Our society is undergoing a major environmental revolution. Today, more people are conscious of their carbon footprint and are actively shifting to renewable energy alternatives that don’t lead to the depletion of fossil fuels.
As a result, we are observing a big-scale solar panel integration in residential and commercial buildings alike. Not only does solar power positively affect your ecosystem, but it also reduces the monthly load of electricity bills.
Solar roof tiles for 4kW capacity can reduce your electricity costs by a whopping 50%. Interesting, right?
But the installation of solar panels can seem to be a cumbersome task. Are you also not happy with how solar panels tend to protrude out and disturb the aesthetic of your home? In that case, you should get introduced to the concept of solar roof tiles.
In this guide, we are going to explain the impact of getting solar roof tiles installed in detail.
What Are Solar Roof Tiles?
Solar roof tiles are also referred to as solar shingles or solar slates and are used as a replacement for traditional solar panels. These tiles are made with small solar panels consisting of photovoltaic cells that absorb sunlight exactly the same way as conventional panels do.
This energy output is converted into DC (Direct Current) form. Further, a solar inverter helps produce AC (Alternating Current) output and can be connected via electrical cables to a battery to store excess electricity generated.
In other words, we can say that solar roof tiles are just a modernised version of traditional panels with multiple shingles closely connected in an array. However, one significant difference to note is that installing solar tiles will not alter your existing roof’s appearance.
Options Available While Installing Solar Roof Tiles
Switching from a regular to solar roof tile will undoubtedly prove to be a smart investment. You can get out of the hassle of paying the electricity bill and contribute to the green energy movement. Here are a few options you can decide on.
A common occurrence in UK installations, on-roof tiles are fixed on the mounts already present on your roof space. There is no need for roof replacement here as you are basically adding an element on the top of non-solar tiles on the current roof. These tiles are less evident than the standard solar panels.
Here, a selected portion of the existing roofs’ structure is substituted with solar tiles. Some of the traditional roof tiles are replaced with photovoltaic roof tiles. As the integration process is on the level with the entire roof, this solar tile installation would appear more subtle than the on-roof one.
Complete Solar Roof
If you are looking to take a step towards being a solar-powered home, solar roofs will work best. Instead of a specific portion, the entire roof is replaced with an intelligent combination of regular and solar tiles. It will help keep your roof structure safe and ultimately offer the facility to generate electricity as per your requirements.
Why Should You Invest in Solar Tiles?
Planning to go solar but not convinced on the idea of solar tiles? In that case, read through the below-mentioned advantages that might help change your mind.
Undoubtedly, one of the reasons people tend to avoid the installation of solar panels is the way they look. But with solar tiles, there is no such ‘eyesore’ factor. Slate roofs look like other traditional roofs and do not appear very bulky. As a result, your house’s aesthetic appeal stays intact.
It doesn’t take much to see a crack in a traditional tile. If you live in a geographical region where hailstorms or snowstorms are regular, you have probably called the builder way too many times.
But solar tiles are designed to be about 3 times stronger and effectively protect your home against leaky roofs. As a result, your roof is set to last for decades to come. Also, most manufacturers offer a good warranty duration.
Fitting for Listed Buildings
Listed buildings are located in conservation areas where homeowners are not legally allowed to put up solar panels as it can spoil the appearance of your property. But with solar roof tiles, there are no such limitations.
You can easily integrate solar tiles on your roof without causing any damage to the house structure and conservation area guidelines.
Disadvantages of Solar Roof Tiles
With the above-listed advantages, there are a few notable disadvantages of picking solar tiles over solar panels.
Switching to solar tiles is quite evidently a good option when it comes to the stylish appearance of your home. But it is bound to cost you almost twice the amount you would pay for solar panels. For example, you could go solar for 3 kW with panels for around £4,000-£6,000.
But with roof tiles, you are looking at an expenditure of £10,000-£12,000. On average, solar roof tiles cost £16.71 per square foot. This factor can deter many people if aesthetics is not their top-shelf priority.
Solar panels are known for their superior efficiency of about 18% – 25%. More efficiency implies that the panel is able to convert more solar energy into electricity.
But with roof tiles, you only get an efficiency range of 8% – 15%. It means that you will end up paying more instead of saving money.
Solar roof tile installation is not as easy as it sounds. To cover up the energy required for your household, you might need to cover the entire roof surface with solar slates.
You could even be asked to get a new roof for some buildings altogether. It is inconvenient if you are way too attached to your home or not entirely ready to hire a full-time construction worker.
Complex Installation Process
Conventionally, solar panels are installed within a couple of days and do not require an army of workers up on your roof. But this is not quite the situation in the case of solar roof tiles.
You might need a complete roof replacement based on your pre-existing roof structure. In the past, solar roof installation has been known to take over a fortnight with around 10-15 people on the job.
Roof tiles are still a relatively newer concept. Not many companies have ventured into this domain with crucial issues like installation, cost, and efficiency. As a result, the market is still in its beginner stage with fewer competitors.
It implies that the customer has limited choices to pick from. But with the ever-escalating developments in the field of solar technology, there are bound to be more options in future.
Solar Panels Vs Solar Shingles
Even though the working principle of both solar tiles and shingles is similar, there are still some differences to note.
An average solar panel measures somewhere around 40 inches wide and 66 inches long. On the other hand, shingles are nearly 12 inches wide and 86 inches long.
Panels weigh about 42 pounds, while shingles only weigh 13 pounds. Also, a roof tiles’ thickness is less than an inch.
Solar panels are made up of silicon. But solar roof tiles are made with a semiconductor called CIGS (Copper Indium Gallium Selenide).
This particular material allows for thin structure and more surface flexibility. Some companies also utilise the naturally occurring Mono crystalline Silicon (Mono-Si) semiconductor.
Solar panels are available for different wattage ranges. On average, you will find that panels are available from 225 to 350 watts.
Shingles have a comparatively lower power output of around 13 to 63 watts. However, 350 PV tiles can effectively produce about 40 to 70% of your electricity.
What is Feed-in Tariff System?
The feed-in tariff is part of the government incentives scheme where you get paid for producing your electricity. This energy could be derived from any renewable source like solar panels, wind turbines, hydroelectricity, anaerobic digestion etc.
The feed-in tariff is divided into two parts:
- Generation tariff – You get an incentive for every kWh of power produced using your solar tiles.
- Export tariff – You get paid if you produce extra energy and send it back to National Grid energy suppliers.
To join the tariff policy, you need to ensure that your solar tiles or panels are purchased from credited suppliers registered under Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). You can register for the Feed-in tariff and Renewable Heat Incentive with the MCS certificate.
UK government will pay you for the next 20 years, and the incentive is not considered a part of your personal tax allowance.
The hype around roof tiles in the solar industry is steadily increasing with time. With benefits like sleek appearance and elimination of electricity bills, it sure seems like a good project to consider for your homes or offices.
If you are also not sure whether to buy solar roof tiles, go through our guide to get clarity on the same.
Even though solar tiles work just like the panels, there are still some notable differences between both options. Based on your roof structure, budget, and energy requirements, you can make a choice between both.