Solar Roof Shingle Installations 101


Solar shingles are turning a lot of heads and for good reason. The question for many still remains though. Are they just a gimmick or are they actually worth it? Let’s explore solar shingles and what you need to be aware of when you want to “go green”. But first, what is renewable energy?

Renewable Energy

Indeed, renewable energy is any form of energy derived from natural sources. These natural sources include, but are not limited to:

  • the sun
  • wind
  • rain
  • water (rivers, sea)

Additional examples are Bio-Fuel and Bio-Gas energies. In the first case, the energy is generated by the means of plants whereas – in the second case – it is generated by using the waste.

Effective usage of these renewable sources can ensure enough energy for almost every house and, more importantly, future generations. In this context, the use of clean, renewable energy such as solar roof shingles is priceless. Mainly, solar panels consist of tiles that are purple or dark blue. They can be fitted on the already existing roofs to generate power and make maximum use of the sun’s energy.

Solar Shingles 101

Solar shingles form part of a product line known as building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV).

They were first introduced in 2005, and have since gained much popularity.

solar-shingle-roof.jpegThis modern invention has become an attractive option for homeowners interested in the alternative to a more traditional home style of photovoltaic systems.

They are designed to look like conventional wood and asphalt shingles, but instead, integrate with the roof’s surface by actually replacing them.

These shingles are tough, and their rugged manufacturing allows them to withstand up to the harshest weather conditions including UV rays, heavy rainfall, snow, hailstones, and almost anything else mother nature throws at them. They are also somewhat flexible and fire-resistant.

Their greatest appeal, however, is a matter of aesthetics.

Unlike bulky panels, solar shingles aren’t that obvious to passersby. They offer more curb appeal, and shingles also make it possible to replace your roof and add renewable energy at the same time.

Shingle Design

There are currently two basic types of solar shingles used at home.

Traditional silicon solar cells, and the relatively newly developed copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS), or “thin-film” photovoltaics.

Silicon shingles are designed in a frame proportional to conventional roofing materials, making them perfect for easy installation. They do cost more than thin film, however, but they do produce more power per square foot too.

Thin film technology is cheaper to produce and allows for a more flexible, lightweight application. These shingles can be installed in about 10-20 hours, thereby drastically reducing the cost of labor and inconvenience too.

Shingle Power

Depending on your preferred brand, one solar shingle can typically generate anywhere between 13 and 63 watts. Solar-shingle-zoomed-inThis equates to enough sunlight every hour for running a standard incandescent light bulb for around 60 minutes.

This figure naturally varies depending on the dimensions and specific solar cell technology the manufacturer uses.

To put this into perspective, should you use the shingles which produce 13 watts, for example, you will need about 80 shingles covering 100 square feet of roof to get a kilowatt out of them.

Are Solar Shingles Right For Me?

If you are considering shingles because you really don’t like the look of solar panels, be sure to get an expert to assess your roof.

Shingles are simply not a good match for all properties.

For starters, your roof has to be set at the correct angle, because once the shingles are set in place they cannot move. This also makes them less desirable for homeowners who may want to move and bring their solar equipment with them.

On the bright side, solar shingles make theft nearly impossible.

Your roofing substrate must also have the correct circulation while being able to handle the extra heat.

Because each solar shingle works like a small, separate panel, every unit needs to be independently wired into the system. Wires often run along the roof substrate and connect to terminals in the middle of each shingle. After installation, the wiring remains hidden from view.

Return On Investment

Traditional PV systems are still able to produce more electricity than shingles, but the cost of this technology is gradually falling and tends to vary from state to state.  Several factors must be taken into consideration when comparing prices, including manufacturer, roof type, area, slope, and so forth…


Nonetheless, a homeowner can easily spend over $20,000 to install shingles on a medium-sized house. Some manufacturers offer loans to buyers who can’t afford this upfront expense, and it is naturally more cost-effective to install the equipment during house construction or roof replacement.

But whether it be solar panels or solar shingles, green technology is still favorable. Any property with solar technology will sell faster if you’re in the market, and shingles will offer a good return on investment.

Solar’s return on investment is calculated on a 20:1 ratio. So, for every $1 you save on your utility bill by going solar, your property’s value increases by $20.

So, if you manage to save $1000 on your electric bills for the year, your property’s value will increase by $20, 000! And best of all, this amount is 100% tax-exempt!

Solar Shingle Roof Installation

The installation process can either be done by calling any of the contractors or installers. Another alternative is to get a ‘Do-it-Yourself’ kit where it is ready to be bought off the shelf. In normal cases, this kit includes basic instructions associated with video manuals to make it easy for the consumers to do it on their own. However, even for the most avid DIYer, this could become problematic. As with most home improvement projects, and especially solar, it’s always advisable to reach out to a professional contractor near you for some advice and knowledge.

Final Verdict On Solar Shingle Roof Installation

Solar shingles may yet change the face of the solar market, with flexible applications in both architecture and engineering. They could also have a massive impact on construction methodology and, of course, pricing models.

Unfortunately, solar panels still cost less and generate more watts than the best solar shingles on today’s market, and although this technology has the potential to transform the face of solar altogether, it is relatively new and may yet reveal some problems in the next 10-15 years.

Solar panels are still preferable if maximum savings is your main concern, and the bottom line is that not all solar installers deal in solar shingles right now.

On the other hand, if you are purely going for that look, solar shingles may just be for you.

Some More Basic Solar Energy Facts

An average US home consumes about 8,900kwh of electricity per year, which is approximately 24kwh a day. It is also well-known that it does require an upfront investment to convert to solar energy.

solar-shingle-roof-replacement However, many incentives by government and local solar power companies exist in an effort to make it affordable for a wide range of individuals.

It is also well known that the value of a solar-powered home increases while selling faster. Adding to this, solar power is a clean source of energy that helps in making our environment much healthier.

What Is The Motivation Behind Switching To Renewable Energy?

There is no doubt that solar renewable energy lasts forever, which eliminates the worry about vanishing the energy sources. For example, wind energy is being increased in its consumption over the years and it shows at least a 30% increase each year.

Thanks to drastic climatic changes and higher costs of fossil fuels, several governments encourage the usage of such renewable sources of energy. They even try to support solar power companies so that this clean energy can be affordable to almost everyone.