Solar Tiles Vs. Solar Panels (Advantages & Disadvantages)

Solar power is the go-to energy source for anyone who wants to stop using the grid, reduce their regular monthly expenses and reduce their environmental impact. Are solar tiles or solar panels the most practical options?

Solar tiles are the best solution for solar energy installations on new “clean sheet” designed structures.  Solar tiles have better aesthetics, improved durability, and longer life than solar panels. Solar panels are best fitted to existing structures not originally designed to utilize solar energy. 

Solar Tiles and Solar Panels both provide a compelling argument for their use. Each technology has distinct benefits for the homeowner, and the final decision will probably be based on whether the house is an existing structure or a new build.

Solar Tiles Vs. Panels

Both Solar Tiles and Solar Panels have unique pros and cons. Solar Tiles are the best solution in every area other than cost. For existing homes, Solar Panels are generally the most economical solution. A strong case can be made for new builds that Solar Tiles are the best solution.

The decision on which technology to use for existing builds is not as straightforward.

What Are Solar Tiles?

Solar Tiles are a very exciting Solar energy capture technology. Whereas conventional Solar Panels are installed on top of a roof or in a separate structure, solar tiles are installed as an integral part of the roof.  They look like and have a similar texture to conventional concrete roof tiles.

Several manufacturers produce Solar Tiles alongside their existing ranges of traditional concrete Tiles. In most instances, manufacturers can even match the color of their concrete tile range.

No ungainly panels are sitting on the roof, and solar tiles make the energy capture process part of the roof design. 

Solar Tiles Vs. Panels How Do They Compare?

Which option is better suited for your application? The decision on which system will suit you best depends on the characteristics of the building and how you value the advantages and disadvantages of solar tiles and panels.

Solar Tiles Have The Following Advantages Over Solar Panels

  1. Depending on the brand purchased at certain times of the day, Solar Tiles may be more efficient than traditional Solar Panel technology. Some Tiles feature a prism glass that starts generating power earlier in the morning and for a more extended period during the early evening.
  1. Most Solar Tiles outperform conventional Solar Panels in shaded areas. Having part of a Solar Panel in the shade causes a traditional Solar Panel to shut down. Some Solar Tile designs incorporate a bi-pass diode which enables the part of the panel which is still exposed to the sun to continue producing energy and does not shut down the whole panel generation when light is less intense.
  1. Aesthetically Solar Tiles are a considerable improvement over conventional Solar Panels. A roof adorned with many garishly mounted Solar Panels is unsightly. Solar Tiles, however, integrate within the roof texture and color and therefore do not detract from the roof design.
  1. Roof Tiles can be installed in Intricate roof designs, which use complex hips and dormers. Solar Panels, however, can only make use of large flat areas of the roof.
  1. Solar Tiles are more durable than Solar Panels. Solar Tiles are designed to last 40 years, and many manufacturers provide a warranty for the entire 40 years.  (Source Marley Tiles)
  1. Solar Tiles are easier to replace if damaged. Damage to a small part of a Solar Panel requires the entire panel to be replaced.  Only the smaller damaged Solar tile needs to be replaced.
  1. Solar Tiles are easier to install as they integrate with the other concrete Tiles. Solar Panels, however, must be installed on top of batons (rails), which in turn must be attached to the underlying tiles or roof trusses.  Tiles increase the strength of a roof.
  1. Solar Roof Tiles are stronger than Solar Panels and can survive more extreme weather conditions. 

Solar Tiles Are Great, But They Do Have A Few Disadvantages

When any new technology is designed, developers must make certain compromises to balance form, function, and cost. Solar Tiles are no exception. In the following areas, conventional Solar Panels are superior.

Solar Tiles Are More Expensive To Install In Existing Structures

  1. In new-build structures, installing Solar Tiles is included as part of the overall cement roof tile cost.  In this instance, solar tiles may be more cost-efficient than solar panels.
  1. In Existing structures, the expense of retrofitting solar tiles may be hard to justify compared to the lower cost of fitting Solar Panels.
  1. An additional difficulty with an existing roof is that the roof tile design may not be optimal for the Solar Tiles, making integration very difficult.
  1. Solar Tiles built into an existing roof frame are installed in an “as-is” position.  Your roof design may not be at the optimum orientation and angle to the sun.  The positioning means there is a risk that a Solar Tiles installation may ultimately be less efficient than Solar Panels. 
  1. If you install Solar Panels, you can angle these to face the best sun position depending on your building.

Solar Panels Are More Efficient

Although Solar Tiles may be more efficient at some times of day than Solar Panels (such as early morning switch on and performance in shaded areas), Solar Panels produce more electricity over a specific area than solar tiles. 

TESLA’s tile technology demonstrates the relative size required. TESLA Solar Tiles produce 5 watts of electricity per square foot. TESLA requires an area of 200 square feet to generate 1 kilowatt of energy. 

Comparatively, two 500-watt Solar Panels will only need over 26 square feet to generate the same power. 

In the same space, as a Solar Tile system needs to generate 1 KW of power, a conventional Solar Panel system can generate 8KW.

What To Look For If You Want To Install Solar Tiles

If you want to install Solar Tiles, I recommend considering the following when deciding.

  1. Choose an established manufacturer – preferably a multi-national corporate. You will have confidence that the warranty will be honored for the life of the product (possibly 40 years)
  2. Choose a company with an exceptional warranty. For example, Marley Tiles offers a 40-year warranty, whereas TELSA’s is 25 years.
  3. Check the range of colors and styles available. Solar Tile manufacturers are constantly expanding the range of colors and textures available.
  4. Check that the solar roof tiles are compatible with the rest of the solar system in your home.  Consult a specialist, who hopefully will give you independent, balanced advice.
  5. There are many more Solar Panel Installers than Solar Tile Installers. Check the installer who you choose has experience in solar tile technology.  Ask for references, and if possible, even visit installation sites.


Choosing which technology to use depends on your circumstances.

Overall compared to Solar Panels,  Solar Tiles Win!

Solar roof Tiles present a compelling argument for installations in new structures, which are a “clean sheet” design and are intended for Solar tile power from the beginning.  In this circumstance, the costs are comparable to Solar Panels.

On balance, with the other benefits, such as aesthetic improvement, durability, and life expectancy, they are the hands-down winner of this competition.

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