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.
Certainteed Apollo-2 solar shingles roof
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:
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
$11.00 – $11.85
$30,025 – $32,587
$10.35 – $11.60
$3.80 – $4.25
$28,462 – $31,900
$16.80 – $17.75
$6.16 – $6.51
$46,200 – 48,812
Tesla Solar Tile
$22.00 – $26.00
$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).
So, you want to invest in a new roof with the latest 21st century technology and you plan to spend some serious coin doing so.
You are intrigued by solar power, but do not want to go the route of traditional solar panel roof installation — you want something a bit more pleasing to the eye.
Here is your conundrum. Would you rather go with a company that has been in the roofing business for over 100 years and cut its teeth on asphalt shingles or the company that comes from world of high tech and never put up a roof before 2016?
To further complicate your decision-making the established roofing business is part of one the world’s largest home building products conglomerates that has been in business for over 350 years.
Tesla — the high-tech roofer?
It is part of one of the most eclectic organizations out there, whose owner is more interested in flying to outer space and boring long-distance subterranean tunnels than residential roofs.
To help you divine an answer let’s take a look at the two players in question, the Apollo II Solar Shingle Roofing System from CertainTeed and the Tesla Solar Tile Roof.
Let’s address the elephant on the roof straight away. The cost of solar in 2018 has dropped to its lowest price since tracking began in 2014 — a national average of $3.13 per watt.
As with everything measured in the solar marketplace results can vary considerably depending on location.
In some sunny locales the cost of solar is down in the $2.80 per watt ballpark. In most places homeowners can expect to spend between $15,000 and $27,000 for PV solar panels.
Tesla, whose first commercial roofs are just coming online in 2018, delivers solar for $6.40 per watt — more than double the national average.
CertainTeed does not make pricing information public. Since the Apollo II system is more complicated to install than standard solar panels, but is not a pure roofing option like Tesla, it is safe to assume its price will fall between the two poles, probably skewing towards the higher end.
Certainteed Apollo-2 solar shingles roof
In addition to the variables of climate, final solar pricing is also dependent on house size, local public utility policies, and the existence or future continuance of solar investment tax credits.
Are your ready to make your home greener and more energy-efficient? If so, consider the following five home improvement upgrades that can be completed by a professional remodeling contractor, as well as by an experienced DIY enthusiast working collaboratively with a handy friend. 😉
1. Cool Roofs Vs. Traditional Asphalt and Dark EPDM Rubber
Dark roofs make houses hotter, light roofs make houses cooler. To achieve these benefits a specialist applicator can coat your roof with reflective materials, some of which are applied like paint, sprayed directly on the surface of an existing roof. Of course, this is often, but not always, a one-season solution.
Energy conservation wizards are currently working on tiles that will go from light to dark as needed — they can cut the sunlight absorbed into your house by 80% when they are white and slice heating costs by 20% and more when they turn black.
You can find a cool roof coating formulated with acrylic polymers, resins, fillers and titanium dioxide pigments for about $100 for a 4.75 gallon container (Via GreenHomeGuide.com).
If rather than applying it yourself, your would prefer to hire a professional, expect to pay anywhere from a few to several thousands of dollars to properly apply a liquid roof coating. You should know that most liquid roof coatings are only suitable for durable membrane-based flat roofs and aging metal roofs.
Surely, cool liquid roof coatings can also be applied over asphalt shingles, but the results will not be as good, because asphalt shingles have a tendency to chip and crack. Thus, a complete re-roofing application may be a better option for an aged asphalt roof.
Energy Efficient, Solar-Reflective PVC membrane on a flat roof
PVC membrane installed by: New England Metal Roof
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If you have a flat or low-slope roof that is starting to show the signs of age, and may thus require replacement soon, then consider installing one of the following membranes; white, energy-efficient and solar-reflective PVC membrane, TPO membrane, or white EPDM rubber roof. Expect to pay from $4.50 to $6.00 per foot for EPDM rubber membrane installed. A PVC or TPO membrane will cost about $5.50 to $7.50 per square foot installed.
A standing seam metal roof on the house
Today’s metal roofs have come a long way from the tin shacks of yore. Modern metal roofs are as likely to look like cedar shakes or clay tiles or asphalt shingles as sheet metal. A metal roof won’t blow off in hurricane-force winds and is fireproof.
Metal roofs will cost more to purchase and install than traditional asphalt roofs, but will still be on the job half a century from now, while two or three asphalt roofs are clogging landfills. 😉
Steel Shingles Roof
Expect a metal roof comprised of interlocking shingles to run around $3.50 to $4.50 per square foot for materials including trim. With the installation, a metal shingles roof will cost about $7.50 to $10.00 per square foot.
concave-shaped standing seam roof
Materials for Galvalume standing seam will cost about $4.50 to $5.00 per square foot. With the installation, a standing seam metal roof will cost about $10 to $12 per square foot, not counting the expense of a roof tear-off.
During winter, an energy efficient metal roof, such as standing seam or metal shingles will help shed the snow off the roof, before the snow has a chance to accumulate. It can thus be an energy-smart and elegant alternative to heat cables and/or snow rakes commonly employed to deal with the ice dams on the roof.
Speaking of home energy efficiency, another major advantage of a standing seam metal roof is that it is solar roof ready. Meaning that it can be simply and elegantly combined and integrated with PV solar panels by means of simple metal clamps via a bracketing systems attached to the seam. This method does not require drilling any holes (potential future sources of leaks) in the roof
3. Energy Efficient Window
Windows are among the biggest culprits in creating high energy bills. But no one wants to live in a house without windows. Double-pane windows are one solution; they will retain room heat in the winter and prevent heat gain in the summer. At the same time the double-panes will keep your house bright and sunny. And a little quieter as well — the extra layer of glass helps prevent outside noises from penetrating the windows.
Most average-sized double-pane windows will cost anywhere from $500 to $700 installed.
There is more to double-pane windows than two pieces of glass. Low-E glass, filled with argon gas provides the ultimate in insulation over a single-pane window. Expect to pay about $40 extra per window. But more is not always better when it comes to window panes. Triple-panes can be a help in the harshest climates, but they come at a cost of reduced clarity in looking to the world outside.
4. Green Frames
The frames your windows live in are opportunities for the green-minded remodeler. Wood offers the best insulation but may deteriorate prematurely in a rainy climate. Plus, they are going to need new coats of paint every few years.
If that means latex paint, that will douse your interior air with a bucket of noxious petrochemicals (there is a reason paint requires special disposal techniques). Eco-safe paints are getting better every year with more durability and a wider variety of people-pleasing colors. And they are less costly at the cash register as well.
It is hard to beat the look of wood on windows and that preference can trump green tendencies when it comes to alternatives such as vinyl or aluminum. Vinyl is budget-friendly (from $450-$600 as opposed to between $800 and $1,000 for the installation of wood windows) and no trees are destroyed, and aluminum can be a good choice in rainy climates.
Seal and insulate, seal and insulate, seal and insulate. That is the manta of energy-efficiency, but green-minded homeowners can take this basic Eco-friendly chore one step beyond. Spray insulation or traditional batting insulation is loaded with chemicals. Soy foam works the same insulating magic without the environmental downsides.
Home insulation is where the true green converts are separated from the wanna-bes. Closed-cell spray foam is a pricey insulation option, costing between $3.00 and $3.50 a square foot in walls and another $1.00 per square foot for attics.
Soy foam will work as well as cheaper and more readily available fiberglass-based batting insulation, but not so much better that it will be a boon to your pocketbook in the long run. You won’t recoup the costs of hidden soy insulation at resale. This is one financial bullet you will be taking for the good of the planet. 😉