Solar Roofing: Buyer’s Guide

Considering solar power for your home? Learn how solar roofing can save you money and benefit the planet in this comprehensive guide.
Author picture

To provide you with the most accurate, up-to-date guides and cost figures, we gather information from a variety of local licensed contractors, pricing databases, and industry experts. Learn more.

Author picture

Reviewed by JC Sanjuan — General and roofing contractor with over a decade of experience in residential and commercial construction. He specializes in project management, quality workmanship, client satisfaction, and solving roofing challenges.

Linkedin Profile

If you’re considering an upgrade to your home that is both eco-friendly and cost-effective, solar roofing might just be what you’re looking for. With climate change becoming increasingly evident, many homeowners are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Solar roofing is an exciting option that not only offers sustainable energy but can also lead to significant savings on your energy bills over time.

In this guide, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about solar roofing. We’ll explore how these innovative systems are made, the numerous benefits they offer, and the different types available. We’ll also look at the pros and cons to give you a balanced view, how the installation process works, and what you can expect in terms of costs.

So, whether you’re a homeowner looking to make the switch to renewable energy or just curious about what solar roofing entails, this guide has got you covered. Let’s get started!

How Solar Roofs Are Made

When we talk about solar roofing, we’re usually talking about two main types: solar panels that you can attach to an existing roof, and solar tiles that replace your current roofing material. Both have solar cells that catch sunlight and turn it into electricity. So how are they made?

Solar Panels

Solar panels are usually made of silicon cells, a metal frame, glass, and wiring. These panels are tough and can last for many years. They can be installed on top of your current roof.

Solar Tiles

Solar tiles are a newer option. They actually replace your current roof tiles or shingles. These tiles have solar cells built right in, so the whole roof can generate electricity. They’re made to blend in with regular roofing, so they look a lot nicer.

In both cases, the idea is the same: catch sunlight and turn it into power you can use at home.

The Good Stuff: Benefits of Solar Roofing

Solar roofs have a lot to offer. But don’t just take our word for it—check out these benefits backed by studies and experts.

Save Money on Energy Bills

Installing a solar roof can save you a lot of money on your electric bills over time. According to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), homeowners could see savings between $10,000 to $30,000 over the lifespan of the system.

Help the Environment

Solar power is a clean, renewable energy source. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that using solar power helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Tax Incentives and Rebates

Many states offer financial incentives to go solar. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) has a comprehensive list of such incentives.

Energy Independence

A report by the U.S. Department of Energy explains that solar energy can help you become less reliant on the grid, offering a level of energy independence.

Reference: U.S. Department of Energy, “Solar Energy and Energy Independence.”

Increase Home Value

A study by Zillow found that homes with solar panels sell for about 4.1% more than those without

Choices, Choices: Types of Solar Roofing Options

When it comes to solar roofing, you’ve got a couple of main options. Let’s look at what’s available so you can decide what’s best for you.

Traditional Solar Panels

3 Types of Solar Panels (Which Is Right for You?)
Credit: EcoWatch

These are the panels you’ve probably seen before. They’re usually installed on top of your existing roof. They’re the most common and have been around the longest.

Solar Tiles or Shingles

SOLAR PANEL ROOF TILES
Source: Inhabitat.com

These are smaller than traditional panels and are designed to blend in with your roof. They’re a good option if you’re worried about how solar panels will look on your house.

Thin-Film Solar

Thin-film solar cell - Wikipedia
Image from: Wikipedia

This is a newer option and is generally cheaper, but it’s also less efficient. Thin-film panels are flexible and can be installed in different ways. 

Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV)

DOE Seeks Input on Building-Integrated Photovoltaics | Department of Energy
Credit: Department of Energy

This is a fancy way of saying that solar cells are built into the building materials themselves. It could be the roof, but also windows or walls. 

Each type has its pros and cons, so you’ll need to think about what matters most to you—cost, appearance, or efficiency.

The Full Picture: Pros and Cons of Solar Roofing

Just like anything else, solar roofing has its ups and downs. Here’s what you should know:

Pros

  • Energy Savings: As we mentioned earlier, solar roofs can help cut down your electric bills. This is a long-term benefit that can save you a good amount of money. 
  • Environmentally Friendly: Solar power is clean and renewable. It’s a way to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Increases Property Value: Solar roofing can make your home more valuable if you decide to sell it. 

Cons

  • High Upfront Cost: Getting a solar roof installed isn’t cheap. You’ll need to consider this initial cost. Reference: EnergySage, “What are the costs and benefits of solar energy?”
  • Weather Dependent: Solar panels need sunlight to work well. If you live in an area with less sunlight, you might generate less power. 
  • Maintenance: Though generally low, there can be some maintenance costs. Panels need to be cleaned and occasionally repaired. 

