Should You Invest in Solar Shingles? (2024)

By Tamara Jude Updated February 6, 2024

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Solar shingles and tiles combine solar energy’s cost savings with the durability of conventional roofing materials. Unlike solar panels that protrude from roofs, solar roofing offers sleek, low-profile installations with more curb appeal. Solar shingles have a higher price tag than solar panels and require a much more significant financial investment.

If you’re considering installing solar shingles, this guide explains this new technology and compares its major differences to traditional solar panels. We’ll also cover the top solar companies and manufacturers that offer solar roofing options.



What Are Solar Shingles?

Solar shingles are an alternative to traditional solar panels that help preserve your home’s aesthetics. Like solar panels, they absorb the sun’s energy and convert it into usable electricity. They’re considerably smaller than regular panels and either attach to your existing roof or replace it entirely. They offer the same protection as traditional roofing materials with the added benefit of clean energy generation. These types of solar products are known as building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). They allow construction companies to reduce building material spending while boosting solar energy use.

Solar roof shingles are still a new technology, so only a few solar energy companies have invested in them. Most available models resemble asphalt shingles but vary in overall composition. These shingles contain glass bases covered in thin layers of solar sheets that absorb sunlight. These roofing systems protect against the elements and have the same longevity as regular roofing materials.



Solar Shingles vs. Solar Panels

Solar shingles and traditional solar panels provide renewable energy solutions to homeowners. Both can reduce your electricity bills by generating power from the sun. However, these technologies have some key differences in aesthetics, performance, and pricing. We’ll break down their differences below.

Factor Solar ShinglesTraditional Solar Panels



Blue or black


Copper indium gallium selenide or monocrystalline cells

Silicon cells

Efficiency and power output

Efficiencies up to 18% with outputs up to 70 watts

Efficiencies up to 24% with output up to 400+ watts

Installation process

Individual tiles over existing roof or entire roof replacement

Rooftop racking system on existing roof

Life span

20 years

25+ years

Overall size

12 inches wide by 86 inches long

39 inches wide by 65 inches long


Most homeowners attach standard solar panels to their roofs for maximum sunlight absorption. They’re rack-mounted, making them visible on most homes. Depending on the type of solar panels installed, they may have a black or blue hue, which could clash with your home’s aesthetics.

Solar shingles offer a more low-profile roof installation, either attaching directly to roof shingles or replacing the roof completely. The shingles have a black hue, providing a more inconspicuous panel installation.


Traditional solar panels use silicon as a semiconductor to help absorb sunlight. Solar shingles and roofs occasionally use monocrystalline silicon, which offers the best efficiency and energy production. However, you usually find copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) cells in solar shingles. CIGS cells offer better flexibility than standard solar panels, making them easier to integrate onto roof shingles.

Efficiency and Energy Output

Overall, solar panels offer higher efficiency and energy production than solar shingles. High-efficiency solar panels offer efficiency ratings of up to 24%. This means they can convert up to 24% of the sun’s rays into usable energy. They also offer better power outputs, providing up to 400 watts or more to your home. Higher efficiency and production lead to better long-term energy cost savings.

Solar shingles average between 14% and 18% for efficiency and 13 to 70 watts per shingle. They’re less energy-efficient than traditional panels, so you need more to produce the same power levels.

Installation Process

Solar panel installation involves attaching large racking systems that hold the panels. Your total number of panels depends on your home’s energy needs. The average home may use 17 to 21 400-watt panels to provide adequate power. It takes about one to two days to complete a solar system installation.

Solar roof shingles affix to a portion of your existing roof tiles. The average home needs 300 to 350 solar shingles to meet electricity needs. Some solar roof options require replacing your entire roof. In that case, your new roof will include solar shingles throughout the design. Solar roof installation works well with new home construction or roof replacement projects. Many solar shingle installations can take seven days on average.

Life Span

High-quality home solar panels can last up to 25 years or longer with proper maintenance. Top solar companies also include 25-year warranty coverage for the product and its performance. Solar shingles may last up to 20 years, but longevity varies between manufacturers. Your shingles could include separate product and power warranty coverage. The power warranty guarantees output levels for a specific time frame, usually around 20 years. However, the product warranty offers durability protection, typically lasting through your home’s lifetime.

Overall Size

Solar panels vary in size depending on their type and power output. The typical solar panel size is 39 inches wide by 65 inches long. Solar shingles resemble the size of traditional roofing material, with dimensions around 12 inches wide by 86 inches long. They’re less than an inch thick for easy integration with existing shingles or tiles. Solar shingles weigh about 13 pounds per square foot, making them light enough for most roof installations.



Solar Shingle Costs

Solar shingles exceed typical solar panel pricing, making them less cost-effective. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a standard solar panel system costs around $25,000. By comparison, the cost of solar shingles ranges from $20 to $30 per square foot. If we apply this to a 1,500-square roof, you could pay around $30,000 to $45,000.

The cost of solar shingles could increase due to your roof size, power needs, and project size. Average costs could also increase if your roof needs additional repairs before installation. A professional roofer will review your roof’s condition, take measures for your installation, and make the best recommendations for your energy needs.

We recommend using federal and state incentives and rebates to lower solar shingle costs. For example, the federal tax credit could help you save up to 30% on installation costs. Additional local incentives could provide one-time credits for upgrading to more energy-efficient roofing materials. Check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) for an up-to-date list of available solar incentives and credits.

Solar Shingle and Roof Manufacturers

Although roof shingle availability is limited, several manufacturers specialize in this new technology. Below is a brief overview of the top solar shingle and roofing manufacturers.



Our Recommendation

We recommend investing in solar shingles for a new home or full-roof replacement. They’re a more stylish alternative to solar panels, offering added energy savings and home protection. Solar shingles and roofs require a sizable investment, so consider applying for solar incentives and rebates to offset your costs. Request quotes from multiple roofing companies to find the best pricing and selection.

Homeowners Save $20,000 to $97,000 with Solar Panels on Average Over Typical System Life Span
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Solar Shingles FAQ

Are solar shingles worth the investment?

Yes, solar shingles are worth the investment for homeowners looking for a more stylish alternative to rooftop solar panels. Solar shingles integrate into your existing roofing or can replace your entire roof. Consider adding a solar roof when building a new home or during a full-roof replacement to save on investment costs.

Do solar shingles require maintenance?

Solar shingles require little to no maintenance. Similar to solar panels, solar roofing stays clean with natural rainfall. If you live in an area susceptible to dust or ash, you may need occasional surface cleaning with water.

What are the cons of solar shingles and tiles?

Some cons of solar shingles and tiles include their limited availability and higher pricing than traditional solar panels. Solar shingles and roofs are customized to each home, making reinstallation on a new property difficult. Unlike rooftop solar panels you can adjust to optimal angles, solar shingles align to your roof’s pitch, limiting their positioning.

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