Solar Shingles Vs. Solar Panels in 2022 (Cost, Efficiency & More)

In this EcoWatch guide on solar shingles Vs. solar panels, you’ll learn:

  • Which option has a better conversion efficiency rating
  • How to determine how many solar shingles your roof needs
  • Which solar option is right for your roof
  • What are the best solar shingles providers

This guide has helped thousands of homeowners find the best option for their own home to go solar, saving them time, money, and headache in the process. Let’s get started!

Ecowatch Author Josh Hurst

By Josh Hurst

Updated 9/19/2022

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If you live in an area that gets consistent, year-round exposure to the sun, then you may be a good candidate to install a residential solar system.

Installing solar panels on your roof is by far the most common way to harness the sun’s energy, but solar shingles are another option that’s becoming increasingly popular. So how, exactly, do solar shingles work, and how do they compare to traditional solar panels?

In this article, we’ll explain the answers to these questions and more. If you’re ready to connect with an installer in your area, follow the links below.

Jump to Section:

  1. What Are Solar Shingles and How Do They Work?
  2. Solar Shingles Vs. Solar Panels: Which Are Better?
  3. How Much Do Solar Shingles Cost?
  4. Installing Solar Shingles: How Many Do You Need?
  5. Which Companies Offer the Best Solar Shingles?
  6. FAQs: Solar Shingles Vs. Solar Panels
Best National Provider
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SunPower

  • Pros icon Most efficient panels on the market
  • Pros icon National coverage
  • Pros icon Cradle to Cradle sustainability certification
  • Pros icon Great warranty coverage
  • Con icon Expensive
  • Con icon Customer service varies by local dealer

Services Offered

  • Service icon Solar Panels
  • Service icon Solar Batteries
  • Service icon EV Chargers
  • Service icon System Monitoring
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Blue Raven Solar

  • Pros icon Industry-leading in-house financing
  • Pros icon Competitive pricing
  • Pros icon Excellent reputation
  • Con icon Doesn't offer solar batteries (coming 2022)

Services Offered

  • Service icon Solar Panels
  • Service icon System Monitoring
Best Warranty Coverage
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Regional Service

Ecowatch rating

Average cost

$$$$$

ADT Solar

  • Pros icon Industry-leading warranty coverage
  • Pros icon Expansive service area
  • Con icon Some reported communication issues
  • Con icon No leases or PPAs

Services Offered

  • Service icon Solar Panels
  • Service icon Solar Batteries
  • Service icon EV Chargers
  • Service icon Energy-Efficiency Upgrades

What Are Solar Shingles and How Do They Work?

You can think of solar shingles like small solar panels that integrate with the regular shingles on your existing roof or a new roof (if you need one). They work the same way standard types of solar panels do, but where solar panels are assembled on top of your roof, solar shingles are used to build a roof.

The most obvious benefit to this type of solar energy system is simple aesthetics; while photovoltaic solar panels tend to be pretty obtrusive, solar shingles blend in with the traditional roofing materials, allowing you to have a completely normal-looking roof. Like solar panels, solar shingles provide clean energy production through photovoltaics (absorbing energy from the sun), some of which may be stored in a solar battery and some of which is converted into useful alternating current (AC).

Additionally, solar panels are rack-mounted, meaning that dozens of holes need to be drilled into your roof. Solar shingles, on the other hand, do not require that and thus require a less intrusive installation process.

This allows you to power appliances and devices throughout your home with renewable energy. Note: Those who prefer the appearance of a “tiled” roof to a shingled one may wish to consider solar tiles.

These work in roughly the same way that photovoltaic energy shingles do but integrate with roofing tiles rather than asphalt shingles.

Watch Below: While Tesla’s marketing team helped to spread recent awareness for solar shingles, other companies – like GAF Energy – have been installing them long before joined in.

Solar Shingles Vs. Solar Panels: Which Is Better?

As you consider your options for residential solar power, it’s worthwhile to note the pros and cons of both solar shingles and conventional solar panels. Both PV systems can supply your home with energy, but with its own advantages and drawbacks.

