The allure of harnessing renewable energy through solar power has led homeowners to explore innovative solutions, including solar tile or solar shingle roofs. Rather than the traditional approach of installing solar panels on top of an existing roof, solar tile roofs embed photovoltaic cells directly into roofing materials. For South Jersey homeowners looking to upgrade or sell their home, solar shingles offer new opportunities and more appeal than traditional solar panels. If you are thinking about going solar, this guide is for you. We are going to look at GAF Energy’s new solar roof, known as Timberline Solar Energy Shingles, the cost, and the competition. By the end, you will be able to make an educated decision on whether GAF Timberline Solar shingles are right for you and your home.
What are Solar Shingles?
The rise of solar shingles and solar tiles was bound to happen. As more homeowners called for an eco-friendly option that didn’t upset their home’s curb appeal, technology answered the call. Solar roofing is a captivating alternative to traditional solar panels that seamlessly integrates clean energy generation with the aesthetics of your home.
This approach replaces standard roofing materials with solar-integrated options, allowing for unobtrusive energy production. Notably, Building-integrated Photovoltaic (BiPV) shingles and conventional solar arrays both offer over 25 years of service life, presenting compelling financial cases. However, the emergence of solar roofing systems, like GAF’s Timberline Solar Energy Shingles, caters to homeowners desiring the visual appeal of a regular roof while benefiting from solar energy.
There are two main types of solar shingles and tiles: Copper-Indium-Gallium-Selenide (CIGS) solar shingles and Monocrystalline Silicon solar shingles. CIGS solar shingles, also known as thin film solar shingles, offer a lightweight and flexible option with a lower conversion efficiency rate (around 10% to 12%). Monocrystalline Silicon solar shingles are more expensive but boast a higher efficiency rate (15% to 20%) due to their composition of silicon crystals. The cost per square foot to install CIGS solar shingles ranges from $21 to $23, while Monocrystalline Silicon solar shingles cost between $24 and $25 per square foot.
About GAF’s Innovative Timberline Solar Energy Shingles
A prominent player in the roofing industry, GAF has introduced Timberline Solar Energy Shingles, marking a pivotal milestone not only in company history but technological advancement. Distinguished as the world’s first nailable solar shingle, GAF’s innovation streamlines installation processes, enabling roofing contractors to seamlessly integrate solar energy. This integrated solution eliminates the need to coordinate separate roofing and solar panel contractors, simplifying the process for homeowners.
It’s important to note that GAF’s solar shingles are designed for complete roof replacements and new construction projects. This limitation may not suit homeowners with relatively new and well-maintained roofs.
Timberline Solar Efficiency and Specifications
Aside from being a nailable solar shingle, GAF Energy’s Timberline Solar shingles stand out for their specifications. These monocrystalline PERC solar shingles boast a rated power of 45 watts and an energy conversion efficiency of 22.6%. This efficiency rivals some of the best solar panels in the market.
In other words, all you need is a total of 8 solar shingles to match the output of a single 360W solar panel. If you need a 9kW system, you can achieve that with a cluster of 25 solar panels or 200 Timberline solar shingles. These shingles can be configured in a number of ways to ensure that your energy system is optimized.
In terms of size, each shingle measures 64-1/4″ x 17-1/8″ x 1”. This compact design means that while GAF solar shingles cover a larger area for the same system capacity, they still maintain an advantage in terms of size and weight compared to traditional solar panels. With a weight of just 10.1 pounds, GAF solar shingles are significantly lighter than most residential solar panels, making them easier to handle during installation.
The Cost of GAF Energy Solar Shingles
Home improvement projects are a significant investment. Installing solar shingles is no different. That said, the investment is well worth the initial cost. Rough estimates for GAF’s Timberline Solar Energy Shingles place the average cost at around $42,000. However, this figure can be lowered through state and federal solar incentive programs, potentially bringing the cost down to approximately $30,000.
Comparing this cost to traditional solar panel installations and other solar roofing products, GAF’s offering appears competitive, especially considering their emphasis on affordability. Considering traditional solar panels may cost anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000 on average (excluding rebates and incentives), GAF solar shingles are indeed an option for homeowners in South Jersey.
Plus, GAF Energy Solar Shingles are also eligible for net metering, where any additional energy generated is placed as a credit on your monthly electric bill. In time, you could even make money from solar energy.
Warranty and Longevity
South Jersey homeowners seeking peace of mind will appreciate GAF’s robust warranty offering. GAF provides a 25-year warranty that covers manufacturing defects causing leaks and a 15-year warranty against wind damage. Additionally, the power production warranty ensures that the solar shingles maintain 84.8% of their initial output after 25 years of use, with minimal annual degradation.
Solar Shingles vs. Solar Panels: A Comparison
Both solar panels and solar shingles are effective when it comes to harnessing the sun’s power. As a South Jersey homeowner, you want to choose the option that best suits your needs. Understanding the key differences between GAF Energy Timberline Solar shingles and traditional solar panels is crucial in your decision-making process. Here is what you need to know:
Size and Aesthetics
The aesthetic appeal of solar installations is a major consideration for homeowners. Solar shingles are designed to closely resemble traditional roofing shingles, making them seamlessly integrate into the overall look of the roof. With dimensions of around 12 inches wide by 86 inches long and a thickness of less than an inch, solar shingles maintain a sleek appearance. Since GAF Timberline Solar shingles integrate seamlessly, they also do not impact the overall look of your home’s exterior.
On the other hand, solar panels, also known as solar photovoltaic (PV) modules, are larger and bulkier, attached to racking systems atop the roof. These panels are made from an array of silicon cells and often come with higher efficiency rates, with some models exceeding 20%. Since solar panels are so bulky, they are often seen as an eyesore on some homes, despite their benefits.
