The New GAF Solar Roof: Cost & Comparisons – The Ultimate Guide

Solar tile roofs are becoming a popular option for homeowners who want to use renewable energy. Instead of installing solar panels on top of your roof with a racking system, photovoltaic cells are integrated directly into the shingles or tiles that make up your roof.

Both BiPV shingles and traditional solar arrays offer a service life of 25 years or more, and they make sense from a financial standpoint. However, if you’re among the homeowners who prefer the look of a traditional roof without PV modules, you might be interested in a solar roofing system.

GAF is an established provider of high-quality roofing materials, and they recently developed the Timberline Solar Energy Shingles. This product is characterized by being the first nailable solar shingle in the market, which makes the installation process much simpler.

  • GAF has designed a solar shingle that can be easily installed by roofing contractors, making the overall process easier for homeowners.
  • Normally, homeowners need to contact two separate companies to install their roofs and solar panels.

GAF offers complete roof replacements that include solar shingles, similar to how Tesla Solar Roof works. In other words, you cannot use their solar shingles for a partial roof upgrade. This is not a problem for new construction projects and homes that require a complete roof replacement.

However, if your roof is relatively new and in good condition, traditional solar panels have a lower cost and a quicker payback period. There are also solar shingle providers who offer partial upgrades, where only the roof areas that will be used to generate electricity are upgraded.

GAF: Innovation is a part of their DNA

GAF stands for General Aniline & Film, and they are currently the largest provider of roofing and waterproofing solutions in North America.

GAF introduced the Timberline roof shingle in 1967, and it became one of the most popular roofing products in the US. One of the companies that merged to create GAF was RUBEROID which launched the first individually cut asphalt shingle in 1912, and the first interlocking shingle in 1933.

GAF Energy was created in 2019 as a separate business unit, with the goal of providing solar solutions for residential and commercial buildings. GAF and GAF Energy are sister companies, both owned by Standard Industries. There are two main product lines:

  • The DecoTech system integrates solar panels into the roof structure, allowing a flush installation without separate racking.
  • The Timberline Solar roof system uses solar shingles instead of traditional PV modules, and GAF has developed the first nailable solar shingle in the world.

GAF Timberline Solar shingles installation
Source: GAF Energy

In this guide, we will provide an overview of the Timberline solar roof system, which was launched on January 3, 2022. The GAF Energy website does not provide official pricing data and technical specifications as of April 2022, but they have shared some of this information in blog articles and interviews.

The Timberline Solar Energy Shingle: Product Overview

GAF designed the Timberline Solar Energy Shingle to be easily installed by roofing contractors. This is the first nailable solar shingle in the global market, which means their installation can be completed with only a nail gun – no specialized tools and equipment are necessary.

GAF Timberline solar shingles have their electronic components on the front, which means they can be easily accessed for maintenance purposes.

The Timberline Solar roof is a relatively new product, and no specification sheets have been published in the GAF Energy website. However, the company shared some product details during interviews conducted by Electrek and The Washington Post:

  • Product name: Timberline Solar Energy Shingle
  • Rated power: 45 watts
  • Type of solar cell: Monocrystalline PERC
  • Energy conversion efficiency: 22.6%
  • Temperature coefficient: -0.39% per Celsius degree
  • Ambient temperature range: -40°F to 122°F (-40°C to 50°C)
  • Shingle dimensions: 64-1/4″ x 17-1/8″ x 1” (1,632 x 435 x 26 mm)
  • Shingle weight: 10.1 lb (4.58 kg)
  • Roof pitch: 2:12 or above
  • Maximum installation altitude: 13,123 ft (4,000 m)
  • Wind classification: ASTM D3161 Class F (successfully tested at 110 mph)
  • Impact resistance: UL 2218 Class 1
  • Product safety: UL 7103 certification for building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV)

GAF solar roof shingles have a remarkable efficiency, which can be compared with that of the best solar panels: SunPower (22.8%), LG Solar (22.1%), REC (21.9%), Panasonic (21.7%), etc. Solar shingles and tiles normally have efficiency values below 20%, even when using monocrystalline cells.

Considering the 45W output of GAF Timberline solar shingles, you need eight of them to match the output of a 360W solar panel. To reach a system capacity of 9 kW, you could use 25 solar panels of this capacity, or alternatively, a total of 200 Timberline solar shingles.

