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Everything You Need to Know About Solar Roof Tiles UK – Pros, Costs & Manufacturers

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solar roof tiles uk guide

There’s no doubt that everyone is aware of solar energy, solar power, solar panels and their potential for producing greener renewable energy.  However, with the advancements in technology, there’s a new kid on the block, or rather the roof, in the form of solar roof tiles.

Solar roof tiles are relatively new on the market and there aren’t that many manufacturers in the UK at present, although that is set to change over the next few years. Not only are consumers getting much more environmentally and ecologically aware, they are also looking to lower their carbon footprints as much as possible, and protect themselves from rising fuel bills and the cost of energy as a whole.

How Do Solar Roof Tiles Work?

Solar roof tiles are a relatively recent green energy technology, commonly referred to as solar shingles or slates. Solar roof tiles are a viable alternative to solar panels for people committed to sustainable energy generation and who desire to live in a solar-powered home.

Solar roof tiles stand out compared to the latter because of their versatility. They give you a huge advantage if you live in a heritage region where restrictions forbid structural alterations. Finished solar shingles appear more like roof tiles than traditional solar panels, which is far less aesthetically disruptive.

Solar roof tiles are becoming a regular substitute for “bolt-on” solar panels, even if they are still not yet widely available in the UK. The technology underlying them is growing in popularity and price competition is increasing, though the choices are still quite limited at present.

Solar roof tiles, also known as photovoltaic tiles, are an elegant method to incorporate solar technology into your house without detracting from its organic form. Conventional solar panels sit on top of your roof tiles, however, solar tiles completely replace your existing roof tiles. Solar Tiles function exactly like solar panels, despite their different appearance. This cool option allows you to produce electricity in style using the sun’s power.

Tesla thinks they have the solution, even though other solar firms have tried and failed to make solar roof tiles function. Who among us wouldn’t bet on Elon Musk to deliver this solar solution?

In the following sections, we will discuss financial issues and highlight a few UK-based brands specialising in solar tiles. Learn more by continuing to read.

Solar Roof Tile Types

Thin-film PV (photovoltaic) cells or conventional monocrystalline solar cells can be used to create solar tiles. Second-generation solar cells that are inexpensive are thin-film solar cells. They are much simpler to make and use less material. Furthermore, they produce less waste and don’t have any hazardous components. Thin-film solar cells are also lighter and more flexible than conventional solar cells.

Compared to monocrystalline solar cells, thin-film solar cells are less efficient and have lower power capabilities. However, because thin-film cells have a higher theoretical efficiency than monocrystalline silicon cells, researchers anticipate that their efficiency will increase in the future. Furthermore, they are more heat resistant due to their improved temperature coefficient.

Even though thin-film photovoltaic systems have a shorter lifespan (10 to 20 years), they have a quicker payback period (about 8 years) since they are less expensive to acquire and install. This property of thin-film cells applies to both various kinds of solar panels and solar roof tiles.

Manufacturers may offer various kinds of solar roof tiles in addition to different solar cell types. For example, solar shingles can be found in Tuscan, Textured, Smooth and Slate.

Advantages of Solar Roof Tiles

solar roof tile
Image: Solar Roof Tiles

Domestic solar systems have several benefits, particularly in energy conservation and environmental protection. We’ve outlined the key advantages of solar tiles below.

• A visually appealing design. This benefit of technology is probably the most important one. You won’t have to cover your roof in massive solar panels, which will preserve the aesthetic of your home. Additionally, several tile varieties meet various roof and tile designs.

• Offer clean, cost-free energy. Solar roof tiles are an environmentally beneficial substitute for solar panels for powering all the electric appliances in your home. Additionally, they are qualified for the same government subsidies as solar panels (e.g. the Energy Company Obligation Scheme – ECO4).

• Reduce energy costs. Using a solar roof tile system, you can reduce your electricity costs by between 40% and 70%.

• Increase the market value of your property. Your home will be worth more thanks to its attractive appearance and the current high demand for green energy.

