One of the more interesting new roofing options now available is solar shingles. In contrast to standard solar panels that a contractor installs on top of another roofing material, solar shingles are actually part of the roof. In this post we looked at the future of roofing materials, including solar shingles from GAF and Tesla. Let’s take another look and ask: are solar shingles worth it?
THE BENEFITS OF SOLAR SHINGLES
Solar shingles promise one particular benefit over standard roofing: the ability to generate some or all of the electricity you use in your home from day to day. Generating your own electricity and using less from the electric company makes a lot of sense for your electric bill, as well as for the current movement to electrify everything. In addition, thanks to net metering, you could even send electricity back to the grid when it’s producing more than you’re using.
Another benefit that could make solar shingles worth it is their more integrated appearance compared to rack-mounted panels. Solar shingles lie flush with the rest of the shingles, which your roof will require at the edges and at the valleys. Solar shingles can’t be cut to fit, so they have to fit into the space that’s available. And that’s no different from rack-mounted panels. A roof with solar shingles will have to use a combination of standard shingles and solar shingles.
Continuing with benefits, solar shingles give you the potential to work with one contractor for your new roof and solar panels. The typical process for a rack-mounted system is to work with a contractor for your new roof, and then with a solar contractor for your solar system. You can expect a two-step process like this to take longer than installing solar shingles and standard shingles into a complete solar system.
Furthermore, getting just one warranty for your entire new solar roof is a huge benefit! Solar panels are a mature technology, but integrating them into shingles is not. It sounds like a good idea to get a warranty for the entire roof as a unit.
In addition, solar shingles use standard shingle installation methods such as nailing or screwing into the roof decking, meaning a standard number of fasteners and holes in the roof. GAF, the giant building products manufacturer, notes that rack-mount systems can be different. Those systems, they note, “can puncture your existing roof with lag bolts. This could disrupt the waterproofing to your roof, possibly degrading your roof quicker.”
Who Makes Solar Shingles?
Two of the major manufacturers have a similar product on the market now. Both are new in the last couple of years. Both are primarily intended to be connected to the electric grid as your home probably is now. You’ll need to work with a certified contractor, and talk with that contractor about connecting to the electric grid. That’s not a part of a typical roofing job, so you may have to have that part done by an electrical contractor. However, adding a battery backup or other such hardware is certainly possible when you work with a specialty contractor.
GAF Energy designed the Timberline Solar Energy Shingles for installation with GAF’s popular Timberline asphalt shingles. GAF says they’re warranted, as part of the whole roof system, to winds of up to 130 mph. If you check out the photos, you’ll see that they look low profile compared to rack-mount systems. As for cost, they’re a new product and economies of scale have not grown yet. But GAF says you’ll pay about the same overall cost for their system compared to a new shingle roof and rack-mount system.
CertainTeed, another of the major roofing and building products manufacturers, makes a similar product they call the Solstice Shingle. Your contractor would typically install this shingle with some of CertainTeed standard asphalt shingles, in the same way that GAF specifies. Importantly for Florida homes, these solar shingles are “Rated to be installed in any wind zone including Florida’s high velocity hurricane zone,” CertainTeed says.
CertainTeed gives some useful warranty details so you know what you’re getting:
- Solar shingle power output: 25 years
- Inverter: 10 years
- All other components supplied by CertainTeed: 10 years
- 110 mph wind warranty: 10 years
As always, you’ll need to work with a qualified contractor. “When a Solstice Shingle system is installed by a CertainTeed Solar Roofing Specialist, the professional installation of the system is warranted for 25 years.”
What About Tesla?
Tesla’s solar roof is a bit different. Tesla makes it from a combination of solar panels and steel tiles instead of asphalt shingles. As such, it’s a more expensive roof than the systems from GAF and Certainteed. Otherwise, it’s the same idea: a fully integrated solar roof system. One advantage, though, is that you’ll also probably find the integration with Tesla’s Powerwall and other accessories to be more straightforward with a Tesla contractor.
What About Incentives?
Inflation Reduction Act: the IRA provides a 30% tax credit on your new solar system. You can read more details here, but if you spend $30,000 on a system, you can take $9000 off eligible expenses in that tax year.
Florida state solar incentives: good news here too! You’ll get a sales tax exemption and property tax abatement for the solar system you purchase and install. These are both incredibly simple: the solar system retailer won’t charge you when you purchase your system. And your solar system does not count towards your property tax value.
So Are Solar Shingles Worth It?
If you have the funds or the financing available for an upgrade, solar shingles sure look like a solid option. They’re fast to install, integrate with standard shingles, and provide one warranty for all of it. No matter what type of roof you have, we can help you through the process. Our team has more than 40 years of experience in roofing. Give us a call at 813-373-9088, or use this form and request more information and we will contact you.