Should you choose Tesla or an alternative for solar shingles?

Solar shingles have been in use for a while. However, Elon Musk and the initial Tesla solar shingle installations in 2018 completely altered the way we think about solar shingles.

The modern glass tiles can replace your roof and produce electricity. They have revitalized interest in the previously underappreciated building integrated photovoltaics sector of the solar industry (BIPV).

Tesla’s solar shingles aren’t the only ones available, either. This article will define solar shingles in detail, examine some of Tesla’s largest rivals, and consider whether solar shingles are cost-effective.

What are solar roof shingles?

Roofing shingles with solar cells are known as solar shingles. They are made to appear like and provide the same level of protection as conventional asphalt shingles while simultaneously producing solar power.

Despite the favorable economics, many homeowners are hesitant to put solar power systems on their roofs because they dislike the appearance of conventional solar panels. The solution to this conundrum is solar roof shingles, which let homeowners can enjoy all the advantages of solar power without sacrificing their home’s aesthetic appeal.

What sets Tesla’s solar panel shingles apart from other solar shingles on the market?

One of the first companies to create a genuinely integrated solar shingle product is Tesla. When you install a Tesla solar roof, Tesla provides you with two types of shingles: active shingles (which produce electricity) and inactive shingles (which don’t).

Since Tesla provides all of the roofing materials, the solar and non-solar portions of the roof blend together to provide a completely consistent appearance. The majority of other solar shingle brands just market the active shingles, therefore they aren’t made to resemble the other shingles on your roof.

In contrast to other shingle companies, Tesla solar shingles require you to replace your complete roof, which is a drawback. This is because other shingle brands simply require you to replace a section of your roof. The plus is that you end up with a gorgeous roof that produces solar power.

How much do solar shingles cost to install?

Depending on the brand you choose and how you evaluate prices, the cost to install solar shingles varies.

In terms of solar costs alone, Tesla is the most affordable at $1.80 per watt before incentives. The price per watt for other solar shingle brands ranges from $3.80 to $7.00.

It’s vital to keep in mind, though, that installing Tesla’s solar shingles necessitates spending money on a brand-new roof. Because Tesla’s roofing materials can grow pricey, the entire cost of a Tesla solar shingle installation could be significantly greater than that of other brands, like CertainTeed, that can be installed with your existing roof.

Solar shingles cost compared to a conventional roof replacement cost

A solar roof installation will cost more than a standard solar installation or roof replacement, but it’s crucial to remember that the cost of a solar roof installation includes the cost of a solar panel system as well as roofing materials.

Both active and passive shingles are installed when a Tesla solar roof is built. While the inactive shingles just function as conventional shingles, the active shingles transform sunlight into energy for your home.

The cost of the solar shingles is $1.80 per watt according to Tesla’s calculations. This is less expensive than the typical price per watt of conventional solar panels, which is about $3.00.

It will cost between $20 per square foot of total roof space for the inactive shingles, depending on the complexity of your roof. This is more expensive than the typical cost of conventional asphalt shingles, which ranges from $3.50 to $5.50.

According to these estimates, a normal 10 kW solar system would cost $30,000 before incentives, whereas a traditional roof replacement would cost approximately $9,350 for a 1,700 square foot roof. Your final total now stands at $39,350. Assuming the same home has a straightforward roof complexity, the full Tesla solar roof would cost about $52,000, not counting roof tear off expenses.

That’s not significantly more expensive than a standard roof replacement and solar panel installation, but that’s assuming you use the cheapest roofing materials from Tesla.

Tesla solar roof tiles vs. competitors

Although it might appear like Tesla is the only firm producing solar shingles, this isn’t the case. Unbelievably, quite a few other businesses, such as Luma Solar, CertainTeed, and Suntegra, produce solar shingles.

GAF Energy

GAF Energy

GAF’s Timberline Solar Energy Shingles are one of the newest solar shingle products on the market. GAF is arguably one of the most recognizable names in roofing if they seem familiar to you. It’s even possible that GAF is already working on your roof.

The solar shingles from GAF Energy are developed with roofers in mind; because the tops of the shingles are composed of asphalt, they can be fastened to the roof with nails just like ordinary shingles.

The GAF website does not provide any official specifications, although some product data sheets online claim that each shingle has a power rating of 45 watts. Aside from the installation totals cited by their president, which indicate that a complete roof replacement plus the solar shingles would cost roughly $30,000, including incentives, there is little information available regarding the official pricing of GAF’s shingles.

Luma Solar 

Luma Solar

Using solar shingles that they refer to as a “luxury product” that can be modified in the future to fit changing needs, Luma Solar created the first fully-integrated solar roof system in the United States.

In terms of aesthetics, Luma Solar’s solar roof is probably the closest you can come to Tesla’s because both companies employ inactive shingles to help the solar panels blend in.

Each of Luma’s shingles has an 80 watt power rating, and a 25-year production warranty as well as a 5-year limited product warranty are included. You can know that even in the windiest conditions, their shingles will remain in place because they are rated to resist gusts of 200+ miles per hour and have been given the Category 5 Miami-Dade Hurricane Rating Classification.

Although Luma’s website does not have official pricing stated, prices for an earlier version of their shingles with a slightly lower power rating than the current model started at $4.50 per watt. Therefore, it’s possible that the latest shingles will cost a little more. The complexity of the roof and the layout of the system might also affect the cost.