 

Getting It Done: Solar Roof Installation

Installing a solar roof isn’t a quick weekend project; it needs some planning and professional help. Here’s what the process generally looks like:

1. Assessment and Planning

Before anything else, you’ll need a professional to check out your current roof and see if it’s suitable for solar panels or tiles. They’ll also look at how much sunlight your home gets. 

2. Permits and Paperwork

You’ll probably need some permits to install a solar roof. Your contractor will usually handle this, but it’s good to know. 

3. Installation

A team of pros will come to your home to install the solar roof. This can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on your roof’s size and type. 

4. Testing and Activation

Once everything is installed, the system will be tested to make sure it’s working right. Then, it’s switched on, and you’re good to go.

Costs of Solar Roofing

Understanding the cost of a solar roof can be tricky. There are a lot of factors at play. But here’s a general idea:

Initial Investment

Upfront costs can range from $15,000 to $25,000 or more, depending on your roof’s size and the type of solar option you choose. 

Government Incentives

Remember those tax breaks and rebates we talked about? They can offset your initial costs by a significant amount.

Long-Term Savings

Over the years, your solar roof can save you a lot on energy bills, potentially making up for the initial costs. 

Maintenance Costs

These are generally low, but they do exist. You might spend a few hundred dollars per year on cleaning and minor repairs. 

So while solar roofing needs a decent chunk of change upfront, the long-term benefits can make it a smart investment.

Conclusion: Is Solar Roofing Right for You?

Solar roofing offers a lot of benefits—from saving money on your electricity bills to helping the environment. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. The upfront costs can be high, and not every home is a good fit for solar.

If you’re considering making the switch, weigh the pros and cons carefully. Talk to professionals and maybe even your neighbors who’ve gone solar. Look into the different types of solar roofing and see what works best for you. Don’t forget to factor in the long-term savings and potential increase in your home’s value.

In the end, solar roofing can be a great investment for you and the planet. So take your time, do your research, and make the choice that’s right for you.


Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Roofing

  • What is solar roofing?
    Solar roofing involves integrating solar panels or tiles into your roof to generate electricity from sunlight.
  • How much does it cost to install a solar roof?
    The initial investment can range from $15,000 to $25,000 or more, depending on various factors like roof size and type of solar installation.
  • Are there any financial incentives for going solar?
    Yes, government incentives like tax breaks and rebates can significantly offset your initial costs.
  • How long does it take to install a solar roof?
    Installation can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the complexity of the project and the type of solar roof you choose.
  • Is my home suitable for a solar roof?
    A professional assessment is needed to determine this. Factors include the condition of your current roof and how much sunlight your location receives.
  • Do solar roofs require a lot of maintenance?
    Generally, no. But you might spend a few hundred dollars per year on cleaning and minor repairs.
  • Will a solar roof work in cloudy weather?
    Solar panels are less efficient in cloudy conditions but can still generate some power.
  • Can a solar roof increase my home’s value? Yes, properties with solar installations often see an increase in value.
  • What are the main types of solar roofing options?
    The main options are traditional solar panels, solar tiles or shingles, thin-film solar, and building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV).
  • Is solar roofing environmentally friendly?
    Absolutely, solar power is a clean and renewable source of energy.

References:

  1. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), “Cost-Effectiveness of Solar Roofing.”
  2. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Benefits of Renewable Energy Use.”
  3. Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE), “Financial Incentives for Solar Energy.”
  4. U.S. Department of Energy, “Solar Energy and Energy Independence.”
  5. Zillow, “How Solar Panels Affect Getting a Mortgage.”
  6. EnergySage, “Types of Solar Panels: Which One Is the Best Choice?”
  7. Solar Power World, “Solar shingles vs. solar panels: the differences explained.”
  8. Solar Reviews, “Thin-film solar panels: Are they right for you?”
  9. Energy.gov, “Planning a Home Solar Electric System.”
  10. Solar United Neighbors, “Solar Permitting Guide.”
  11. EnergySage, “How Long Does It Take to Install Solar Panels?”
  12. Clean Energy Reviews, “Solar panel installation guide: how to install solar panels in 5 steps.”
  13. Solar Estimate, “How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in 2023?”
  14. SolarPowerAuthority, “The Complete Guide to Solar Panel Maintenance.”
  15. Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), “Solar Energy and Weather.”
author avatar
RoofGuides
Whether you need a repair or a complete replacement, we've got you covered. Our easy-to-understand guides on roofing and costs from experts will help you make the best decisions for your roofing project.
Related Articles
roofguide logo

We’re committed to providing you with the most accurate and up-to-date information to make informed decisions about your home improvement projects. Our research process is thorough, combining local contractor insights, permit data analysis, and building code reviews to ensure our guides reflect real-world costs and comply with the latest standards. We also stay on top of industry trends and best practices by consulting with experts. By factoring in both material and labor costs, we give you a complete picture of what your roof replacement might cost.

Find a Pro Near Me:

Roofing Contractor Talking to Homeowner Should I Home During A Roof Replacement
Look Up Pro Location
Use Shift+Tab to go back