Solar roof tiles offer much of the benefits of solar panels for those who don’t want to have external panels fitted to their roofs. Solar roof tiles have been particularly popular with new build homes in recent years as it is easier to fit these solar tiles when building the roof. However, although solar roof tiles arguably look much better than solar panels, they are also much more expensive typically costing around twice as much! Solar roof tiles are exactly the same as solar panels in terms of how they produce electricity. They both take energy from the sun and convert it to electricity using the photovoltaic process. This electricity then supplied to an inverter which changes the DC power supplied by the solar installation, to AC power which is the system required by all the electrical appliances in your household.
The amount of electricity generated by solar roof tiles will depend greatly on the pitch of your roof, the efficiency of the tiles, the number of hours of sunlight, and the orientation of the property in relation to the position of the sun. Because solar roof tiles involve replacing the existing roof tiles, the ideal time to fit them is when replacing a roof or building a new house. But many will consider fitting solar roof tiles rather than solar panels to sound existing roofs because they believe solar panels negatively affect the aesthetic appearance of their homes. Solar tiles are also particularly useful for use on listed buildings or in conservation areas as planning permission for solar panels can be difficult to obtain.
Solar roof tiles are only now becoming popular in the UK largely because of the success of the Tesla roof tiles in the USA. But in the UK, the energy savings trust has calculated that an average home that has solar tiles installed could earn over £7000 in energy bill savings and government payments. The government system pays money for every unit of electricity generated by your roof tiles and will also pay for the electricity generated which you don’t use and is then sold to the National Grid.
To benefit from the government payments, the Feed-In Tariff system, you need to buy the solar tiles from an accredited supplier and also have them professionally installed using a company which possesses and installers MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme ) certificate. The DIY fitting of solar roof tiles is not recommended as you will not qualify for any government payments thereby losing thousands of pounds. A 4kW solar roof tiles system could generate sufficient electricity to save you over 50% on your electricity bill.
The two main companies in the UK marketing solar roof tiles are SolarCentury and Tesla. Although Tesla are the more famous of the two, they are a relative newcomer in the UK though extremely popular in the USA. Tesla solar roofs are marketed in the UK under the brand name Solar City. In terms of efficiency, Tesla roof tiles come a solid second, but in terms of warranty, Tesla are hard to beat with an unlimited warranty on the tile itself and the guarantee of energy production for at least 30 years.
Solar roof tiles are definitely more discreet than solar panels and it is likely that they may add considerable value to your home. But they are much more expensive and the price gap doesn’t seem to be narrowing. A typical 3kW solar panel installation in the UK would cost around £5000, whereas the average solar roof tile installation would cost around £11,000! This is a huge difference, especially when you consider the solar roof tile installation will produce less electricity than the much cheaper solar panels!