I Asked ChatGPT About Solar Roof Shingles
In the information age we live in, it’s easy to get instant insights into nearly any subject within a few quick seconds. For example, a Google search for “solar roofing” returns more than 200 million results in just over half a second.
But can you trust all of those search results? Unfortunately, no.
These days, if you want the real truth about any subject — including solar roof shingles — you must beware of inaccurate or incomplete information. ChatGPT, Google Bard, and other AI-powered tools can be helpful tools for some tasks, but they might also promote misinformation about what you need to know for solar shingles.
All that to say: no, we didn’t write this article using ChatGPT. However, hopefully it will help give you a better idea of what a solar roof is and if it’s right for you.
How are solar roofing shingles different from solar panels?
Both types of solar roofing systems work along the same lines: by collecting light from the sun, creating an electrical grid, and converting the electrical energy from DC to AC for use as a power source. The key difference is in their appearance and installation.
Solar roof shingles are designed to look like asphalt shingles. Solar shingles are like regular roof shingles but instead of being made of asphalt, solar shingles are made of glass that contains photovoltaic cells. The ‘solar’ is on a nailable strip that has asphalt shingles integrated around them. The strip is black and is flush with your shingles. They look like a roof and are designed to be installed by certified roofing installers.
Most solar panels are rectangular in shape and have a smooth, glazed surface. Panel colors can vary, but most are either blue, black or silver, and have a frame. Solar panels are mounted on top of your roof and on top of your roofing material. They are tilted at an angle to maximize collection of the sun’s rays. Solar panels require drilling holes into your roof’s membrane, potentially creating leaks if not installed and sealed properly. And because they sit on top of your roof with a gap between the panels and your roofing material, you might find that birds, squirrels and other pests find this gap an ideal space to build a nest. There are a variety of solar panel trim solutions to fix this issue. Solar panels are typically installed by residential solar installers.
Questions to Ask Before You Compare Solar Options
Before you start to compare solar options, it’s important to ask two questions.
1. Can I claim the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for Solar?
The federal residential solar energy credit is a tax credit that can be claimed on federal income taxes for a percentage of the cost of a solar system paid for by the taxpayer. Make sure that you are eligible for the tax credit, and that it works for you financially.
2. Does my roof need to be replaced?
There are many reasons why you may want to have your roof replaced: your roof is near the end of its lifespan, has sustained storm and other damage, buying or selling your home, or you may just want a new roof material. If you are replacing your roof, this is the time to consider solar shingles. Solar shingles do not go on top of other shingles, so the best time to install them is when you are doing a roof replacement.
Both the roof and solar systems are eligible for the 30% federal investment tax credit (ITC) on the full cost of your roof replacement when you install solar shingles, because a new roof is required to install solar shingles. So, when bundling your roof and solar shingles, solar shingles become less expensive than solar panels. But you do not qualify if you are a non-profit, or if you do not have a tax burden.
Are solar shingles as efficient as solar panels?
Solar shingles are not as energy efficient as solar panels on a per-square-foot basis. The efficiency of a solar shingle is typically around 14% to 18%, while the efficiency of a solar panel can be up to 24%. However, solar shingles can cover a larger square footage area than solar panels, so they can generate more electricity overall.
Are solar shingles easier to install than solar panels?
The short answer is yes, GAF Timberline™ solar shingles are easier to install than solar panels. This is because they are designed to look like traditional roof shingles and installed at the same time as roof, so they can be installed in a similar way. Solar panels, on the other hand, require special mounting hardware that penetrates your roof material.
GAF Timberline™ solar shingles are typically installed by GAF-Solar certified roofing contractors. Solar panels can be installed by a variety of contractors, including roofing contractors, electrical contractors, and solar installers.
Are solar shingles more expensive to install than solar panels?
The short answer is no. In most online comparisons, you will see solar panel and solar shingle cost compared as apples to apples and bundled with an install cost question. Solar shingles are less expensive if you can claim the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for Solar as the roof and integrated solar are both eligible for the tax credit.
The better question is, “When is the right circumstance to install solar shingles or solar panels?”. There are several circumstances when it is a good time to install solar shingles:
- When you are replacing your roof. If you are planning to replace your roof, then installing solar shingles is a great way to save money and go solar at the same time.
- When you have a sloped roof. Solar shingles are designed to be installed on sloped roofs. If you have a flat roof, solar panels may be a better option for you.
- When you want a more aesthetically pleasing solar option. Solar shingles look more like a shingle roof than solar panels, so if you are concerned about the appearance of your solar system, then solar shingles might be a better choice for you.
Solar panels are also a good option when you live in a sunny climate, have a south facing roof and are also eligible for solar incentives. Pay attention if your roof is 10 years or older if you are thinking about solar panels. There are detach and reset costs for solar panels if you would need a roof repair or replacement in the near future.
Do your research
Most of the online searches on solar shingles and solar panel comparisons including cost, install, as well as general descriptions, were incorrect on ChatGPT and Google Bard. The common challenge is in how you ask the question. In some AI answers solar shingles were listed as part of a roof replacement, so you don’t have to worry about tearing off your old roof. The question of cost comparison included the cost of a roof, making solar shingles more expensive. Solar incentives were not included unless asked about. Confusing, right?
The takeaway is to do your research and also contact a local professional who can anser questions about both your roof and solar. As AI said, “My responses are not intended to be taken as fact or advice, but rather as a starting point for further discussion.”
Trust the Professionals
Adding solar shingles or solar panels to your roof is a great way to feel good about the energy you’re using while also increasing the value of your home. But that’s only true if you hire an experienced professional roofer to get the job done right. Look for a roofing contractor that is GAF-Master Elite roofing contractor that is certified for solar roofing, like our team at J&K Roofing.
We have the experience, resources, and certifications to install solar shingles on your home, and we’ll do it right the first time. We also provide solar solutions including solar PV panels, thermal, detach and reset. Financing options are available. Give us a call today at 303-425-7531 or contact us online.