For some time now solar panels have been the best way to generate renewable energy for a home. However in recent years a newer technology has been steadily growing in popularity: Solar shingles.
Essentially solar shingles are slim photovoltaic cells that look like regular roof tiles but are able to harness sunlight and produce electricity just like solar panels do. In other words they are a direct alternative to solar panels, and if you want to know how they stack up you should look at them from several different angles:
- Energy efficiency
When it comes to efficiency, solar shingles cannot match solar panels. In part this is due to their structure as well as the fact that solar panels can be adjusted to optimize their capture of sunlight.
Many solar panels have an efficiency around 20% to 22%, while solar shingles tend to be around 14% to 16%.
While solar panels are bulky and protrude from your roof, solar shingles are slim and look like conventional roofing. Not only do solar shingles blend in with existing roofing, but they have a polished and modern aesthetic on their own.
Generally it takes longer to install solar shingles. There are fewer providers and there is likely to be a longer wait time as it is still relatively new technology. Additionally because it replaces existing roofing it often takes more work to install than solar panels.
The cost of solar shingles will vary depending on the area of your roof that you intend to cover. However solar shingles are generally far more expensive than solar panels, especially if you compare them in terms of the energy they will generate.
Solar panels have been proven to be quite durable and have an expected lifetime that is around 20 years. However solar shingles are said to have a similar lifetime, with many suppliers offering 20-year (or longer) guarantees on their tiles.
Because solar shingles are still new and their durability is unproven it is difficult to say which option is best – but at very least you should expect them to be similar.
- Environmental impact
In terms of environmental impact there is very little that separates solar shingles from solar panels. Both will let you generate renewable energy that you can use at home and reduce your carbon footprint.
To sum it up, both solar panels and solar shingles have advantages of their own. In general solar panels are the ‘better’ option when it comes to efficiency, cost, and installation.
However solar shingles may be a ‘better’ choice if you don’t want to ruin the aesthetic of your roof, or the area your property is in does not permit solar panels for conservation or other reasons. It can also be a good option if you were planning on replacing your roofing anyway.
Long story short – both solar shingles and solar panels may be ‘best’ under different circumstances, and it is up to you to determine which you feel is the best fit for your home.