A Guide to Solar Roof Tiles

DISCLAIMER: Our partners no longer take appointments for homeowners looking to benefit from the Feed-in Tariff, which is due to end on 31st March 2019

Solar roof tiles are designed to look like ordinary roof tiles, meaning they blend in with your home’s roof. Because of this, they are more inconspicuous than traditional solar panels.

Solar roof tiles typically cost more than solar panels because of how new the technology is to the renewable energy market.

The 2 main manufacturers and installers of solar roof tiles in the UK are Tesla and Solarcentury. Both companies make solar tiles in a range of styles so that you can match them to your home’s roof.

What's in This Guide to Solar Roof Tiles?

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Solar Roof Tiles: What Are They?

solar roof tiles

Solar roof tiles (also known as solar slates or solar shingles) are a popular option for homeowners who are a) building a new house or b) having a new roof fitted. Unlike solar panels which are bolted onto a property’s existing roof, solar roof tiles are actually built into the structure of the roof and are designed to look exactly like normal roof tiles. This means that they’re better at blending into the roof than solar panels, making them a much more attractive choice for homeowners who are concerned about the aesthetic appearance of their property.

Solar roof tiles produce renewable electricity in exactly the same way as solar panels. In the most simple terms, each solar roof tile is made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells. When light from the sun shines on these cells, an electric field is created which provides electricity to your home. Solar roof tiles are attached to a connection point in your loft or roof space via a series of electrical cables. Here, an inverter is installed which converts the DC (direct current) electricity generated by the solar roof tiles into AC (alternating current) electricity that can be used to power your home’s appliances.

The amount of electricity produced by your solar roof tiles will depend on a number of different factors, including:

• the amount of time that they're exposed to daylight and sunlight

• the angle and orientation of your roof

• the efficiency rating of the solar roof tiles themselves

The more solar roof tiles you have, the more free electricity you can generate. The electricity can be used straight away or stored in a solar battery storage system for use later on (e.g. at night when there is no sunlight).

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Solar Roof Tiles Cost 2018

Despite the price of solar roof tiles having fallen in recent years, they are still considerably more expensive than solar panels because of a) how new the technology is to the renewable energy market, and b) how little competition there is within the solar tile market.

There is some good news about solar roof tiles, however. According to the Energy Saving Trust, installing solar tiles will actually add value to your home and could increase its market price by as much as 10%.

The table below compares the price of solar roof tiles against the price of solar panels. The prices quoted are for the most common sized solar systems in the UK. An average household will need a 3kW or 4kW solar system to cover their electricity usage. You should therefore be prepared to spend upwards of £10,000 for your solar roof tiles if you have a household of 3 or more people.

Typical System Size
Typical Solar Tile Cost
Typical Solar Panel Cost
£5,500 - £7,000
£2,500 - £3,000
£7,000 - £9,000
£3,000 - £4,000
£10,000 - £12,000
£4,000 - £6,000
£12,000 - £14,000
£6,000 - £8,000

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How much do solar panels cost?

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How Much Money Can You Make from Solar Roof Tiles?

DISCLAIMER: Our partners no longer take appointments for homeowners looking to benefit from the Feed-in Tariff, which is due to end on 31st March 2019

You can earn up to £6,850 over 20 years by installing solar roof tiles into your home. Earnings are based on payments from the UK government’s Feed-in Tariff scheme and savings on your annual energy bills.

Feed-in Tariff Payments:

The Feed-in Tariff is split into 2 sets of payments: the Generation Tariff and the Export Tariff. The Generation Tariff allows you to earn money from every kWh of electricity that your solar roof tiles generate, while the Export Tariff pays you for every kWh of electricity produced by your solar roof tiles that you don’t use and give back to the National Grid.

You'll start to receive these payments once your solar roof tiles have been registered for the Feed-in Tariff scheme. They can only be registered if they have been purchased and installed by an MCS accredited supplier. Payments from the Feed-in Tariff are tax-free and last for 20 years.

