Solar Shingles vs Solar Panels: Which is Better?

Solar shingles or solar roof tiles are becoming a popular choice for homeowners who want to go solar since they are more aesthetically pleasing than traditional solar panels. But what are the differences between solar shingles and solar panels? Are solar shingles cheaper? If you want to learn which one is the better choice for your home – read this solar shingles vs solar panels article so you can make an informed decision. 

What are solar shingles?

Solar shingles are small, thin photovoltaic panels that perform like traditional roofing tiles so not only do you receive protection from the elements, but you also can convert solar energy into electricity to power your home.  

Solar shingle solar cells are contained inside roofing material. Some solar shingles conceal the solar cells, while with others you can see the solar cells. 

Solar shingles can be installed on top of existing asphalt shingles or can be installed as a new roof. Installation costs for a new roof system will be more expensive than placing them on existing shingles but is the better option if it is time to replace your roof anyway. 

Solar photovoltaic shingles are less efficient than conventional solar panels. 14% -18% compared to 22%.

What are the different types of solar shingles?

Silicon Solar Shingles

Silicon solar shingles are comprised of monocrystalline silicon and are similar to a conventional solar panel. Monocrystalline silicon is slightly more efficient than CIGS and is more expensive normally for that reason.

CIGS solar shingles

Copper Indium Gallium Selenide, or CIGS, solar shingles are thin-film solar cells. CIGS solar shingles incorporate new film technology. They are more flexible and lightweight and blend in much better than monocrystalline silicon tiles.

How do solar shingles work?

Solar shingles work like traditional solar panels but on a smaller scale. Solar shingles and panels absorb light through their photovoltaic cells. The cells are put in between layers of semiconducting material. When the sun shines on solar shingles or panels, electricity is created.

Solar photovoltaic shingles and solar panels must be paired with an inverter to work for your home. Solar roofs and solar panels generate Direct Current (DC) electricity and the inverter converts the solar electricity into Alternating Current (AC), the type of electricity you use in your home. 

What are solar panels?

A conventional solar panel is a larger version of a solar roof shingle. Solar shingles are essentially roof tile-sized solar panels. They generate solar electricity in the same way.

Pros and Cons of Solar Shingles 

The Pros

  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Durable 
  • Low maintenance
  • Can be as cost-effective as a traditional roof replacement
  • Compact
  • Reduced carbon footprint
  • Reduced electricity bill 

Aesthetically Pleasing

The top reason why homeowners consider solar shingles as opposed to solar panels is they are much more aesthetically pleasing. Unlike solar panels, solar shingles are not bulky and don’t require a lot of room. They can blend in with your current roof or replace your current roof. If you live in an HOA that has regulations regarding traditional solar panels, solar shingles are a great alternative. 


Solar shingles have a longer lifespan than traditional asphalt shingles. Solar shingles are built to last 25 to 30 years. Many manufacturers construct them to be weather- and fire-resistant. 

Low maintenance

Solar shingles are easy to maintain. All you need to do is clean them a few times a year and consider yearly inspections. 

Can be as cost-effective as a traditional roof replacement

In some cases, if you need a roof replacement, a solar roof may cost you about the same as a new roof with traditional roofing materials. While this may not always be the case, the cost shouldn’t be too much more than a conventional roof replacement and you’ll have the added benefit of being able to generate solar electricity. 


Solar shingles blend in with your roofing materials and are lightweight. They don’t need additional structural support like traditional solar panels.

Reduced carbon footprint

Solar power is the most abundant renewable energy source on the planet and is incredibly clean and sustainable. Solar shingles decrease your need for power from the grid, which is powered by fossil fuels. 

Reduced electricity bill

Solar shingles help you rely less on grid electricity so you’ll have a smaller electricity bill. 

The Cons

  • Much more expensive than solar panels
  • Less efficient than solar panels
  • Limited availability
  • Roof limitations and compatibility

Much more expensive than solar panels

Solar shingles are expensive. Costs range from $30,000 – $70,000 for a solar roof installation, while a standard solar panel installation will range from $15,000 – $ 30,000. The final bill will depend on many factors including the type of solar shingle you choose and the size of your roof. 

You can take advantage of financial incentives for your solar roof installation to lower the cost. 

Less efficient than solar panels

Solar panels are a proven technology while solar roof tiles are a newer technology. As a result, solar PV shingles are not as efficient as solar PV panels. 

Solar shingles have an average 21% – 22% efficiency rate, while solar shingles have a 14% – 18% efficiency rate. 

Limited availability

Solar roof shingles are a newer technology and only a handful of companies offer solar tiles. While Tesla is probably the most well-known solar roof company, recognized for its Tesla solar roof and Tesla solar shingles, there are a few other companies that have started manufacturing solar tiles. Other solar shingle manufacturers include CertainTeed, Forward Solar Roofing, GAF Materials Corporation, Luma Solar Roof, and SunTegra Shingles.

Roof limitations and compatibility

Solar shingles cannot be installed on every roof type, while solar panels can be mounted on just about every kind of roof type. Solar panels can be tilted and adjusted to maximize sun exposure, while solar tiles are set in one position. 

Solar shingles work best on roofs that have good sun exposure and are not shaded. They are best suited for a roof replacement or new construction. Solar tiles are built to replace an existing roof made up of asphalt shingles. Some manufacturers are beginning to offer other options like wood.

Which is the better option, solar shingles or traditional solar panels? 

When it comes to deciding between solar shingles or traditional panels, solar panels will usually be the better choice for a homeowner. 

Both solar shingles and panels are eligible for money-saving incentives from the federal government and other organizations. They also both help you reduce your carbon footprint and reliance on the grid. Yet solar panels are cheaper, more efficient, and more versatile than solar shingles. 

Solar shingles might be the better option for homeowners who need to replace an existing roof or are building a new home. Solar panels may not look as nice as solar shingles, but the tradeoff is you’ll be able to use a less expensive and more reliable technology to reduce more energy costs. 

Can you walk on solar shingles?

Yes, but you shouldn’t. Solar roof tiles are built to withstand the elements but not for someone to walk on them. Solar shingles are slippery, and if they’re thin film, can break easily under pressure. Solar panels are stronger than solar tiles and it is never advisable to walk on them either. 

Can solar shingles power a house?

It is unlikely that you’ll be able to power a house with solar shingles but you may be able to with solar panels. While if solar shingles can power a house depends on several factors including how many daily sunlight hours you receive and your daily energy consumption, due to their low output solar shingles will more than likely not be able to power your house. 

How do I get solar shingles?

If you want to reap the benefits of solar power and install solar panel shingles on your roof you’ll need to connect with a solar installer like WattLogic. A solar installation is not a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) project. It is a knowledge-based installation that can be dangerous and done incorrectly if you do it yourself. You will also void any warranty (20+ years) you would receive from a solar shingle manufacturer if you don’t go through a solar installer.

If you decide that regular solar panels are a better choice for your home WattLogic can install those for you too. WattLogic provides turnkey residential solar power systems that include solar panel selection, rebate management, and project management. Get in touch with a WattLogic solar expert today and get an affordable solar solution that fits your needs!