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Solar Roof Shingles & Tiles: Is There A Difference?

Solar Roof Shingles & Tiles: Is There A Difference?

Published 11/21/2023

Remember the last power outage? That’s just one of the reasons more homeowners are looking at solar as an option. But if you research solar, you might find solar roof shingles, solar roof tiles, and solar roof panels, all in a single search. It can be a bit confusing. How do you know what’s the right choice for your home?

What is solar and why should we use it to power our homes?

Solar, solar energy, solar power — no matter how you say it, it’s a renewable and sustainable source of electricity harnessed from the sun's radiant energy. It involves capturing sunlight using solar cells, which then convert it into electricity through a process called photovoltaics.

People love solar power because it is a renewable energy source. The photovoltaic conversion of solar energy doesn't produce greenhouse gas emissions or air pollutants, making the implementation of solar energy crucial to our global effort to reduce greenhouse gasses and mitigate climate change. And while that’s good for the environment, it’s not the only reason people are turning to solar.

Using solar for your residential energy may significantly reduce your electricity bills and potentially eliminate your reliance on your utility company for power. In short, solar can provide energy independence, giving you more control over your energy production and insulating you against fluctuating energy prices.

Need more incentive? Consider home value. Sustainability is continuously a high-priority factor for buyers who are in the market for a home. Homes equipped with solar panels are often more valuable in the real estate market, as potential buyers appreciate the prospect of reduced energy costs. Your home will likely be more attractive to potential buyers.

Depending on where you live, you might be looking for better grid resilience. Tired of snowstorms, heatwaves, and other weather events knocking you off the grid for days at a time? Solar power can provide backup electricity when paired with battery storage systems, offering a reliable energy source during power outages or emergencies.

Many homeowners choose solar power as a way to align with their values and contribute to a more sustainable future. If this is you, it’s time to discover how to bring solar into your home.

How solar works to power a home

When most homeowners think of solar, they imagine rooftop panels that sit on top of their homes. Solar panels work by capturing energy from the sun and turning it into electricity that can power your home. These panels are typically installed on your roof. They're made up of many individual solar cells, constructed from silicon.

When sunlight shines on the solar panels, these cells absorb the sunlight's energy in the form of photons. This absorption triggers a process called the photovoltaic effect, which generates an electric current within the cells.

Quick take: Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity.

However, the electricity generated by solar cells is in the form of direct current (DC), which is different from the alternating current (AC) electricity used in most homes. An inverter is used to make it compatible with your household appliances and electrical systems. The inverter's job is to convert the DC electricity from the solar panels into AC electricity.

You can then use the AC electricity to power your lights, appliances, and other devices in your home. If your solar panels produce more electricity than you need at any given moment, the excess electricity can often be sent back to the grid. In many areas, you'll receive credits or compensation for this surplus energy, which can help offset your electricity costs.

Additionally, some homeowners opt to install battery storage systems alongside their solar panels. These batteries store any extra electricity generated during sunny days for use during cloudy periods or at night when the solar panels aren't producing electricity. This provides greater energy self-sufficiency and can serve as a backup power source during outages.

In essence, a home solar system harnesses the sun's energy, converts it into electricity, and seamlessly integrates it into your home's electrical system, and a battery stores that power for use at night or during outages, reducing your reliance on traditional grid power. 

What are solar roof shingles?

Solar roof shingles combine solar technology with roof shingles, which are placed in a location on the home that is a prime candidate for sun exposure.

Solar roof shingles are made from slim photovoltaic PV sheets replace the existing rooftop shingles. They absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity.

Because they are built as roof shingles, they also have the added benefit of protecting your home from weather and other benefits. They are designed to be aesthetically pleasing while offering full coverage for your home.

What are solar roof tiles?

Solar roof tiles are built with the same technology as solar shingles, and like solar shingles, solar tiles are designed to replace the existing roof, mimicking the appearance of traditional roofing tiles. Manufacturers may refer to their products as solar tiles or solar shingles, but in the end, these products function in the same manner.

Benefits of going solar

Whether you currently use natural gas, utility electricity, or some other power source to run your home, costs continue to rise yearly. And paying is no guarantee of service. Every month, we witness power outages that leave millions of homeowners without power for hours, sometimes days.

No wonder more people are looking into solar technology. And the benefits continue to rise:

  • You can keep the lights on when the grid goes down with solar and a battery. This is often why people start their search. If you’ve lived without power for more than a few days, it’s time to find an alternative.

  • You may save money. While potential savings depends on several variables like the jurisdiction that you live in, the size and orientation of your system, your financing method, etc., with solar, you have the potential to lock in an affordable, predictable energy rate.

Are you ready to convert to solar? At Sunrun, we offer premium solar panels in our home solar installations, and with solar advisors that help you through each step of the process, it’s never been easier to go solar. 

Next, we’ll cover solar panels as well as some considerations for those comparing solar shingles/tiles to solar panels.

How about solar panels?

Solar panels remain an excellent choice for generating clean, renewable energy. The cost of solar panels has significantly dropped over the years, and with financial incentives like tax credits and rebates, solar installations have become economically attractive for homeowners and businesses alike.

