Everyone knows that using solar energy is a great way to conserve energy AND lower your energy bills. So why haven’t more people jumped on the solar energy bandwagon yet? Researchers think it has a lot to do with aesthetics and lack of convenience (not to mention cost). Photovoltaic solar panels, which were invented in 1954, consist of grids of raised black cells that, up until now have usually come in the form of large clunky rectangular panels that either stand alone, or must be bolted onto a roof. In addition to being aesthetically unappealing, some homeowners have been reluctant to embrace the technology because installing solar panels may require puncturing an existing roof and bolting on metal supports, which can void the roof’s warranty.

Fortunately, electronics companies have seen the light, and realized the market potential for aesthetically appealing solar panels that can be integrated into the roof of one’s house. Finally, there are now quite a few aesthetically appealing brands of BIPV, (or Building Integrated Photovoltaics) out in the marketplace today.

Sunslates, made by Atlantic Energy Systems are photovoltaic cells which can be mounted to traditional slate roofing tiles and can be networked alongside each other in horizontal strings of 24. Due to their roots as regular roofing tile, installation is relatively straight forward and can be accomplished by any trained roofer & electrician. Furthermore, Sunslates work well in both new building developments and re-roofing applications, as they require minimal “roof penetration” for running wires to the inverter.

Bigger companies like General Electric, PowerLight, and Sharp have all jumped on the BIPV bandwagon as well. Sharp is currently the biggest manufacturer in the world of integrated solar roofing panels. Compared to Sunslates, Sharp’s new solar roofing modules are bigger, longer, and instead of snapping onto regular roofing tile, they replace roof tile. Sharp’s BIPV lay flat on the rooftop, interlocking smoothly with standard roof tiles. They are compatible with most shapes and sizes of roof tiles used in new residential construction, with one module replacing five standard concrete tiles.

So now that you know how easy and stylish it can now be to revamp your house for solar power, what are you waiting for?

The market for solar energy is growing at over 30 percent a year. States which have been particularly hard-hit with energy concerns in the past decade are trying to make the coversion to solar power. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed that 1 million homes in the state install solar power systems by 2010, but the state assembly failed to pass the necessary legislation. I’m crossing my fingers that my beloved home state will pass the Million Solar Roofs initiative next time around.

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  1. Susie Dooman June 13, 2015 at 12:01 am

    It is not because of the way it looks that people have not gone solar, it is because of the COST!!!! Until the panels come down in price, people will do what they have always done, pay a payment every month.

  2. Solar Panel Weight On R... February 14, 2015 at 1:00 am

    […] SOLAR PANEL ROOF TILES | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design … – Fortunately, electronics companies have seen the light, and realized the market potential for aesthetically appealing solar panels that can be integrated into the …… […]

  3. Dan Ryan December 27, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Solar Panel roofing tiles are the way of the future. I just wish they were more economical for consumers!

  4. edward69 February 20, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    show me the way

  5. anyadike January 20, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Yes, it sounds good to learn that one can conserve energy by using this solar roofing tiles, but has anyone thought of lightening effect on such roofs.
    Was there a resarch on how lightening will affect such an electric roof? I am thinking that it will easily be exposed to lightening despite the installation of lightening arrestors.

    You can send me a mail on

  6. gman11996 September 28, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    I am about to construct a three storey building with a basement and I am considering using Solar for the electric energy. Is it possible to install solar panels on the roof to supply energy for the entire building? And what will it cost for same? I know I left out the size of the building but if this will help, it is going to two apartments on the first and second floor and a penthouse at the top.

  7. Oliver62 June 20, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Having worked for one of the largest electric utilities in the nation, I have some knowledge regarding the benefits of solar and nuclear produced electricity. Unfortunately, it appears that “greenies” across the board is all for green electrically produced initiatives. So am I to an extent. When they encourage folks to come on board, they do not usually give the downside of installations. For instance, i have heard of a large solar field installed by a Florida utility. They spouted how efficient it is and how many homeowners will be provided with clean electric. However, not once in the news segment did they mention the cost. I can tell you for certain that the pay-back time is probably a century, if not more. The problems is that currently technology is not enough power is generated at a cost efficient rate. You need acres upon acres of solar panels, wind mills, etc. to produce enough power for 1 home and it is very, very, very, expensive. Nuclear power is still deamonized. Folks we have come along way since Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. Yes, the upfront cost is expensive. But, the amount of energy that is generated is significant. Therfore, the pay-back time is reduced. But the greenies continue to use scare tactics not encouraging the government and the NRC to build the power plants. When is the last time you heard of France having a nuclear reactor issue? France gets 77% of it’s power from nuclear. So, why can’t we?

