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Solar Roof Shingles. Building-integrated photovoltaics system consisting of modern monocrystal black solar roof tiles.

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Most solar systems use traditional rooftop solar panels. While these offer excellent energy savings, they can look clunky and noticeable on your roof. New technology has led to solar shingles, which function as solar panels but mimic traditional roofs for a sleeker, more low-profile look.

To help you decide whether solar shingles are the right option for your home, we’ve broken down their benefits and average costs in this guide. We’ve also explained how they compare to traditional solar panels and provided recommendations for reputable solar companies that install shingles.

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What Are Solar Shingles?

Solar shingles are an alternative to traditional solar panels that blend in more seamlessly with your roof. Like solar panels, they absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity for your home. Solar shingles are categorized as building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), or solar products that replace conventional building materials such as roofs or glass windows. BIPV solutions reduce building material costs while providing renewable energy.

Shingles aren’t as readily available as traditional panels, but there’s a growing interest in them. The DOW Chemical Company introduced solar shingles to the U.S. market in 2011. They became more popular when Tesla debuted its solar roof in 2016. Since then, more solar panel companies and installers have begun offering solar shingles for residential installations. 

Solar shingles resemble standard asphalt roof shingles but vary in composition. These shingles contain thin layers of photovoltaic (PV) sheets that cover a glass base. They can either cover your existing roof or replace it. Just like your roof, shingles are designed to withstand the elements, including heavy rain, wind, and hail.

Solar Roof Shingles vs. Solar Panels

Solar shingles and solar panels both produce renewable energy to power your home. However, they differ in key ways, including construction, energy efficiency, and installation options. Review the differences between these solar solutions in the table below. 

Factor Solar Panels Solar Shingles


Blue or black hue

Black hue

Average size

39 inches wide by 65 inches long

12 inches wide by 86 inches long


Silicon cells

Copper indium gallium selenide or monocrystalline cells

Efficiency rating

Up to 24%


Life span

25–40 years

Up to 20 years

Power production

Up to 400 watts

13–70 watts


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.

Average Size

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 Rating

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%. 

Power Production

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.

Solar Shingles Installation

A solar shingle installer will begin by analyzing your energy needs and roof size. The average installation requires 300–350 solar shingles per installation. A roofing company will check your roof’s condition and assess your installation needs. Any roof repairs must be completed before installing solar shingles. This reduces the possibility of faulty installation and damage.

The higher your required power output, the more shingles you’ll need, and the higher your installation costs will be. You won’t need to replace or cover all of your roof shingles, though. It may be better to opt for a full solar roof if your roof needs extensive work, as you’ll save on roofing material costs.

Most solar shingle installations are completed in seven days.

Solar Shingles Costs

Solar shingles cost more than traditional solar panels. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a standard 5-kilowatt (kW) solar panel system costs around $15,500. Solar shingles cost $20–$30 per square foot, so you could pay between $36,000 to $54,000 for an 1,800-square-foot roof. This is an estimated cost for an entire roof installation. The price may vary based on how many shingles are needed to run your home and your shingle configuration. 

Homeowners can take advantage of solar incentives, rebates, and credits to offset solar shingle costs. These incentives are offered at federal and local government levels. For example, the federal solar tax credit provides a tax reduction equal to 30% of your solar installation costs. Check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) for additional state and local incentives in your area.

Solar Shingle and Roof Companies

A limited number of solar manufacturers produce solar shingles. Here’s an overview of some companies that provide solar roofing solutions. 

  • CertainTeed Solar: This company manufactures monocrystalline solar shingles and tiles. The Apollo Tile II system integrates with flat concrete tile roofs, and the Apollo II system installs on asphalt tile configurations. 
  • Luma Solar: Luma’s monocrystalline shingles have a Miami-Dade hurricane rating of Class 5+, which means they’re durable enough to withstand even the most dangerous hurricane-force winds. They work with metal shingles and have upgradable technology.
  • SunTegra Solar: SunTegra shingles and tiles can be customized for composite and tile roofs. Sheets of tiles are attached on composite layouts, while individual tiles are assembled on tiled roofs. 
  • Tesla Solar Roof: Tesla is one of the few solar installers that provides full-roof installations. The Tesla Solar Roof combines glass and steel to enhance the roof’s strength. This installation replaces conventional roofing to combine clean energy generation with protection from the elements.
  • Timberline Solar Roofing by GAF Energy: Timberland solar roofing uses rack-mounting, so it doesn’t need to drill into your shingles for proper attachment. These shingles come in four colors to match your roof’s design and withstand winds up to 130 mph.

Our Conclusion

Solar shingles allow homeowners to benefit from solar energy without bulky panel installations. These shingles can replace a traditional roofing system and still provide the same level of home protection. Solar shingles require a more extensive roof installation and typically cost more than standard solar panels. However, their sleek and low-profile installation blends better with your home’s design. 

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FAQs About Solar Shingles

What are the drawbacks of solar shingles?

Here are some drawbacks of solar shingles compared to solar panels:

  • Higher installation costs
  • Lower efficiency rating 
  • Limited availability 
  • More solar shingles are required to power your home

How are solar shingles installed?

Solar shingles can be installed on top of your current roof shingles or in place of them. They’re attached with nails or a racking system when assembled over your current shingles. The exact installation process varies between manufacturers. Solar shingles can also replace your entire roof and provide the same protection as traditional roofing. 

How long does it take to install solar shingles?

It can take up to one week to install solar shingles. Your installation period will depend on your power needs, roof size, and number of tiles.