Traditional style or elegant new ceilings.
Homeowners are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, save money on electric bills, charge an electric vehicle, or be more prepared for an emergency. Solar panels are a great way to achieve all of the above, but they are a major investment that won’t pay for themselves for several years or even longer if you get a full solar roof.
Solar power and home solar panel systems are becoming more affordable, which means potential buyers have a lot of questions. Whether you’re considering a traditional solar panel setup or a new solar roof, also known as a solar shingle, here’s how the two compare.
typical solar panels
By now we should all be pretty familiar with solar panels as they are nothing new. Over the last decade, we have seen a massive increase in the use of residential and commercial applications.
Solar panels are an array of photovoltaic cells that are typically placed on a rectangular plate that most homeowners mount on a roof or garage. Most homeowners will need to place them in a specific location for the most sun exposure, not to mention stringing multiple panels together in parallel to gather enough sunlight to power an entire home.
There are countless types, brands, and options available, but most sit above the ceiling on small stands or feet. Some installations are much more expensive, depending on assembly, shape, number of panels, and other factors. The most common type is monocrystalline, which is highly efficient. Polycrystalline is also popular because it is the more affordable of the two.
With a typical rooftop solar system, you’ll convert the energy for storage in a battery or feed the power back into the local power grid. Depending on where you live, you’ll need a battery for storage, share power with the grid, or send all power to the grid, which can reduce or eliminate your power bill.
You can power your home with those solar panels and they can be used to charge an electric vehicle. Then eventually the solar panels will pay for themselves. This is known as the “solar payback period” and is how long it will take for your energy bill savings to pay for the solar system.
After you’ve saved money on your energy bill for several years, you’ll pay for the panels, then everything else for as long as you have solar will be additional savings. You’ll also increase your property value, reduce your carbon footprint, and be better prepared for emergencies.
Tiles and sunroofs
Also, you can go for solar shingles, where the entire roof is covered with solar shingles instead of a traditional roofing material. This style is often referred to as a “Tesla solar roof,” although it’s not the only brand to offer solar shingles. Others include Solstice shingles by CertainTeed, Luma Solar, and Forward Solar Roofing, to name a few.
With a Tesla-style solar roof, you’ll have solar shingles covering the entire roof, which are then protected by tempered glass panels. These are just as durable as typical roofs, but they can power your vehicles and home, and you’ll get all the benefits of solar power.
However, this style is typically much more expensive, plus you’ll likely need a custom system designed to fit your roof exactly. Instead of placing a series of panels anywhere they will fit, the entire ceiling is covered. It is very different and is often called a “luxury sunroof”.
These are two very different products for several reasons. For starters, solar panels are quick and easy to install, relatively affordable, and you can easily adjust the tilt for ideal use. Also, if you ever need more, you can add another panel to the ceiling. Also, DIY types can do the installation themselves.
By contrast, solar shingles or a sunroof can take 1-2 weeks (or more) to install, cost much more, need to be done by a professional, and are in a fixed location that matches the roof. Sure, you have more ceiling coverage, but that doesn’t instantly mean more power, as some cells aren’t at an ideal location or angle.
With that being said, solar roofing shingles are extremely durable as they are built right into your home. Many brands boast of handling hurricane force winds, lack of maintenance, and other factors as a reason to choose solar shingles over panels.
Many standard solar panel systems can cost between $10,000 and $25,000, depending on the size of the home. However, solar shingles like the Tesla solar roof can easily range from $30,000 to over $80,000. As we said earlier, it is expensive.
Which one should you buy?
Which one to buy will depend on your wants, needs, budget, and various other factors. It’s a tough question, especially since I can’t say how much solar will cost. Varies by roof, state, brand, tax breaks, etc.
In general, a traditional solar panel array is an easier and more affordable option. That said, if you already need to replace an existing damaged roof or are building a new home, it might be a good time to upgrade to a solar shingle setup. That way, using solar energy and fixing the roof is somewhat profitable. It will be a one-of-a-kind facility with long-lasting, durable performance, and you’ll reap the benefits of solar energy and curb appeal. Again, it all depends on your situation.
A roof covered with solar shingles is undoubtedly the more attractive of the two and will significantly increase the value of your home. However, we understand that it is expensive work that many will not be able to afford.
A regular solar panel setup is the best and easiest option for most people. Those with deeper pockets, replacing a roof or building a new home may want to consider a full roof solar shingle setup.