• Enhanced durability and resistance. Solar roof tiles and bolt-on panels have a long lifespan. However, the former can be harmed by severe weather. Contrarily, solar tiles are as strong as the roof itself and would not be torn off even by hurricane-force winds. In addition, the part of the roof on which the solar slates are mounted will be protected.

Disadvantages of Solar Roof Tiles

 A costly solar switch. Solar roof tiles typically cost more than twice as much as a standard solar panel despite their beautiful appearance. For instance, the typical homeowner would be spending over £18 per square foot to install a Tesla Solar Roof. As a result, installing solar panels is a more cost-effective option currently.

• Prolonged Installation Periods. Only after the complete roof is replaced can solar roof tiles be installed. This results in substantially longer installation timeframes than with a typical Solar Panel installation.

• Low Productivity. Solar roof tiles are typically 8–15% less efficient at capturing solar energy than conventional solar panels. As a result, homeowners and business owners will pay more for less solar energy production!

• Strictly Limited Supply. When it comes to solar roof tiles, there is a less competitive market as a result of the current efficiency and cost concerns. In addition, few alternatives are available because the product is developing. However, as the solar business develops, we anticipate this will soon change.

• Strictly Limited Supply. When it comes to solar roof tiles, there is a less competitive market as a result of the current efficiency and cost concerns. In addition, few alternatives are available because the product is developing. However, as the solar business develops, we anticipate this will soon change.

Solar Roof Tiles UK – The Costs

Solar roof tiles in the UK can cost twice as much as conventional solar panels because it is a relatively new technology, but the like occurred with traditional solar panels, and the costs are expected to fall.

The size of the roof and the percentage of the roof you want to cover with solar slates impact the cost of solar roof installation. The difficulty of the installation process and the installer’s fees would also need to be considered.

A table with an estimated price range for solar roof tiles in the UK is presented below to give you an idea of potential costs for solar tile installation based on system size.

Solar Roof Tiles UK – Costs    
Solar PV system sizeTypically suitable forSolar Tile Cost (Inc. VAT)Labour CostTotal Avg cost
1kWOne-bedroom flat£5,500 – £7,000£1,800£8,050
2kW1-2 bedroom house£7,000 – £9,000£1,900£9,900
3kW2 bedroom house£10,000 – £12,000£2,000£13,000
4kW4 bedroom house£12,000 – £16,000£2,000£16,200
Estimated prices for solar tiles in the UK

Can Solar Tiles Be Added to Any Property?

Solar tiles cannot be integrated into an existing roof, so are only really suitable where the roof is being completely replaced. This makes them best for new construction or remodelling, or in circumstances where the entire roof needs to be replaced.

Additionally, a roof has to have the right pitch and angle in order to be suitable for solar tiles installation, so they are not always an option for everyone.

Even though solar tiles might not be possible in every circumstance, it is still worth considering installing solar roof tiles if you’re planning a new build, or you have to replace your entire roof for some reason.

Manufacturers of Solar Roof Tiles

Solar Roof Tiles From Tesla

The Tesla solar roof tile is likely the most sought-after and ideal for homeowners who wish to use solar energy to power their homes stylishly. Especially if a Tesla Powerwall is already installed. Tesla claims its solar roof will ultimately be less expensive than a standard roof and is available in 4 different types (Textured, Smooth, Tuscan, or Slate).

Because it can produce electricity using a free energy source (the sun). Each solar tile has a highly effective solar cell created in collaboration with Panasonic, which incorporates solar technology as seamlessly as possible. The Tesla Solar Roof Tile is available for pre-order in the UK, though deliveries are not expected until later in 2023.

Solar Roof Tiles by GB Sol

The GB Sol Solar Slate is one of the few tiles that has already hit the market and received MCS approval in 2018. When it comes to planning approval, the UK Local Authority has found its natural blue-grey slate look to be appealing. Due to its lightweight construction and ability to blend perfectly with natural slates, it is frequently used on delicate structures, such as listed buildings. This is because it weighs less than a typical tile. The PV Slate, made in Wales, can produce between 25Wp and 35Wp of solar electricity and has survived severe British weather. Every solar PV slate by GB Sol comes with a ten-year power and product guarantee.

