Solar Panels Vs. Solar Roof Shingles in 2024

Solar Panels Vs. Solar Roof Shingles in 2024: Which is Better?

Many people who own homes are curious about switching to solar energy but desire a visually appealing photovoltaic system. Some households worry about the complexity of roof work when dealing with modules that cover the entire roof. Since solar panels typically last about 30 years, homeowners may face the need to replace their roofs within the solar system's lifespan. While all-black solar panels are now quite common, solar shingles offer a way to completely conceal the panels, eliminating the concern of having to replace the roof entirely with solar panels. Let's delve into the comparison between solar shingles and solar panels.

Although Tesla solar shingles have gotten a lot of media attention, they still aren’t prevalent, largely due to their high price. They are most cost-effective for new construction projects, homes that need new roofs, or when the homeowner is willing to pay more due to aesthetic preferences.

Whether you provide solar roof tiles or not, having a fundamental understanding of solar shingles versus solar panels is crucial for addressing customer inquiries and staying informed about trends in the solar energy sector.

What Are Solar Panels?

A single solar panel is made up of multiple photovoltaic cells stacked on a rectangular plate. To generate electricity for residential and commercial structures, many solar panels must be linked and positioned to maximize sun exposure. These solar panels generate direct electricity, which is converted and stored in batteries for later use. Solar panels are mounted on the roof of your home, garage, or outdoor patio using specially designed mounting brackets. Generally, there is a space between the panels and the roof.

What Are Solar Roof Shingles?

Solar roof tiles are another name for solar shingles. They resemble asphalt tiles or conventional roofing materials in appearance. In addition to offering roof protection, solar shingles may produce power in a manner akin to that of conventional solar panels. Solar shingles are considerably smaller than micro solar panels, but they nevertheless use the same photovoltaic effect to produce power from sunshine. Rather than being a separate item placed atop the roof, they are installed as a component of the roof. Installing solar shingles can be done in alongside a complete roof restoration or replacement.

Solar Panels vs. Solar Shingles: Key Differences

The basics of using solar energy to convert sunlight into electricity for personal or business use are the same for solar panels and solar shingles. Though the same basic idea underlies both systems, practical factors—rather than complex technical details—are what really set them apart:


In general, solar panels are a more affordable option than solar shingles. For those with structurally solid roofs, conventional solar panels are more cost-effective than shingles since they represent a relatively newer technology that requires a more complex installation process. Lower costs are a result of the highly competitive solar business, which is marked by a large number of suppliers and installation companies. Nevertheless, choosing solar shingles for a new roof might end up being more cost-effective in the long term for homeowners. In these situations, opting for solar shingles rather than standard panels and a separate roof repair may be a more cost-effective and efficient solution.


Though Solar Panels and Solar shingles both operate on the same photovoltaic effect principle, solar shingles are not as efficient as solar panels. The reason for this is that there is no ventilation beneath solar shingles as they are fixed to the roof directly. This causes poorer efficiency and more heat loss.
Furthermore, solar panels may be subsequently removed and adjusted; they are put with the sun pointing upward. Solar shingles, however, are secured in place since they are integrated into the roof. Shingles may not always be positioned to maximize sunlight depending on the climate or style of the property. This also lowers productivity.


Solar shingles, which suit sloping or slanted roofs, are designed to replace asphalt tiles. Nonetheless, flat roofs are among the roof types on which solar panels can be put. Furthermore, once solar shingles or asphalt tiles are put, they become permanently attached to the roof and cannot be removed. On the other hand, solar panels are readily movable and installable in a new site if you move to a new home. Thus, placing and relocating solar panels is far more flexible.


Traditional roofing tiles and solar shingles are comparable in size and shape. Standard solar shingles are typically 86 inches long, 12 inches broad, and less than an inch thick. Including all mounting hardware, the average solar tile weighs between 15 and 20 pounds per square foot on your roof.

As an alternative, a typical domestic solar panel measures less than two inches thick, 65 inches long, and 39 inches broad. The average weight of a solar panel is around 40 pounds, and it adds 3–4 pounds of weight per square foot to the roof. Even though solar shingles seem heavy, keep in mind that they are basically the roof. Thus, the roof is subjected to dead weight from solar panels. This weight is additional to the roof's own weight.


The main purpose of solar panels is not aesthetics but functionality. Their appearance is hefty, and occasionally they occupy the whole roof space of a structure. Adding solar panels to your house or commercial building may make it look ungainly from the outside. It is particularly designed for solar shingles to seem seamless. Like conventional tiles on a brand-new roof, their slender shape adds a pleasant and appealing appearance to your roof. One of the key factors influencing the popularity of solar shingles is their aesthetic appeal.


Generally speaking, the solar cell structure is designed to provide longevity for solar panels as well as solar shingles. Both are intended to last 25 to 30 years on average. Even though the technology is new, solar shingles are thought to be a superior option for longer-lasting roofs than standard asphalt shingles.


Another thing you should know before installing a solar system is what type of warranty each manufacturer provides. Solar panels and shingles are both excellent methods to go green, but it's vital to understand the warranties available with each.

Solar panels often come with a guarantee to safeguard your investment. The product warranty covers manufacturing flaws in materials or workmanship and normally lasts 25 years. If any problems emerge as a result of these faults, the manufacturer will repair or replace the panels.

Solar shingle warranties offer important protection and peace of mind for your solar energy installation. Product warranties often run up to 20 years and cover flaws in materials and workmanship. During this time, the manufacturer will resolve any production flaws.

