How Much Do Solar Roof Tiles Cost in 2023?
- Solar roof tiles work the same way as solar panels
- They are sleeker than solar panels but much more expensive
- Average prices compared
Solar power can be harnessed in a number of different ways, and solar roof tiles are a great option if you’re concerned with aesthetics. Compared to traditional solar panels, solar tiles make up your roof instead of sitting on top of it. They are just as strong as roof tiles and can generate electricity at the same time.
This article will explore the important points about solar roof tiles. It will detail their average cost and compare them to other solar technologies. There are a few manufacturers of solar roof tiles in the UK, but with a lack of investment in this area, costs aren’t more in line with other solar options.
What's On This Page?
Click the links below and head straight to a specific section of the article.
The art of solar roof tiles is in their subtlety. Some people are put off by traditional on-roof solar panels as they seem bulky and have to sit on top of your house tiles. If you’re looking to benefit from solar power without making it obvious, you can make use of solar tiles.
Small photovoltaics are fitted into roof tile materials, which blend seamlessly with typical rooftops. Functioning just like solar panels, these tiles convert sunlight into electricity, but do so at a reduced rate. As the technology is smaller and the pitch of your roof is fixed, solar roof tiles are only so efficient.
Rather than simply having a few solar panel roof tiles fitted, your whole roof needs to be replaced. This doesn’t mean that every tile will capture solar energy, as some areas will be permanently shaded or not at the right angle. Instead, dummy tiles that match solar roof tiles will sit alongside their working counterparts, giving you a complete colour match.Fitting an entire roof with solar tiles is not only unnecessary but expensive. As an example, if one side of your roof faces north, it makes no sense to cover that side in solar roof tiles. Solar technology is at optimum performance on a south facing roof, so any energy gained from the north side would be negligible. The north side in this instance would be fitted with dummy tiles.
Most solar power companies focus on improving the power and efficiency of solar panels but there are a few that focus on the aesthetic.
How Much Do Solar Roof Tiles Cost?
When buying solar panel roof tiles, you can expect to pay perhaps twice as much as traditional solar panels. On-roof panels for a 4kW system can cost around £7,000, whereas the equivalent in solar tiles will set you back £14,000.
Even though both of these technologies do the same thing, there are some reasons why solar roof tiles are more expensive. The main reasons for high costs are that:
The technology is newer
The market is far less competitive
The installation process is longer and more complex
It’s difficult to give an exact estimate on how much a system with solar tiles costs, as it depends on a few factors. The size of your roof and the electricity output you need have a strong bearing on price. Checkatrade estimates that on the low end of the scale, you can pay around £12,000 for a 4kW array of solar roof tiles.
The typical costs of solar tiles in comparison to on-roof solar panels can be seen in the graph below.
If you’re more concerned about price, integrated solar panels come out even cheaper. These sit amongst your roof tiles and can be as cheap as £100 per panel. The differences between in-roof and on-roof solar panels go beyond their price though, but they are both generally more efficient than solar roof tiles. The least amount of energy will be captured by these tiles.
Are Solar Roof Tiles Available in the UK?
The explosion of popularity in solar tiles mainly came from America. Despite setbacks and various groups going bankrupt, they are still commercially available today. The options for solar roof tiles in the UK are limited to a few companies.
Currently, the only UK suppliers of solar panel roof tiles are GB-Sol, XO Edge and Nulok.
Tesla Solar Roof Tiles
Tesla has been met with continuous delays with their solar tiles. While they were originally scheduled for release in 2018, UK release was pushed back to 2019. Currently, you are only able to sign up for updates from the Tesla website, despite UK delivery being promised for this year.
At this moment in time, you are currently unable to buy Tesla solar roof tiles in the UK.
UK Solar Roof Tile Manufacturers
This section details the solar roof tiles made by GB-Sol, XO Edge and Nulok.
Manufacturing their tiles in Wales, GB-Sol offers PV Slate to anyone wishing to make use of solar roof tiles. They have been tested to weather the UK climate and are made from aluminium and glass. Although lighter, they’re also stronger than slate. Their blue-grey colour blends with traditional roof tile slate, making sure your home doesn’t look out of place.