Solar Shingles: Pros and Cons

Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding whether solar shingles are the best choice for your residential solar system:

Solar Shingles Pros Solar Shingles Cons
Solar roof shingles are more aesthetically pleasing Shingles are a newer solar technology, so there aren’t as many options readily available
Shingles are typically quicker to install Fewer top solar companies install solar shingles
They can be a more cost-effective if you need a roof replacement anyway Solar panel shingles are much more expensive than regular solar panels
Shingles have a lower conversion efficiency than solar panels
Solar shingles are more difficult to take with you if you move
Shingles are much more dependent on the slope of your roof

Solar Panels: Pros and Cons

Now, consider how standard solar panels compare:

Solar Panels Pros Solar Panels Cons
There are plenty of products to choose from Panels look bulkier and do not have the same elegant aesthetics
There are many solar installers that work with panels You’ll need your roof to be in good condition before you can install solar panels
The cost of solar panels is much lower than that of solar shingles The solar panel installation process is usually a little longer than solar shingle installation
Solar panels are more efficient than solar shingles
You can more easily adjust panels to get an optimal position

Generally speaking, solar shingles are a better option if you:

  • Need to replace your roof
  • Care a great deal about the aesthetics of your roof
  • Have a roof that is already well-positioned and sloped to capture sunlight

If you don’t fit into any of those categories, you may be better off pursuing solar panels, which are the more time-tested, widely available, energy-efficient and affordable option.

To connect with a verified installer in your city, follow the links below.

How Much Do Solar Shingles Cost?

As a rule of thumb, you can assume that solar shingles will be more expensive than panels. With that said, the exact cost of a solar shingle roof can vary depending on which company you go with.

According to Solar Magazine, the average solar shingle installation cost runs somewhere between $15,000 and $20,000 (or around $21 to $25 per square foot). But of course, there are some outliers. High-end solar shingles from a company like Tesla may cost as much as $70,000 or more for full roof installation.

Before installing, it’s best to shop around and compare rates from at least two or three different solar shingle companies, ensuring you get the best value. Also, keep in mind that the solar tax credits, rebates and other incentives for homeowners who buy solar panels are also available for those that opt for solar shingles. The current federal incentive program will give you 30% of the cost of your system back as a tax credit and applies to all installations through 2032.

solar panels vs solar shingles

Installing Solar Shingles: How Many Do You Need?

Installation of solar roofing shingles may take up to a week; old shingles will need to be removed from the home, new shingles put into place, and the entire solar system connected through your inverter and solar battery.

Before the installation process begins, a roofer will join you at your home to help you assess how many solar shingles you’ll need. There are a couple of factors that will determine how many shingles you need: The size of the shingles you select, the square footage of your home and the amount of energy you need to generate.

One thing to keep in mind is that most homeowners do not need to cover their entire roof with solar shingles; you can intermingle them with traditional roof shingles to cut costs while still generating plenty of solar power.

Which Companies Offer the Best Solar Shingles?

Solar shingles are still relatively new, which means there aren’t a lot of companies offering them. Some of the heavy hitters in the solar shingle industry include:

Tesla

Though the Tesla Solar Roof system is one of the most expensive options on the market, many homeowners find it totally worth the cost. Indeed, Elon Musk’s high-efficiency solar shingles may actually be more cost-effective than traditional solar systems, at least in the long run. And while they only come in one style, their sleek aesthetics will be appealing to anyone who prefers a more contemporary look.

SunTegra

A bit less expensive than Tesla’s system, SunTegra shingles are notable for their low-profile appearance, ease of installation and high level of efficiency.

CertainTeed

CertainTeed was one of the companies that pioneered solar shingles, and its products are still top-notch. They have a number of options to choose from, including solar shingles as well as solar roof tiles.

Luma Solar

Luma’s shingles are efficient and aesthetically pleasing and fall somewhere in the middle of the pack with regard to price.

To connect with a verified installer in your city, follow the links below.

Related Articles:

FAQs: Solar Shingles vs Solar Panels

If you’re thinking about switching to solar shingles, here are some other questions you may have:

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Josh Hurst

Writer and editor with more than a decade’s experience in journalism. Josh worked for Christianity Today for seven years, and has contributed to special assignments for Apple Music and iTunes. Josh lives in Knoxville, Tennessee with his wife, Kati, and two sons, Henry and Dylan.