Solar Roof Tiles: Cost, Options, and How They Work
The solar system market is changing each year, with different technologies coming up to make for more comfortable installations and usage. One of the newest technologies to grace the solar market is solar roof tiles.
Solar roof tiles, also called building-integrated photovoltaics or BIPV, are materials that makeup part of your house’s roof, inconspicuously integrated with other non-solar roofing tiles to cover the entire roof. Unlike solar panels, they are not separate from the regular roofing tiles but are actual roofing tiles with photovoltaic properties.
These tiles typically cost more than solar panels, but they come in handy if a property does not have a roof that can hold solar panels for the best output. This article will look at the cost of solar roof tiles, how they work, and the options currently available in Australia.
The average cost of the tiles will depend on the retailer. The installation will depend on the installation area, contractor, roof size, pitch, and slope.
If you are considering using solar roof tiles, you may want to choose a contractor and discuss these factors with them before determining the cost for your specific installation.
|Solar roof tiles||Qty||Low||High|
|Solar roof tiles average cost||Per sq. ft.||$21||$25|
|Solar roof tiles (Installed)||Per square||$2,100||$2,500|
Solar roof tiles options
Several options for solar roof tiles are available in Australia. As mentioned before, the tiles’ cost varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. And because solar roof tiles are relatively new, there are not many options to consider.
However, more people are becoming aware of them, which will eventually affect availability and cost in the long run.
Tesla solar roof tiles
The CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, announced the Tesla Solar Roof product in 2016 to offer consumers an option for solar panels. Some homeowners do not like the look of the panels on their properties, so solar roof tiles are a more modern way to get green energy without defacing their property.
Tesla offers both active and non-active solar roof tiles. It may cost between $80 and $130 per square meter to install the tiles. The cost to install a watt of Tesla solar tiles is $1.80. This is cheaper than installing a solar panel, which costs about $3 per watt. You can also buy non-solar tiles so that you can blend all the tiles with none standing out.
However, the Tesla solar roof tiles may not be currently available for consumers in Australia. You may have to visit the official website to determine whether you can make a deposit for a future purchase.
Monier solar roof tiles
Monier is another popular manufacturer of solar roof tiles in Australia and has some of the best products on the market. It was previously known for putting tiles on the roofs of houses, but it launched its solar roof tiles about half a decade ago.
The product has a warranty of 25 years with an output of over 80% for the duration. But the life of the solar tiles has a warranty of 10 years.
The Solartile product is made from monocrystalline cells, so they are some of the most efficient on the market at 17.3%. However, the tiles fit only the flat-profiled concrete roof tiles from Monier and can be retrofitted or added at any point. Buying and installing a 4KW unit on your roof, including an inverter, is $4,500. Monier supplies the system, installs it, and manages the rebates on your behalf.
Bristile solar roof tiles
Bristile is a roofing company in Australia but ventured into producing solar tiles in 2017. You can easily integrate the solar tiles into the Bristile flat tiles in concrete or ceramic/terracotta range. Bristile claims the tiles have the same solar efficiency as regular monocrystalline solar panels at 16%.
A 4KW unit, which will cover about 28.5 square meters of a roof, will cost about $15,700 at $550 per square meter, complete with an inverter. Depending on the size of the unit and roof, you can cover a portion of the roof and use the regular flat non-solar tiles from Bristile for the rest of the roof. The non-solar tiles cost $65 per square meter.
The product has a warranty of about 25 years, performing at 80% of its overall power generation capacity. There is also a 10-year warranty to guarantee the structural integrity and a total roof warranty of 10 years for the unit.
Nulok solar inserts
The Nulok roofing system is an Australian company with some of the finest roofing systems, including solar inserts. It also makes ceramic and slate tiles in its roofing systems.
The solar insert designs are discrete and top-quality, and architects favor them for new buildings. The systems are highly efficient, ranging between 18.6 and 22.3%, which is one of the most efficient units on the market.
A fitted 4KW solar roof tile unit costs between $8,000 and $14,000, but it does not include an inverter or an electrical installation. The cost of the system can significantly increase, depending on the type of tiles, the size of the unit, and the installation.
There is a warranty of 12 years with a power output of 90%. It also has a warranty of 25 years with a power output of 80%.
Tractile solar roof tiles
Tractile has a patented style of interlocking roof tiles, which are about six times the size of normal roof tiles. The uniqueness of this product is that it has hot water channels that preheat water to about 30 degrees Celsius.
With a 20% power output, the roof tiles sit on modern buildings and are a favorite with many builders. They are made up of cells that perform better in hot conditions, as they are cooled by water being channeled behind them.
