2022 Solar Panels vs Solar Shingles

Typical Price Range To Install a new Roof Average: $4,090 - $6,340
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If you’re looking for ways to improve your home and make it more energy-efficient, you’ve probably thought about installing solar shingles or solar panels.

But what’s the difference between solar shingles vs solar panels? And which will meet the needs of your home best?

To make an informed decision, you’ll need to consider the advantages and disadvantages of both solutions.

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Solar Shingles Cost Breakdown

Solar shingles are usually more expensive than solar panels. The steeper solar shingle costs are due to the installation materials.

On average, the price of solar tiles is between $14,220 and $19,000. But the total cost depends on several factors, including the manufacturer and installation method.

For example, Tesla solar shingles take a lot of time and effort to install, and their cost may exceed $66,500.

Note that the size of the roof and the household’s energy demands can affect the ultimate price as well.

Keep in mind that before making the final decision, you should shop around locally and receive quotes from several solar shingle companies.

In addition, rebates, tax credits, and similar incentives available to homeowners that install solar panels are available to those who select solar shingles.

Currently, the federal incentive program returns 26% of the solar system’s total cost to homeowners as a tax credit.

What Are Solar Shingles and How Do They Work?

Switching to solar energy protects both the environment and your wallet.

For a long time, solar roof panels were the go-to option. Many homeowners now choose to upgrade their properties with solar shingles.

Solar shingles are sometimes called solar roof tiles.

Made from slim PV (photovoltaic) sheets, solar shingles are either placed over existing roof shingles or used as a replacement.

This energy method is more economical than municipal electricity, allowing the homeowner to minimize their monthly bills.

Similar to traditional models, solar shingles shield the home from the elements. Not only are they energy-efficient, but the solar shingles also provide an aesthetic upgrade, giving the house a more sophisticated edge.

Solar shingles rely on semiconductors to collect electrons from sunlight. The PV cells process the electrons, creating a current that generates electrical energy. This process is nearly identical to the way solar panels work.

Solar shingles offer unmatched performance when installed as part of the roof. They can function without a mounting system and harness renewable energy for the household.

Similarity Of Solar Shingles vs Solar Panels

Solar shingles and solar panes are different products but operate on the same principle.

Solar shingles mimic the shape and size of traditional shingles and use the same technologies as solar panels.

Like standard solar panels, solar shingles are attached to the home’s grid and use inverters.

Similarly, they absorb solar energy, storing it in a battery or converting it into an alternating current. As a result, you can use renewable energy to power devices and appliances throughout your home.

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Most Homeowners Spent Between: Most People Spent: $4,190 - $5,740 (For a 1600 sq. ft. Roof)
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Difference Of Solar Shingles VS Solar Panel ?

Although many mistake solar shingles for solar panels, the two are vastly different.

What attracts homeowners to solar shingles is their sleek and modern look. In comparison, solar panels are bulkier, and can look out of place on top of a home with a carefully curated aesthetic.

Did you know? In 1883, Charles Fritts coated selenium with a gold layer, creating the first solar cell. The following year, he installed the first solar panels in New York City. Selenium cells had other applications and were used in photo cameras as light sensors.

Although large solar panels and solar shingles are made from similar materials and hence have similar lifespans, solar shingles are the more expensive option.

Consequently, some homeowners feel that solar shingles are an impractical solution. They’re a long-term investment when part of a brand-new or rebuilt roof.

Another notable difference between solar shingles and solar panels is availability.

Solar panels have been around for a while, meaning that countless brands and contractors can handle the installation.

Solar shingles are a relatively newer product. While manufacturers have started releasing more products, not all contractors carry or know how to install them.

Additionally, the installation process can be challenging. The roof’s slope can lead to improper sunlight exposure, since solar shingles are placed directly onto it.

Although the cost of solar shingles may vary, they’re generally more expensive than solar panels.

Solar panel systems can range between $3,350 and $33,700, but the average is around $15,200. This combination of effectiveness and affordability has allowed panels to keep up with the rising popularity of shingles.

System Cost
Solar Shingle $14,220-$66,500
Solar Panel $3,350-$33,700

Naturally, the home’s location and your brand choice can significantly affect the total cost.

As a rule of thumb, installing solar systems in areas farther away from the equator costs more. Installing solar panels in areas closer to the equator is more budget-friendly.

Solar shingles may not be the most effective solution if you’re in a time crunch. The complex system can take up to one week to construct, while it usually takes less than a day to install panel systems.

Efficiency is another notable difference. Although large, solar panels are easily adjustable. As a result, you can reposition them to harness more energy and optimize the home’s solar system.

The same doesn’t apply to solar shingles. Once they’re set in place, it’s impossible to reposition them. You won’t be able to maneuver them to find the optimal angle to catch the sun’s rays.

