While solar panels are a well-known entity in sustainability discussions, solar roof tiles appear to be relatively ignored. As the world continues to battle against climate change, with everyone looking for ways to live their lives more sustainably without negatively impacting the environment, more energy efficient technology is being utilised.
Whether it is solar, water, or wind energy, the world is trying to move away from its reliance on burning fossil fuels to sustain the lifestyles we have become accustomed to. One of the latest innovations in sustainable energy generation are solar roof tiles.
This article will aim to educate you on what solar roof tiles are, the advantages and disadvantages of installing them, how they fare against solar panels, how much they cost and how long they are expected to last.
What Are Solar Roof Tiles?
Also known as solar shingles or solar slates, solar roof tiles are an alternative to solar panels. Similar to solar panels, solar tiles are placed on your roof with the aim of creating solar energy. However, instead of attaching additional panels, solar tiles make up the structure of your roof.
The tile variation is a relatively new addition to green solar technology. But they are less assuming compared to solar panels, and blend easily into your roof design. This makes solar roof tiles the perfect solution for those that live in heritage areas or a listed building, where installing solar panels may be forbidden.
Types Of Solar Roof Tiles
There are two different types of solar roof tiles available on the market currently. However, this could change in the future as the technology becomes more understood and explored. The two types currently available, are:
- Thin-film PV (photovoltaic) cells: Out of the two variations, thin-film PV cells are cheaper as they are easier to manufacture. They are also considered more environmentally friendly, as they generate less waste. However, they are less efficient and powerful compared to monocrystalline solar cells, but this could change in later years.
- Monocrystalline solar cells: Currently monocrystalline solar cells are the most efficient and powerful solar roof tiles available on the market. They also have a longer life span compared to thin-film PV cells, which stands at 25 to 30 years. This is rather significant considering thin-film PV cells are only expected to last around 10 to 20 years.
Are Solar Roof Tiles Worth It?
Now that you understand what solar roof tiles are, you may be wondering why you should install them on your property. Before considering the variety of benefits and drawbacks surrounding solar roof tiles, you must understand that significantly less research on the topic has been completed compared to other sustainable power measures. This is because the technology has been around for less than 30 years.
As a general rule of thumb, depending on the property you own, you may wish to consider the following avenues:
- Are you converting your current home to solar power? If you already own your home and simply wish to move to solar power, you should maybe consider solar panels over solar roof tiles. This is because you would have to replace your entire roof, and if you are not currently experiencing any issues with your roof, this may be an unnecessary expense at this time. ESE Solar also offers a variety of solar panels that will help you fulfil your energy needs.
- Are you purchasing a new-build? If you are buying a new home that is currently being constructed, then why not opt for solar roof tiles instead of traditional roof tiles. Also, new-build homes are more compatible with solar roof tiles compared to older properties.
- Do you live in a listed building or protected area? If this is the case, then you may have previously had your application to install solar panels rejected. This is most likely due to solar panels going against protective acts either concerning your property or the local area. Typically, solar roof tiles do not have these same issues as they are more discreet.
The Advantages and Disadvantages Of Solar Roof Tiles
|Advantages of solar roof tiles
|Disadvantages of solar roof tiles
How Much Do Solar Roof Tiles Cost?
As we have previously mentioned, solar roof tiles are more expensive compared to solar panels. Factors like: lack of demand, higher manufacturing costs, and longer installation times, are all contributing to the price increase surrounding solar roof tiles. To give you a general idea of the average cost of solar roof tiles, including installation costs, we have included the prices of each system size between 1kW to 4kW below:
|Average cost of solar roof tiles (plus installation)
These prices are just a guideline as prices may differ depending on the amount of roof tiles you need, how long it will take to install them, and the materials required to manufacture the tiles.
Solar Roof Tiles Versus Solar Panels
While you may not have heard about solar roof tiles, solar panels are common knowledge. So why should you consider a lesser known entity compared to solar panels, which have been around since the 1800s?
Compared to traditional solar panels, solar roof tiles are more discreet. This is because they are made to resemble the tiles that most households in the UK have on their roofs. Due to their more aesthetically pleasing design, you may be able to install solar roof tiles on listed buildings, or on properties located in heritage areas. This would be a relief for those living in these kinds of areas and properties, as they wouldn’t be allowed to install solar panels.
Additionally, solar roof tiles are known as being more durable than solar panels. Not only will this boost the structural integrity of your home, but they also have a greater probability of surviving harsh weather conditions or flying objects. Whereas solar panels are more susceptible to damages.
However, solar panels have better efficiency ratings than solar roof tiles. But this could just be as a result of the manufacturers knowing more about panels compared to tiles. Also, solar panels are currently not as expensive as solar tiles.
Are Solar Roof Tiles Cheaper Than Solar Panels?
Sadly, solar roof tiles are not as affordable as solar panels. This is due to the lower demand of solar roof tiles, which is keeping prices high as well as the fact that the tiles are a relatively new invention. As demand rises, as well as the understanding surrounding the technology, the price of solar roof tiles will drop to a more affordable rate.
In the table below, we have outlined the average cost of solar roof tiles and solar panels depending on the system size you require:
|Solar roof tile cost
|Average solar panel cost
|£5,500 – £7,000
|£7,000 – £9,000
|£10,000 – £12,000
|£12,000 – £16,000
As solar roof tile technology becomes more popular, we will expect more energy providers to adopt it. This will increase the amount of competition within the industry, which should lead to more competitive pricing. In turn, this will massively benefit the end consumer, and allow you to purchase solar roof tiles at more affordable prices.
Are Solar Roof Tiles More Efficient Than Solar Panels?
Currently, solar roof tiles have an average efficiency rating of 10% to 20%. This is significantly less than the typical efficiency rating of solar panels, which ranges between 18% to 25% on average. The main reasoning behind this is due to the lack of ventilation solar roof tiles have compared to solar panels.
Ventilation is an important influencing factor in efficiency levels, as adequate ventilation will ensure that the solar energy system will not get too hot. When either solar panel systems or solar roof tiles get too hot, they become less efficient.
Additionally, due to the nature of solar roof tiles, they are set at a fixed angle and location that may not be the most effective when capturing sunlight. Whereas solar panels can be strategically placed to capture as much sunlight as possible, which in turn maximises the amount of electricity the panels can generate.
Are Solar Roof Tiles Available In The UK?
While solar roof tiles are currently available in the UK, and are available to purchase through ESE Solar, your choices will be limited. Due to the relatively new nature of the technology used in solar roof tiles, not many solar manufacturers or companies have adopted the technology. However, this is expected to change as demand in solar roof tiles increases, with prices also expected to tumble in-line with demand growth.
Solar Roof Tiles Summary
Now that you know all about solar roof tiles, do you think you will benefit through installing them on the roof of your property? If you are still unsure whether solar roof tiles or solar panels are the right investment for you, we have included a table below outlining the benefits of each option and how your personal circumstances may affect your choice:
Should I purchase solar roof tiles or solar panels?
Solar roof tiles
No matter whether you choose to install solar panels or solar roof tiles, ESE Solar will be there to help you take your first step on your solar energy journey and discuss the best course of action for you. If you are still struggling to decide which solar energy solution is perfect for you, then why not get in contact with our solar specialists.