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How much do Solar Roof Tiles Cost

The average cost for a solar roof tiles installation is around £10,000-£12,000, compare this with the same 3KW system made up of solar panels which would be between £4,000 and £6,000, roughly half the cost.

Solar panels are a great way to harvest energy from sunlight and lower your energy costs. Some schemes allow you to sell unwanted electricity to the National Grid and there have been plenty of incentives and tempting offers to help with installation costs supported by the government. The driver for this is the increasing move away from using fossil fuels to generate heat and power which are harmful for the planet and to transition instead towards greener technologies like solar power and wind. So, what are solar roof tiles and what is the cost of solar roof tiles?

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What are the options for solar roof installation?

Many people are unaware of solar roof tiles and that is the whole point, they should provide all the benefits of solar panels without detracting from the appearance of your home and are indistinguishable from standard roofing materials. 

Everyone has seen what are called the ‘on-roof- solar panels which sit on a frame mounted on top of the roof of the property but for many people, these are quite ugly and detract from the appearance of the house.  Some homeowners also worry that they will lower the value of the house despite the savings on energy costs and will make the property less attractive to potential purchasers.  So, manufacturers have developed two alternatives to combat these issues:-

  • In-roof panels also known as integrated solar replace a section of the roof so that the panels sit flush with the roof and are far less visually obvious
  • A solar roof which is a brand new roof made up of standard tiles and solar roof tiles, the best of both worlds

Because of the amount of work involved in re-roofing the property and changing regular tiles for solar roof tiles, the cost is roughly double that of installing solar panels.

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How do the costs work?

Solar roof tiles are more expensive than the solar panel alternative but against this higher cost, you should offset the potential increase in the value of your home plus the savings you can make on your energy bills.  The Energy Saving Trust has calculated that a home which has solar roof tiles will earn up to £7,250 cash over a 25-year period on payments made under the Feed-In Tariff system plus savings achieved against standard energy bills.

The more solar roof tiles you install across the roof proportionally, the more electricity you can generate.  However, solar roof tiles are difficult to retro-fit which means it is not as simple as taking off a few of the existing tiles or slates and replacing them with a solar equivalent. Usually, the whole roof needs to be stripped off and replaced which is why the cost is so much higher than installing solar panels. 

Solar roof tiles remain high in price as it is still a niche market so demand is not expected to drive down price anytime soon.  It is likely that householders will only start to consider solar roof tiles when they get to the point of needing a roof upgrade or frequent repairs have become costly so over time, solar roof tiles are likely to become more common. Most people won’t justify the expense of stripping off a perfectly good roof to replace it with a mix of standard and solar roof tiles.

Financing solar roof tiles

If your roof requires upgrading or refurbishment then this could be a good time to consider solar roof tiles, or perhaps you have a new build or an extension and want to find ways to lower your energy bills?

Many homeowners seek finance for household projects from the equity in their property and raise cash either via a Home Improvement Loan or a re-mortgage with their current lender or a new mortgage company.  The money raised can be used for any home projects.  Some roofing companies will also offer finance packages subject to status but you need to make sure they are members of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme otherwise you will not receive the appropriate paperwork post installation and won’t be able to join the Feed-In Tariff system.

Why are solar roof tiles gradually becoming more popular?

The main reason for the popularity of solar roof tiles is their visual impact on the property.  Some people don’t mind solar panels on garages or outbuildings but are worried about how they may spoil the look of their house.  If you live in a conservation area or have a listed home then you are unlikely to be granted planning permission for solar panels.  Solar roof tiles solve this problem allowing owners of this type of property to enjoy the benefits of solar technology.

How do solar roof tiles work?

Solar roof tiles work in the same way as solar roof panels, they take heat and energy from the sun and convert them into energy using something called the photovoltaic process.  The photovoltaic process creates something called an electrical field and this is then converted into the electricity which you need for light and heat in your home.

A connection point is fitted within the loft or roof space and this joins the solar roof panels with electrical cables and an inverter.  The electricity that the solar roof tiles create is referred to as DC power, the inverter changes the DC power into AC power which is the type of power your house needs to generate light and heat.

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How does the Feed-In Tariff system work?

Whether you fit solar panels or solar roof tiles, any householder can benefit from what is called the ‘generation tariff’ which earns money for every kWh of electricity generated by your solar roof.  The ‘export tariff’ then pays the homeowner for every kWh of electricity which the property doesn’t use and which is sold to the National Grid.

