Solar Shingles FAQ: Costs, Composition, and More

solar shingles on roof

Image courtesy of

Solar shingles have become increasingly popular as a form of roofing materials and a reliable renewable energy solution. And with the rise of new technology, solar shingles are even more affordable and accessible than ever before.

What are solar shingles?

Solar shingles are a new roofing technology designed to mimic the aesthetic of existing shingle materials while generating energy from the sun.

The newest solar shingles have the same durability as other shingle materials while harnessing the sun’s energy to generate power you can use for your home.

Solar shingles, sometimes referred to as building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), are one of the most expensive roofing options you can buy; but over time, they will decrease your monthly utility bills and add significant resale value to your home.

How do solar shingles work?

solar shingles

Solar shingles work much like traditional solar panels, using the rays from the sun as a power source to generate electricity.

Solar shingles (and panels for that matter) are comprised of photovoltaic cells that in turn contain a semiconductor. Devices composed of semiconductors, like silicon, are the essential component for almost all electronic circuits. The semiconductors capture the light and energy from the sun’s rays. This energy can flow freely because of the conductivity of the semiconductors but is harnessed by the photovoltaic cells to flow in one common direction.

Encouraging sunlight to flow in one direction creates a current that can be used for electrical power.

Find a qualified roofing contractor

    How much do solar shingles cost?

    It’s not necessary to replace your entire roof with solar shingles, which can keep the cost of installation down. The number of BIPV shingles it takes to power your home depends on the size of your house and typical energy usage, but even a few solar shingles can help.

    The average home in America is 2,500 square feet. According to a leading manufacturer of solar shingles, a new solar shingle system will cost $51,000 to cover 70% of the roof. In addition, it’s recommended to buy a Powerwall battery to store the new energy, which costs $7,000. This brings the total cost to $58,200.

    While this is a rather staggering number for most homeowners, the percentage of solar tiles does not have to be 70%. The amount of shingles is dependent on your energy needs, if the roof is shaded or sunny, and how much your utility costs are. All of these factors can decrease the price. For example, covering your roof with 40% of solar shingles drops the price (with the battery, which is optional) to $43,700. Depending on your needs, 40% coverage may be enough.

    Solar shingles are eligible for tax credits. 70% could be as high as $16,000, and 40% up to $10,000. Solar shingles allow for the potential for excess energy, as well as increasing your home’s property value. There are other factors that influence the overall cost, but over time, as the technology evolves, the price will come down.


    What kind of solar shingles are available?

    Solar shingles are evolving rapidly, but there are two main types on the market: thin-film and silicon.


    Thin-film solar shingles are the newest form available. They utilize CIGS technology (CIGS stands for copper indium gallium diselenide) to make them as flexible and durable as regular asphalt shingles. This technology is laminated as a thin film over the shingle, thus giving this option its name.

    Thin-film shingles are less energy efficient than silicon shingles, but they are not as costly to manufacture.


    Silicon-based solar shingles are composed of silicon—a material preferred by many due to its efficient conversion of sunlight into energy.

    Currently, silicon solar shingles are much more efficient than thin-filmed shingles, converting up to 22% of absorbed sunlight into electricity.


    What are common concerns with solar shingles?

    solar shingle installer

    Solar shingles are catching up to solar panels in terms of efficiency and price, but they do require specific circumstances. Roofs need to be angled just right to receive sunlight.

    In addition, the roof’s substrate needs to be able to tolerate high temperatures and have the correct amount of air circulation.

    One of the biggest drawbacks to solar shingles is finding a contractor who can install them correctly. Like other uncommon roofing materials, solar shingles require a specific contractor to ensure they’re installed correctly. They haven’t been on the market long enough for most roofing contractors to become familiar with them. 

    At Hometown Roofing Contractors, we'll match you up with the best roofing contractor for the job. Customers can research all kinds of contractors, see what other customers have to say about their services, and request multiple quotes.

    Find a qualified roofing contractor