Switching to solar energy offers numerous benefits. Most homeowners go solar for the cost savings and independence from utility companies, while others shift to help save the environment.
When you’re ready to invest in a solar energy system, your choices generally come down to solar roof shingles vs. solar panels. But how do you know which of the two you should install? Below is a guide to help you decide.
Solar Roof vs. Solar Panels: A Comparison
Here’s how solar roofs and solar panels stack up against each other.
Form & Appearance
Solar roof shingles use the same technology as panels but on a smaller scale. They contain a photovoltaic system that gathers solar energy and converts it into electricity through an inverter. Depending on the brand, a solar shingle can generate 13 to 63 watts of power.
Solar shingles look like regular asphalt shingles. They are also sleeker than solar panels, which are bulkier and have a more industrial appearance.
The installation of solar shingles is identical to that of conventional asphalt shingles. They often cover the entire roof as the main roofing material, making them dual-purpose. When connected to a solar inverter to generate power, they’re referred to as building-integrated photovoltaics or BIPV systems.
Solar panels are larger units that are ideally installed on roof surfaces that receive lots of direct sunlight. Before installation, the existing roof must be structurally sound to support the extra weight of multiple solar panels.
The installation timeline varies for panels and shingles. It only takes a few hours to install solar shingles, whereas panels usually take a few days.
When comparing photovoltaic shingles vs. solar panels, one factor to consider is the energy efficiency of each option. While both harness sunlight to generate power, they do not produce the same level of output. The more directly the sun strikes the solar cells, the higher the energy yield.
Solar panels are mounted on the roof using brackets, making them easily adjustable to catch more sunlight as the sun moves. You can tilt, turn, or angle them to get as much solar power as possible in a day, notwithstanding roof design and orientation.
You cannot reorient solar roof shingles once they’ve been installed. Since they’re permanently fixed on their position, there’s a limit to the amount of sunlight that strikes the surface and the converted energy.
Photovoltaic components of solar panels and solar shingles generally last long, thanks to continuing developments in technology.
On average, a solar panel system remains efficient between 25 and 30 years and often comes with a warranty for the same length of time. This is also true with solar shingled roofs, but manufacturers anticipate a lifespan of at least 30 years.
Since solar shingles are a fairly new technology, their longevity is yet to be proven. Solar panels, however, have an established track record of producing energy at maximum capacity for a long time.
Routine upkeep of your solar energy system ensures it’s running at peak efficiency. They are both easy to maintain—you have to regularly remove any debris that obstructs sunlight and affects its energy production.
However, repairs are where they differ significantly. With a solar panel system, fixing or removing a faulty photovoltaic won’t easily disrupt the entire system since the panels are separate and spaced. This isn’t the case for a solar roof since shingles are usually installed closely together, making it harder to perform repairs.
Are Solar Shingles More Expensive Than Solar Panels?
Yes, solar shingles are more expensive than solar panels because of the higher installation costs. However, there’s more to consider than the price tag.
Bear in mind that solar panels are installed on an existing, structurally sound roof. So if yours isn’t solar system-ready, you have to replace it, adding to your upfront costs.
A solar roof becomes the more cost-effective choice if you’re due for a roof replacement. But if the roof is fairly new, solar panels might be a more affordable installation.
Which Is Better, Solar Shingles or Solar Panels?
When discussing solar roof shingles vs. solar panels, understand that one system isn’t always the better alternative over another. They are both effective in producing clean energy for your home. It’s a matter of choosing which of the two fits your budget, needs, and preferences best.