Electricity savings with solar roof tiles

Households can generate savings against their energy bills and create income from the export of unused electricity which is sold to the National Grid.  What is described as ‘home-grown’ energy reduces the amount of power you need to buy from your utility company and will save you money year on year.

Based on an annual electricity bill of £600, a household could save over 50% of this cost with a 4kW solar roof tile system.  The smallest option which is a 1kW roof system will produce savings of around 15%.

Solar roof tile manufacturers

There are three main makers of solar roof tiles, SolarCentury which is a UK manufacturer, TESLA which is American and GB Sol which is based in Wales. 

SolarCentury launched in 1988 and has fitted solar panels and tiles to 25,000 homes in the UK and also holds the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Innovation.  They have three products called the solar slate tile, the solar plain tile and the solar roof tile. SolarCentury use something called Mooncrystalline which are tiles built from the highest-grade silicon inglots; these are their premium range which offers the greatest efficiency rating and consequently, these tiles are the most expensive.

TESLA are perhaps best known for their production of high-end Electric Vehicles but they have moved into the production of solar roof tiles as well and these are branded under the name, ‘Solar City’.  Tesla now has a retail arm in the UK and their solar tiles and panels can be bought across the country.  Tesla offer four different styles – slate, smooth, Tuscan and textured – and claim that their solar roof tiles are three times stronger than standard roofing tiles.

GB Sol have been manufacturing solar roof products in Pontypridd in Wales for over twenty years and they produce a solar slate.  A natural blue/grey colour, the solar slate is designed to dovetail with natural slates in a roof replacement or new build project. Each slate can produce 35W of power in optimal sunny conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are solar roof tiles an investment in the value of the property?

Research in America by Tesla Roof Shingles has indicated that homeowners will enjoy a 10% jump in the value of their house when they install solar roof tiles.  Solar roof tiles are pretty indistinguishable from regular roof tiles so they don’t detract from the appearance of the property plus they allow the householder to reduce their annual electricity cost so they are definitely an investment which should see an uplift in value when you come to sell the house. 

If I want to join the Feed-In Tariff system, are there any regulations about where I should purchase my solar roof tiles?

To join the Feed-In tariff system, solar roof tiles must be purchased from an accredited supplier of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme or MCS.  The homeowner is issued with an MCS certificate when the work is finished and this then allows them to apply for not just the Feed-In Tariff system but also the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive.

Are the payments received under the Feed-In Tariff scheme subject to income tax?

Payments under the Feed-In Tariff scheme are payable for twenty years and are not subject to taxation and do not count towards the personal tax allowance.

What are photovoltaic roof tiles?

Photovoltaic roof tiles are another name for solar roof tiles, they are the same thing.  The term, ‘photovoltaic’ refers to the process used to convert the energy captured by the tiles from the sun into usable power.

What are the factors which can affect the amount of energy solar roof tiles will generate?

There are a few simple and obvious factors which impact on power generation and one of these is how long the sun is out for.  The pitch of the roof is also relevant and which direction it faces in; south-facing roofs always generate more power.

Can I keep all the power my solar roof tiles generate and how do I store surplus energy?

Homeowners don’t have to sell excess energy to the National Grid if they don’t want to.  Surplus power can be stored using something called solar battery storage.  Storing energy means that you have it available all the time even when your solar roof tiles are not generating very much; this is cheaper than having to resort to buying it from your energy provider.  Solar battery storage is becoming increasingly popular particularly for homes which have a charge point for a new Electric Vehicle as this effectively means you can run the car for free using energy generated by your solar roof tiles.

Solar battery storage can be used to provide energy to your home in the event of a power cut which is a very useful additional benefit.

Do solar roof tiles have any form of guarantee from the manufacturer?

SolarCentury offers a 25-year power guarantee and a 10-year tile warranty across its entire range.  TESLA offers an unlimited warranty on all their solar roof tiles and a guarantee that the tiles will produce energy for at least 30 years after purchase.  GB Sol offers a ten-year power and product guarantee.

Solar roof tiles are less energy efficient than solar panels plus they are nearly double the cost and will involve you stripping off what could be a perfectly good roof.  However, if you are involved in a new build house, need a roof refurbishment or are designing a new extension, then the cost of solar roof tiles will not be necessarily as onerous and could well be worth the initial investment.  Not only will you be doing your bit for the environment but your house will increase in value and you can enjoy much reduced utility bills for years to come.

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