Technological advancements have improved the efficiency and durability of solar panels, enhancing their performance and lifespan. At Sunrun, our premium monocrystalline panels are high efficiency with superior aesthetics and our batteries are made by reputable brands in the industry. Integrating battery storage with solar panels also allows you to store excess energy for use on cloudy days or during power outages, increasing energy reliability and self-sufficiency. Partner with a big-picture thinker, and you’ll have access to even more — how about powering your EV with solar energy?

Think beyond the solar panels themselves. This is about creating an entire ecosystem that helps your home become as efficient and sustainable as possible.

Solar roof shingles & tiles vs. solar panels

There are some key considerations when comparing solar roof shingles and tiles with solar panels. 


Because there has not been significant adoption of solar shingles or solar tiles in the United States, it is difficult to find solar shingles that work for residential installs. Many solar shingle brands are produced in Europe and offer products that are not fully compatible with US roofing. 


Solar panels are less expensive than solar shingles, making them an excellent choice for homeowners with a well-functioning roof. 


Though solar panels and solar roof shingles or tiles work with the same photovoltaic technology, solar shingles are less efficient. Because there is typically more non-active exposed areas on solar shingles than on solar panels, solar shingles are technically less efficient than solar panels, meaning that solar shingles take up more area on the roof than conventional panels with the same output.


Solar shingles are designed to work with tilted or sloped roofs. Solar panels can be installed on any type of roof, including flat roofs. Since solar shingles/tiles only work on a segment of roof types, solar panels remain the more flexible solar option.

And while solar panels can easily go over an existing roof and be installed on homes at any time, solar shingles and solar tiles are not a realistic choice unless part of either a new home build or a complete re-roofing project.


No matter what solar product you select, it’s essential to dig into the warranty details before choosing an option.

Solar panels typically come with warranties that provide coverage against manufacturing defects in materials and workmanship and generally last 25 years.

Solar shingles provide essential protection and cover similar issues with coverage averaging up to 20 years.

When comparing options for solar shingles/tiles with solar panels, you may find that solar panels are a more viable option for your home. Some homeowners may be wary of installing solar panels on their roof if they’re considering curb appeal. There’s a misconception that solar panels create a less-than-desirable appearance, but experienced residential solar installers like Sunrun will work with you to design a solar system that meets both your design and electricity needs. 

Understanding solar storage

Solar panels have been a game-changer in harnessing the sun’s power, allowing homeowners to generate renewable energy. However, there's one challenge with solar energy — it's not always available when you need it. The dark, cloudy days of winter have the potential to be a problem.

That's where solar storage and battery backup comes into play.

Imagine having the ability to power your home with solar energy even when the sun sets or during unexpected power outages. Solar storage and battery backup makes this a reality. Solar batteries seamlessly integrate with your solar panels, capturing and storing excess energy during the day for use at night or during outages. It's like having a backup generator that runs on solar energy.

With reliable and efficient battery technology, you gain round-the-clock access to solar power and greater control over your electricity usage. Say goodbye to those dreaded skyrocketing utility bills and hello to energy independence. With a solar battery, you can experience a brighter future, both day and night.

So, how do these home batteries actually work? Well, it's quite simple. Your home battery stores the electricity your solar energy system produces during the day. Then, you can use this stored energy when you need it most, such as in the evening when electricity rates are typically higher (known as time-of-use or TOU peak pricing) or during grid failures caused by extreme weather events or equipment damage.

Home battery backup is more than just a standalone battery — it's a holistic solar battery storage solution. It offers a safe and reliable backup power source, giving you better control over your home energy use and costs. In other words, it's your safety net during power outages and a smart way to manage your energy consumption.

Investing in a solar battery can bring you several benefits:

  • It allows you to maximize the value of your solar energy system by ensuring you use the energy you produce.

  • It provides essential backup power, keeping your home running during outages.

The good news is that many states and utility companies offer incentives to encourage solar storage adoption. These incentives can include rebates, tax credits, and more. One noteworthy incentive is net metering, which credits any excess power your solar system generates back to your electric bill. However, it's essential to note that some states have adopted Time-of-Use (TOU) rates, which can affect how your net metering credits are calculated.

While home batteries are a valuable addition to your solar system, they are not designed to take you entirely off the grid. Instead, they keep you connected to the grid during normal service times, ensuring reliability and cost-effectiveness. They also provide reliable backup power when the sun isn't shining or during outages, offering the best of both worlds.

Partner with Sunrun

When you choose Sunrun as your solar energy partner, you're not just getting solar panels — you're making a commitment to a more sustainable future. We understand that the path to solar power can seem daunting, which is why we're here as your unwavering experts, guiding you every step of the way.

Our team of Solar Advisors provides personalized consultations, simplifying the complexities of transitioning to solar energy. Each Sunrun solar system is custom-designed to match your home's unique energy profile and specific requirements. With our industry-leading guarantee, you can have peace of mind throughout the entire life of your Sunrun solar system, ensuring you have access to reliable, eco-friendly, and cost-effective energy precisely when you need it most.

We also offer advanced solar features like Sunrun's innovative home EV charger – a convenient solution that lets you charge your electric vehicle quickly and affordably from the comfort of your own home. When you make the choice to go solar with Sunrun, you'll also benefit from our hassle-free installation services, making it easier than ever to upgrade your home's energy ecosystem.

Take control of rising energy costs and transition to a secure, sustainable, dependable energy future with Sunrun. Your journey toward a brighter tomorrow begins right here.




3.  How much has the cost of renewable energy fallen by since 2010? | World Economic Forum (


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