GB-Sol solar roof tiles are between 3kg and 3.9kg, which makes them lighter than using natural slate. When it comes to going solar with a listed building, using solar tiles might be the only option available. Their light load won’t put any stress on the existing structure.
At peak performance, these solar panel roof tiles have an output of 28kW. Without installation, you can purchase these for £59.50, which works out at £294 per m² or £8,449 for a 4kW system. These prices, however, do not include labour, delivery or VAT.
This London based company manufactures their solar tiles out of construction grade recycled plastic in an effort to introduce a circular economy. In terms of embodied carbon, they contain over 9.5 times less than both roof tiles and on-roof solar panels. XO Edge solar roof tiles become carbon negative after six months, which completely offsets the energy that was used to make and install them.
Weighing 1.4kg each, the company specifies that 84 are needed for every kW. Peak performance is at 12W, making them slightly less powerful than GB-Sol, but more environmentally sound.
In terms of price, XO Edge specifies that every roof is unique and will offer a bespoke price upon consultation. This makes it harder to compare how much you can save by buying from them.
Based in Northern Ireland, this company produces solar roof tiles that easily integrate into your roof. Their Solartrix Solar tiles have improved by 20%, generating an average of 3.7kWh for every kW installed.
Their solar tiles weigh 27kg per m² and require fewer tiles to complete a roof, making it lighter than using traditional roofing tiles. Nulok stresses that their tiles are easy to replace if they’re ever damaged and they come with a 30 year warranty.
Solar Roof Tiles vs Solar Panels
If you’re wondering whether you should buy solar panels or solar tiles, take a look at the pros and cons of solar roofing tiles to give yourself a better idea.
Solar roof tiles are stylish and sleek. While a roof with traditional on-roof solar panels is obvious to any onlooker, any home with solar tiles is much more discreet. You neighbours may not even notice you’ve got them.
Great for Listed Buildings
Listed buildings are incredibly difficult to alter their appearance. Various restrictions don’t allow you to install solar panels as it affects the character and could put too much stress on the roof. Installing solar roof tiles might be approved more easily as they are lightweight and discreet.
Built to endure strong weather, solar tiles are extremely tough. They won’t need to be replaced as frequently as standard roof tiles, which saves you money and worry.
Perhaps the most expensive solar technology on the market, solar tiles will cost you at least double the price of on-roof panels. The price that you pay is mainly for the aesthetic. When it comes to going solar more cheaply, integrated solar panels or flexible solar panels work out much cheaper.
Not as Efficient
Despite all of their strengths, the efficiencies of solar roof tiles are lacking. Usually at around 10–20% efficient, they aren’t as powerful as on-roof solar. Traditional solar panels usually come out at 18–25% efficient and can even go up to 27% efficiency. This means that not only will solar panels pay for themselves more quickly, but they will also generate you more electricity throughout the day.
It’s much more difficult to retrofit solar roof tiles, as the whole roof needs to be replaced. Unless you’re at a point where you’re replacing your roof anyway, it’s not as practical to go with solar tiles. The increased labour costs of removing your existing roofing tiles makes for a longer installation process that drives up costs. If you’re building a house, choosing solar tiles can make it cheaper.
Longer To Install
Depending on how large your property is, the process of installing solar panel roof tiles can take a week or longer. Removing the existing roofing tiles first takes a lot of time as scaffolding will need to be erected. After this is done, the beams need to be prepped before any chosen tiles can be clipped or fitted into place. In comparison, solar panels can be fitted in a couple of days.
Which Solar System Should I Get?
If you’re more concerned with aesthetics, and you’ve got money to spare, then solar roof tiles could work perfectly well for you. It also depends on the angle and pitch of your roof. A building that is overlooked by taller ones can be in the shade for too long, and homes without the perfect angles might not be suitable for solar tiles.
On-roof solar panels are cheaper and can be installed more quickly. They can work better for you if you want to get started with renewable energy. If you’re dead set against this type, then in-roof solar panels could work for you instead. These sit flush with the neighbouring roof tiles without sticking out.