One possible solution is adding more solar shingles in different roof areas. This project may work for your home if it aligns with your budget, since more materials mean higher installation costs.

But when it comes to durability, solar shingles outshine solar panels.

While solar panels sit on top of the roof, solar shingles are incorporated into the roof’s structure. As such, they’re more durable and offer impressive resistance to extreme weather conditions and debris.

Moreover, solar shingles are fire-resistant, a feature many solar panels lack. But many homeowners still opt for solar panels since panels are at low risk of catching fire.

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Advantages Of Solar Shingles

Let’s examine the benefits of solar shingles more thoroughly.

Energy Efficiency

The energy efficiency of solar tiles is what attracts most potential buyers. The shingles produce clean energy, helping lower the home’s power bills.


Compared to fossil-fueled energy sources, solar shingles are by far the more eco-friendly option.

Still, some things about solar shingles may negatively impact the environment. The manufacturing process relies on machines and technology that run on fossil fuels.

While this puts homeowners in a catch-22 situation, solar shingles remain an excellent solution for those who want to make their homes more sustainable.

Likely, brands will try to implement more sustainable practices into their production process in the future.

Did you know? The state of California is the leading generator of solar power in the U.S., producing enough energy to power nearly nine million homes.

Fire Resistance

Solar shingles meet the highest industry standards for fire resistance, receiving a Class A rating.

Impact Resistance

Solar roof shingles are made from long-lasting materials that hold up well against impact.

Many manufacturers offer products with a Class 4 impact rating. Shingles with this rating remain in good condition even when faced with hail impact.

Wind Resistance

Another area where solar shingles excel is wind resistance.

Manufacturers typically release products that can withstand wind speeds of up to 130 miles per hour.

This feature makes solar shingles an efficient solution for homes in areas that frequently experience high winds.

Long Service Life

Solar shingles boast a long service life and can serve a home for between 25 and 40 years.

Note that this is just a general estimate, since these types of solar systems are relatively new. Time will tell whether solar shingles will live up to the industry’s expectations.

Average Roof Costs For:
Most Homeowners Spent Between: Most People Spent: $4,190 - $5,740 (For a 1600 sq. ft. Roof)
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Visually Appealing

Solar shingles are among the most attractive roofing solutions on the market. They feature a sleek design that seamlessly matches the roof, giving it a modern look.

Some even believe the solar shingles are more aesthetically pleasing than the popular slate tiles, a product that has long dominated the roofing industry.


Solar shingles are available in multiple shapes and sizes to meet the needs of different homes.

Manufacturers offer products that mimic the look of other roofing options, including shakes, clay tiles, and slate tiles.

They come in numerous colors, and you can find shingles that match your home’s aesthetic.


Solar roofing systems are compatible with both commercial and residential roofs. They’re currently a more popular option for residential buildings though.

Technological Upgrade

Solar shingles are the most innovative achievement of modern roofing technology.

Although traditional roofing provides solid protective levels, many believe solar systems are a technological upgrade that will significantly benefit their property.

Phone Monitoring

Solar roofing is quickly becoming a competitive market.

Companies like Tesla are trying to outperform the competition by releasing products with advanced features. Tesla has developed a mobile app that allows customers to keep tabs on their solar roof from anywhere in the world.

UV Resistance

Solar shingles are made from UV-resistant materials. They protect the underlayment and other roofing elements from UV radiation, prolonging the roof’s service life.

Require Little Upkeep

The topic of maintenance can get a bit tricky with solar shingles.

While manufacturers and engineers claim they’re one of the most low-maintenance roofing options, they’ve also fairly recently entered the market.

Thus, while they may require little short-term maintenance, homeowners aren’t sure about the potential long-term upkeep the solar shingles could require.

Generally, proper installation should eliminate any future complications.

Did you know? One household with a solar system could reduce monthly carbon dioxide emissions by over 1,400 pounds.

Typical Price Range To Install new Roof Average: $4,190 - $6,740
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Disadvantages Of Solar Shingles

Although attractive and eco-friendly, solar shingles have several drawbacks.


As with all new developments, the cost of solar shingles has gone through the roof. While the exact price depends on the manufacturer, it usually runs from $1,050 to $2,420 per square foot.

Solar shingles have higher upfront costs than solar panels. But they’re also more expensive than other roofing materials, including metal, slate, and clay.

The steep pricing makes solar systems less accessible than other roof types.


Since solar roofs are a relatively young product, they’re still in development and have yet to hit the mainstream market. As a result, some brands, like Tesla, take preorders to ensure the solar shingles meet the industry standard.

