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Adding Solar Roofing to Your Home

More homeowners than ever are installing solar roofing systems. According to Roth Capital Partners, residential solar installation is expected to grow by 25% or more in 2020 – a rate with which installation specialists are having a hard time keeping up. Having an interest in installing solar energy is the first step. As a homeowner, you need to understand the associated costs, solar panel options, and installation processes that come with choosing this energy source. Here are answers to a few frequently asked questions to better understand the products, costs, and expectations you should have moving forward.

How Does Solar Power Work? What is the Process?

Solar power is a clean and renewable way to provide your home with electricity. Solar panels on your roof are activated by sunlight and work to produce an electrical current that can be converted into energy. 

There are four main components of a solar energy system:

  • Panels collect sunlight and channel the energy
  • The inverter transforms the energy into a usable format
  • Any excess energy produce is channeled back into the utility grid, or stored locally in batteries 
  • The energy is measured with a net meter, which tracks usage and ensures that you have enough energy for your home

To learn more, check out our guide, Solar 101: How Solar Energy Works to get a better idea of what these panels can do for your home. 

How Much Does a Solar Roof Cost? Is it Worth It?

The cost of solar roofing varies widely depending on the state you reside in, the size of your system and installation options. According to EnergySage, the average cost of solar installation in 2020 is around $13,000 after tax credits. Solar continues to get cheaper over time as more companies offer installation services and new technology makes roofing more affordable. The cost of installing solar systems today is 20% less than it was five years ago. 

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Jim Hamel Photography

In the same way that your installation cost varies, so will your return on investment. In some states, homeowners can recoup their initial investment in six years or less. A home in Portland, Oregon will save about $17,000 on average over 20 years by going solar, while a home in Los Angeles, California can save more than $50,000.

To get a better idea for what your solar panels will cost, EnergySage also created charts that break down the average cost by system size (up to 25 kW) and by state. You can also use its solar savings calculator to understand how quickly you can recoup your costs. 

How Much Energy Does a Solar Roof Generate?

Depending on your region and electricity use, you may be able to produce as much energy as you need each year, eliminating the need to pay your local utility company.

The United States Energy Information Administration estimates that the average home uses 10,972 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity annually. To get an idea for how this varies by region, the highest-consuming state is Tennessee with 15,394 kWh per residential customer annually and Hawaii had the lowest at 6,213 kWh per customer.

If you know how much electricity you use on average, then you can invest in a system that meets those needs. Then, you can either fully provide your home with electricity or significantly reduce your dependence on the electric grid. When you do install your panels and shingles, your system will likely come with monitoring tools that alert you to the amount of energy that you generate. This tells you whether you are dependent on your local utility company or have a surplus that you cannot use.

In some states, you may be able to sell this back to your utility provider for a small profit. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has a state-by-state breakdown on net metering, or the process of monitoring and selling your energy back to the local power company.

What are the Differences Between Solar Panels, Solar Tiles, and Solar Shingles?
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There are two main types of solar installation you can choose for your home: traditional solar panel systems (also known as rack-and panel systems), and integrated or complete solar roofs, which take forms such as solar tiles or solar shingles.

Most homeowners are already familiar with the layout of solar panels. These are installed on top of the house over existing roofing. Solar panel installation costs around $13,000 on average. These panels have been on the market longer, which means there are more contractors able to install them, making them more affordable.

Solar panels can last between 25-35 years; however, the panels will only last as long as your roof. So what happens if you have solar panels and need a new roof? If you need to replace your roof 5-10 years after installing the panels, then you will need to remove and reinstall them over your new roof. If you choose to sell your house, you can use the solar panels to increase your resale value or you can remove them and bring them to your next home.

Solar shingles and solar tiles are considerably more expensive, costing more than $65,000 for the average install of a full roof system. These materials do not go over an existing roof - they ARE the roof - and the additional costs reflect the improved design and integrated materials. Design options include full solar roofs, such as Tesla systems, or partial systems that integrate with new or existing roofing (such as asphalt shingles or clay tiles). These low profile designs are much sleeker than the traditional rack-mounted panel systems, and can last up to 40 years.

It is considerably harder to bring solar shingles or tiles with you when you move because it requires removing some or all of the roof. It may also be harder to find certified professionals to do the work. However, these shingles are considered more aesthetically pleasing than solar panel systems.

Essentially, it is up to you to determine which option is best. Consider the cost of each option, along with the current state of your roof, and when you plan to sell your home in order to choose the best product possible.

What Type of Solar Roof Should I Get?

As of May 2019, more than two million homes in the United States have installed solar power of some kind. These aren’t just on houses in California, Nevada, or Texas where the climate is hotter and drier. New Jersey and Massachusetts make the list of the top 10 states that run on solar power. Homes of all models and sizes across the country can utilize solar roofing.  

To move forward with installing a solar roofing system on your roof, consider scheduling a consultation to determine your best options. Every home is different: the number of trees in your yard or the direction your home faces can affect which models and size panels will work for you. A solar energy professional can help you determine the optimal wattage so you don’t waste money, but still get the energy benefits from going solar. To meet with installation specialists in your area, use our Find a Pro tool.

Why Should I Choose CertainTeed?

Located just outside of Philadelphia, CertainTeed specializes in the development of innovative and sustainable options for home and business owners. Our mission is to be North America’s recognized leader in sustainable building products.

Quality sustainable design and affordable prices define our consistent and reliable product options. CertainTeed offers Apollo II roof-integrated solar shingle and solar tile systems, as well as the dynamic Solstice® solar system.  

CertainTeed has more than 100 years of history and reliability that you can trust. Learn more about us, including our commitment to sustainability and our corporate social responsibility efforts.