|All content presented here and elsewhere is solely intended for informational purposes only. The reader is required to seek professional counsel before beginning any legal or financial endeavor.|
Solar energy has become a popular alternative power source because it can reduce reliance on fossil fuels and lower carbon emissions. But, choosing between solar shingles and solar panels can be confusing. What’s the right choice when both can save money and reduce your carbon footprint? And this begs the question, how much do solar shingles cost? Solar shingles average $55,000 for a residential property but range between $25,000 and $75,000.
Highlights & Key Takeaways
- Solar shingles average $55,000 for a home but range between $25,000 and $75,000
- Financing options like loans and solar power purchase agreements can make solar shingles more affordable.
- Solar shingles have several advantages over traditional solar panels, including a sleeker appearance and easier installation.
- While DIY installation of solar shingles is possible, it is typically recommended to hire a professional installer to ensure proper installation and performance.
How Much Do Solar Shingles Cost?
Homeowners need to understand the differences between solar panels and shingles, as this can help explain the variations in costs and why some homeowners choose one over the other. And while solar panels are larger and more efficient than solar shingles, they are more expensive and require a lot of space. Solar shingles, on the other hand, are smaller and more aesthetically pleasing. Though less efficient than solar panels, they can often be more seamlessly integrated into your home's roofing. As we said above, solar shingles average $55,000 for residential property but range between $25,000 and $75,000. This all said, which approach to take is a personal decision, with cost being a significant factor.
What’s the ROI of Solar Shingle Roofing?
With such a high cost of solar shingles, it’s only natural to wonder about the ROI (return on investment) for such a big purchase. To calculate the ROI of solar shingles for your home, you would need to consider the system's upfront cost, the estimated energy savings over time, and any incentives or rebates available in your area. You would also need to consider the expected lifespan of the solar shingles and any maintenance costs.
In general, the equation to calculate the ROI of your solar shingles is as follows:
ROI = (Total Energy Savings + Rebates - Cost of System - Maintenance) / Cost of System
So let’s look at an example. Assuming our solar shingles project costs $55,000, we will save an average of 55% on our electricity costs (solar shingles typically save between 40% to 70% of your electricity bill). Further, we’ll assume our electricity bill falls in line with the U.S. average electrical bill of $121.01 per month $1,452.12 annually).
Estimated Energy Savings per Year = Average Annual Electricity Cost x Savings Percentage
Estimated Energy Savings per Year = $1452.12 x 0.55 = $798.17
To calculate the total savings over the lifespan of the system, we'll assume a 25-year lifespan and no increase in electricity prices:
Total Savings over 25 Years = Estimated Energy Savings per Year x Number of Years
Total Savings over 25 Years = $798.17 x 25 = $19.954.25
Using the ROI formula that we provided earlier, we get the following:
ROI = (Total Energy Savings - Cost of System) / Cost of System x 100%
ROI = ($19,954.25 - $55,000) / $55,000 x 100%
ROI = -64.55%
Based on these assumptions, the ROI for the solar shingle system would be negative, indicating that the cost of the system is higher than the estimated energy savings over its lifespan. So, this might make it easy to assume that solar shingles aren’t worth the cost. But, remember that this calculation is made before incentives and tax credits.
The current Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is 30%, and it is estimated to remain at 30% until 2033, when it will drop to 26%. This means the cost of our system could effectively be reduced from $55,000 to $40,700. And if we do the math again, our ROI improves to -14.37%. Once again, this begs the question is solar shingles are a worthwhile investment. And that leads us to understand better the factors that affect the cost of solar shingles.
Factors that Affect the Cost of Solar Shingles
Though the ROI on your solar shingles might not seem optimistic, it doesn’t mean getting them is a bad investment. And several factors can influence the cost, potentially making it a much more lucrative financial decision. Here are the factors to consider.
Household Energy Needs
The size of the solar shingle system needed to meet your household's energy needs will impact the cost of the system. If your household has high energy needs, you will likely need a larger solar shingle system, increasing the system's upfront cost. On the other hand, if your energy needs are relatively low, you can install a smaller system, reducing the upfront cost.
