Solar Panels Vs. Shingles: Basics, Cost and Aesthetics

As the world of solar power has expanded, so has the range of products available within it. One good example of a product that’s closely related to solar panels you’re likely familiar with, but is not technically the same: Solar shingles.

At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we’re happy to provide a wide range of both residential and commercial solar power solutions, plus information on all the latest solar technology out there and which parts of it might be right for your needs. While solar shingles are a somewhat newer addition to the solar lineup, there are some situations where they might be the ideal purchase for you – but also some others where sticking to traditional solar panels is the way to go. This two-part blog series will go over everything you need to know about solar shingles.

Solar Shingle Basics

Firstly, what exactly are solar shingles? This is a name that’s been given to small-scale solar panels that are able to be permanently attached to the roof of the home – they will sometimes also be referred to as solar roof tiles or simply a solar roof in other settings.

In terms of their general operation, solar shingles operate in the same way as standard solar panels. They use a photovoltaic system to generate energy using the sun’s rays, and will be connected to an inverter. They are able to operate either on the grid or off the grid.

Expense Factors

While the cost of solar shingles has decreased significantly since they first hit the market, they are still on the expensive side when compared to other solar panel type. Much of the actual difference here will depend on the precise area you choose to install solar shingles on, but their costs tend top run around $22 per square foot on average.

Are solar shingles worth this expense? For some, absolutely. However, because the benefits of these shingles are pretty much identical to those of normal solar panels, and the latter comes at a lower cost, solar panels are still the more common selection.

Our next few sections will go over some of the benefits and drawbacks of solar shingles if you’re considering them.


One of the key issues with solar shingles is their relative youth in the market. They’ve been around for such a short period of time that the industry itself doesn’t have accurate information on their lifespan and longevity – while some solar shingle manufacturers have built their shingles to last 30 years, we cannot fully confirm whether they actually tend to last this long. However, it’s reasonable to expect they’ll last about the same amount of time as standard solar panels, given they work in the same ways.

Modern Appearance

One area that’s often a key factor in choosing solar shingles over standard panels: Aesthetics. Solar shingles blend in perfectly with modern roofs, built to mirror the appearance of your previous asphalt shingles so the aesthetic of your home doesn’t change at all. For those who want the benefits of solar without the sight of panels on their roof, shingles are a great alternative.

For more on solar power shingles, or to learn about any of our solar panel installation or maintenance services, speak to the staff at Intermountain Wind & Solar today.

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