Are Solar Shingles Finally Catching On? No, No They’re Not

In sun-parched California, improved solar shingles are becoming a favorite roofing option for sustainable energy advocates, and this July, solar shingle maker Integrated Solar Technology finalized a partnership with Solar Roof Dynamics, which will install the panels on homes. But although solar shingles might be seen as a viable roofing option for California energy activists, that doesn’t mean they’re actually catching on with regular consumers.

“By working together, we can provide roofing contractors an attractive and cost-effective roof-integrated solar solution for their customers,” said Deborah Lewis, IST’s business development manager.

As more companies start producing solar shingles, and as Chinese competitors enter the market, the price of solar shingles has finally started to drop, with some advocates saying it will soon catch up to the more popular roof-mounted solar systems.

But not everyone agrees, because although the price of the shingles might be dropping, there are few indications the market itself is expanding. Plus, costs unrelated to the price of the materials remains too high for many homeowners.

When repairing or replacing a roof, the vast majority of American homeowners (72%) prefer roofing materials that require little maintenance or materials known for their durability (88%).

Installing a new roof, of any type, isn’t cheap. A standard shingle roof can cost $20,000 to replace on an old home, if the maximum three layers of shingles have already been installed. A new solar system can cost twice that much; however, because such systems are installed on top of existing roofing materials, there are other problems. If the home’s roof fails or breaks, then the entire solar system might have to be taken down, then re-installed after roof repair work.

That means for homeowners worried about price, solar shingles are rarely practical for old homes. Still, with the amount of investment in green energy, new technological solutions could eliminate such concerns.


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