To ensure your solar shingles will match your home’s energy needs, you should consider the power output of the solar panels or shingles. Typically, mono panels have a higher power output of more than 400 watts per panel than solar shingles, which generate 13 to 70 watts each. This means that you may need more solar roof tiles to match the power output of a single solar panel. Depending on the output of the solar shingles, it could take 20 to 30 shingles to provide the same amount of power as a high-powered solar panel.
Roof Size and Pitch
Though roof sizes and pitches can vary significantly based on the size of your home, it is helpful to know that residential roofs typically have a conventional slope, which falls between a pitch of 4/12 and 9/12. A more extensive roof typically requires a larger solar shingle system, which can increase the system's upfront cost. Similarly, a steeper roof pitch can make installation more complex, increasing installation costs.
Type of Solar Shingle
Solar shingles come in two primary forms - monocrystalline or polycrystalline.
- Monocrystalline solar shingles are made from a single, high-quality crystal cut into thin wafers. These shingles are more efficient than polycrystalline solar shingles, which can generate more electricity per square foot of shingle.
- Polycrystalline solar shingles are made from multiple smaller crystals that are melted to form the solar shingle. These shingles are less expensive than monocrystalline solar shingles, making them a more budget-friendly option for many homeowners.
The type of solar shingle you select can impact the overall cost and ROI of your solar shingle installation, as it affects factors such as efficiency, manufacturing costs, and energy output.
Solar Shingle Brand
The brand of solar shingle can impact both the costs and ROI of a solar shingle installation. Soft costs such as installation, permitting, and maintenance can vary depending on the manufacturer's reputation, technical support, and warranties. Additionally, the energy output and efficiency of the solar shingle system can be influenced by the technology and design used by the manufacturer, which can affect the return on investment of the installation over time.
The most common brands of solar shingles include:
- CertainTeed Solar produces monocrystalline solar shingles and tiles that can be installed on both flat concrete tile roofs with the Apollo Tile II system and on asphalt tile configurations with the Apollo II system.
- Luma Solar manufactures monocrystalline shingles with a Miami-Dade hurricane rating of Class 5+, which can withstand even the strongest hurricane-force winds, and can be used with metal shingles. They also offer upgradable technology.
- SunTegra Solar produces shingles and tiles that can be tailored to fit both composite and tile roofs, with sheets of tiles being applied to composite roofs and individual tiles being installed on tiled roofs.
- Tesla Solar Roof offers a full-roof installation that combines glass and steel to increase the roof's durability and energy efficiency. It is one of the few solar installers that provide a complete roofing solution that generates clean energy while protecting the home.
- GAF Energy's Timberline Solar Roofing utilizes a rack-mounting system that eliminates the need for drilling into shingles during installation and is available in four colors to complement the design of your roof while withstanding winds of up to 130 mph.
Cost to Remove Old Roof
As solar shingles are intended to replace your existing roof shingles, part of the cost for your overall solar shingles project includes removing your old roof. Typically, the cost of this removal is baked into the cost of your new roof, and on average, a new non-solar roof in the U.S. will cost you about $10,000.
The larger your roof is, the more expensive it will be. And as far as the removal cost, you can anticipate an expense of around $1 to $5 per square foot, with the price varying based on the complexity of the removal process. Professionals typically include hauling fees, but if you opt to handle shingle removal yourself, you may spend up to $600.
Though the costs are negligible and often baked into the overall project cost, understand that you will likely be charged a permit fee for your solar shingle project. Typically, the cost ranges between $100 and $1,000. And in some cases, you may also have to include costs for plan reviews and inspections.
On average, the labor cost for solar roofing shingle installation ranges from $3 to $4 per square foot, and it can make up to 60% of the total project cost for complex roofs.
While solar panels generally come with a 25-year warranty, solar shingles may not have the same coverage. A warranty for solar shingles typically ranges from 10 to 25 years, and the cost can vary depending on the brand and type of shingle. Purchasing a warranty for your solar shingles can provide peace of mind and protect you from unexpected repair or replacement costs.
