Solar Roof Tiles, Shingles & Slates

Solar tiles are designed to look like ordinary roof tiles meaning they blend in with the rest of the roof and are often considered to be less obtrusive than traditional solar panels.

However, solar tiles cost more than solar panels and are often less efficient meaning they typically deliver a lower return on investment.

You can compare the cost of different solar solutions by entering your postcode in the banner above or read our guide to solar tiles below.

In This Guide:



Solar tiles

Solar roof tiles

Solar tiles, also known as solar shingles or solar slates, are a popular option for new home builders or homeowners having new roofs constructed. Unlike traditional solar panels, solar roof tiles are built into the structure of the roof and are installed in the same overlapping way as traditional roof slates. The best time to instal solar tiles is during the construction of the roof.

As solar tiles form part of the roof, they are much better at blending in meaning they are often considered to be less obtrusive than traditional solar panels. However, modern solar panels have come along way to improve their visual design meaning they are now much better at blending in with the rest of the roof.

Unless you are building a new home or having a new roof fitted, solar panels are likely to be much more cost effective than solar roof tiles; solar panels can simply be attached to an existing roof and typically cost less meaning they generate a higher return on investment. However, for homeowners who feel that the appearance of their roof is paramount or for whom cost is less of a concern, solar tiles could still be a viable option.


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Solar roof tiles cost

Despite the price of solar tiles reducing over the last few years, they are still considerably more expensive than solar panels. In the same time period, the price of solar panels has reduced by around 70 - 80%.

It is important to only compare the prices of MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) accredited suppliers so that you qualify for the Government’s Feed-in Tariff scheme, which will pay you thousands of pounds for the renewable energy generated by your solar tile system.

The good new is installing a solar tiled roof will add value to the home; the Energy Saving Trust quotes that when spending an investment outlay of 4% of the value of the home on solar photovoltaic tiles, the end value placed on the house could be as great as a 10% increase by return.

The table below compares the price of similar sized solar slates and solar panels:

Typical System Size
Typical Solar Tile Cost
Typical Solar Panel Cost
Typical Earnings Over 20 Years
1kW
£5,500 - £7,000
£2,500 - £3,000
£3,680
2kW
£7,000 - £9,000
£3,000 - £4,000
£7,360
3kW
£10,000 - £12,000
£4,000 - £6,000
£10,680
4kW
£12,000 - £14,000
£6,000 - £8,000
£14,000


*The solar tile costs don’t take into account the full cost of the roof construction. Solar panels are bolted to existing roofs so these figures are the typical total cost.

Learn more about solar panel costs


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How do they work?

Solar shingles, also referred to as solar tiles, work in the same way that traditional solar panels work. Each solar tile has photovoltaic cells and when light from the sun shines on these cells an electric field is created which can be used to provide electricity in your home.

The photovoltaic shingles or tiles are attached by electrical leads 12 inches through the roof deck to a connection point usually located in the attic or roof space of the property where the electricity is stored.

The major difference between solar tiles and solar panels is that solar tiles are designed to work as part of the roof where as solar panels are bolted on top of an existing roof.

As with solar panels, an inverter needs to be installed, often in the loft or cupboard, which converts the DC electricity generated by the solar tiles into AC electricity that can be used to power your home’s appliances. This electricity can be exported back to the grid meaning your solar tiles will qualify for feed-in tariff payments if your installer is MCS accredited.

Like PV panels, the volume of electricity produced depends on the intensity and length of exposure to light that they receive so similar things affect their efficiency like the orientation and angle of the roof. The more PV solar slates you have the more electricity is generated. The power created can be used straight away or stored in a battery for future use. Most PV solar slates come with a 20 year guarantee which makes them very cost effective as replacements are rarely needed.

Solar Tiles require minimal maintenance. As there are no moving parts there is nothing to rust, break down or wear out. Ensuring they are kept clean and clear, especially during the autumn and winter with the leaf fall and snow likely, will keep them in perfect working order.



Solar slates vs. solar panels

Whether solar tiles or solar panels are best for your depends on your individual circumstances and desired outcomes. Below you can find typical examples of where solar tiles are a better option than solar panels and vice versa.

Solar tiles tend to be the best option for:

  • Homeowners who want their roof to look visually pleasing above all else
  • Properties with a listed status or within a conservations meaning they cannot install solar panels
  • Builders constructing new homes
  • Homeowners looking to replace their existing roof

Solar panels tend to be the best option for:

  • Homeowners looking to maximise their return on investment from producing solar energy
  • Budget conscious homeowners looking to install solar technology


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Advantages and disadvantages of solar tiles

Advantages of solar tiles over solar panels:

  • No protruding structures to disturb the outward appearance of a property
  • Can be installed in listed buildings and in conservation areas
  • Designed to work as part of the roof structure

Advantages of solar panels over solar tiles:

  • Can be removed and relocated without disturbing the roof structure
  • Can be angled into optimum position
  • Typically cheaper and more efficient
  • A wider range of manufacturers and installers


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Manufacturers and reviews

There are a lot less solar tile manufacturers than solar panel manufacturers meaning you will have less choice over styles, performance etc. The leading manufacturers of solar tiles and solar shingles in the UK are Solarcentury and Solar Slate Ltd.

Solarcentury

Founded in 1998, Solarcentury are an experienced commercial solar panel installer and manufacturer of solar tiles. With their headquarters in London, the business operates globally with offices in the Netherlands, Mexico, Chile, Panama, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa.

Solarcentury’s range of solar tiles and slates are called C21e and consist of three products: C21e solar slate, C21e solar plain tile, C21e solar roof tile

Key performance data for c21e range:

Criteria
c21e solar slate
Photovoltaic cell technology
Monocrystalline
Peak power
50 Wp
Cell efficiency
18.9%
Module efficiency
13.9%
Maximum system voltage
1000 V DC
Warranty
10 year product warranty


Solar Slate Ltd

Founded in 2008, Solar Slate Ltd is a UK company based in Bristol owned by RES Group, a UK renewables business. Solar Slate offer three types of solar tiles; Solar Slate Traditional, Solar Slate Multi and Solar Slate Accent.

Key performance data for Solar Slate’s range:

Model
Slate weight
Minimum roof angle
Nominal output at STC
Voltage at MPP
Maximum permissible voltage
Solar Slate Traditional
1.8 Kg
27.5 degrees
6.5 Wp (+/- 10%)
4.4 V
50 V
Solar Slate Multi
10.5 Kg
30 degrees
6.5 Wp (+/- 10%)
8.24 V
50 V
Solar Slate Accent
1.8 Kg
27.5 degrees
6.5 Wp (+/- 10%)
4.4 V
50 V


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