Before customers receive the solar shingles, the materials undergo meticulous testing. While the testing and development phases guarantee the system will have a long service life, they lead to a prolonged installation.


Installing solar shingles is a technical and challenging task. It requires professionals that specialize in both roofing and electrical work.

Sometimes it may take up to two weeks and a crew of 20 people to install a single solar roof.

Return on Investment

Solar shingles have high upfront costs, and it may take homeowners up to 15 years to see a return on investment from power savings.

Standard solar panels are a smarter investment because homeowners usually make their money back in approximately five years.


The complex installation process means that any repairs will require special care. Taking the DIY route with solar shingle problems is ill-advised and can lead to extensive damage.


You have to connect the solar roofing to the home. Unless you have electrical knowledge, only a highly trained technician should handle the wiring.


If you decide to move, you will have to leave the solar shingles at your old home. Therefore, only those who have found their forever home should consider investing in solar shingles.

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Types Of Solar Shingles

Currently, there are two types of solar shingles. The first type is the standard silicon solar cells, while the second is the more recent CIGS (copper-indium-gallium-selenide) film photovoltaics.

Silicon solar shingles resemble traditional solar panels. They’re thin, feature a frame, and align well with existing roofing material.

CIGS photovoltaic shingles use the latest technological breakthroughs to harness solar power. You can transform these shingles into flexible, lightweight solutions that complement an existing roof.

Solar Shingles Buying Guide: Top Brands

Now that you’re familiar with the benefits and drawbacks of solar shingles, let’s look at what the most popular brands bring to the table.

CertainTeed Apollo II

CertainTeed has been an industry leader for decades, and its Apollo II solar system is compatible with new or existing asphalt shingle roofs.

The black solar shingles seamlessly match the roof line and feature water channels that prevent water intrusion.

Luma Solar Roof

Luma Solar pioneered solar roofing in the U.S., and the company builds custom-fit systems for customers across the country. Its solar roofs attract homeowners that appreciate beauty, efficiency, and unmatched workmanship.

Luma Solar’s shingles are three times more durable than standard tiles and can withstand category 5 hurricanes.

Did you know? In 1941, Russel Ohl developed the first photovoltaic cell, while Bell Laboratories created the first modern cell in 1954. Since then, over 2 million solar systems have been installed across the U.S.

SunTegra Shingles

With SunTegra’s shingles, you don’t have to build a brand-new roof.

You can incorporate the products into the existing roof and they’ll work together with composition shingles and other roofing materials.

Forward Solar Roofing

A Forward solar roof is one of the more affordable options, resembling the appearance of traditional metal roofing. It features a multi-layer construction where the metal covers the attachment systems and wiring.

This design provides the home with a clean and modern look.

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Tesla Power Roof

Tesla also produces customized solar roofs using 3D modeling and aerial imagery.

The company’s tiles create a fully integrated system customers can monitor via the Tesla app. Should any problems arise, the app will notify the homeowner.

Can You Walk On Solar Shingles?

In theory, you can walk on solar shingles, but this is ill-advised.

For example, CertainTeed’s shingles have a 250-pound weight rating, but the brand discourages customers from walking on the roof to prevent damage.

Moreover, solar shingles are incredibly slippery, and one misstep could lead to severe injury.

It’s best to reach out to professionals to handle roof inspections.

Can You Go Off-Grid With A Tesla Solar Roof?

The second generation of Tesla’s Powerwall battery features a whopping 13.50 kilowatt-hours of energy storage, allowing homeowners to go off-grid.

All you need to do is disconnect the Powerwall from the utility grid using the Tesla app. You can take charge of your energy security and independence in just a few clicks.

How Many Solar Shingles Do You Need To Power A House?

To determine how many solar shingles you need for your home, you can use information like the household’s average energy usage and the house size.

Since you can integrate the solar shingles into the existing roof system, the number of required shingles will also depend on the roof size and your desired energy savings.

The more solar shingles you install, the more you’ll save on power bills.

Are Solar Shingles Worth It?

You’re good to go with solar shingles if you’re considering building a new roof with unmatched aesthetics and functionality.

Solar shingles are stylish, durable, multifunctional, and have the potential to be a lifetime investment.

Solar panels might be a better choice if you’re on a tight budget and want to upgrade your existing roof. They’re best suited for areas with ample sun exposure year-round.

Both solar shingles and solar panels have higher upfront costs than other roofing solutions, so make sure you’ve found an option that meets your home’s needs and budget.

Remember to take advantage of the federal ITC (investment tax credit) to protect your wallet further.

Typical Price Range To Install new Roof Average: $4,190 - $6,740
See costs in your area

This roofing guide is presented by Leo B.

I've been a roofer for 15 years, and specialize in Metal Roofing and Flat Roofing.

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