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Solar Roof: Your Complete Guide

tesla solar roof

If you have looked into adding solar to your home or business, you have likely come across the term “solar roof” in your search. The solar leaders at Tesla popularized the concept; however, finding concrete information about solar roofing can still prove challenging. Our energy experts took a look at all things solar roof related to create this brief yet comprehensive guide to help you better understand what solar roofs are and who they best suit. 

What is a Solar Roof?

Technically called building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), solar shingles present a unique and increasingly popular renewable energy solution. Studies backed by the Department of Energy in recent years have shown that solar roofing features such as solar shingles can boost the value of your home by as much as $15,000 or even more.

BIPV are dual-purpose: they serve as both the outer layer of a structure and generate electricity at the same time. BIPV systems can:

  • Provide savings in labor, materials and electricity costs
  • Reduce pollution
  • Add to the architectural appeal of a building. 

Though solar shingles can be added to a structure as a retrofit, the greatest value for BIPV systems is realized by including them in the initial building design or when redoing your roof. 

BIPV for Roofing

Photovoltaic (PV) material replaces traditional  roofing material and, in most cases, the roof itself. Companies like Tesla offer an integrated, single-piece solar rooftop made with laminated glass or quartz. Other companies offer solar “shingles” which can be mounted in place of regular roof shingles.

Solar shingles knock out two birds with one stone—they function as sleek and functional roofing alternatives, and they generate electricity like any other solar solution. 

Pros and Cons of Solar Roof Shingles

When looking to go solar, we always recommend exploring every option available to you. This includes looking into solar roofing and solar shingles, considering you find an installer that services your region. We broke down the top three pros and cons of solar roofs for you below:

Pros of solar shingles

  • Most consider solar shingles more aesthetically appealing and sleeker in comparison to traditional solar panels. They will also blend more perfectly with your current roof design, as they are not as bulky as panels. 
  • When constructing a new building or redoing your roofing, solar shingles could prove a more cost-effective option. This comes as a result of your ability to save on traditional roofing material and labor by bundling the services. 
  • Typically, you can remove and reinstall solar panel shingles in the event you move to a new home or commercial building.

Cons of solar shingles

  • Most solar installers will not offer solar roofing as the technology is still new and, while popularity continues to grow for the product, they are still not nearly as prevalent of an option. 
  • Not all types of solar shingles can be installed on an existing roof. This is in stark contrast to traditional solar panels which can be installed on virtually every roof type. 
  • If you choose advanced options, such as Tesla solar shingles, you will most likely need to build a new roof, and the installation time may also be relatively longer.

Are Solar Roof Shingles Right For Me?

The biggest thing to consider when looking into solar roof shingles is your roof. If you know you need a new roof (or you will within the next couple of years) or if you are in the process of building a new home or commercial space, you may want to consider solar roofing. 

For business and homeowners with functional roofs that still have over 5 years of life expectancy, conventional solar panels may provide more cost-benefit than solar shingles. The reason? Solar companies can install solar panels on virtually every roof type. It serves as a great addition or supplement to your home. Solar shingle installation essentially replaces your roof. If you do not need to replace your roof, you will incur unnecessary costs by opting for solar roofing options. 


The Cost of Solar Roofing

Probably one of the biggest mysteries surrounding solar roofing is the pricing. It will vary drastically depending on the company you choose for installation; however, you can still get a pretty good idea of how much you may have to pay. 

The cost per square foot can vary widely between different brands. And the overall cost will depend on the total square footage, typical energy needs, and your choice of manufacturer and installer.

The average solar shingles price for your roof could fall in the range of $15,000 to $20,000, but if you choose a highly sophisticated system, such as Tesla’s solar roof shingles, it could cost you as much as $70,000 or more.

When comparing this to traditional solar panels, you will almost always pay more for solar roofing. With that said, you must consider that this solution not only serves as a way to generate electricity but also completely replaces your roof. While some solar installers, like NRG Clean Power, can provide bundle deals for solar + new roof, the cost for both services will typically fall in a competitive range with solar shingles. 

Top Solar Roofing Brands

While many consumers will find ample information regarding Tesla’s solar roof, that doesn’t mean they are the only option. Below you will find a list of the top solar roofing companies to consider:

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