  8. Jethro72 June 15, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Hi, I would like to know the cost to install (per 100 sq. ft.) in southeastern PA.

  9. alicia29 June 3, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Hi, I live on the Caribbean island of Trinidad and I would like to get an estimate of the cost for solar panels to power my entire house, meaning no commercial electricity, at an affordable price !

  10. CA Stein May 2, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    How do I locate a roofer/contractor to do this in my area?

  11. franko February 4, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Can I walk on these to do roof maintenance?

  12. Joshua Morrison November 19, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Good Day,
    Am Joshua Morrison Dealer of iron rod, Scrabs, Steels Etc, which many tons are on board for sells now, also presently agent of gold mining company. i have netsworks for delivery authorization world wide, which any of our sells, delivery processing will be done by legal back-up documentation.

    For more details, kindly contact me directy at: or Direct contact line: +447031930634

    Hope to do business with you.

    Joshua Morrison

  13. ptakach September 19, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    I am a(PE) civil AZ ,with architecten Licence in Germany , born in Hungary end receiwed my meisters on The Budapest technical Univercity in 1980
    I will tell every one over the revolutionary new solar tiles’
    I can sow you Pictures and much more .. please contact me under …ptakach …under Solar …
    This will be a new deal
    The technology implies the scalability of the current financial situation by taking a few tiles to start building the system, and later add additional items to buy. A computer is already running four tiles is sufficient to run an eight-pot cooling is required. Three-hundred pieces safely serve an average family house in energy demand, including the electrical network, and the heating system.
    The world’s one hundred and sixty countries over the protection of new inventions

  14. ptakach September 19, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Worldwide the solar tiles

  15. snowgoat March 25, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    I would like to receive prices and specs for the solar roof panels. I work with a four member team with interests in building to the green trend for our customers. Thank You. A.J. McMellon – McMellonWoodCraft-Cheshire, CT

  16. dawoodfiimisr October 30, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    I am the procurement manager for a medium-sized contracting company and a minority shareholder in a roofing company in Egypt. We are doing a lot of building in areas where government supplied energy is unreliable so this would be an attractive alternative for us and our customers. Please send specs/prices for my colleagues.

  17. D.Robertson August 10, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    I’m with you all when the cost of the solar panels is hard to find. I did find an article that might shed some light. Here it is, but if you don’t want to read it the ending cost was $13,000 US & 15.000 CA.

  18. gosolar11 June 23, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    There is a better way. I am trying to get my invention manufactured. Look it up on you tube solar shingles.

  19. tyrone April 29, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    very interested. South African. Looking for the product and the pricing of importing. Reading material would do as well.

  20. Dwi Istiawan April 24, 2008 at 9:46 am

    what about return of investment?
    is it really worth it ( for the current price ) ?

  21. Sharon E. Standley February 22, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Am also interested in cost and availability of the product. Please contact me.

  22. Mushtak Fazal February 17, 2008 at 2:22 am


    I have seen that most of the comments want to know about the cost. If that ist he case then it would be worth if someone gave us the cost of producing about 1500 KWH of electricity per month which should include the cost of equipment and installation for a standard house.This would then get more interest from the people.

  23. darko de iveric February 13, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    To replace my house´s roof in Santiago, Chile, I need the contact with a Solar Roof Shingles manufacturar,
    to have the information for it. Possibilities, prices and procedures.

  24. darko de iveric February 13, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    I am in Santiago, Chile and intend to replace my house´s roof with solar shingles.
    How to proceed?

  25. Mike F January 30, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    I am interested in starting a company that helps exsisting homes become green friendly. I need information on the cost of these tiles and where I can buy them.

  26. Jessie December 19, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Is there any sales agent or sales re-presentative in my country(malaysia)? if any,please provide,,,tq.

  27. Francesco Oriolo December 12, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    I am Italian and interested in distributing solar produxts for europe. These tiles are interesting to me and i would like information on costs and technical specifications.


  28. Inhabitat » HAPPY... November 22, 2007 at 2:00 am

    […] BUILDING INTEGRATED PHOTOVOLTAICS These will herald in a new era of solar […]

  29. John October 12, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    Here in the mid-western US we have a big problem with large hail. How resistant is the panels and how hard are they to replace?