The table below shows you the current Feed-in Tariff rates for July to September 2018 for residential properties with an EPC rating of D or above that install solar roof tiles:


Date Range

Generation Tariff

Export Tariff

Q4 2018
Oct 1st to Dec 31st
3.86p per kWh
5.24p per kWh

Energy Bill Savings:

Because you'll be producing free electricity from your solar roof tiles, your spend on electricity bills will fall. This is because you won’t need to buy as much electricity from your energy provider to power your home. The exact amount of money you’ll save will depend on how much electricity you use, but it's typically around 50% of your annual energy bill.

The table below shows you the typical payback period of solar roof tiles. While you’ll receive payments from the Feed-in Tariff for only 20 years, you can save money on your energy bills for the full lifespan of your solar roof tiles. The payback period is based on the most popular sized solar systems:

Solar System Size
Payback Period
£5,500 - £7,000
30 to 40 years
£7,000 - £9,000
20 to 30 years
£10,000 - £12,000
20 to 25 years
£12,000 - £14,000
15 to 20 years

How much could you save with Solar Panels? What's your average monthly electricity bill?

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Solar Roof Tiles: Advantages and Disadvantages


The tile form part of your roof for a discreet design

Can be installed onto listed buildings and in conservation areas

Enable you to earn money from the Feed-in Tariff and savings on your energy bills

Add value to your property

Reduce your carbon footprint

Produce free electricity for up to 30 years


More expensive than standard solar panels

Less energy efficient than common solar panels (i.e. they produce less electricity)

Only a small range of manufacturers and installers

Can only be installed when replacing an existing roof or building a new brand new roof

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Solar Tiles vs Solar Panels: Which Is Best for You?

solar tiles vs solar panels

Whether solar roof tiles or solar panels are best for your home will depend on your individual circumstances and what you want to achieve from harnessing solar energy. Below we have compiled a list of situations in which solar roof tiles are a better option than solar panels (and vice versa).

Solar Roof Tiles are the Best Option For:

• Homeowners who are concerned about the aesthetic look of their property

Listed properties or those within a conservation area that are prohibited from installing solar panels

• Homeowners who are building a new house, or those looking to replace their existing roof

Solar Panels are the Best Option For:

• Homeowners on a budget who want to install solar technology

• Homeowners who want to maximise the amount of solar electricity they can produce

• Homeowners who want to maximise their Return on Investment (ROI)

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Where to Buy Solar Panels

Solar roof tile technology is relatively new and there are significantly less solar roof tile manufacturers than there are solar panel manufacturers. The lack of competition means less choice when it comes to the style of the tile, its efficiency and its price.

The leading solar roof tile manufacturers in the UK are: Tesla and Solarcentury. The table below compares the key features of the solar roof tiles made by these manufacturers:

Maximum Output
Tile Warranty
Power Warranty
Provide Installation?
138 watts per m²
10 years
25 years
100 watts per m²
30 years

Tesla Solar Tiles

Tesla is new to the solar technology market. Manufacturing and installing solar roof tiles under its subsidiary company SolarCity, Tesla has just began to take orders for its solar roof tiles in the UK, having become the largest installer of rooftop solar systems in the US.

Tesla’s solar roof tiles come in four different styles to suit different homes: slate, smooth, textured and tuscan. The company claims that its solar roof tiles are three times stronger than standard roof tiles, leading it to provide an infinite warranty on all its tiles. Tesla also provides a 30 year power warranty, slightly longer than that offered by Solarcentury.

Solarcentury Solar Tiles

With headquarters in London, Solarcentury is a UK market leader in the manufacturing and installation of solar roof tiles. Since being founded in 1988, the company has helped over 25,000 homes go solar.

Solarcentury produces 3 different styles of solar roof tiles within its ‘C21e’ range: C21e solar slate, C21e solar plain tile and C21e solar roof tile. All of its solar roof tiles come with a 10-year tile warranty and a 25-year power warranty. Solarcentury’s roof tiles have a higher energy output than those of Tesla’s, meaning they produce more free electricity.

How much could you save with Solar Panels? What's your average monthly electricity bill?

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