The Complete Guide to Integrated Solar Panels Beth Howell Last updated on 12 July 2022 9 min read Solar panels are great, right? Who would have thought a few decades ago that you could literally power your whole home with energy from the sun?And as if that wasn’t good enough, solar panels are no longer bulky and oversized – they’re now designed with aesthetics in mind. Integrated solar panels, in particular, can give users the best of both worlds: high efficiency with a sleek, modern look.Want to learn more about these discreet panels? We’ve got everything you need to know waiting in our helpful guide below.There are, of course, some disadvantages to integrated solar panels, which means they might not be right for every homeowner.If you want to utilise solar energy but would rather stick to regular panels, we’re here to help.You can find the perfect set of solar panels for your home by simply filling out this short form. Once we’ve got some basic information about your property, we’ll connect you with our professional installers, who’ll get in touch with their best prices.What’s on this page? 01 What are integrated solar panels? 02 The pros and cons of integrated solar panels 03 Can you get integrated solar panels in the UK? 04 How much do integrated solar panels cost? 05 Integrated solar panel maintenance What are integrated solar panels?Integrated solar panels – also referred to as in-roof panels – are essentially the same as traditional solar panels, but are embedded into a tileless section of roof. Unlike regular solar panels (also called ‘on-roof panels’), integrated panels need minimal mounting equipment, and the support that is there is hidden out of sight underneath the panels.In-roof panels are also designed to behave like roof tiles – they’re weatherproof, waterproof, and can be as strong as normal roof tiles.Installation is also pretty straightforward. In most instances, you won’t need to alter the underlying roof structure – the roof tiles just need to be removed, and plastic trays are then fitted to the existing structure.Conventional framed solar panels are then mounted into these trays, and slates are used to fill in any gaps around the trays.Integrated panels vs roof tilesAlthough they have the same goal – to generate solar power whilst looking aesthetically pleasing – integrated panels and solar roof tiles are very different.Integrated solar panels sit on a property’s roof, whilst solar tiles replace the existing tiles.Solar roof tiles are also much more discreet than integrated panels – sometimes it can even be hard to tell if they’re solar tiles or normal tiles if you’re standing from a distance.Although solar tiles can be much better for some homeowners, it’s also important to note that they’re less efficient than panels – which means they won’t be able to generate as much energy as integrated panels. The pros and cons of integrated solar panelsAdvantages of integrated solar panelsAesthetically pleasingIn 2021, we carried out a survey on the appearance of solar panels. Overall, we found that half of respondents aged 13-40 think solar panels are attractive, which drops to just 11% amongst 57-72 year olds. As for 73-88 year olds? Zero respondents in this bracket find solar panels attractive.If you agree with the older generations in our study that traditional solar panels are unattractive, integrated panels might be for you. Since they're installed as part of a roof's structure, integrated solar panels sit snugly with the roof tiles and blend in more seamlessly.It’s a great look for any style of house. AffordableAlthough they were once much more expensive than on-roof panels, integrated solar panels are now pretty affordable – great news, since 69% of people ranked cost as the most important factor when evaluating which low-carbon product to purchase.As the technology has become popular, more manufacturers have started offering integrated solutions, and the panels have become more affordable to meet demand. In fact, you can now expect in-roof panels to cost a similar amount to regular panels. LightweightStandard solar panels can be too heavy for some roofs, which can cause maintenance issues with both the building and the panels.However, since roof-integrated systems aren’t placed on top of tiles, don’t require a mounting frame, and are pretty lightweight themselves, they’re much lighter overall. Good for homes with restricted planning permissionSince integrated panels are designed to sit flat with the roof – and can often be altered to match a certain colour scheme – they’re more likely to qualify for planning permission in listed buildings or protected areas.Plus, since they’re more lightweight than traditional solar panels, in-roof solar panels won’t add extra weight to the roof – another bonus for older, more delicate buildings. Low maintenanceSolar panels are already pretty low-maintenance pieces of kit, but in-roof panels go one step further.Since integrated solar panels are embedded into the roof, they don’t have a mounting frame, which means there’s no room for birds to nest underneath.That’s right, you probably won’t have to worry about having to pigeon-proof your panels! The lack of visible