Solar Roof Tiles

Solar power is more popular in Australia today than ever before. Government rebates and incentives, as well as some generous feed-in tariff rates (although these have now been reduced for new customers), helped to boost the industry in this country. New solar panel developments are occurring all the time and one development that has many people excited are solar roof tiles. These tiles are very similar to standard roofing tiles except that they are made of photovoltaic panels – turning the whole roof (or part of a roof) into one large solar system. This is an emerging market and as such there are many misconceptions about solar roofing tiles. The following is an up-to-date guide to help you decide if solar tiles are right for your needs.

Advantages

Curved solar roof tiles

  • You can turn your whole roof (or large parts of it at least) into a solar collector.
  • No need to pay for both tiles and solar panels. Less materials are used when constructing a home.
  • Can be used on almost any structure and the strength of the roof is not an issue because there are no racks to install.
  • More likely to be protected from strong winds.
  • Most people find that they are more aesthetically pleasing than traditional solar panels.

Disadvantages

  • Wiring each tile is time consuming and adds to the cost.
  • The efficiency of solar roof tiles is generally reduced when compared to a standard solar panel.
  • Roof integrated solar panels can get very hot without adequate ventilation and this can lead to problems with efficiency.

Types of Solar Tiles

TypeDescription
Roof tilesThese tiles are a replacement for regular solar panels. They can be used just like a standard roof tile and can be installed on new buildings or as a replacement for existing tiles. They are still subject to the same limitations as standard solar panels and the orientation of your roof remains very important. Each panel produces a relatively small amount (most produce somewhere from 20-50W each) so you will need many tiles to create a large solar system.
Integrated panels These panels are mounted flush with the roof (instead of being installed on racks). Some people find that these are preferable to a standard solar panel install, but this type of installation generally costs more because the tiles have the be removed and replaced with solar panels. It is for this reason that this type of install is most common in new homes.
Flat roof tilesThese are sometimes referred to as solar tiles, but they are actually a specially designed solar panel system for a flat roof.

Viability of Solar Tiles

Flat solar tiles installed on a roof.The market for solar tiles remains very small because most people choose the cheaper option of a standard solar system. Solar tiles are far more expensive in terms on initial cost and installation, although this cost difference is somewhat reduced for new homes. They remain very popular with heritage properties as they are more aesthetically pleasing and this factor should not be dismissed. There are many improvements being made to photovoltaic panels, including solar tiles, and this option may eventually become the standard in the industry. However, the standard solar panel installation will remain the dominant force in the renewable energy sector for some time to come. In the majority of cases a standard solar install suits most situations and costs less as well.