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The pros and cons of solar shingles

by: Kirsten Land on August 1st, 2017 about General

You've probably heard of-and maybe even seen-solar panels. And perhaps you've seen some of the early-version solar shingles that have been developed in recent years.

Many people have been asking us about solar shingles, especially with Tesla launching a new version. These shingles are designed to look like various types of regular shingles so you can't tell the roof is solar. Let's take a quick look at Tesla's solar shingles and review some of the pros and cons.

Overview

Other companies have created solar shingles in recent years, but Tesla's new shingle has a texture and color that makes them look like the materials they were designed to mimic.

For homeowners who have always wanted to go solar but were hesitant because of how the panels and shingles look, that is no longer a worry. Based on the pictures I've seen and the reviews I've read, the Tesla solar shingles look like regular shingles.

Robert Tenent, a senior scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, says, "the aesthetics side of [solar] often gets ignored. Ugly doesn't sell in the building space." If the tiles look cool while delivering performance and durability, Tenent believes they could lead to mainstream adoption of solar roofs.

Pros of new solar shingles

Aesthetics. They look great. From street level, you really can't tell that these are solar cells.

Durability. They have an infinite warranty. Seriously. According to the Tesla website, these tiles are three times stronger than standard roofing tiles and are under warranty for "the lifetime of your house, or infinity, whichever comes first."

Hail tested. The shingle tiles were tested for the highest (class 4) hail rating. They shot a two-inch hailstone traveling 100 mph at the shingle. No damage. Pretty impressive. (Incidentally, they also shot hail at other standard roofing shingles; they didn't hold up so well.)

Wind and fire rating. For you roof nerds out there, the wind rating of the shingles is Class 4FM ANSI 4473, and the fire rating is Class F ASTM D3161. For you non-nerds, that's another way of saying that they have the highest rating against wind and fire.

Return on investment. Hey, you're going to pay to replace a roof at some point anyway, right? Why not pay for solar shingles and start to get some of that money back through the energy you produce? It may not only reduce your electric bill-in some states, power companies will purchase the surplus energy your solar shingles generate.

Power backup. You have the option to purchase a battery that stores your energy and provides uninterrupted electricity when the grid goes down.

Tax breaks. You can claim a 30% Solar Investment Tax Credit that applies to the cost of the solar tiles and associated solar energy equipment.

Cons of new solar shingles

Cost. This will be one of the biggest obstacles for the average homeowner. Compared to asphalt shingles, these solar cells are the Rolls Royce of shingles.

Moving. What happens if you move? Can you take the shingles with you and have them installed at your new place? If you take your solar shingles, will you have to pay to re-shingle the roof of your old house before anyone will buy it? If you leave the shingles with the old house, can you recoup the value of them? Will it increase your home value?

Specialized installation. You'll need to go through Tesla-owned SolarCity or use a roofer who has been trained in installing these shingles.

Bottom line-are they right for you?

These shingles seem like quality product that will give you the option to go solar while maintaining home aesthetics. However, for the time being, they may be cost-prohibitive for the average homeowner. Regardless, having more options is always a good thing for consumers.

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