  30. Marc October 12, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    More on costs: has a good article exploring the issue of return on investment:

    The summary seems to be that a good payback isn’t quite there yet for most homeowners.

    Incidentally, I’m a custom residential designer on the east coast, catering mostly to mid- to upper-middle-income homeowners and builders. While I like the idea of BIPV, the vast majority of my clients would balk at these systems, because of the bottom line and return on investment. There are definitely other building strategies and systems which make more sense TODAY. If the BIPV economics get better in the future, I’d be all for it.

  31. Marc October 12, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    For those asking about costs:

    From the Sunslates website FAQs:

    “your roofing and electrical contractors will on average be charging $13,000 per 100 square feet( there is just over 1kW per 100 square feet) or $13.00 per watt. The price may be less or more depending on roof slope, which can speed or slow the job. All pricing is an average and is before any state or federal rebates have been calculated”

  32. WD Huth October 9, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    We, too, are in the Harrisburg, PA area and are beginning construction of a new home. We want to incorporate solar shingles. Our builder is looking into this for us…but we are trying to find out more info. on our own, too. Especially the cost….even just a ballpark figure would help (we have to get the financing in place). Any assistance you can provide would be appreciated.

  33. Ora-Jean October 2, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Are there any model homes or customers with solar panels that would show your product and answer questions up close and personal? I am in the Harrisburg, PA, area. What would the closest building I could see? I am going to be replacing my shingles this fall and would like to integrate solar shingles into the roofing project. Would it be better to put shingles on both the west and east side since there are trees on the south. The trees wouldn’t stop all the sun right now, but they are growing tall enough that that would be a problem in a couple years.

  34. The Green Home Store August 30, 2007 at 5:04 am

    The Solar roof tiles, as shown on your site, still need to be able to adapt to roof forms in a more complementary way – even if these companies could provide dummy “plugs” that would fill in half spaces at the end of gable runs or triangular pieces that would fill, in hip roof intersections. This would fill a field completely and , aesthetically at least, be a nicer finish product. The “quilted” look at the edges could then be replaced by a complete field of common material – a more plastic design element.
    I am experimenting with a variety of roof systems and solar panel application. If the solar panel “framework’ can be designed in, before the roofing material is applied, it is much more easily integrated in high profile roofs such as barrel or concrete tile. The larger solar panel application becomes a design issue that must be integrated with the chosen roofing material and roof design.

  35. Bala May 15, 2007 at 1:58 am

    Dear sir,

    I am a civil engineer practing in india looking forward your quote and technical details

  36. bozcole1 May 14, 2007 at 11:00 am

    Okay, I’m really trying to learn as much as possible about all of these solar panels, roofing tiles and going green in general. I would like to know not only what others here have asked, but I’d also like to know what the life expectancy of these things are. If I’m supposed to be paying 45,000.00 for 30 years and these thing only last for 10 to 15 years, I’m loosing alot of money in the long run. Can you tell me just how great this is, if all these batteries are being used? I thought batteries were bad.

  37. bis alarmes lda May 4, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    Send prices and terms of roof solar fotovoltaic pannels.

  38. Andrius May 4, 2007 at 9:56 am


    Building a house and intrested in decorating roof with solar modules. If you have anything suitable for it, please provide detailed information.

    Thank you,

  39. Scott April 29, 2007 at 3:58 am

    Payback time is not “centuries”, try 5-10 years, especially for people in CA, AZ and other states offering $2.5-$3 per watt incentives, and those people who live in larger homes that do 1,000kWh per month or more in usage and thus are paying electric company premium tier rates.

  40. John Hahn April 25, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    Please call me re: cost to install 850SF of solar roof shingles in PA? I need specifics.

    Thank you,

    John Hahn
    Tel. 717-530-8797

  41. Sean April 17, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    We Install BIPV Let us know about your project and call me at 714-720-7915

  42. Cheryl Dickert April 4, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    My name is Cheryl Dickert and I’m with Albright Electric & Solar. We are always looking for new products. We are currently installling the solar trackers. We have had alot of interest in Solar roofing such as shingles. I was wondering if you could supply us with a promotional shingle for Evansville WI energy fair. I know it is alot to ask and I would be more than happy to return it after the show. The show is April 27 and 28th.
    Cheryl Dickert
    131 N. 6th Street
    Evansville, WI 53536

  43. Gene McCormick April 1, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    send info

  44. Marc March 22, 2007 at 2:15 am

    I am also interested in the cost differences between a roof tile and a solar tile.