Solar shingle installation costs vary depending on location, with higher costs in cities with high cost-of-living and logistical challenges in tight neighborhoods. Although installation in rural areas may be more affordable, finding a qualified installer can result in paying a premium.
A battery system can be necessary to store the excess energy your solar shingles produce when the sun is not shining. This is especially useful for those who want to be fully self-sufficient or live in areas with frequent power outages. However, adding a battery system can significantly increase the overall cost of your solar shingle installation, as solar batteries can cost anywhere between $200 to over $15,000.
Tax Credit and Incentives
As mentioned earlier, the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is a federal tax credit available to homeowners installing solar photovoltaic systems, including solar shingles. The ITC allows for a credit of up to 26% of the system's total cost to be applied to the homeowner's federal income taxes.
Average Solar Shingle Costs
The cost of solar shingles varies based on a range of factors such as square footage, size, wattage, type, and brand. If you are considering solar shingles, research and compare different options to find the best fit for your budget and energy needs. The information below may help.
Average Solar Shingle Cost per Square Foot
The square footage of your roof is a key factor in determining the overall cost of a solar shingle installation. The larger the roof surface area, the more solar shingles you will need, increasing the project cost. The average solar shingles cost per square foot is $14 to $35, and the average U.S. roof size is 1,700 square feet.
Average Cost of Solar Shingles by Size
The average cost of solar shingles can vary significantly depending on the size of your system. Smaller systems, which typically generate around 2 to 3 kW, may cost between $10,000 to $15,000. In comparison, larger systems that generate 8 to 10 kW or more can cost quite a bit more, considering the average cost for a solar shingle project is around $55,000.
Average Cost of Solar Shingles by Watt
Solar shingles cost between $4.50 and $8 per watt, with higher-end shingles costing more. Be sure to consider the wattage of your solar shingles when deciding on the size and scope of your project, as it can significantly impact the overall cost.
Average Cost of Solar Shingles by Type
Integrated solar shingles can cost between $21 and $28 per square foot, while traditional solar panels can cost between $14 and $18 per square foot. Additionally, Tesla's Solar Roof comes at a higher cost, ranging from $22 to $44 per square foot. Homeowners who prioritize aesthetics may be willing to pay a premium for the sleek design of integrated solar shingles, while those who prioritize affordability may opt for traditional solar panels or alternative brands with lower price points.
Average Cost of Solar Shingles by Brand
As mentioned, Tesla’s Solar Roof comes at a higher cost, typically $22 to $44 per square foot. On the other hand, CertainTeed, Luma Solar, and SunTegra offer a range of options for homeowners who want to invest in solar shingles but are on a budget.
How to Calculate the Cost of Solar Shingles for Your Roof
Calculating the cost of solar shingles for your roof can be a complex process, as it depends on several factors such as the size and slope of your roof, the wattage and type of solar shingle you choose, the complexity of the installation process, and any additional costs such as permits or warranties.
To calculate the cost, you can start by measuring the square footage of your roof and determining the wattage needed to generate the amount of electricity you require. Next, research various solar shingle types and brands to find the one that best fits your needs and budget. Once you have a list of potential installers, get quotes from each and compare the prices and services offered.
Here are the summarized steps to calculate the solar shingles cost for your roof.
- Determine your roof's square footage - Measure the length and width of your roof and multiply those numbers to get the total square footage. As a reminder from earlier in our article, the average solar shingles cost $14 to $35 per square foot, and the average U.S. roof size is 1,700 square feet.
- Determine your energy needs - Calculate your household's average monthly energy usage in kilowatt-hours (kWh) to estimate how many solar panels you'll need. As a starting point, you should know that the average home in the U.S. consumes 886 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per month.
- Select your preferred solar shingle type and brand - Compare different types and brands of solar shingles to find one that fits your budget and energy needs.
- Calculate the cost of materials - Multiply the solar shingles you'll need by the cost per shingle to get the total cost.
- Calculate the cost of labor - Estimate the installation labor cost, which typically ranges from $3 to $4 per square foot.
- Factor in additional costs - Don't forget to include the cost of permits, warranties, and any additional equipment you may need, such as a battery storage system.