Efficiency and Adjustability
Solar panels have an edge over solar shingles in terms of efficiency due to their adjustability. Panels can be positioned to capture the optimal angle of sunlight, maximizing energy production. Solar shingles, once installed, remain fixed in place, limiting their ability to adjust for optimal sun exposure. However, homeowners can install additional shingles to harness more energy, although this will incur additional costs. Timberline Solar shingles’ ease of installation and compatibility with traditional roofing practices provide a convenient way to add solar power without compromising efficiency.
Service Life and Warranty
Both solar shingles and solar panels boast long service lives of over 20 years. However, warranties can vary based on the manufacturer and installation. Timberline Solar shingles by GAF Energy are built with durability in mind, providing water-shedding capabilities and resistance to high winds. These shingles are backed by the reputable GAF brand and its commitment to quality, ensuring that homeowners can rely on their solar investment for years to come.
Solar shingle warranties may span several decades, covering both power production and the durability of the shingles themselves. Solar panel warranties also typically cover a similar timeframe, with reputable manufacturers offering performance guarantees and protection against defects.
Comparing Competitors to GAF Energy Timberline Solar Shingles
As you consider the various options for solar shingles available, it is important to consider how these other brands stack up against GAF’s Timberline Solar shingles. These comparisons include cost considerations and the unique features of each brand’s solar shingle offerings:
Renowned for its technological advancements, Tesla introduces solar shingles crafted from quartz. Combining efficiency with visually appealing textures, Tesla’s shingles come with a 30-year power output warranty. The average cost of Tesla solar shingles ranges from $4 to $9 per watt, reflecting their premium quality and durability.
Leveraging monocrystalline technology, CertainTeed’s solar shingles are designed to harmonize with concrete tile or asphalt roofs. These shingles offer a seamless aesthetic integration with traditional roofing materials. With a cost range of $3 to $8 per watt, CertainTeed provides an attractive option for homeowners seeking a balance between efficiency and affordability.
Offering a cost-effective alternative, SunTegra presents lightweight solar shingles suitable for asphalt and concrete roofs. This budget-friendly option simplifies installation while maintaining energy efficiency. The cost of SunTegra solar shingles ranges from $3 to $6 per watt, making them an accessible choice for those looking to harness solar power.
Distinguishing itself with impressive efficiency (21%) and durability, Luma’s solar shingles can withstand even Category 5 hurricanes. Their adaptability to evolving technology positions them as a forward-looking choice. The cost of Luma solar shingles falls within the range of $4 to $8 per watt, offering a competitive option with advanced features.
Labor Cost to Install Solar Shingles in South Jersey
While the benefits of solar shingles are clear, their installation is a complex process that requires professional expertise. Roofers typically charge between $3 and $5 per square foot for solar shingle installation, including necessary connectors, wiring, and electrical inverters. Electricians are also required for the electrical aspects of the installation, with costs ranging from $40 to $120 per hour. The labor cost varies based on factors such as roof type, installation complexity, and job size. Installing a new solar shingle roof takes about a week, while replacing an existing roof may take longer due to tear-off considerations.
Are Solar Shingles Worth It?
To put all that you have learned so far in this guide into perspective, let’s look at the advantages and drawbacks of solar shingles:
Advantages of Solar Shingles
Solar shingles, like GAF Timberline Solar Shingles, offer distinct advantages that make them an appealing choice:
- Aesthetic Appeal: Solar shingles integrate seamlessly with concrete and asphalt roofs, presenting a sleek and attractive aesthetic that enhances the home’s curb appeal.
- Durability and Weather Resistance: Designed to withstand varying weather conditions, solar shingles are durable and can endure the elements while continuing to produce energy efficiently.
- Ease of Maintenance: Solar shingles are generally easier to maintain than traditional solar panels due to their integrated design.
- Cost-Effective Roof Replacement: Solar shingles can be a cost-effective option for homeowners considering a new roof, as they serve both as roofing material and energy generators. Consider this: Traditional solar shingle roof installations can significantly reduce utility bills by 40% to 70%, resulting in estimated annual electricity costs of approximately $515 to $1,029. Solar shingles should average around the same!
Disadvantages of Solar Shingles
However, like any technology, solar shingles have certain considerations and drawbacks:
- Evolving Technology: Solar shingles are a newer innovation, which means not all solar manufacturers offer them, limiting the available options.
- Installation Complexity: Depending on the existing roof, solar shingle installation might necessitate roof reconstruction, adding to the overall installation costs.
- Higher Initial Cost: Solar shingles are more expensive upfront compared to traditional solar panels.
- Style and Color Limitations: While brands like Tesla and GAF are expanding the range of styles and colors, solar shingle options are currently more limited compared to traditional roofing materials.
Looking for a Solar Shingle Installer in South Jersey?
In the realm of sustainable solutions, the choices are growing more numerous by the day for South Jersey homeowners like yourself! GAF Timberline Solar Shingles and counterparts like Tesla, CertainTeed, SunTegra, and Luma offer distinct advantages that make them more preferrable than traditional solar panels. Whether you choose GAF Timberline Solar Shingles for your home or opt for something else, solar shingles are certainly a worthwhile investment!
If you are looking to have GAF Energy Timberline Solar Energy Shingles installed on your home in South Jersey, call the local professionals at RGB Construction. We are among the first in NJ to offer GAF solar shingles. Not only that, but our team has been certified by GAF, ensuring the quality of our work. Give us a call today at 856-264-9093 or fill out the contact form to learn more about going green with GAF.