Solar roof tiles vs solar panels

by | Aug 3, 2023 | Advice & inspiration, Building tips, Roof design

Australia is known as a sunburnt country, so it only makes sense we try to make the most of all those UV rays. Solar power is one of the most common terms associated with eco-friendly, sustainable living. What you may not realise is there is more than one option on the market. Solar tiles are a newer technology looking to take over from solar panels, but do they deserve the spotlight or should they remain in solar panels’ shadow? This article is all about solar roof tiles vs solar panels, weighing up their pros and cons and helping you decide on the best option for you.

What’s the difference between solar roof tiles and solar panels?

Both solar panels and solar tiles serve the same purpose of converting sunlight into energy which you can use to power your home.

Solar panels are devices used to collect and cover sunlight into energy. Residential panels are usually found on the roof of houses.

Solar tiles are like mini solar panels but are installed along with regular roof tiles, making them an inbuilt part of your roof’s structure. Therefore, they can only be installed with a new roof or roof replacement.

Solar roof tiles overview

A basic way to describe a solar roof tile is that it is a hybrid of a solar panel and a roof tile. Unlike solar panels, solar tiles don’t require mounting brackets. Instead, they’re built into the roof structure itself and can cover more space without standing out. Solar roof tiles are not only great for your energy bill, but they’re also durable and sturdy, working functionally as a roof tile.

As a new technology, solar roof tiles are an exciting prospect but it comes with the same downsides of any new product on the market. They’re still costly, they haven’t reached their peak potential and there is room to evolve. However, they’re much more aesthetically pleasing than traditional solar panels and installing them will still help significantly with your energy bills and carbon footprint.

How much do solar roof tiles cost?

This is what could be a deal breaker for many homeowners. At the time of writing, solar tiles are nearly twice as expensive as panels. With technology, the more mainstream and common it becomes, the more prices tend to drop. This happened with solar panels and it is possible solar tiles will follow a similar trend.

An installation of Telsa brand solar tiles can cost between $15,100-48,000. At these prices, it’ll take 20 years of energy to make back your investment.

How energy efficient are solar roof tiles?

At the moment, solar roof tiles lack the level of energy efficiency of solar panels. Solar roof tiles absorb between 10-20% of the sun’s energy which is a lower average than solar panels. However, the technology is relatively new and evolving quickly. It might only be a few years until they’re at the same level or better than solar panels.

What are the benefits of solar roof tiles?

  • More aesthetically pleasing than solar panels.
  • Are very durable, with some companies claiming they’re stronger than regular

What are the drawbacks of solar roof tiles?

  • As a newer technology, they’re not as well-tested as solar panels
  • Not as efficient and effective as panels, however, the technology is quickly catching up.
  • Much more expensive than solar panels and take longer to install.

Who are solar roof tiles best for?

  • Those building a new home who are concerned about the appearance of their home, but still want solar power.
  • Homeowners replacing their old roofs and would like the dual benefit of solar technology.

Solar panels overview

One of the best-known means of renewable energy, traditional solar panels are devices designed to absorb the sun’s rays and turn this into electricity, heat or both.

No matter the brand of solar panel, without proper placement, they’ll never reach their full potential in producing solar energy. Ideally, your solar panels need to be installed in a sunny roof area to capture the most solar rays. Understanding your home’s orientation and the sun’s path will help with where to install solar panels.

Governments offer a lot of rebates for installing solar panels and prices have dropped dramatically over the last decade. Currently, the Queensland Government offers $4,000 plus to homeowners willing to install solar panels.

How much do solar panels cost?

Solar panels in Australia can cost anyway between 2,900-14,000. The wide range of variety in prices comes from a few factors including:

  • Size of your panels
  • The quality of your solar panels

Below is a rough idea of how much solar panels are likely to cost you:

2kW solar system size costs around $2,800 – $5,600

3kW costs around $2,900 – $6,950

4kW costs around $3,400 – $7,900

5kW costs around $3,500 – $9,500

10kW costs around $7,600 – $14,100. 

Where you’re buying and installing solar panels will influence the price. Rural areas tend or out-of-the-way areas tend to be more expensive than major cities.

How energy efficient are solar panels?

Over the last decade, the efficiency of solar panels has noticeably improved. From an average of 15% conversion of sunlight to usable energy, nowadays this number has risen to around 20%. High-end solar panels can reach as high as 25%. Technology is constantly improving so this number could rise even higher.

What are the benefits of solar panels?

  • Currently, solar panels still are functionally superior to solar tiles. They generate electricity at a higher rate
  • Take up less space
  • You can install solar panels on an existing roof
  • Currently more readily available
  • As roof tiles have yet to become as popular as panels, solar panels have more options available.

What are the drawbacks of solar panels?

  • Some people find solar panels to be an eyesore.
  • Though prices have dropped, solar panels can still have a high initial price.

Who are solar panels best for?

  • Anyone looking to get a solar power system without replacing the entire roof
  • Homeowners under a stricter budget
  • Homeowners who want the most efficient option and get the most bang for their buck.

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