Solar Tiles versus Solar Panels

Which is Better For You?

Not only is the solar industry continuing to develop products with lower costs, greater efficiency, and better reliability, but it is even exploring other ways to improve the opportunities for homes and businesses with photovoltaic energy. One of these ideas is solar tiles. The idea is to make solar panels that look and resemble classic roof tiles or shingles, instead of installing solar panels. This idea is called a building-integrated photovoltaic system, or a BIPV product.

Granted, the idea of solar tiles is not a new one, but it has continued to gain steam since Tesla announced its endeavor back in 2016. Currently, Tesla is on version 3 of their solar tiles, but they are still nowhere near mass production. Even so, many people are trying to “hold out” for this new BIPV product instead of getting reliable, efficient, and readily available SunPower solar panels installed by Solaron. Although patience is always a virtue, is it wise to wait on solar tiles until they become available sometime in the future, or benefit from SunPower solar panels now? Let’s consider the differences between solar tiles and solar panels from the three most common concerns: cost, efficiency, and lifespan.

Cost of PV Panels vs. Tiles

As stated before, production and installation costs of solar panels continue to decline, especially when supported by financing programs offered by Federal and State sources. They are still an investment, since according to Energysage.com, the average cost of a solar panel installation in California is between 13 to 18 thousand dollars. Companies like Tesla state that they expect the cost for their solar roofs to be about $34,000 or an average of $22 per square foot. However, recent reports show average costs closer to $35 per square foot, making the total average closer to $64,000. Regardless of the estimates, the cost for a solar roof is higher than a solar panel installation, even when you factor in the fact that the entire roof is replaced.

Electricity Production with PV Panels vs. Tiles

The second point to consider is how efficient the solar roof can be when it comes to producing electricity. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of data to verify how efficient solar tiles are as compared to solar panels. Reports from PV Magazine indicate 8.1% to 10% efficiency in converting sunlight to electricity. Most solar panels on the market today have 15% to 20% efficiency in energy production. The A-series panels from SunPower deliver up to 22.3% efficiency. That’s more than double what a solar roof can offer! Of course, as time goes on, solar roofs will likely become more efficient, but so will solar panels from Solaron!

Lifespan of Solar Tiles vs. Solar Panels

This one gets a little tricky, because solar roofs haven’t been available for very long. Also, remember that both solar roofs and solar panels gradually degrade over time, losing their efficiency at converting sunlight to electricity. Companies like Tesla expect their solar roof products to last about 30 years (but no solar roof installation has reached that mark yet). As for solar panels, they usually last for 20 to 30 years before their energy production declines below what the manufacturer considers a low mark. For instance, SunPower considers that low mark to be an 8% efficiency loss. Losing 8% of a 25% efficient panel still leaves you with a log of energy production, but losing 8% of a 8.1-10% efficient panel is disastrous.

In addition, SunPower panels come with a 25-year warranty that covers their expected efficiency. If any of your panels drop below that 8% threshold, they get replaced at no cost to you. Since Solaron uses SunPower panels exclusively, we can care for any necessary replacements.

If you would like to discuss the benefits you can obtain from solar panels right now, please give Solaron a call or request a visit online. We keep up to date on all things solar, and we want to make sure you get the best photovoltaic system available for your needs.

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