As you can see, GAF solar shingles have roughly the same length as traditional solar panels, but their width is much smaller (17-1/8″ compared with the typical module width of 40”). They cover a larger area for a given system capacity, but keep in mind that GAF will be installing your entire roof anyway.

GAF Timberline Solar Energy Shingles are not available for partial installations, they can only be used for complete roof replacements and new roof construction projects.

GAF solar shingles are also much lighter than traditional PV modules. While most residential solar panels weigh between 40 and 50 pounds, these shingles have a weight of 10.1 pounds. They are around 60% smaller and 75% lighter, making them easier to handle. Also consider that Timberline shingles can be simply nailed in place, with no racking system needed.

When installing a Timberline solar roof, GAF also offers several design options for the roof portions with normal non-generating shingles. There are four colors available, which can match a wide variety of home designs: birchwood, charcoal, pewter gray, and weathered wood.

Did you know? According to Martin DeBono, president of GAF Energy who was interviewed by Canary Media, GAF Energy has installed more building-integrated solar roofs than Tesla.

How Much Does a GAF Timberline Solar Roof Cost?

Since the Timberline Solar roof is a relatively new product, pricing information is still very limited. However, GAF Energy president Martin DeBono provided some ballpark figures during an interview conducted by The Washington Post.

  • According to DeBono, you can expect to pay around $42,000 for a GAF solar roof, and this can be reduced to around $30,000 with solar incentive programs.
  • However, the price can change significantly depending on roof size and complexity.

DeBono did not specify a system capacity when mentioning the $42,000 figure, but he mentioned that is the typical cost of a residential installation. For comparison, Tesla solar roofs are often quoted above $60,000, and customers with large and complex roofs have received offers above $100,000.

The GAF solar roof cannot be compared yet with similar products in terms of cost per watt, but this will change as more information becomes available. However, the company has emphasized that they want to provide an affordable solar roof. They have an aggressive sales target: installing solar shingles in 10% of all roofs provided by GAF within three years! This would be equivalent to 100,000 new solar roofs installed per year.

Does the GAF Solar Roof Have a Good Warranty?

GAF has not published detailed technical information and pricing data, but their warranty conditions are described in high detail. GAF offers an excellent 25-year warranty, which ensures clean electricity for your home in the long run.

Their power production warranty offers 84.8% of initial output after 25 years of use, with 2% degradation during the first year of use and then only 0.55% degradation per year. The following table summarizes the percentage of initial capacity remaining over time when using Timberline Solar shingles:

Year GAF Solar Roof Warranted Output
1 98%
5 95.8%
10 93.05%
15 90.3%
20 87.55%
25 84.8%

The GAF solar roof also has a 25-year warranty that covers manufacturing defects that cause leaks, and a 15-year warranty against wind damage (130 mph). These warranties cover the following system components:

  • Timberline solar energy shingles
  • Electrical transition box and flashing
  • QuickStart jumper module
  • Wire bracket and cover

If you sell your home during the 25-year warranty period, it can be transferred to a new owner a single time. However, the GAF warranty is voided if your home is sold to a third owner.

How Does the GAF Solar Roof Compare with other Products?

The Timberline Solar roof from GAF Energy is characterized by its high efficiency, long-term warranty coverage, and ease of installation. Detailed cost data is not available yet, but the company has stated the importance of providing an affordable product, and they want to reach 100,000 annual installations within three years.

The main limitation of the GAF solar shingles is not being able to use them in partial installations. In other words, you must replace your roof completely if you want to use them. They are a cost-effective option in new construction projects, and for homeowners who need to replace their roof anyway. However, other products offer a lower cost and higher ROI for homeowners who don’t need a new roof in the short term.

GAF Energy can be compared with Tesla and Forward Labs that also focus on complete roof replacements The GAF solar roof is designed to be a more affordable product, but the solar and non-solar shingles have a very different appearance.

Tesla and Forward Labs have more expensive products, but their solar shingle design is completely invisible: solar and non-solar shingles look identical, and you cannot tell them apart from ground level.

Some leading manufacturers that offer solar shingles that can be used for partial roof upgrades are CertainTeed, Luma Solar, and SunTegra. You can check their products if you’re interested in a solar roof for your home but don’t need a full replacement. You can identify the parts of the roof that get the most sunshine, and only install solar shingles in those areas for best ROI.

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