You don’t have to install solar panels on your roof to go solar – solar roof tiles are an innovative solar technology that can also help property owners save on their energy bills just like traditional solar panels. In this article, we’ll review the key differences between solar tiles and their solar panel counterparts.
Homeowners considering solar installations are curious about the recent development of solar tiles. These solar tiles can also be integrated and used along with traditional roofing material, and are hence considered a “building-integrated photovoltaic” (BIPV) system.
This is different from solar panels, which are installed on an existing roof. But are solar roof tiles as effective as solar panels? This article helps compare the two.
Solar roof tiles are considered the next “in thing” since it’s a new technology and has been around for less than a decade whereas solar panels have been in the market since years and is a proven solution therefore considered a safer option.
This can be tricky since solar tiles still has some unknowns associated with its usage.
Solar roof tiles are designed in a way that they look like a part of the roof. They come in various colors some same as the shades of solar cells.
However, solar panels are available only in the traditional blue/black colors. Since solar panels are installed on an existing constructed roof, it is not as visually appealing.
Solar panels are an older, more stable technology, extensively used in residential construction. Therefore, there are more contractors familiar with their installation.
Also, they can be installed on almost any roof, and do not need to cover the entire roof to be effective. In fact, the number of solar panels required can significantly vary, based on the size of the home, and energy requirements of individual homeowners.
Solar roof tiles are a part of the roofing material, and typically need to cover the entire roof. Also, they are limitations on the type of roofs that suit solar tiles in order to be effective. This makes them ideal for new construction or in cases where the homeowner has decided to replace the whole roof.
They are also fewer companies familiar with this technology, making it difficult to find a local contractor for installation. Again, these are initial pains associated with new technology. The market is optimistic on the possibility of having solar tiles for part-roof replacement available soon.
At present, solar panels are considered more effective in producing solar energy, for a couple of reasons.They are installed on top of an existing roof using brackets, and are hence unaffected by the base roofing material.The panels can be individually turned to face the sun in order to catch maximum sunlight.
Solar roof tiles are generally considered less effective than solar panels, simply because they are not be suitable for every kind of roof design. Also, they are built into the roofing material so there is no possibility for the tile to be turned/ re-oriented after installation. Hence, the amount of sunlight they catch is influenced by geography and roof design/orientation.
The installation costs of solar panels are significantly lower than solar roof tiles. However, do note the following:
- Solar panels are installed on a finished roof. They hence add on top of the construction cost. On the other hand, solar roof tiles are a part of the construction cost.
- When solar roof tiles were first introduced in 2011, they cost almost twice as much as solar panels. This ratio has come down as the technology has progressed.
Solar panels typically come with a 20–25-year warranty. Also, their durability has been proven over the years, as they have been in residential usage since years.
Solar roof tiles are speculated to last for at least 30 years. However, this has not yet been put to test yet.
Value for money
This can get tricky, as solar panels presently offer a faster return on investment (due to lower cost of installation and efficiency of solar power generation). However, the market expects this ratio to flip within the next 5-7 years.
Regardless of the solar system in use, they are both long-term investments that offer value for money, and major savings on your energy bills. They both require an inverter, and can be connected to/off the grid. Also, tax rebates are available in several states for both systems.
Solar panels or solar roof tiles – Which is best for you?
Solar roof tiles are ideal for new constructions, where the homeowner is keen on a solar installation. However, keep in mind that a solar roof is significantly more costly than a traditional roof.
They are also advisable for properties in conservation areas, where building restrictions apply.
Solar panels are best suited for homeowners looking to invest in solar energy, without incurring the cost of replacing an entire roof. They may also be the only solution in the homeowner’s area, if there is a scarcity of local contractors who are familiar with the new solar roof tile technology.
In summary, solar panels and solar roof tiles are both effective photovoltaic systems that produce comparable amounts of solar energy during their lifetime. Hence, a homeowner’s choice can come down to roof design, budget, commitment to new technology, and individual preference.
Fortunately, they are both worthwhile long-term investments, “The future of solar energy is bright.” Indeed!