- Add it all up - Add the costs of materials, labor, and any additional expenses to get an estimate of the total cost of your solar shingle installation.
How to Save Money on the Cost of Solar Shingles
If you want to reduce your impact on the U.S. power grid and adopt a more environmental approach to your lifestyle, installing solar shingles can be a good step in that direction. But, as you can see, with an average cost of $55,000, solar shingles are not an inexpensive endeavor. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to save money on the cost of solar shingles.
- Look for the best deals. Be sure to do your homework and get quotes from various installers.
- Focus on cost-effectiveness. Larger or more stylish solar shingle systems may not always be cost-effective, so choose carefully to get the best value for your money.
- Consider financing with a solar panel loan. Research the best solar shingle financing options through different sources, such as contractors, banks, or solar power purchase agreements, and choose the best one that suits your budget and needs.
- Choose off-peak installation. Select the off-peak season to install your solar shingle system to take advantage of discounts and promotions offered by contractors.
- Check for rebates and tax credits. Look for rebates and consult a tax professional to ensure you don't miss out on local, state, and federal tax credits.
- Make eco-friendly changes. Invest in energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs to reduce energy consumption and maximize your savings from your solar shingle system.
- Keep up with maintenance. Promptly address any necessary repairs to prolong the lifespan of your solar shingle system and ensure it runs efficiently. And, though rain will typically keep your solar shingles free or dirt and debris, you should have your roof and gutters professionally cleaned occasionally.
Are Solar Shingles Worth the Cost?
The cost of solar shingles can be substantial, but many homeowners find that the long-term energy savings make them worth the investment. In addition to reducing energy bills, solar shingles can increase the value of a home and make it more attractive to potential buyers. Most specifically, here are three reasons why solar shingles are worth the cost.
- Energy savings - Solar shingles can help homeowners save money on their energy bills by generating electricity from the sun.
- Aesthetics - Solar shingles can be more visually appealing than traditional solar panels, as they blend in with the roof and can look like regular shingles.
- Environmentally friendly - Solar shingles are a clean and renewable energy source and can help reduce a homeowner's carbon footprint.
Which is Better: Solar Shingles or Solar Panels?
As we shared earlier, while solar panels are larger and more efficient than solar shingles, they tend to be more expensive and require a lot of space. Solar shingles, on the other hand, are smaller and more aesthetically pleasing.
Regarding solar panels, most homes require between 17 and 21 solar panels, and costs after credits can range from $16,870 to $23,170. On the other hand, solar shingles average $55,000 for residential property but range between $25,000 and $75,000 (before the ITC is applied). Ultimately, evaluating both options' advantages and disadvantages is essential before deciding.
How to Finance Solar Shingles
If you are interested in financing the purchase and installation of solar shingles, you have several options. Most homeowners opt to use personal loans to finance their solar shingle purchases. Consider a home equity loan, a line of credit, or a refinanced mortgage. Each option has advantages and disadvantages that can influence your term length, how much you pay each month, and your interest rate.
The most common approaches to financing solar shingles are:
- Solar Shingle Loans - Many banks and credit unions offer solar loans that allow you to pay for your solar shingle system over time. These loans typically have lower interest rates than credit cards or personal loans, making them a more affordable financing option.
- Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) - With a PPA, a solar company will install solar shingles on your roof and sell you the electricity generated by the system at a fixed rate. This allows you to enjoy the benefits of solar power without paying for the system upfront.
- Solar Leases - Similar to a PPA, a solar lease allows you to use a solar shingle system for a fixed monthly fee. The solar company retains ownership of the system and is responsible for maintenance and repairs. However, you may be unable to take advantage of tax credits or incentives with this option.
The cost of solar shingles can vary depending on several factors, such as square footage, size, wattage, type, and brand. The cost per square foot ranges from $12 to $14, and the overall project cost can range from $25,000 to $75,000 for an average of $55,000. While solar shingles may cost more upfront, they can provide long-term energy savings and increase the value of your home. Ultimately, deciding to invest in solar shingles depends on your circumstances and financial goals.