An installed 4KW solar tile system costs $55,000, but this amount excludes rebates and includes an inverter and a solar-warmed water and heat exchange tank. This total cost can vary depending on location, roof size, design, and site. But a typical 4KW system with water channels, battens, and an inverter may cost about $13,000.
Solar roof tiles are typically more expensive than regular solar panels because they are new, so not everyone uses them yet. Therefore, there are a limited number of contractors and installers around the country. They also cost more because of the installation; it will take reroofing a house to install the tiles in an already-existing structure.
What are solar tiles?
Solar tiles are similar to regular solar panels and function in much the same way. But they are smaller and fit more compactly on a roof than solar panels. In other words, the tiles fit in with regular roof tiles and do not stand out.
With solar panels, you have to mount them to sit on top of the roof, but solar roof tiles are part of the roof. Many roofing system companies are working hard to produce these tiles along with the regular tiles in their ranges, with a few already selling the tiles in Australia.
How do solar roof tiles work?
Solar roof tiles work like the familiar solar panels. They trap sunlight in the cells and convert the energy into usable electricity through the help of an inverter. Therefore, there is not much difference between solar panels and solar roof tiles except in their appearance and installation.
Where solar panels are bigger and are mounted on the roof, the tiles are part of the roof. So, using the tiles covers a larger surface area because they blend in with the roofing tiles or shingles. In addition, they are more aesthetically appealing and less bulky than solar panels.
Advantages of using solar roof tiles
If you do not want the hassle of solar panel installation or do not appreciate their look on your roof, solar roof tiles could be a better option.
There are several advantages of using solar roof tiles, and as they become more popular, we are sure to see more.
The tiles fit better into a building’s roofing than solar panels. As a result, they are more pleasing to look at from every angle. Newer buildings that want to go the solar way prefer using them, even though they are more expensive because they do not detract from the design or beauty of the property.
Suitable for use in difficult places
Solar panels may be difficult to install in certain roof areas. If those areas get the best sunlight at peak hours, you may be losing the best use of the solar system.
Contractors and installers may have a hard time reaching those areas for installations. But with solar roof tiles, the reverse is the case. They can be installed during roofing, which is usually much easier than installing panels. Besides, they have a better balance than panels.
Protection for the roof
Since the tiles are part of the roofing system, there will be no need to drill holes in the roof, which may be potentially damaging. Also, the installers will not need to mount equipment for the installation, eliminating the risk of straining the roof. Furthermore, unlike solar panels, the tiles do not pull on the roof if there are strong winds or rainstorms.
Disadvantages of solar roof tiles
There are a few cons of using solar roof tiles, although some may no longer be an issue in the long run.
While the tiles fit in with the roof tiles that may already exist, it usually means tearing out a significant portion of the roof to install them.
This means extra work, which may cost more on the owner’s part because of the need for electricians to work with the contractors. It is typically easier to install them during a new roof installation instead of removing some parts of the roof.
Solar roof tiles are more expensive than regular panels because they are new, and not every contractor currently works with them. The limited number of trained contractors and installers makes the cost higher.
Moreover, the tiles must fit in with the roof, which may mean the extra work of removing old tiles and fitting the solar tiles in their place. The expertise required to perform this job is usually expensive. However, it depends on the portion of the roof to be tiled; the smaller the portion, the less expensive the installation.
The efficiency of the tiles depends on the number of tiles and their position on the roof. The problem typically lies in the permanency of the installation. In the case of solar panels, you can always realign them to gain a better positioning and improved efficiency.
However, once solar roof tiles are installed, they cannot be removed without breaking a part of the roof, which may damage the solar tiles in the process. Not only that, but the cost of redoing the laying of the tiles may be high.
Maintenance and repairs
The newness of solar tiles on the market makes maintaining or repairing them a little challenging. The same is not true for the more-popular solar panels because there are many contractors and companies with the knowledge and technology to repair and maintain the panels. If there are issues with your solar roof tiles, there may be little help in the way of service.
Which to choose: solar panels or solar roof tiles
The choice of a solar tile or solar panel depends on you and your property. Solar tiles work best if you are building a new house so that the installers can work with the roofers to install them. It saves costs.
But if the property already exists, it may be better to use solar panels for an easier installation unless you do not mind the extra expenses. You may want to discuss with a licensed and experienced contractor to determine which option works best for your property.
Author: Ben McInerney is a renewable energy enthusiast with the goal of helping more Australians understand solar systems to make the best choice before they purchase. Having an accredited solar installer in the family helps give Ben access to the correct information, which allows him to break it down and make it easily understandable to the average homeowner.