Are Solar Roof Tiles Really Worth the Cost?
It may still be a few more years until solar tiles take over from panels, though it can’t be said that they don’t already look the part.
Solar has been a long-standing sustainable source of energy for homes up and down the UK and with 1.2 million roofs already benefiting from solar panels it's hardly a question anymore of whether or not they are worth the investment.
The hot topic now in the solar energy space is very much, Solar Roof Tiles. The same in premise as panels but wholly different in execution, solar tiles have captured attention all across Europe and America. But is this the right time to buy or should you wait for the tech to improve? Read on to find out.
What is the Difference Between Solar Roof Tiles & Solar Panels?
On the face of it, you may not think solar panels and solar tiles are all that different. Both make use of Photovoltaic (PV) cells which transform energy from the sun into usable (and free) electricity.
However, whilst solar panels are well established, solar tiles are a fairly recent innovation, developed as a solution for the one big problem with panels – an uneven roofline. Panels, as you’ve likely seen are mounted on top of your roof and then angled into the best position to receive maximum sunlight. Solar tiles, on the other hand, integrate seamlessly into your roof.
There is one significant caveat, however, solar roof tiles cannot be installed onto a pre-existing roof. To fit new solar tiles, you would need to replace your entire roof.
Types of Solar Roof Tiles
Fortunately, it is rather easy to keep up to date on the different types of solar roof tiles as manufacturers are far and few between. By far the most prominent, not to anyone's surprise, is Telsa with their Solarglass roof.
Tesla’s solar roof tiles are already being sold in America, with the rest of the world on the horizon soon. Though, with an eye-watering cost of around £30,000 (based on current exchange rates for a 2000 square-foot roof) it may be well worth considering a few brands closer to home.
Now that we’ve explored the shark of the solar roof tile world, let’s take a look a the best solar roof tiles closer to home. The most prominent ‘local’ seller would be GB Sol who are already manufacturing and installing in the UK. Having manufactured their PV slates in Wales, you can be sure that they have been tested specifically to handle our weather with each one coming complete with a 25-year warranty as insurance.
You might also find GB Sol’s prices to be a little more up your street with a price, on average of £294 per square meter of roof.
Other sellers of solar roof tiles include Solecco. Another brand local to the UK offering their XO Solar roof in several bespoke colours and finishes. This particular design also, according to Solecco, reduces the weight of your roof by 70% compared to solar panels also reducing up to 3 tonnes of concrete, glass and aluminium from the manufacturing process.
Cost of Solar roof Tiles
You can see full estimated list of solar roof tile UK prices here:
Type of House
Total Avg. Solar Panel Cost (Incl. Labour)
Avg. Solar Panel Cost
1 Bed Flat
1-2 Bed House
2-3 Bed House
3-4 Bed House
As you can see, there can be no argument that solar roof tiles are the cheapest option. In fact, unless you are considering replacing your roof already, you may find solar panels are more effective in almost every regard. Seeing as the tiles could take as much as up to a week to install as opposed to panels which typically take 4-6 hours per panel.
However, Solar Tiles still boast a significant number of benefits that make them worth considering.
Advantages of Solar Roof Tiles
The biggest selling point of solar tiles is their appearance, and we mean that. Most, when installed correctly, look stunning and, unlike solar panels, there is a variety to choose from. Not only will this help maintain your home's aesthetic, but it can also increase its market value considerably.
Reduce Energy Costs
As you’d expect from solar tiles, they will reduce your reliance on wholesale electricity, in many cases saving as much as 40 – 70% on your bills. Taking into account the average annual electric bill in the UK (roughly £2500 for a 2-3 bed house) that means you could be looking to make your money back on your solar roof in around 8 years.
Sustainable Source of Electricity
Not only is the energy solar tiles provide free, but it also eco-friendly. Able to power all your household appliances. Solar tiles like solar panels can also benefit from the ECO4 scheme to help with installation.
Better Resilience Against Harsh Weather
Solar panels are typically mounted on a bracket. This means they can be very vulnerable to strong winds which, in the worst case, will blow the panel clear off the roof. Solar tiles, on the other hand, affixed to your roof like any other tile, are not only far more resistant but will also protect your roof in turn.
Disadvantages of Solar Roof Tiles
There is no getting around it, solar tiles (because you need to replace your whole roof) are many times more expensive than panels providing a similar wattage. This is not to mention the additional costs of labour, equipment and waste disposal.
Less Efficient than Panels
Solar panels are designed wide and flat for maximum exposure to sunlight. Even so, most will only ever achieve an efficiency of around 16% - 22%, meaning 22% of the sunlight they receive is converted into electricity by the solar cells. This may not seem like a lot but with 5 or 6 you can generate around 850kWh (kilowatt hours) every year. Roughly £450 of electricity for what would be considered a 1Kw system.
Solar tiles can be anywhere from 10 – 20% efficient, depending on where they are installed and how much direct sunlight your roof gets. What this means is that in a like-for-like system, solar tiles will save less and take far longer to pay for themselves.
Only Suitable for Certain Roofs
We’ve already established that solar tiles can only be installed on a completely new roof. Meaning if it's not a new building property with one already installed you will be looking at replacing your entire roof. However, they can be even more restrictive than that. Your roof will need to be a specific pitch that is suitable for the specific solar tiles design.
Are Solar Roof Tiles a Smart Investment?
As much as we’d like to say otherwise, solar tiles just aren’t suitable for 90% of homes. Unless you are building your home from scratch or specifically looking to make your house stand out from its peers to boost its value Solar tiles fail to meet the standards set by panels in almost every category bar their looks.
As things stand now, despite the fact that they are better looking, and more durable solar tiles remain more expensive and less efficient than panels.
However, that is only taking into account the technology as it is now. There is every possibility that these tiles may become more efficient and cost-effective in the coming years. Either by improving their efficiency to match their cost or by making them more affordable to the mainstream.
Regardless of which it is, however, our advice remains the same. Stick with solar panels for now and keep an eye on the solar tiles development before jumping the gun and upgrading your roof.
Need Some Advice Picking Out Your Next Roof?
Our award-winning team is on hand to help with all your roofing needs, whether that be picking out the best polycarbonate sheets for your lean-to or helping you decide between tiles or slates. Get in touch now on 01295 565 565 or by using the handy live chat below.