Going solar can help you save money on your home’s energy cost and lower your carbon footprint, among other benefits. That’s why many households are now making the switch. Increasing interest in solar installations has also paved the way for newer technologies.

Besides solar panels, consumers have another option—solar roof shingles. Both options come with their respective upsides and downsides, so here’s a side-by-side comparison of a solar roof vs. solar panels.

Solar Roof vs. Solar Panels: What’s the Difference?

Below are some of the key differences between the two.


A solar roof consists of many shingles, each equipped with a small-scale solar panel. These solar shingles or roof tiles operate similarly to bigger solar panels since they also use photovoltaics in harnessing solar energy for power.

Most solar roof tiles look like conventional asphalt shingles. You can use them as a roofing material, allowing you to have a normal-looking roof and solar energy system without solar panels’ bulkiness or unusual aesthetics. Because solar panels have an industrial appearance, they might not complement the architectural style of some homes.

Efficiency & Energy Production

Photovoltaics like solar shingles and solar panels work best when sunlight hits them directly. In terms of energy production efficiency, solar panels perform better than solar roofs since they can be repositioned to catch more sunlight.

A solar shingle’s capacity to generate power depends on three factors: its location on the roof, the roof’s design, and the roof’s orientation. Once installed, you cannot adjust solar roof tiles to get the optimal amount of sunlight.

Moreover, solar roof tiles have a higher rate of failure than solar panels. A similar-sized system requires more interconnected solar shingles, increasing the possible points of failure and making it less efficient.


A solar roof has more up-front costs than solar panels. However, a solar roof is a more cost-effective choice if you already need a roof replacement, as solar shingles are already included in the roofing materials.

But if your existing roof is fairly new or has a good number of years left, it’s less expensive to install standard solar panels.


A solar panel system’s projected lifespan is between 20 and 25 years. On the other hand, solar shingles are supposed to last 30 years, depending on manufacturer warranties.

But here’s the catch—the solar roof technology is still new, so its longevity remains to be seen, unlike solar panels that have proven their durability over the years.


The biggest difference between a solar roof vs. solar panels is the installation. Because many contractors are already familiar with the technology, you can get solar panels installed more readily.

This isn’t the case for solar shingles—fewer installers are available, so you may have to wait longer. Solar shingles, however, are pretty simple to install on the roof, as the installation process is similar to that of regular asphalt shingles.

Although most types of roofing can support solar panels, some cannot be due to their angle and geographical position. That’s why some people prefer solar shingles. Whether you want to look at solar shingles or at installing solar panels on the roof, Smart Wave Solar will help you explore the best options for going solar, including an emergency backup power system as an excellent solution for your home.

Find the Right Choice

If you’re unsure which is the better option for you, reach out to Smart Wave Solar today for your initial consultation and free quote.

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