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Solar Shingles vs. Solar Panels

Solar shingles and solar panels have distinctive differences including design and cost to name a couple. Learn more here.

When you’re considering investing in a solar installation, it’s smart to explore your options and maintain that exciting momentum. Keeping your finger on the pulse of new solar technologies is a must.

With that in mind, you may have heard about solar shingles — if not, we’ll give you the rundown. If you’re here with us, we’re guessing you’re familiar with what solar panels are

We know a home solar installation is a cost-saving energy solutions. Solar shingles are a new, albeit snazzy, twist on key solar panel technology. But what else do you need to know?

So, solar shingles vs. solar panels: Let’s compare, and you decide which makes the most sense for you.

[Related: SunPower PV System vs. Tesla Solar Roof]

Solar Roof Shingles vs. Solar Panels: What Are Solar Shingles?

First, solar shingles (aka “solar roofs,” “solar roof shingles” or “solar roof tiles”) are essentially small, thin solar panels. However, they’re fixed and take the place of an existing roof or roof tiles. 

In other words, solar shingles interconnect and comprise a single roof. 

Next, solar shingles use the same energy-generating principles as solar panels: photovoltaic cells converting sunlight into electricity. They may send excess energy to a storage battery for backup power, like solar panels can.

Now let’s talk about size. A run-of-the-mill solar shingle is 12 inches wide, 86 inches long and under 1 inch thick and weighs 15 to 20 pounds per square foot. These dimensions are fairly standard across the board, but they may vary a bit among brands.

By contrast, the average solar panel weighs 40 to 50 pounds and measures 39 inches wide, 78 inches long and 1.5 inches thick. These numbers also differ per manufacturer but remain relatively constant for residences. 

Finally, speaking of manufacturers, your solar shingle choices are currently sparse. Tesla, SunTegra, CertainTeed, Timberline Solar, Luma and a handful of other companies offer solar roof systems.

If solar shingles are basically small, set-in-place solar panels, what’s the buzz all about? Frankly, most of it comes from the excitement surrounding new solar tech (and Elon Musk’s bold claims). 

But here’s the kicker: Solar shingles and solar panels have distinctive differences. Cost is likely the most influential — we’ll definitely get to it.

[Related: SunPower & Tesla Solar — Rooftop Comparison]

Solar Panels vs. Solar Shingles: A Comparison

Let’s check out what solar panels have to offer against solar shingles, and vice versa. 

In the Solar Panels Corner

You can move solar panels. Solar panels are incredibly flexible in terms of placement, removal and reinstallation. That means you can situate them where they’ll get peak sun exposure and nab the most solar energy. On the other hand, when a solar roof is complete, it’s in place permanently.

Solar panels generate more energy. One average solar panel generates at least 280 watts, whereas one solar shingle usually produces 13 to 70 watts.

Solar panels are more heat-efficient. Installers place solar panels atop an existing roof, so space lies beneath them. This allows heat to escape. Because they are the roof, solar shingles don’t carry the same benefit.

Solar panel installation is fast. After consultation, assessment and approval, a professional solar panel company installs solar panels in about one to three days. Solar shingles take at least one week to install after the same assessment-to-approval process. (You may even have to get on a waiting list for a solar roof.)

Solar panels save you more on electricity bills. At baseline, solar panels offer 75% savings. They can ultimately eliminate electric bill costs. Solar shingles reduce electric bills by approximately 40% to 70%

Solar panel technology is well established. Because scientists and engineers have been perfecting modern solar technology for about a century, panels show time-tested results. Solar shingle technology has been around since 2005.

You can choose from many solar panel models, manufacturers and providers. Solar panel providers are widespread and plentiful. However, only a handful of companies manufacture solar shingles, so your options and price points are limited.

[Related: Possible Solar Panel Customers: Who Could Benefit?]

In the Solar Shingles Corner

Solar shingles look natural. Their appearance may be their primary draw. Because they’re slim and look like a standard roof when complete, solar shingles’ aesthetics are sleeker than most solar panels.

Solar shingles are small and lightweight. Although you may need 350 solar shingles to constitute a roof, the weight is inherent in the shingle. They do not add weight to an existing roof.

Solar shingles are durable. Despite their thin, lightweight nature, solar shingles are very resistant to harsh weather and damage. However, solar panels are highly durable as well. 

Solar shingles fully replace a roof. This is a pro if you’re building a home or need a new roof regardless. If your finances allow, solar shingles can create an attractive, brand-new roof. (SunPower offers a highly competitive system, however.)

Solar shingles are simple in terms of maintenance. Because solar shingles act as a single power-generating roof, you don’t need to perform much upkeep. Cleaning solar shingles is comparable to maintaining solar panels.

Where It’s Generally a Draw

Solar shingles vs. solar panels: Which comes out on top? Let’s see where they mostly meet in the middle:

Now, let’s get to the meat of the matter — and probably why you’re here — the cost of solar shingles vs. solar panels.

[Related: Tips To Save on Energy Costs]

Cost of Solar Shingles vs. Solar Panels

The bottom line is that solar shingles are more expensive than solar panels, bar none. 

Tesla offers the highest-end system at $70,000 to $84,000, but other solar roof manufacturers aren’t far behind. For an average-sized home (2,000 square feet), a solar roof costs from $40,000 to $65,000.

Meanwhile, an average solar panel installation in the U.S. costs $10,000 to $20,000 after rebates and incentives. That’s quite the difference, and the cost savings are immense! With financing options like solar loans — often with no money down — solar panels are amenable to your monthly budget.

So if your finances are your line in the sand, certainly opt for solar panels. They’re more efficient, effective, flexible and affordable.

[Related: Going Solar: The Smart Choice for Your Home and Wallet]

Kick-Start Your Alternative Energy Goals With Freedom Solar

We know solar shingles are an aesthetically slick solar power option. Still, solar panel installations are simply proven to save you money now and in the future

At solar installation company Freedom Solar, we offer SunPower solar panels, the highest-rated and most-efficient panels on the market. (We’ll venture to say they’re downright gorgeous, too.) We also offer Tesla Powerwalls and other backup battery for home solutions so you’re never left in the dark.

Our energy consultants are here to offer advice, full-service installation and post-installation support. When you’re ready to start saving with solar, get in touch!

Call us at (800) 504-2337 or fill out our inquiry form for a free consultation

Featured image via PxHere