Your options for building integrated photovoltaic solar roofs have expanded with the the re-birth of POWERHOUSE solar shingles and introduction of Tesla solar tiles to compete with the BIPV solar products currently being installed.
This guide covers the currently available and newly emerging BIPV / roof integrated PV (RIPV) solar shingle options, their costs, availability in specific markets within the US, and pros and cons of each option.
The table below includes the cost info and availability details for the top four leading RIPV competitors:
|Product||Cost per sq.ft.||Cost per watt*||2,750 sq.ft. roof|
|CertainTeed Apollo II Shingle||$11.45 – $13.10||$4.20 – $4.80||$31,487 – $36,025|
|CertainTeed Apollo II Tile||$17.40 – $18.25||$6.38 – $6.69||$47,850 – $50,187|
|Dow PowerHouse||$11.00 – $11.85||Est. $4.15||$30,025 – $32,587|
|SunTegra Shingle||$10.35 – $11.60||$3.80 – $4.25||$28,462 – $31,900|
|SunTegra Tile||$16.80 – $17.75||$6.16 – $6.51||$46,200 – 48,812|
|Tesla Solar Tile||$22.00 – $26.00||$7.85-$9.00||$60,500 – $71,500|
Note: Dow PowerHouse 3.0 solar shingles from RGS should be available in Q4 2018, with nationwide rollout expected to occur gradually in 2019-2020.
* With the recent announcement of Tesla laying off 9% of its workforce, there are now some doubts as to how long you may have to wait to get your Tesla solar roof.
Note: the above figures are baseline costs (estimated). The actual costs can, in some cases, be up to 25% higher, depending on the particulars of the jobs including more complex roofs and/or in areas with high cost of living and in major coastal cities.
All costs include what is known as BOS, or balance of system, costs. These include the connectors, wiring and electrical inverter required for installation. They do not factor storage battery costs ($7,500 – $9,000 for most systems).
BIPV Solar Shingles and Tiles Comparison
The table below shows features and important product details for each option:
|Product||Conversion||Weight per sq.ft.||Power Output|
|Apollo II Shingle||Up to 15.4%||2.7 lbs||25 years|
|Apollo II Tile||Up to 16%||3.1 lbs||25 years|
|Dow PowerHouse||Est. 15%||Est. 4.5 lbs||12 years|
|SunTegra Shingle||Up to 15.9%||2.5 lbs||25 years|
|SunTegra Tile||Up to 15.0%||3.0 lbs||25 years|
|Tesla Solar Tiles||Est. 15%||8-10 lbs||30 years|
All of these products are based on the monocrystalline silicon technology.
Below are further details of each product for comparison purposes:
CertainTeed Apollo II Shingles and Tiles
Of the current competitors in this growing field, CertainTeed was the first to introduce an integrated solar roofing product. It is now in its second generation and is available nationally.
These products use monocrystalline silicon solar photovoltaic cells, the most common technology in solar panels and RIPV products.
The Apollo II shingles and tiles attach directly to the roof deck rather than over existing roofing. Standard roofing nails are used. The solar field is then surrounded by shingles or tiles.
Apollo II shingles have a very low profile for use with asphalt shingles; tiles are slightly beefier to blend with flat concrete roofing tiles. Both products have 14 cells each with solar output of 60 watts.
The warranty covers materials for 10 years and solar output for 25 years. If you use a CertainTeed Credentialed Solar Installer (not required), installation workmanship is covered for 15 years, or 25 years if using a Master Installer. Expect to pay a premium of 10% to 25% for using a Credentialed or Master installer.
The wind warranty is 110mph for both products, but CertainTeed states in its literature that both products can be installed in high-wind zones where wind speeds reach 150mph. Due to this discrepancy, get the wind warranty in writing to know exactly what coverage you have.
Pros and Cons of Apollo II Shingles and Tiles
The shingles (15.4%) and tiles (16%) offer excellent conversion. They turn more solar into energy than most competitors. The tiles are tops in this class.
Installation is easy, since both products attach directly to the roof deck. This also eliminates the double cost of having roofing beneath and traditional solar panels on a rack above.
Aesthetics are good, but you have just two options. The materials are black, and they look like low-profile solar panels instead of traditional roofing material.
The conversion of power at 13.7% and 14.3% is lower than the 16% to 20% achieved by solar panels, but that’s a shortcoming all RIPV products share to a greater or lesser extent. Their tight-to-the-roof design doesn’t allow airflow beneath the cells. This can cause overheating, which hurts efficiency.
Dow POWERHOUSE Solar Shingle
This product compares closely with the Apollo II and SunTegra shingles.
Dow put the POWERHOUSE shingle on the shelf in 2016. In March of 2018, RGS Energy reached a licensing agreement with Dow to manufacture the POWERHOUSE 3.0 shingle. RGS (Real Good Solar) has been an installer of solar equipment for four decades and has members of the original Dow team working on this product.
