Solar Shingles vs Solar Panels

Solar energy is increasingly becoming more popular in the race of attaining the renewable energy target. Harnessing the sun’s power to generate electricity is the bedrock of solar cells. Solar panels have been in existence for a relatively long time and it is estimated that its use started in the early 1950’s. However, the huge cost was the major hindrance to its growth which is taking care of by improving new technologies that make it more affordable. 

The new trend is the use of Solar Shingles. Solar shingles are also photovoltaic cells like solar panels, which are integrated into the commonly used asphalt roof shingles. The ability to integrate solar panels into roofing to make solar shingles makes them very popular. Solar shingles became first commercially available in 2005, however, its higher cost when compared to conventional solar panels made it very unattractive. In the early days, it was only used by solar enthusiasts. Due to improving technology solar shingles are becoming more price competitive which is improving its popularity worldwide. Building owners and anyone who plans on building an eco-friendly home usually find solar shingles as the right option since it is more functional, weatherproof and protective than traditional roofing sheets.

The biggest name in the production of solar shingles is Dow’s Powerhouse solar shingles followed closely behind by CertainTeed's Apollo solar shingles. They use cutting-edge Copper Indium Gallium Selenide solar cells (aka “thin-film” solar) to convert sunlight into electricity that can be used by building owners through a supplied inverter box. Dow’s Powerhouse estimates that their shingles generate about 12 watts per square foot and are designed in such a way that it sends excessive power generated back to the grid. Another advantage that makes it more popular is it can be installed by conventional roofing contractors thereby increasing its wide use. The earliest known solar shingle project was established in Colorado in 2011. A comparison between solar panels and solar shingles are compared below:

Solar Shingles Vs Solar Panels: Installation

Solar shingles can replace conventional asphalt shingles in the installation of roofing sheets. They are made in such a way that they protect the roof and at the same time generating electricity through solar energy captured by them. Due to its versatility, it can easily replace asphalt shingles in a reroofing project. It is relatively easy to install and takes a very short period of time to install them. They however need to be placed at a certain angle to catch the sun. For the solar shingles to catch the sun’s rays enough to generate electricity, the roof has to be at the right angle with enough surface area to power your building.

However solar panels are usually attached on existing shingles. The advantage it possesses is its ease to remove when a family needs to relocate to a different home. It must also be installed by a professional to guarantee optimum performance. It does not need to be placed at any angle which makes it easier to be installed for existing buildings.

Solar Shingles Vs Solar Panels: Efficiency

Solar cell efficiency refers to the amount of energy from the sun which can be converted into usable electricity by photovoltaic cells. Solar shingles during its early stages were very inefficient recording a maximum of about 10% in 2008. However, it has evolved and due to recent breakthroughs in thin film cell technology, it boasts now a considerable efficiency of about 18% A typical solar shingle is rated between 13 to 63 watts depending on the brand and quality.  A conventional solar panel however has an efficiency close to 20% making it more efficient than solar shingles This makes solar panels more desirable than solar shingles by homeowners who require efficiency.

Solar Shingles Vs Solar Panels: Versatility

Solar shingles have a very limited scope of usage. It is designed mainly for rooftops to sit along conventional asphalt roofing shingles. They are restricted to building or industrial roofs which has an overall effect on its efficiency. Also, solar shingles are required to remain grid-tied which makes them a very bad option for someone that plans on living off the grid.

On the other hand, solar panels find a wide range of use. Due to their versatility, they are used in commercial buildings with flat roofs, power street signs, traffic light, power banks and a host of applications. They can be designed to track the movement of the sun to maximize the overall electricity production during the day. One uniqueness about solar panels is that they can be installed with batteries so people who desire to live off the grid can produce its own sufficient energy without being connected to the electricity grid.


Solar Shingles Vs Solar Panels: Price

One of the major advantages for the use of solar energy is its renewability and cost savings. In the past, however, solar shingles were more expensive to afford than solar panels. The improvement in the thin film technology has however made the price more competitive mainly in areas that need to be reroofed where shingles already exist.

The research conducted by National Geographic estimated that the installation of solar shingles cost about 10-15% less than conventional solar panel installation. Therefore, the cost comparison between a solar shingle and a solar panel depends on a number of factors including the condition of the site, the scope of the project, site and potential need to replace the roof. However on the whole, Solar panels are cheaper than solar shingles.

Solar Shingles Vs Solar Panels: Installation time

Solar shingles are known to have quicker installation periods. It is estimated that the average solar shingle takes almost 2/3 faster to install on a new roof than conventional solar panels.

One thing that makes it special is that Solar Shingles do not need to be bolted onto the roof of any building because they are part of the roof itself. It is estimated that a typical residential cluster of 350 solar shingles on a roof of a building could reduce the electricity bill of a home by up to 60%. The race is very close and tightly contested between solar shingles and solar panels. 

Mark LandgrebeSolarHomeCo.