framing also means there’s nowhere for debris to build up.Disadvantages of integrated solar panelsLower efficiencyClearly, integrated solar panels have a lot of benefits, but one key disadvantage is that they’re usually 5-10% less efficient than on-roof solar panels.This is because, unlike on-roof solar panels, integrated panels sit snug in a tray rather than mounted on brackets. This means that there’s less air ventilation around the panel to help keep it cool.On very hot days, this lack of ventilation can lead your panels to overheat and generate less energy. Retrofitting can be difficultRetrofitting (adding panels onto an already-existing solar system) is definitely possible with integrated solar panels – but it comes with some complexities. This means installation will probably take longer than usual, and will end up being more expensive. Can you get integrated solar panels in the UK?Yes, you can! More manufacturers have been selling integrated panels widely across the country – and there are plenty of UK-based companies to choose from, including:GB Sol – This Wales-based solar manufacturer has 20 years of expertise and an award-winning roof-integrated system. Although it’s one of the most popular suppliers, GB Sol offers bespoke options, which can be more expensiveGSE Integration – Although GSE supplies panels in the UK, its in-roof system also dominates over 60% of the market share of residential solar installations in France. Plus, the materials used are 100% recyclable! As if you needed another reason to like this product, it’s also on the cheaper end of the price spectrumViridian – This Cambridge-based company’s system, named Clearline Fusion, has five different panel ‘kits’, which are suitable for different roof styles. The company is also keen to point out that its panels’ wind resistance is more than four times higher than competitor products’Romag – Romag roof-integrated solar panels work with all types of roof covering, including slate, clay, concrete tiles, or as a ‘whole roof' solution. Plus, customers can choose from four different sizesManufacturerProductPerformance warrantyManufacturer warrantyGB SolRoof-Integrated System25 years10 yearsGSE IntegrationIn-roof Integration10 years10 yearsViridianClearline Fusion25 years10 yearsRomagRoof-Integrated Solar Panels20 years10 years How much do integrated solar panels cost?Overall, you can expect prices to be similar to that of traditional on-roof solar panels, but since most integrated solar panels are bespoke, it can be difficult to estimate their exact price.Factors that can alter the price include:How many panels you haveWhether you’re adding them to a new build or retrofitHow much energy you need the panels to generateWhich manufacturer you chooseGSE in-roof systems are on the cheaper end of the spectrum – starting at around £60 per panel if the roof is at ‘felt and batten stage’ (when a roof hasn’t had tiles added to it yet), and £150 per panel if the roof is already tiled.Viridian models, on the other hand, are a bit more pricey. We’ve listed the average costs below, with prices varying depending on the output needed for your property.ModelAverage price270Wp£100 – £170280Wp£165 – £200300Wp£204 – £245 Integrated solar panel maintenanceGood news – integrated solar panels are even more low maintenance than their on-roof counterparts.Solar panels have no moving parts, which makes them relatively low maintenance, but integrated systems have even fewer parts to keep in good condition. As we mentioned earlier, you probably won’t have to worry about pigeon-proofing your panels, or checking debris as often, thanks to the lack of brackets.Aside from this, integrated panel maintenance is pretty much the same as regular on-roof panel maintenance. Want to keep your panels in tip-top shape? Here are six key things you should do to look after them:Get your panels serviced at least once a yearClean your solar panels about twice a yearRemove potential dangers regularlyKeep solar panels out of the shadeMake sure the inverters are flashing greenCheck day-to-day performanceWant to learn more about how to look after your solar panels – whether integrated or on-roof? Check out our helpful guide on solar panel repair and maintenance.Next stepsThe solar panel industry is always evolving, with its ongoing efforts to increase domestic panels’ efficiency, make panels look more aesthetically pleasing, and find new ways to generate more electricity.Despite this, traditional solar panels are typically the most popular option to go with, which usually comes down to their price and efficiency.If you think your home could benefit from a set of panels, you’ve come to the right place. We can help you find the best deal with our easy-to-use quote tool.All you have to do is pop your details in this short form, and our suppliers will get in touch with their best solar panel prices. Beth Howell Writer @Bethany_Howell_ Beth has a real passion for green living. She’s been absorbed in eco research for over three years, and has become quite the expert. Whether you’re after a new set of solar panels, a home energy improvement, or you want to catch the latest eco news, she’s got your back.