The energy revolution is in full swing and more and more homeowners are flirting with the idea of their own photovoltaic system. However, some of them are put off by the large-scale structures that solar panels often are, they simply don’t want to spoil the look of the roof they now have. However, there are alternatives, such as ceramic-based solar roof tiles. This new generation of thin film panels looks like a normal tiles and therefore the design blends seamlessly and directly into the roof. “But how does it work and what does it entail?”


Solar roof tiles, better then conventional ceramic tiles.

These magical new energy creators are known among homeowners as solar roof tiles. A conventional solar system consists of a rack on the roof, whereon the solar panels are mounted. Because of this the big solar construction is seen from afar, and not necessarily everyone wants to have that visible photovoltaic panels on their house. If you would like to make your own electricity while still maintaining the aesthetic appearance of your home as it is, you could turn to the alternative of roof intergraded solar shingles.

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The solar roof tiles are just as normal tiles made out of clay, slate, concrete or burnt ceramics.

The difference is that they contain a depression in them specially fitted for the solar module. The photovoltaic elements are then inserted into the recess, this combination works to form a harmonious whole. The solar shingles are installed on the roof just like conventional roofing. After installation, the Photovoltaic installer man connects the individual solar tiles together via electrical connectors on the tiles underside.

Solar roof tiles fulfill all the same requirement that apply to normal ceramic tiles. This is made sure by independent test institutes that preform rigorous quality tests of the solar tiles on behalf of both producers and consumers. The ceramic tiles are available in all sorts of colors and shapes, and that’s why for every house there can be found suitable modules that both beautify the home and at the same time makes use of the volatile light of the sun


The advantages of solar tiles

Roof-integrated photovoltaics have strong benefits:

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  • Roofing material is saved.
  • So that costs can be saved.
  • The aesthetic effect.


Cost savings

The installation of solar roof tiles on a new building requires that the installer has the expertise of 2 otherwise separate professional handymen, namely the electrician and the roofer. This cross-discipline collaboration means an additional expense for you. However, the employment of a cunning representative knowledgeable in both disciplines is still lower than if you first needed to placed a complete roofing on the house, followed by a scaffold structure and lastly of the new PV modules themselves. The same goes at an event of a necessary roof renovation. If at the same time a photovoltaic system is planned the solar roof tiles provide an excellent opportunity for cost savings.

Material is saved

When the solar panels are directly intergraded into the shingles of a roof, lots of material is saved. The otherwise necessary aluminum frames, braces, trusses, roof hooks and other fasteners for the solar panels normally covering the roof will become obsolete. This results in not only savings of raw material but also economical savings as well.

Aesthetic effect

In solar systems in general very little thought is given to the aesthetics. Unfortunately the focus is mainly directed at performance and yield. This makes installing solar power nearly impossible in buildings for which the conservation area (or similar building code requirements) plays a role. Here the aesthetically superior solar shingles often are the only option for solar power generation. In many cases the roof-integrated solar roof tiles can be installed, even where rooftop installations are frowned upon.


Why are these gorgeous solar shingles not more popular?

The technology of solar roof tiles has been on the market since the early 90s. Their disadvantages however, have prevented the technology of becoming popular until today

  • The time-consuming wiring of the individual connections of the each photovoltaic shingle adds to the costs of installation.
  • The efficiency doesn’t come close to being as effective as the conventional and ugly roof-mounted PV installations.
  • If not adequate ventilation is ensured, roof intergraded PV run the risk of becoming very hot. As we all know the hotter the photovoltaic modules on the solar tiles are, the stronger their performance degradation will be.
  • The lower efficiency level of solar roof tiles requires more space to come up to the same wattage generation as conventional PV modules. The result is a reduced price-performance ratio.

As a result of the disadvantages above,  these high tech solar tiles are mostly used where there is a very high demand on the aesthetic and overall architectural impression of a building, or where building code requirements are very particular, for example on listed buildings.



In spite of everything the solar shingles offer an alternative to the “ugly” larger modules and can be used anywhere, no matter the external shape of a house. There are some buildings where a futuristic roof structure simply wouldn’t be suitable. It is for these, the proud owners of traditional half-timbered houses or old antique mansions that the discrete solar roof tiles are just perfect.

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2 Responses to Solar Roof Tiles – An aesthetic alternative to the conventional photovoltaic system?

  1. Robert Landre says:

    We have a clay tile roof. The Homeowners association is responsible for our roof. IF we go with Solar,
    would we have to reroof or can solar tile be used in place of existing tile? Once we tamper with the roof it becomes our responsibility and is no longer covered under our HOA. We use about 13kwh a day.
    and we live in north San Diego County with excellent western exposure sloping roof.

    • Solar Panels Photovoltaic says:

      solar tile can indeed be used in place of existing tile. You can also put ordinary solar panels on top of existing tile. There is no need to reroof in either case. If you chose to put the solar panels on top of your tile you would actually not have to disturb it more then on those few places where the bearings connect with the solar scaffolding.
      BUT one should consider that the life expectancy of most solar systems are at least 20 years and up to 40 years. Does your current roof have that many years left before it needs to be exchanged? It may be an expensive affair to take down the solar panels and then back up again in order to be able to renovate the roof tiles.

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