Before making a purchase, it's crucial to thoroughly read the terms and conditions of these warranties to determine what is covered and any potential limits. Choosing solar systems from reliable manufacturers who uphold warranty claims will offer security and safeguard your solar energy investment.

Find out what solar panel cost in your area in 2024!

100% free. Transparent Pricing. Unbiased Energy Advisors ready to help.

Solar Panels vs. Solar Shingles: Which is Best for You?

This question has a straightforward answer: it depends on what matters most to you. It comes down to these four key variables for most people:

Cost: Solar shingles are a low-cost one-time investment during roof replacement, whereas solar panels are economical if they can be installed on a fully functional roof.

Location: Solar shingles win out in terms of curb attractiveness. However, if your roof is flat or does not face the sun, solar panels are the greatest way to enhance energy efficiency.

Long-term planning: If you don't intend to stay in one spot for long, solar panels are the way to go. They can readily removed and relocated, whereas solar shingles are permanently installed. Consider how often you intend to use them if you are preparing for the long term.

AppearanceHarmonize with roof aestheticsInstalled on Structures
InstallationIncorporated into roofing structurePositioned on roofs
EfficiencyGenerally cheaperTypically, pricier
CostElevated upfront expensesLower upfront expenses
Energy ProductionPotentially lower efficiencyEnhanced efficiency
AestheticsSmooth integrationApparent on rooftops
DurabilityReduced longevitySturdy and resilient
Integration with BatteryFeasible, yet intricateSimple to incorporate
MaintenanceMore demandingConvenient upkeep
AvailabilityLimited market optionsWidespread availability

Pros And Cons of Solar Shingles

Solar shingles have various advantages and disadvantages when compared to standard solar panels.

The Advantages of Solar Shingles

  • Solar shingles appeal to those who find standard solar panels unappealing, increasing the overall visual appeal of solar PV systems for this demographic.
  • Solar shingles are frequently an acceptable option in communities with tight homeowner association laws governing solar panel installations or property aesthetics, increasing access to solar energy for more homes.
  • Despite their greater initial cost, solar shingles can help reduce roofing costs. In the United States, replacing an entire roof with asphalt shingles costs between $5,100 and $10,000 on average. As a consequence, the total lifespan cost of a solar roof may not be higher than that of regular solar panels combined with separate roofing materials.

Furthermore, the solar shingles have the same lifespan as the roofing materials, so there is no need to remove solar panels for roof replacements. Solar contractors normally charge between $2,000 and $3,000 for this service. Solar shingles also provide homeowners with piece of mind because they do not need removing the panels to repair the roof. Installing solar PV panels on a metal roof, on the other hand, may be a viable solution because metal roofs are meant to endure 40 to 70 years.

The Disadvantages of Solar Shingles

Since they are still a relatively new technology, solar shingles aren't extremely common. As a result, the conversion efficiency is usually lower and the cost is still rather high. Because of this, they are significantly more expensive, particularly if the house doesn't require a new roof. Additionally, using PV shingles alone might make a home less likely to be net-zero.

A solar system that is less efficient often generates a smaller portion of the power used in a house. Hence, compared to homes with conventional PV arrays, these residences may have greater utility costs and related carbon emissions due to the use of fossil fuels to generate grid energy.

Unfortunately, it is harder to expand the capacity of a solar system with shingles than with panels, and the tilt angle is only as good as the roof. Additionally, buyers of solar panels would need to learn more about the benefits and drawbacks because shingles are less popular than regular panels.

Installing solar shingles requires more time than installing solar panels or a normal roof repair. Unfortunately, finding skilled contractors can be difficult since not many solar installers have considerable expertise in installing solar shingles. This implies that solar companies must invest in the time-consuming and expensive training of solar specialists.

Find out what solar panel cost in your area in 2024!

100% free. Transparent Pricing. Unbiased Energy Advisors ready to help.

Environmental Impact and Energy Savings

When comparing systems of the same size, solar PV and solar roof shingles provide similar savings and environmental advantages. A 6 kilowatt (kW) solar energy system may create more than 8,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year under ideal conditions. If your utility charges 20 cents per kWh, you might save more than $1,600 per year on your energy cost.

Solar panels and solar PV shingles both qualify for financial incentives such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). However, in the case of solar roofs, some incentives will only apply to components directly involved in renewable energy generation. So, you may only claim product expenses for solar shingles, not for the rest of the roof shingles.

Solar power systems have an initial carbon footprint from manufacture, transportation, and installation. Once a solar product is functioning, it produces electricity with no emissions. For example, a coal-fired power station produces 2.26 pounds of carbon dioxide CO2 every kilowatt-hour of energy produced, but a gas-fired power plant produces 0.97 pounds of CO2 per kilowatt-hour.

The Bottom Line: Which Solar Solution Is Right for You?

When it comes to home upgrades like solar panels or solar shingles, it's essential to weigh the pros and cons. Solar panels are a more budget-friendly choice and are ideal for maximizing your investment returns. On the other hand, opting for solar shingles entails replacing your current roofing material with solar tiles, leading to higher upfront expenses.

Yet, solar roof shingles can be a cost-effective solution in specific scenarios. If you're in the market for solar panels and also require a roof overhaul, choosing solar shingles might result in lower overall costs compared to purchasing a new roof alongside traditional solar panels.

Typically, a solar panel system costs around $2.85 per watt, while solar roofs range from approximately $4 to $7 per watt. Both options qualify for the federal solar tax credit, but only the photovoltaic elements can be claimed. This distinction means that your complete solar roof project costs may not be eligible for full tax credits or rebates.

Find out what solar panel cost in your area in 2024!

100% free. Transparent Pricing. Unbiased Energy Advisors ready to help.