The POWERHOUSE is in production, and orders are currently being taken. Installations are expected to begin in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Texas in late 2018, though no firm date has been set. The company hopes to expand into all 50 states as production capacity and demand grow.
Version 3.0 uses silicon solar cells, about 60 watts per shingle. The earlier POWERHOUSE shingles were copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) panels, but that technology is too pricey to be competitive.
POWERHOUSE shingles install directly on the roof deck and are surrounded by standard asphalt shingles. RGS is requiring homeowners to use an installer certified to install POWERHOUSE.
RGS has not released efficiency ratings, but we expect the similar construction as the Apollo II to yield similar results. We’ll update this if tests show differently once installation of these shingles ramps up through 2018 and into 2019.
Pros and Cons of POWERHOUSE 3.0 Solar Shingles
We anticipate the same advantages and disadvantages when compared with traditional solar panels as are found in the CertainTeed Apollo II products. Better looks with a lower profile than panels, but there is a distinct difference between the look of the solar shingles and the surrounding asphalt shingles.
In short, RSG POWERHOUSE 3.0 shingles are not as attractive as Tesla’s whole-roof shingle system, but they are not nearly as costly either.
SunTegra Solar Shingles and Tiles
SunTegra products are available now. They offer similarities and differences to the competitors.
Like the Tesla, Apollo II and POWERHOUSE products, SunTegra is a two-in-one roof – solar energy production and roofing protection for your home.
SunTegra shingles are designed to blend well with asphalt shingles.
SunTegra tiles and shingles are different and unique among these products in that they feature a built-in lower venting structure called TegraVent. It allows airflow beneath the monocrystalline silicon solar panels. This prevents them from overheating and losing efficiency.
The SunTegra shingles are up to 15.9% efficient, the best for shingles in this comparison. The 15% for tiles is better than most, though still below the low end of the 16% to 20% efficiency raised PV solar panels can achieve. SunTegra’s 130mph wind warranty is the best in this group.
It is expected that about 100 SunTegra installations will be completed in 2018, a 50% increase from 2017.
Pros and Cons of SunTegra Solar Shingles
SunTegra has a slight cost advantage over CertainTeed and POWERHOUSE. You’ll enjoy slightly better efficiency with SunTegra, especially tiles – more energy output per square foot means less solar tiles and shingles are needed to give you the kilowatts you want. The guaranteed wind rating is also higher than CertainTeed and RGS offer.
The individual shingles and tiles are larger than the other brand’s products, so installation goes slightly faster.
The downside is the appearance of the shingles integrated with asphalt shingles. The TegraVent design makes this product slightly thicker and raises its profile slightly above the others. The best aesthetic is achieved when SunTegra tiles are paired with concrete tiles.
Tesla makes the premium product in this field. The Tesla solar roof is getting plenty of publicity, though now that roofs are being installed, not all of it is good. The aesthetics of the roof are superior to other BIPV options, but the cost is about double.
What’s different about Tesla is that it produces solar and non-solar tiles. Roofs on single-story homes average 35% to 40% solar tiles. The percentage is higher on multi-story homes.
Tesla tiles are hardened glass with excellent impact resistance. Solar tiles feature a silicon PV substrate. The tiles are offered in four styles: Smooth, textured, traditional barrel tile and slate.
The lifetime material warranty far surpasses the other products. Power generation coverage for 30 years is also the best in this class. Tesla includes a 30-year weather warranty against leaks.
Pros and Cons of Tesla Solar Roofs
These are the best-looking products available, designed to look like upscale contemporary roofing and not BIPV roofing. The four styles give you options to suit most homes. The warranty coverage is excellent too.
The major drawback is price. Since their efficiency rating is about the same, the payback time on a Tesla solar roof is about twice as long. It’s not a good value.
Choosing a BIPV Solar Roof
If you want a solar shingle roof now, then SunTegra and CertainTeed are your options. Of these, CertainTeed has a larger base of qualified installers across the country.
One point in SunTegra’s favor is the better wind warranty of 130mph. If you live in a high velocity hurricane zone (HVHZ), you’ll have more assurance with SunTegra.
The POWERHOUSE from Dow/RGS has one advantage that is worth considering. RGS (Real Good Solar) Energy has been fully immersed in the solar industry since the company started in 1978.
RGS Energy was a certified installer of the Dow POWERHOUSE 1.0 AND 2.0 shingles. We think the company’s experience gives RGS an advantage when it comes to proper design and installation of a BIPV system tailored to your home and energy needs.
As noted, installation of POWERHOUSE roofs is expected to start in late 2018, but 2019/2020 is more realistic as the waiting list grows.
When looks and not price is the determining factor, then a Tesla solar roof is the clear winner. However, there are a few notes of caution. Expect to wait well into 2019 and possibly beyond for a Tesla roof.
Early installations are going slow and we suspect Tesla is losing money because of the high labor costs. That could lead to a restructuring of the price. Perhaps the company will solve the installation issues it is having, but we’re taking a wait-and-see approach. 😉
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