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Solar shingles, also called photovoltaic shingles, are solar panels designed to look like and function as conventional roofing materials, such as asphalt shingle or slate, while also producing electricity. Solar shingles are a type of solar energy solution known as building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV).

There are several varieties of solar shingles, including shingle-sized solid panels that take the place of a number of conventional shingles in a strip, semi-rigid designs containing several Silicon solar cells that are sized more like conventional shingles, and newer systems using various thin-film solar cell technologies that match conventional shingles both in size and flexibility. There are also products using a more the traditional number of silicon solar cells per panel reaching as much as 100 watts DC rating per shingle.

Solar shingles are manufactured by several companies but the three main manufacturers of solar roof shingles are RGS Energy, SolarCity, and CertainTeed. Other active companies in the US include SunTegra Solar Roof Systems, and Atlantis Energy Systems (asphalt and slate systems).


The Basics

What makes the Solar Roof unique? In a conventional setup, solar panels are housed in a dedicated module, which is then attached to a roof or installed elsewhere on your property. In contrast, UrbanDesizn Solar Roof is a rooftop with solar panels embedded directly into the shingles.

The solar array isn’t a separate unit installed on top of your roof – rather, it is your roof.

Each shingle is a discrete solar panel. A percentage of the panels are solar-enabled, while the rest are “decoy panels.” The non-enabled panels look exactly the same, to maintain a uniform aesthetic. Customers can determine what percentage of panels they need to enable to meet their energy needs.


Pros

  • WOW FACTOR. It’s gorgeous – no blocky solar panels jutting out from your roof.

  • DURABILITY. Solar Roof panels received the highest possible hail, wind, and fire resistance ratings.

  • WARRANTY. The 30-year warranty goes beyond the industry standard. There’s also a lifetime tile warranty to cover physical damage.

  • TALK OF THE TOWN. Who doesn’t love to be the first to get their hands on new tech?


Cons

  • EXPENSIVE. The Solar Roof costs about 4 times as much as a DIY solar installation, even if you hire a contractor to help. Though the former gives you a new roof, you still pay a steep premium for the Tesla brand.

  • THE WAITING GAME. The first residential customers spent over a year on the waitlist before their Solar Roof was installed.

  • UNRELIABLE. More discrete parts mean more chances for hardware to fail. Past iterations of the solar shingle design were notoriously high-maintenance.

  • POOR ROI. You pay a premium for Tesla-branded roofing products, which eat into your investment.

  • The Solar Roof is covered under a 30-year warranty for power and weatherization. The power warranty covers the output capability of the solar arrays. The weather warranty protects against failure as a result of water damage or other weather effects.

  • 30 years eclipses the standard coverage for most solar arrays on the market, which typically offer a 25-year warranty. The extra 5 years may be a selling point to counteract the hesitation early adopters have when they invest into an unknown product. With no established track record, there’s no guarantee the product life won’t be shortened by a major design flaw down the road. The 30-year warranty may help alleviate those fears.

  • Tesla also offers a lifetime tile warranty, which covers physical damage to the glass in the tiles. If one of the glass panels ever breaks, even after the 30-year period, it will be covered under the lifetime warranty.

  • However, this doesn’t quite tell the whole story. Most traditional solar panels come with a 25-year power warranty and a 10-year workmanship warranty. If your array breaks down due to product defects, you’re covered for 10 years.