While domestic solar panels have been around for such a long time now, they’ve failed to become a hugely mainstream application enter Solar roof tiles. This is usually due to the sheer cost of installing and maintaining solar panels, although the cost is lowering, they continue to be very expensive and slightly out of the average budget for most, not only in the UK but all over the world.
The UK has a reputation for miserable weather and a cloudy forecast which means that the investments of your customers are less likely to bring a good return on investment. As most people know, it takes a long time to allow your solar panels to pay themselves off and while the technology is getting better and cheaper all the time allowing for a shorter payback period, it’s still longer than you’d like. With that in mind, solar roof tiles have been floating around in the world of energy for a while too. But is the technology good enough to recommend to customers? And what are solar roof tiles?
What Are Solar Roof Tiles?
Solar roof tiles in the simple sense are exactly the same as a normal solar panel, they convert the same sunlight into the same energy the same way (more or less). They are sometimes referred to as; solar tiles, solar shingles or solar slates. We’ve seen a few iterations of these roof tiles and in that time, they have a number of styles. Some look like an ordinary roof tile, that blend in and don’t look the same as your existing tiles, some don’t even look like a solar roof tile at all.
One of the biggest advantages of solar roof tiles is that they look just like a normal roof tile if you purchase that style. While you can buy solar roof tiles that look like tiny solar panels in a tile, companies do offer those that look like a low-profile slate tile or even a more traditional pan-and-cover tile. Regardless, being able to replace only a few of your roof tiles will also mean that you’re saving money if you plan to only cover a small area rather than your whole roof space again.
You’ll also be able to skip the process of reinforcing your roof for the larger, heavier solar panels to sit on top of the roof tiles. Reinforcing your roof isn’t always necessary, most solar panels will sit within the acceptable weight limit of your roof but if you do have to reinforce the roof of your home it can be costly. Using Solar roof tiles means that there will be less strain on your roof and offer easier installation too.
The cost is one of the main reasons that most people are put off by the idea of getting regular solar panels. Now, the fact that companies have miniaturized them and given them shape and style which means they are less of an eyesore. This is likely to mean that they’ll have a greater cost attached to them due to the extra work that goes into making them. Using the Tesla solar roof tiles as an example we can see that with a $200 electric bill and a 3,000 sq. ft. roof, you’d be looking at 30% coverage (in solar tile) with a cost of $60,900. This would also mean that it would take around 15 years to breakeven and cover the cost of the solar panels.
Installation can sometimes be a bit of a pain too, with different tiles comes different mounting and connections. Having to learn new techniques for fitting these solar roof tiles might take a while and
could even result in a costly course for existing roofers. So, if the cost is going to be higher for you, it will also be higher for your clients/ customers too which might put them off.
While we have had these solar roof tiles around for a while, they haven’t really become a well-known product as of yet. There aren’t as many companies in the mainstream market as you’d like to think either. Obviously, Tesla is one of the biggest companies in the mix at the moment. Due to the fact that they are usually at the forefront of developments in all things electric we’d expect nothing less really.
In November 2016, Elon Musk gathered a number of stakeholders and presented their version of the solar roof tile. It was quite revolutionary due to the fact that they’ve been designed to look just like a regular roof tile/shingle. Most other designed just simply look like a miniaturized solar panel which is still a bit of an eyesore. Tesla’s solar roof tiles come in four varieties; Tuscan Glass, Tuscan Glass, Textured Glass and Smooth Glass. This means that there will more than likely be a style that matches your existing roof already, so if your customers are hoping to only replace a specific number of roof tiles, they could do so.
CertainTeed’s Apollo II
Although CertainTeed is a new(ish) name, they are still the old company at heart. Originally in 1904, they were called General Roofing Manufacturing Company but now they offer a number of different services and products after becoming a subsidiary of Saint-Gobain.
One of the main appealing factors that CertainTeed has to offer is that their Apollo Tile II solar shingles have been readily available for around 5-6 years now. Whereas Tesla’s solar roof tiles haven’t really been a widely available product like the Apollo Tile II’s have. You can purchase these solar shingles from an installer and get the price of the install and the shingles in one go.
These tiles, however, have only one style that doesn’t exactly blend in. These Apollo Tile II’s have been designed to “match the profile of flat concrete tiles” and blend in to provide a clean look but they definitely do stand out. This is likely to make them less desirable than the tiles from Tesla due to the fact that they look like small solar panels rather than a roof tile.
Having a lot of experience in the solar energy world, SolarCentury has a reputation that you can trust. They’re currently working in partnership with IKEA to bring cleaner energy to the people. This involves a free quote and an in-depth, online tool that offers an insight into how much it could cost to purchase and install their solar tile; “rooftop-integrated+”.
SolarCentury has a different approach to the solar tile industry and decided to instead, follow a different installation technique. While their product doesn’t necessarily look like a solar tile, it would make sense to deem it more of a tile than a solar panel. SolarCentury has designed the tile to be submerged and sit flush with the existing or regular roof tiles.
Working with a 50m² area, on a 2-story house with a pitched roof at 30°, we found that it would cost
£7,455 (including VAT at 5% and the “Ikea Family Discount” at 15%). And if you were to purchase the battery storage that they offer would cost an extra £4,650.