Installing photovoltaic panels is the traditional solution when you want to use solar power at home. This is not a problem if you like the appearance of a rooftop solar system, but there are also many homeowners who prefer to have their roof free and clear of any additional objects.
There are now several manufacturers offering roofing shingles with built-in PV cells, meaning you can generate clean energy without having to install solar panels on top of your roof.
Luma Solar is a leading brand in this market segment, and here we will review the main features of their solar tile roofs.
Founded in 2007, Luma Solar was the first provider of solar roof shingles in the US, which makes them a leader in the industry. Each of their solar shingles can generate up to 80 watts, which means 4-5 of them are equivalent to a high-efficiency solar panel. Their shingles are also upgradeable, which means you can easily replace the photovoltaic cells without disrupting the roof structure.
When Do Solar Roof Shingles Make Sense?
If you’re considering solar power for your home, you might be wondering how solar roof shingles compare with photovoltaic panels. Like in any design decision, each option has pros and cons. Solar panels are mounted on top of your roof, which means having to install two separate systems.
On the other hand, solar shingles also perform the function of a normal roof, which means there is only one installation involved. Depending on the current condition of your home, one option may be more convenient than the other.
- Solar roof shingles save you the cost and hassle of a separate roof installation if you plan to build a new home, or when you need to replace the roof of an existing one.
- Solar panels are more cost-effective for existing roofs in good condition. In this case, using solar shingles involves removing the existing roof and installing a new one.
In general, homeowners can expect to pay around $3.06 per watt of capacity when using solar panels. On the other hand, the installed price of solar shingles is more variable since it depends on the size and complexity of the roof. You might pay less than $6.00 per watt when using them on a very simple roof, but the cost can go over $10.00 per watt for more complex designs.
From a purely financial standpoint, solar shingles make sense when their total cost is below the combined price of a new roof and solar panel system. However, there are also many cases where homeowners simply prefer the appearance of solar roof shingles and are willing to assume their extra price.
Keep in mind that high-quality solar panels can last for 25 years or more, and replacing a roof becomes more difficult once they are installed. Before going solar, getting a professional assessment of your roof is highly recommended. Solar shingles can be a viable option if you will need a complete roof replacement in the near future.
Luma Solar Roof Shingles: Technical Specifications
Let’s start by looking at the technical specifications of LSS80 Luma Solar roof shingles, which can also be found on their official website:
- Maximum power output: 80 W
- Exposed area: 52.5” x 14.65”
- Weight: 19.8 lb
- Solar cell type: Monocrystalline
- Solar cell efficiency: 22.1%
- Number of solar cells: 16 per shingle, in a 2×8 distribution
- Roof shingle material: 24-gauge Galvalume coated steel sheet
- Operating temperature: -40°C to 85°C
- Shingle warranty: Lifetime
- Solar cell power output warranty: 25 years at 80% output
- Solar cell product warranty: 5 years
- Wind rating: TAS 125-03: 200+ mph winds
- Miami-Dade Hurricane Rating: Class 5+
- Static wind load: 2,400 Pa
- Static snow load: 5,400 Pa
- Certifications: UL 1703 Certified, UL 580 Approved, ANSI/UL 790 Fire Rating Class C
As you can see, the Luma Solar roof shingle is a very durable product, designed for the harshest wind conditions and extreme temperatures. According to the Luma Solar website, their shingles are also three times stronger than traditional roof tiles. They are also compliant with UL standards, which means they have been successfully tested for electrical safety and fire safety.
In terms of power output, Luma Solar shingles can be compared to the most efficient solar panels since they use monocrystalline PV cells. Each Luma Solar shingle offers 80W of capacity in an area of 52.5” x 14.65”, which is roughly equivalent to 5.3 square feet.
For comparison, a 360W monocrystalline solar panel has typical dimensions of 65” x 40”, equivalent to 18 square feet. In other words, each panel is roughly equivalent to 4 – 5 Luma Solar shingles, but the area it covers is 3 – 4 times larger.
Luma Solar roof shingles are also characterized by their 22.1% conversion efficiency, which can match the best solar panel brands.
For comparison, here are the five most efficient solar panel brands according to EnergySage:
When comparing solar panels and roof shingles, you also need to consider the labor costs associated with their installation. Solar panels require a roof installation first, while solar shingles become your roof. – This is not a problem for existing homes, but solar shingles can eliminate one step in new construction projects. They are also recommended if your home needs a roof replacement soon, since you get solar power as soon as the installation is completed.
How Does the Luma Solar Roof Warranty Work?
When reviewing their product specifications, you will notice that Luma Solar offers three different warranties:
- The metallic roof shingles have a lifetime warranty, which remains valid as long you meet their warranty conditions. In other words, once you set up a Luma Solar roof, the structural portion of the shingles has a permanent warranty coverage.
- The solar cells have a 5-year product warranty and a 25-year power output warranty. The product warranty covers you if any of your solar cells fail prematurely due to material or manufacturing defects, while the power warranty applies if their output drops below 80% of the initial value before 25 years of use.
One of the best features of Luma Solar shingles is their upgradeable design. This is a major advantage, since photovoltaic technology is constantly evolving, and more efficient solar cells are reaching the market each year.
Luma Solar currently offers one of the highest efficiency ratings in the industry, but even better PV cells can be expected to become available in the future. Thanks to the upgradeable design of the Luma roof shingles, you can use future versions of their photovoltaic cells without needing a full replacement.
Using Luma Solar Shingles for a Partial Roof Upgrade
Luma Solar shingles are also compatible with other roofing materials, which is helpful if you only want to upgrade part of your roof. You may have noticed that homes with solar panels rarely have a fully covered roof – most homeowners can generate enough electricity using only certain areas.
The same applies for solar roofs, and most installations use a mix of photovoltaic and normal roof shingles that look identical. However, there are providers that will only quote full roof replacements, which are much more expensive than partial upgrades.
When using Luma Solar roof shingles, you have the flexibility to only upgrade a part of your roof. This means you can optimize the solar shingle area based on your budget, and the rest of your roof remains untouched.
The cost of a solar tile roof can exceed $10.00 per watt when you have a complex layout that covers a large area. However, costs below $6.00 per watt are possible with a partial roof upgrade.
You can maximize the ROI of Luma Solar shingles by installing them on the areas or your roof that get the most sunlight. This will increase the number of kilowatt-hours generated by each shingle, which means you save more on power bills over time.
Adding Energy Storage to a Luma Solar Roof
Just like conventional PV panels, solar roof shingles are compatible with energy storage systems. A home battery increases the value of solar energy, since you can store it for nighttime and cloudy days, when photovoltaic cells are not productive. If you have an electric tariff with time-of-use rates, you can also use a battery to save the most expensive kilowatt-hours.
Luma Solar has partnered with four of the best battery brands in the industry: Generac PWRcell, LG Chem, Enphase and Sonnen. Luma Solar works with these energy storage providers to size an optimal solution for each home, based on a previous analysis of its power bills and energy consumption profile.
Luma Solar also partners with several inverter brands, offering not only their well-known solar roofs, but also complete energy systems for homes.
Luma Solar roof shingles are also compatible with energy monitoring apps from inverter suppliers, just like traditional solar panels. This way you can always check solar power generation and consumption, even when you’re away from home.
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