Solar Roof Tiles by Solarcentury

The C21e range of solar roof tiles was previously offered for sale by the UK-based business Solarcentury. Since then, Solarcentury has stopped producing its solar roof tiles and has instead entered the market for integrated solar panels. Like solar tiles, integrated solar panels attach to your roof more securely than regular solar panels. Not to mention that they are more economical and less bothersome than solar tiles.

Solar Roof Tiles by Solecco Solar

For those who are awaiting the arrival of the Tesla Solar Roof, the Solecco solar tile is a fantastic substitute. The Solar tile manufacturers, based in Leeds, United Kingdom, have created a variety of monocrystalline black and polycrystalline red terracotta solar tiles that are ideal for your design aesthetics. According to Solecco Solar, each tile produces 15W with a 17.39% efficiency. The Solecco Solar tiles are undoubtedly a fair rival to the Tesla tiles, with an anticipated 30-year lifespan for energy generation. These solar tiles are also made from recyclable plastic rather than glass, which is a bonus, allowing for even greater carbon footprint reduction!

Solar Roof Tile Alternatives

Pros, Costs & Manufacturers of solar panels

If solar panels and roof tiles are not the best options for your home despite your commitment to green domestic energy generation, you might want to look into other options. These renewable energy generation systems are offered in small-scale residential versions, but they have drawbacks that limit their efficacy or applicability.

Wind Turbines. Wind turbines are not all enormous constructions. Smaller ones appropriate for residential use are available. However, even if they are a good option for diversifying a household’s energy source, wind turbines need a significant amount of wind in the area, space to be installed, and, frequently, the consent of nearby councils or other local organisations.

Hydropower. Small hydropower plants can generate 5 to 100 kilowatts of power. To put things into perspective, a 10kW system may power a sizable house or perhaps a substantial farm. Unfortunately, this is only a practical choice for people whose land has a stream running through it.

Their ability to harm the ecosystem is another drawback. The environment of the stream may be harmed if a portion of it is diverted to the turbine system. This is why using the least quantity of water possible is usually advised.

Geothermal Power Systems using geothermal earth loops use the planet’s thermal energy. Their primary drawback is their exorbitant price, which ranges from £24,000 to £49,000. Additionally, they need enormous land areas to be excavated or holes to be bored to install the subsurface components.

Energy from biomass.  The most traditional alternative to solar energy is biomass because it has been utilised for various domestic uses for generations, for example, biomass boilers.

Sawdust and other wood debris, plant waste from agriculture, and even dung are all examples of contemporary biomass fuels. However, wood derivatives are the most widely used. An increase in deforestation could result from rising resource demand.

Solar Roof Or Solar Panels – Which Is Best?

Solar roof tiles do not yet have a strong foothold in the solar industry in the UK due to there being few suppliers and a higher price point, but this is likely to change over time. As more manufacturers enter the market, this will bring down costs, making solar tile a more attractive proposition. 

Currently, solar panels are better than solar tiles in terms of cost and efficiency and therefore the best option for most people. Solar tiles can cost almost twice as much and take much longer to install than solar panels but do have the advantage that they are more visually appealing and suitable for use if the property is in a conservation area. 

For those who are willing to make the investment in solar tiles, you’ll be rewarded with solar power integrated into your roof in a non-obtrusive way that will only enhance the appeal and value of your property.

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Oliver Creevy
Ollie Creevy has over three years of expertise in the home improvements and solar panels sectors by writing content across multiple websites. He is highly knowledgeable about the latest trends, technologies and practices in this industry, and is passionate about sharing his insights with others. Ollie's writing has been featured in numerous publications, including MSN, Bustle, and Realtor.com.

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