CertainTeed Apollo II 

In the late 2000s, CertainTeed, a well-known manufacturer of conventional roofing tiles, started selling solar goods. The Apollo II shingles and Apollo II tiles are the only solar shingle products that are now available.

Both have monocrystalline solar cells and are 70 watts. Although CertainTeed does not provide pricing information on their website, we can guess that the Apollo tiles are slightly more expensive than the Apollo shingles because they are more efficient and have a lower profile.

Solar shingles from CertainTeed can even be put on top of existing asphalt shingles, so you won’t need to replace your complete roof. Because you avoid having to replace your entire roof, a CertainTeed solar shingle installation is probably less expensive overall than alternative solar shingle systems.

This, regrettably, does make CertainTeed solar shingles stand out a little more from the other shingles on your roof.



Another well-known manufacturer of solar shingles is Suntegra. Similar to Certainteed, Suntegra offers solar roof tiles and solar shingles so you may select the one that best complements your roofing material. The solar tiles are made to work with materials for concrete roofs.

In order to mix in with standard asphalt shingles, the low-profile monocrystalline solar shingles are fastened directly to the roof. Three different wattages of Suntegra shingles are available: 105, 110, and 114 watts. Depending on the wattage shingle you select, the price ranges from $3.80 to $4.25 per watt.

The price is higher and Suntegra’s solar tiles have slightly lower power ratings, ranging from 64 to 70 watts. The price per watt for Suntegra’s solar tiles will range from $6.16 to $6.57.

How do solar shingles compare to conventional solar panels?

Simply put, solar shingles are more attractive than traditional solar panels. Others can be laid over your current shingles and have a very low profile, allowing them to blend in more with your existing roof. Some are installed as their own roofing material.

Solar shingles might not be the best option for you if you have a limited budget because they often cost more per watt than the typical solar cost.

The solar shingles currently available on the market typically have relatively good performance requirements. When standard solar panels are placed side by side with them, their power production appears to be poor, but that is only because they are much smaller.

Pros and cons of solar shingles

Reduce carbon footprintHigh cost
Electric bill savingsLimited styles
Tax credits and rebatesDependent on roof orientation
Aesthetically pleasingRequires entire roof replacement

What are the advantages of solar roof shingles?

For the environment, your home, and your power bills, solar roof tiles are fantastic:

  • Reduce carbon footprint: Utilize a renewable energy source to power your home and lower your family’s carbon footprint by using it.
  • Save on energy bills: Reduced annual energy expenses of 40% to 60% are common with solar shingles.
  • Tax credits and rebates: Up until the end of 2032, homeowners that install solar shingles are eligible for the 30% federal solar tax credit. You may also be qualified for other incentives.
  • Aesthetics: Because they are integrated into your roof, solar shingles are less obvious than conventional solar panels.

What are the disadvantages of solar roof shingles? 

Solar shingles do have a few drawbacks:

  • Solar shingle roof cost: The overall cost of installing solar roof tiles is roughly three times that of normal roofing materials, and the majority of solar shingle brands are more expensive than the typical price of solar panels in the United States.
  • Limited styles available: If you really like the appearance of your Spanish-style roof, you’ll be frustrated by the restricted selection of solar shingles available because solar shingles aren’t available in as many styles as conventional roofing.
  • Orientation: Roof orientation affects the amount of energy produced by solar shingles; rack-mounted rooftop solar panels can be set at angles to capture the most sunlight, however solar shingles are restricted to the roof’s natural direction and hence tend to produce less energy.
  • Could require entire roof replacement: Other solar shingles might not require this, but then you’ll have an aesthetic issue similar to the one that exists with conventional solar panels. You can’t just replace half your roof with Tesla solar shingles; you have to replace all of your roof material.

Who can install Tesla solar shingles?

Typically, solar shingles are installed by licensed solar firms that work with the solar shingle producers.

Therefore, Tesla won’t be doing the installation if you purchase a Tesla solar roof. Your home’s solar roof will be installed by one of their solar roof installation partners, which may be a solar installer or roofing business.

What does Solarsystems recommend when it comes to solar roof shingles vs. conventional solar panels?

Depending on your situation, our recommendations:

Solar photovoltaic shingles are something to think about if you’re constructing a new home. They can be an attractive, elegant architectural feature in addition to serving as a practical roof and a means to lower electricity costs. If you require a new roof, they may also be a wise investment.

It depends on what you’re looking for which brand to select. Tesla and Luma are undisputed winners in terms of aesthetics thanks to their modern designs. Tesla and GAF Energy may be the best options if cost is your main issue. Remember that before making a final decision, it is best to compare estimates from a few different businesses and learn more about the services they provide.

Solar shingles really don’t make a whole lot of sense, unless you’re building something new or need to replace your roof entirely. Most BIPV options will be significantly more expensive than conventional solar panels. Additionally, since solar panels can generate more electricity than shingles, you could save more money.

The sooner you go solar, whether you decide to install solar shingles or purchase solar panels, the better. Financial investments should always be made as soon as possible.

Secure your solar panel system now more than ever since net metering, the regulation that permits you to export extra solar energy back to the grid, is in danger in many places where it’s now available.