Most residential solar installations use rooftop solar panels, which are more visible than solar shingles. The panels’ appearance depends on their type. Monocrystalline (mono) panels are less noticeable because they’re black, while polycrystalline solar panels stand out because they’re blue. Rooftop solar panels are also rack-mounted, which makes them more noticeable overall.
Solar shingles can be integrated with your existing roof or used in place of a new roof, so they blend in more seamlessly with your home.
Solar shingles are significantly smaller than standard solar panels. They cover or replace traditional asphalt shingles, so they’re usually 12 inches wide by 86 inches long. They’re also lighter than solar panels, with an average weight of 13 pounds per square foot. They don’t add undue weight to your roof and eliminate the need for mounts or bracketing systems.
Traditional solar panels use crystalline silicon. Silicon acts as a semiconductor and helps absorb the sun’s rays. The silicon manufacturing process differentiates monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels. Mono panels use solar cells cut from one monocrystalline silicon crystal, whereas polycrystalline panels use multiple silicon crystals.
Mono panels are more efficient and are considered the best solar panels for home installations. Some solar shingles incorporate monocrystalline silicon cells in their design.
Most solar shingles use copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) cells. CIGS cells are also used in thin-film solar panels, a less popular solar panel type. Instead of silicon, these cells use a combination of copper, indium, gallium, and selenium along with glass to create conductivity.
Efficiency is vital to your solar system’s energy production. Solar manufacturers use energy efficiency ratings to show how effectively panels and shingles can convert the sun’s rays into usable electricity. Monocrystalline solar panels are considered the most efficient solar panels. They offer efficiency ratings up to 24%, meaning they can convert 24% of the sunlight they absorb into energy. Solar shingles are less efficient and are more comparable to polycrystalline panels, with rates between 14% and 18%.
You’ll need to match your home’s energy needs to your solar system’s power output. High-quality mono panels can produce more than 400 watts per panel, while solar shingles generate 13–70 watts each. You’ll need more solar roof tiles to match a single solar panel adequately. Depending on their output, it could take 20–30 shingles to provide as much power as one high-powered solar panel.
Life Span and Warranty Coverage
Solar panels can last more than 25 years with the right upkeep. High-efficiency solar panels typically have 25-year warranties to match this life span. Some solar installers also include a power production guarantee covering your panels’ power output.
Solar shingles last around 20 years. Similar to panels, solar manufacturers may include two separate clauses for durability and power production. Your power production guarantee covers your shingles for 20 years, but the durability coverage may extend through your home’s lifetime.