shingles, but they are still not as easily available as solar panels. Only a few manufacturers have actually taken their products to the shelves and in very limited geographies.

Large-scale production of solar shingles is still not common, and solar panels continue to dominate the markets in terms of availability.


Solar panels are far more versatile than solar shingles. You can efficiently use them for various purposes, such as powering up street signs, traffic lights, etc.

If you want to live off the grid, you can install solar panels with batteries and produce your own clean energy without any additional electricity source.

Moreover, solar panels can also be mounted at a certain angle and designed to track the sun’s movement across the sky, resulting in an increased production of electricity.

Solar shingles, on the other hand, offer limited use. You can only install them on rooftops.


One of the very few disadvantages of solar panels is that you will have to devote adequate time towards their care and maintenance. If you want the panels to remain useful over the years, you will have to take proper measures.

Solar shingles do not need much attention. Once you install shingles, they can last you up to three decades with minimal maintenance efforts.

Value for Money

Both solar roof shingles and panels are long-time investments. They offer great value for money and result in significant savings in energy bills.

Although, at present, solar panels offer a quicker return on investment. They owe it to their low cost of installation and high efficiency in generating power.

However, this trend is expected to reverse within the next five years or so. Down the line, solar shingles will provide better ROI than panels.

Moreover, several states offer tax rebates for both systems.

Case Study: Implementing Solar Solutions – Shingles vs. Panels


A homeowner in California faced a critical decision: whether to install solar roof shingles or traditional solar panels. The homeowner was building a new house and wanted to incorporate renewable energy solutions right from the start. They approached Solar Panels Network USA to determine the best solution based on efficiency, aesthetics, and long-term value.

Project Overview

The project aimed to compare the feasibility and benefits of solar roof shingles versus solar panels for the new construction. Factors such as the house’s design, energy requirements, budget, and environmental impact were considered.


Initial Consultation and Assessment: Our team conducted a detailed consultation with the homeowner to understand their energy needs, design preferences, and budget constraints. We performed a site assessment to evaluate the potential solar energy production based on the house’s location and roof orientation.

Comparative Analysis: We provided a comparative analysis of solar roof shingles and traditional solar panels, focusing on several key aspects:

  • Efficiency: Solar panels generally offer higher efficiency due to their ability to be oriented towards optimal sunlight angles.
  • Cost: While solar panels have a lower initial cost, the seamless integration of solar roof shingles offered a more aesthetically pleasing solution for new construction.
  • Installation: Solar panels required less complex installation compared to solar roof shingles, which needed precise integration into the roofing material.

Customized Solution Design: Based on the homeowner’s priorities, we designed two proposals:

  1. Solar Panels: Installation of high-efficiency solar panels with adjustable mounts to maximize sunlight capture.
  2. Solar Roof Shingles: Integration of Tesla solar roof shingles, providing a sleek and modern look while maintaining energy production capabilities.

Decision and Installation: The homeowner decided to go with solar roof shingles due to their aesthetic appeal and the seamless integration into the new roof design. We coordinated with roofing contractors to ensure precise installation and optimal performance.


Aesthetic Integration: The solar roof shingles provided a visually appealing solution that blended seamlessly with the house’s architecture. The homeowner was delighted with the modern, streamlined appearance.

Energy Production: The solar roof shingles met the homeowner’s energy needs efficiently, generating ample electricity to power the entire home. Although slightly less efficient than traditional panels, the shingles’ performance was satisfactory given the house’s design and energy requirements.

Long-Term Value: The investment in solar roof shingles proved to be a valuable decision. The integrated design minimized maintenance needs and offered long-term durability. Additionally, the shingles increased the property’s market value due to their innovative technology and sustainable benefits.


This case study highlights the importance of customized solar solutions based on individual preferences and project specifications. While solar panels typically offer higher efficiency and easier installation, solar roof shingles provide a compelling option for new constructions or full roof replacements due to their aesthetic integration and long-term benefits. Solar Panels Network USA continues to support homeowners in making informed decisions to achieve sustainable and visually appealing energy solutions.

Expert Insights From Our Solar Panel Installers About Solar Roof Shingles Vs. Solar Panels

When considering solar roof shingles versus traditional solar panels, it’s essential to weigh the efficiency and installation options. Solar panels typically offer higher efficiency and can be oriented to capture maximum sunlight, which can significantly increase energy production.

Senior Solar Installation Engineer

Solar roof shingles are an excellent option if you’re building a new home or planning a full roof replacement. They integrate seamlessly into the roofing material, providing a sleek and aesthetically pleasing look without compromising on the functionality of your roof.

Solar Roofing Specialist

Maintenance is a key factor in the decision-making process. Solar panels might require more frequent cleaning and inspections, but they are easier to troubleshoot. Solar roof shingles, while less maintenance-intensive, require a more complex installation process and a knowledgeable contractor to ensure optimal performance.

Lead Solar Technician

Experience Solar Excellence with Us!

Trust in Solar Panels Network USA, where our seasoned experts deliver top-quality solar solutions for homes and businesses nationwide. With a legacy of countless successful installations and a commitment to sustainable energy, we’re your reliable partner in the solar journey. Ready for a brighter, eco-friendly future? Call us now at (855) 427-0058 and harness the power of the sun!

The Bottom Line

Switching to a cleaner energy source has multiple benefits. But whether you should install solar panels for that or move to solar shingles hinges on many considerations, such as price, efficiency, installation, etc.

If you’re looking for more ROI, solar panels might be better suited for you, whereas if you do not wish to spend time and effort on maintenance, solar shingles will serve you better.

There is no clear winner between the two systems. At the end of the day, you need to decide what you prioritize more.

About the Author

Solar Panels Network USA stands at the forefront of solar energy solutions, driven by a team of seasoned solar engineers and energy consultants. With over decades of experience in delivering high-quality solar installations and maintenance, we are committed to promoting sustainable energy through customer-centric, tailored solutions. Our articles reflect this commitment, crafted collaboratively by experts to provide accurate, up-to-date insights into solar technology, ensuring our readers are well-informed and empowered in their solar energy decisions.