Solar roof tiles are a compact, modern and attractive alternative to traditional solar panels, but are they a good choice?
In particular solar roof tiles are extremely useful for heritage properties where solar panels and other major disruptions to the original structure are not allowed.
In these cases solar tiles can blend in seamlessly with their surrounding with almost nobody noticing.
But what else should you be aware of concerning solar tiles? Are their any drawbacks and how much do these cost?
In this guide, we will discuss all of these topics and answer some of the most common concerns and questions.
Solar Tiles Key Takeaways:
- Solar roof tiles generate electricity from the sun and look like conventional roof tiles.
- They can be installed on new or existing roofs and may be more aesthetically pleasing than traditional solar panels.
- They can be more expensive and less efficient than traditional solar panels.
- Solar roof tiles are a good option for homeowners who are concerned about the appearance of their solar installation.
- Choose a reputable installer and consider efficiency, durability, and warranty.
- Other renewable energy options include traditional solar panels, wind turbines, and hydroelectric generators.
What are solar roof tiles?
Solar tiles, also referred to as solar shingles, are designed and created to resemble the original aesthetic, shape and design of original roof tiles.
For many people traditional solar panels are a genuine barrier to wanting solar installed, therefore, solar roof tiles or so-called rackless solar systems can offer the perfect solution.
However, it’s important to note that in most cases solar tiles are not used for existing roofs and are typically only used for new build properties or when an existing roof is being replaced.
How much do solar roof tiles cost in the UK?
As mentioned, on average solar tiles are more expensive than solar panels.
For example, a standard 4 kW solar tile solar system will cost between £10,000 and £18,000.
Compare this to the average solar panel system of the same size which costs an average of £7,000 – almost 50% cheaper.
Why are solar tiles much more expensive than panels?
In essence, these are the major reasons for the price difference:
- Solar tiles are themselves more expensive at wholesale.
- Solar tiles are much more involved in terms of labour time and costs e.g. installing individual tiles vs placing panels on top of the existing roof.
- The market is less competitive than for traditional solar panels.
In the table below we have provide average costs based on the size of the solar tile system being installed and provided a cost comparison against traditional solar panels:
|Solar Roof Tiles UK – Costs|
|System Size||Solar Tile Cost (Inc. VAT)||Labour Cost||Total Average cost||Typical Solar Panel Cost|
|1kW||£6,00 – £7,000||£1,900||£8,500||£1,540|
|2kW||£8,000 – £9,000||£1,900||£10,000||£3,000|
|3kW||£10,000 – £13,000||£2,500||£14,000||£5,450|
|4kW||£12,000 – £18,000||£2,200||£16,500||£6,660|
Who installs solar roof tiles in the UK?
In the UK there are fewer companies that offer nationwide solar tile installation compared to solar panels.
The three major solar tile installers are as follows:
- Tesla Solar Tiles
- GB Sol Solar Tiles
- Solecco Solar Tiles
- Solar Century Solar Tiles
Are solar roof tiles as good as panels?
Perhaps the most important question – are solar tiles as good as solar panels?
First of all what do we mean by good – we are referring to the following:
- Overall cost
- Energy output
In comparison to traditional solar panels, solar tiles are likely to lose in all of the above metrics.
Not only does a solar tile install take much longer e.g. a few days vs several weeks hence the higher labour costs, but they are also likely to provide less energy output as many of the tiles are likely to be in areas of the roof that are shaded.
In addition, solar tiles are likely to be less efficient than modern monocrystalline panels that can achieve an efficiency of as much as 22%
However, as mentioned solar tiles can still have utility for those that live in a property with restrictions, for example those that reside in a conservation or protected area where regular solar panels may not be possible.
Solar Panels Vs Solar Tiles UK
Advantages of Solar Tiles
What are the major advantages of solar tiles? Here’s a summary:
Seamless & Aesthetic Design
The major advantage of solar tiles is their aesthetic appeal. Not only do they blend into the roofs design but they are available in a variety of materials so that they blend seamlessly into the properties overall design.
This makes solar tiles ideal for those who are nit a fan of the look of so-called “ugly” solar panels.
Perfect for Listed Buildings
The fact that solar panels are designed to be just like regular roof tiles means that they blend into the appearance of the property making them ideal for homes located in protected areas where making modifications to the property are restricted and/or highly regulated.
Strong, Durable Tiles
Solar tiles are extremely durable and strong, in fact Tesla’s solar tiles are up to three times stronger than conventional roof tiles.
Unlike traditional solar panels they are able to better withstand high speed and volatile winds.
Disadvantages of Solar Tiles
Unfortunately solar tiles do have some downsides, including the following:
Solar tiles can be almost double the price of traditional solar panels, hence why they are more commonly found on new build homes only.
Long Installation Time
Installing solar tiles takes around 2 weeks to install on average, compared to just a few days for solar panels. These increased time frames and labour are a major reason for the high costs compared to solar panels.
The efficiency of a solar panel refers to how much of the sunlight hitting it is converted to electricity.
For example, if a solar panel is 22% efficient, that means that 22% of the sunlight hitting its surface will be converted to electricity.
Unfortunately, compared to solar panels, solar tiles do not offer the same high efficiency percentages.
Are solar tiles the best choice for your home?
If you are considering having solar tiles installed instead of solar panels, you should be prepared to pay more, in fact almost double the cost on average.
With that said, solar tiles do offer a more subtle and more sleek aesthetic making them an especially good option for listed properties and those in conservation areas.
If you are considering getting solar tiles installed, we advise you to seek a quote from at least three solar panel installation companies.
To make things extra convenient, we have developed a solar quote tool that will provide you with an estimate.
All you have to do is answer a few questions about your property and it will provide a new solar quote with a range of different options.