    Can these tiles pump electricity back into the grid and earn you money?

  45. Austine Mills March 20, 2007 at 11:30 am

    I am a real estate developer in Accra, Ghana and would like to know the cost, installation and other helpful information about this system for me to integrate it into my development

  46. Dan Brigs February 13, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    Looking for a more attractive solar application for both residential and home

  47. BECKY MARTIN February 4, 2007 at 1:23 am


  48. Adolfo Montiel-Valentini January 30, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    I am interested to provide and install (import from Uruguay-South America) the photovoltatic roof tile to apply in my new commercial high rise building that is in the first stage of project. I need a CAD details to specify the product. Please contact me thru my e-mail as soon is possible.

    Also, if you have any information to maximize the solar energy on teh area, i will be appreciatte you.

    Thank you.

    Adolfo Montiel Valentini, AIA (Uruguay)

  49. Yoga Ida Bagus November 24, 2006 at 12:56 pm

    How much power it produces per square foot, and for how long, and what about the pricing?

  50. Rober K. Balch October 18, 2006 at 2:36 am

    We a Green design/build and primary building system distributor in St. Augustine, Florida. We have specific criteria for products that we choose to distribute. We are preparing distribution request packages for a limited product line specifically dealing with the following Green systems:
    1)Building envelope
    2)Energy production (PV)
    3)Water systems
    4) Roof Systems

    We would like to consider the use of your product for this region. If you have any literature, CD or CAD detail files they would be of great help. Hey, what about a sample of your product for our showroom? Do you have a marketing package for distributers?

    Robert Balch; Owner
    Black Box House, LLC
    Associate Owner; RAMA Design Group
    Robert Balch, PA
    email to:
    Thanks folks, looking forward to hearing from you.

  51. elizabeth gilliland October 14, 2006 at 11:59 pm

    Do your solar tiles pass Miami-Dade, Broward county-Florida ,hurricane building codes ??

  52. Mike October 6, 2006 at 2:14 pm

    Yes, I agree with Frank. This webpage is worthless without specific information. Give us costs to get excited about. People in the business of selling solar and wind energy systems, are also in the business of researching and knowing about incentives, as that is part of the cost picture. Whether they like it or not, they need to become experts in that, as much as the technical side of their product.

    Give us specifics on these shingles!

  53. Baltazar Barron September 15, 2006 at 3:42 pm

    Will solar shingles generate enought power to run my air conditioner in the summer time? How much will a system for a 3200 sq. ft. home cost?

  54. Frank August 24, 2006 at 2:54 pm

    Please do all your readers a big favor, and publish info on costs, and installation.

    Lots of these sound great, but if costs put them out of reach of most consumers than consumers are simply NOT going to use them till they are.

  55. Maikel August 23, 2006 at 9:18 pm

    Here in Jamaica we are one of the companies promoting most of it and it is catching on. Affordability is the big thing over here and financing posibilities are the real problem as you can not expect anybody to invest in 25 year of solar power with 15 to 25% finance. In america people hopefully finally start to see what is going on and I hope that more and more people will do the right thing. Not only for the environment and the future of this planet but also for your own wallet. Thanks for the article and the more info on all of this the better.

  56. Inhabitat » Blog ... August 23, 2006 at 6:20 am

    […] Photovoltaic systems have become cheaper, more efficient, and most importantly, a lot better looking in the past few years. Say goodbye to the ugly awkward roof-mounted panels of the 70s – today’s photovoltaics are often incorporated directly into the materials you use to clad your house. There are now solar roofing shingles, solar side-cladding, and even solar-powered glass windows! […]

  57. Edward Teague June 12, 2005 at 9:49 pm

    5 factors – 1.Weight, if replacing a non tile i.e felt roof.
    2. Cost – payback time is centuries 3. Only works in certain areas due to weather conditions.4. Damage, flying debris in storms, tornados etc., hooligans etc., big problem in cities. 5. Electricity storage – costly, bulky, short life (compared with roof)

    Sharp a doing a big building in Manchester UK with 1 sq meter panels which also allow back projection of pictures / ads etc., Cost is phenomenal.

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