If you despise the old and unaesthetic design of solar panels, you are not alone. Why bother installing dull-looking solar panels when you can have solar panel-equipped roof tiles?

Solar roof tiles or solar shingles are aesthetically pleasing and futuristic options for homeowners. If you don’t want to compromise on the look of your roof, shingles could be your go-to option.

Though they are costlier than regular solar panels, solar shingles have more to them. Give this article a read to explore everything you need to know about solar shingles.

What Are Solar Shingles?

Solar shingles are photovoltaic substitutes for traditional roofs. They have a design that looks and functions similar to usual roofing materials like slate or asphalt. However, along with serving as roof tiles, they also generate power from the sun.

The shingles are a part of the group called building-integrated photovoltaics. It was only in 2005 when these solar shingles became commercially available.

Today, the market for solar shingles constitutes several companies. Brands like Tesla, SunTegra, CertainTeed, and Luma are some of the best producers of solar shingles.

How Do Solar Shingles Work?

Solar ShinglesTypically, there is no difference between the mechanism of a solar shingle and a solar panel. The only difference is that solar shingles are much smaller in size. When sunlight strikes the solar shingles, the semiconductor materials chemically convert solar energy into electricity. Then, this converted energy powers appliances in your house.

The average size of a solar shingle is 12 inches × 86 inches. Further, these shingles can produce between 50 to 115 watts of energy.

Most companies these days use crystalline silicon solar cells to achieve higher efficiency.

You can find solar shingles in different varieties. You can install some solar shingles directly on your existing roof, while others require complete roof replacement.

Some manufacturers produce solar shingles with versatile semiconductor materials in place of the traditional c-Si solar cells.

What Are the Features of Solar Shingles?

The functioning of solar shingles is similar to solar panels. Their primary goal is to generate energy. However, solar shingles have several noteworthy features.


The solar roof tiles sport a smaller size of about 12 inches × 86 inches on average.

A single solar shingle weighs nearly 13 pounds per square foot. The thickness of these shingles is less than an inch. An average solar roof installation requires about 350 shingles in total.


Most of the solar shingles are thin-film solar cells. The solar shingles use a semiconductor called copper indium gallium selenide. The material of solar shingles has the highest conversion efficiency rates.

Some brands also use monocrystalline silicon for better efficiency. However, solar shingles with this material are a tad more expensive.

Power Output

The power output may vary depending on the brand, material, and type of solar shingle. Most shingles can produce from 13 to 63 watts. Some manufacturers claim that a setup of 350 tiles can reduce electricity bills by 40% to 70%.

What Are the Pros of Solar Shingles?

Here are some of the pros of choosing solar shingles:

  • Ideal for New Homes: Though they are investment-heavy, solar roof tiles are cost-effective for new homes. It is because new homes do not need roof replacements.
  • Easy Maintenance: Solar shingles have a more straightforward maintenance process compared to solar panels. Their structure does not build up dirt. You can clean solar shingles with a simple garden hose.
  • Longer Lifespan: Solar shingles enjoy a long lifespan. Most manufacturers assure a lifespan of 20 to 30 years.
  • Enhanced Durability: Solar shingles have bonafide roofing material to make them perfect alternatives to traditional roof tiles. The solar shingles are durable and resistant to harsh impacts and fires.
  • Appealing Design: Solar roof tiles maintain a low profile that seamlessly blends with your existing home structure. It’ll be hard for bypassers to tell that your home has a PV system.

In short, solar shingles are not only functional but also appealing.

What Are the Cons of Solar Shingles?

Though there are cons to equipping your roof with solar shingles, none of them are deal-breakers. Here are some cons of installing solar shingles:

  • Not Transportable: Solar shingles feature a custom design for each house. As a result, you cannot install them in your new home.
  • Lack Efficiency: Solar shingles are less efficient than solar panels. Solar panels offer an efficiency of 20%, while shingles can only hover in the mid to high teens.
  • High Cost: You’ll find solar shingles to be costlier than solar panels. The cost of installing a solar shingle is also significantly higher due to roof replacement charges.
  • Time-Consuming Installation: A solar roof tile takes more time for installation because of roof removal. Removing roof tiles acts as an extra step in the process. At times, solar shingles can take weeks to function fully.

What is the Difference Between Solar Shingles and Solar Panels?

Photovoltaic Solar ShinglesOne of the apparent differences between solar panels and solar shingles is that the latter has a better design. Most people do not want to install a solar panel due to its poor aesthetic appeal.

Another difference between the two is in their price. Remember how people say you get what you pay for? Well, with more aesthetics and convenience, solar shingles have become more expensive than solar panels.

Besides, solar panels are less costly to install. On the other hand, the solar shingles might require a complete roof replacement for the process. The cost of installing a solar roof tile ranges between $3.80 to $9 per watt.

Both solar panels offer an equal lifespan. Manufacturers design them to last for 20 to 30 years.

It’s also worth pointing out that you’ll have an easier time maintaining solar shingles. They have fewer crevices for dirt and debris to build up. Plus, birds will find it hard to build nests on solar shingles. A garden hose is all you need to clean it!

Lastly, the solar shingles again have the upper hand in terms of durability. It is because solar shingles contain an arrangement of solar cells supported by roof materials.

Manufacturers design solar shingles to withstand harsh impacts from strong winds and hailstorms. Solar roof tiles are also fire-resistant.

Are Solar Shingles Better than Solar Panels?

The market for solar shingles is quickly expanding. Despite the high overall cost, more people are adopting solar roofs as an alternative to solar panels.

The joint venture between SolarCity and Tesla has catapulted the demand for solar shingles.

There’s no denying that the cost is still a setback for homeowners. However, the increasing demand pushes manufacturers to develop newer, cheaper, and more efficient solar shingles.

Though these electricity-generating roofs are growing in popularity, there’s no surety about when they’ll overtake solar panels. Once manufacturers perfect the technology behind solar shingles, homeowners will be more likely to make the transition.

Wrap Up

Solar shingles are still trying to make a buzz in the market.

Though they are significantly costlier, the sleek look of solar shingles appeals to bypassers. We love how it blends into the rest of the structure to enhance a roof’s appearance.

It is also worth mentioning that solar shingles demand a high installation cost. But, the easy maintenance and long lifespan make up for those drawbacks.

So, are you ready to be the new modern home in your neighborhood? Get rid of the cumbersome and clunky solar panels and invite aesthetics with solar shingles!