Everything You Need to Know About Solar Shingles

Solar power popularity has increased tremendously, and people continue to express their interest in photovoltaic products. The latest technology in this field is solar shingles. They are also known as photovoltaic shingles. Shingles are the same as photovoltaic panels. However, they are designed to function and look like conventional roofing materials as they generate electricity.

Solar shingles are referred to as building-integrated photovoltaics or BIPV. Photovoltaic shingles are ideal for you if you need a new roof and want to retain roof functionality and aesthetics. They make your home eco-friendly, and they are budget-friendly as they increase your property value. In this article, we are going to look at everything you need to know about BIPV. Let’s dive in.

What are Solar Shingles?

solar shingles

Solar shingles look like ordinary asphalt shingles on your roof. They are small PV modules designed to replace the traditional roofing materials. Instead of mounting them on a roof like most solar panels, manufacturers incorporate BIPVs by integrating them into the roofing material.  

As technology improves, these solar roof shingles have become better with increased performance. Additionally, they also serve largely aesthetic value for homeowners. However, they are still less efficient than solar panels.

How Do Solar Shingles Work?

Did you know that you could get solar panel roof shingles since 2005? Though these panels have changed over time, they still retain the same basic idea: to merge PV modules with the roof instead of mounting them on the roof. All BIPVs function as both a roof and a source of energy. They can achieve this dual purpose in few ways:

  • Use of silicon as a semiconductor like most solar panels. They have a rigid frame but are made thin and proportional to the roofing materials and then installed in line with the materials.
  • Use of thin-film solar cells featuring thin layers of photovoltaic materials such as CIGS (copper indium gallium) or CdTe (cadmium telluride).

Like traditional solar panels, PV shingles convert solar energy into electricity by tapping the flow of electrons when sunlight hits silicon, CIGS, or CdTe semiconducting materials.

Solar Roofing Shingles Advantages

1. Improves Home Value

Solar glass shingles are similar to PV systems, and they increase your home’s value. It is evident that homes that install photovoltaic shingles sell much faster and also have increased home value. If you are thinking of buying solar panels that look like shingles, you can consider this as a big reason when conducting a cost-benefit analysis.

2. Longer Lifespan

You do not need to replace your Tesla solar shingles before 30 years elapse. However, many PV modules have a shorter lifespan of about 20-25 years. Notably, building-integrated photovoltaics have not existed long in the market enough to ascertain their longevity.

3. Aesthetic Appeal

Many homeowners choose photovoltaic shingles over solar panels because of their polished appearance. They have a modern look that easily blends well into your roof’s design. Additionally, BIPVs are made inconspicuously, and they look like asphalt shingles. If you want clean energy without the look of solar panels on the roof, PV shingles are the best option.

4. Good for the Environment

Going solar is a great way to support the environment, whether you choose solar panels or photovoltaic shingles. PV systems provide renewable energy to your home or business. The more people switch to renewable energy solutions, the less reliant we are on fossil fuels.

PV Shingles Cons

1. Solar Installation Process

Though the technology has been around since 2005, BIPVs are still a relatively new technology. As such, there are not many trained installation contractors in the market. It can mean a longer wait for the solar shingles to be installed.

2. Expensive

When looking at solar shingles vs. solar panels, you will notice that BIPVs are a bit more expensive. Apart from a higher installation cost, you will also need a higher budget to purchase the shingles. For this reason, it only makes much more sense to install PV shingles when you need a roof replacement. You can consider the reduced energy cost when creating your budget.

3. Reduced Mobility

It is much more difficult to transfer building-integrated photovoltaics if you are thinking about moving homes. In this case, you need to leave the shingles on the installed home. In foresight, it will increase the value of your home.

4. Low Efficiency

When compared to solar panels, building-integrated photovoltaics have much lower efficiency. Additionally, they are installed to match the roof’s angle and slope. If a roof’s section does not receive enough sunlight, it leads to low production. However, solar panels can be mounted and turned individually to capture more sunlight as they won’t interfere with the roofing material.

Solar Panels Vs. Solar Shingles


PV shingles

Solar Panels


Smaller than PV modules



Directly on the roof

Detached from the roof


Silicon & thin-film solar cells

Silicon & thin-film solar cells


More streamlined appearance

Can alter roof aesthetics

Prices & Installation Cost

Expensive than solar panels

Prices are considerable

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Much Do Solar Shingles Cost?

Though BIPVs are more expensive than solar panels, their exact cost varies depending on the company you go for. The average cost of photovoltaic shingles installation is about $15,000 and $20,000. Higher-end shingles like Tesla can cost $70,000 or more. However, rebates and other incentives can help lower this cost.

2. How many Solar Shingles Do I Need?

It can take a whole week to install PV shingles. However, the number of shingles to install will depend on the size selected, home square footage, and energy demand. You do not have to cover the entire roof; you can intermingle them with traditional roof shingles.

3. Can You Walk on Building-integrated Photovoltaic Shingles?

While many building-integrated photovoltaics are made from durable material, it is not advisable to walk on them unless necessary.

4. Are Solar Shingles Worth It?

Given the high cost of the shingles, they are likely not to pay back the investment. However, they can still help you reduce the monthly electricity costs. Additionally, it can be a reasonable investment when you factor in solar incentives and value addition to your property.

4. How Long Do PV Shingles Last?

Though this largely depends on the manufacturer, PV shingles can last between 25 to 30 years.