Solar Roof Panels vs SunStyle Solar Shingles: A Comparison

Solar shingles

Transitioning to solar is a great investment, and there are many factors to consider that affect the final outcome. One very important consideration is how your buildings will look after the solar panels have been installed.

The great news is that solar panels have moved far beyond their initial incarnation as huge and largely inefficient slabs that perch unattractively on your roof. Modern solar roof installations are far sleeker, and you have options! 

You can choose to have traditional solar roof panels or opt for solar shingles, such as the ones manufactured by SunStyle.

But how do you know which ones to choose? And which will be best for your needs?

As with anything, there are pros and cons on both sides, so let’s jump into the details and compare the two.

In a Nutshell

Just want a basic overview for now? Here are the essential points of this article:

  • Solar panels are fixed onto existing roofs and provide a cost-effective solution that will give you the greatest efficiency. 
  • SunStyle roof shingles double up as the roof itself while harvesting the sun’s energy.
  • Solar panels look just fine, but they are noticeable.
  • SunStyle roof shingles look amazing and make it hard to tell them apart from normal roof shingles.
  • Both types offer excellent longevity and are easy to maintain.

The Pros and Cons of Solar Roof Panels and SunStyle Shingles

Regular Solar Panels– The cheapest way to transition to solar energy
– Quick and easy to install
– Can be removed and transported
– Up to 90% reduction in power bills
– Great longevity
– Can be placed on any age roof
– Wide availability
– Tried and tested technology
– Harder to get in custom sizes
– Very difficult to achieve full roof coverage
– Less attractive due to design limitations of panel sizes
– Harder to keep clean
SunStyle Shingles– Can be adapted to fit any shape of roof
– They look amazing and can match the building’s aesthetic
– Up to 70% reduction in power bills
– Very easy to clean and maintain, great for dispersing snow
– Great longevity
– You don’t have to pay to have a roof installed in addition to the shingles
– Increase property resale value
– More expensive than panels
– Cannot be repositioned or removed
– Not as efficient as panels
– Takes longer to install

What are Solar Roof Panels?

You have likely seen traditional solar roof panels many times already, and indeed, they have been around for the past forty-odd years. Increasingly popular for their energy cost savings, solar roof panels are quickly mounted on top of an existing roof either by installing a rail or using large bolts.

The panels come in various sizes, but the standard size is 65 inches by 39 inches. It’s rare to find solar roof panels in shapes other than square or rectangle, but it is possible to have them created in custom shapes.

Solar panels are suitable for just about any type of building, whether agricultural, commercial, or residential; you will see them all over the place.

What Are Solar Shingles?

Solar shingles are comparatively new technology and offer an alternative to solar panel roof installations. Rather than installing panels above an existing roof, the shingles are the roof. In other words, the shingles double up as a roof tile and a solar panel.

They are laid in place of normal roof tiles and create an overlapping pattern to protect the building from the elements. At the same time, the smooth, flat surface harvests the sun’s energy, which is then converted into power. 

Solar shingles are more commonly found on smaller roof areas, such as houses and hotels, but they’re also a great option for agricultural and commercial businesses. For example, they can make traditional farmhouses and ranches look amazing and won’t compromise on the original design. 

If your commercial business relies on good looks to earn revenue (such as offering accommodation or tours), then shingles will definitely be a shrewd investment.

Who is SunStyle?

There are a number of brands of solar shingles on the market, and SunStyle is one of them. Their building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) roof shingles are inspired by the roofs found in the Swiss-Alpine region. Their appearance is characterized by their distinctive “dragon-scale” pattern consisting of diamond-shape shingles arranged in an attractive overlapping manner.

SunStyle’s solar shingles can be installed on any shape and size roof, making it a versatile product to install.

The company started out in Europe, namely Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, France, and Germany, but since 2021, SunStyle has also established itself in the US, where its innovative shingles are now available.

Solar Roof Panels vs SunStyle Solar Shingles

We can agree that both solar panels and shingles work to achieve the same outcome. They absorb sunlight, store energy, and then convert it into electrical power. This power can then be used by the property or sold back to the grid.

The Cost of Installation

The solar shingle is a far newer technology than traditional solar panels. Additionally, since they have to conform to the shape of your roof, they are trickier and more complex to install. Both of these factors add up to a more expensive installation than if you were to go for traditional solar panels; however, for those who are conscious about aesthetics, the cost is irrelevant.

Every roof is unique, from its size to its shape. Therefore, all solar shingle installations are custom priced. It’s worth understanding that the average cost of a solar shingle roof installation is anywhere between $25,000 – $60,000, or $15 to $35 per square foot. 

Traditional solar panel installations cost less and will only set you back between $15,000 – $25,000

Note: These costs are before any government grants or incentives are taken into account which can cover up to 100% of the installation cost as of 2023.

If you’re interested in finding out how much it would cost to have a SunStyle solar roof or regular solar panels installed, get in touch with our team at 8760 Solar for a quote.

From the above, we can see that traditional panels are cheaper than SunStyle, but there’s one extremely important thing to take into account. 

Remember that solar shingles are installed in place of standard roof tiles. Therefore, you must consider how much a roof replacement would have cost you anyway in addition to the cost of a solar installation.
The average cost of a roof replacement in the US is $11,500. So if you add that amount on top of the cost of installing traditional panels, suddenly, solar roof shingles don’t seem so vastly different in price.

Aesthetic Appeal

Despite their design becoming much less bulky and more discreet in recent years, solar panels are still noticeable and don’t blend in seamlessly with the rest of the roof’s design. That’s not to say they don’t look nice. Professionally installed panels can look pretty great, but their aesthetics aren’t for everyone.

Roof shingles are far more attractive. And SunStyle has taken aesthetics to the next level thanks to the innovative diamond-shaped pattern of their solar shingles. The end result is a smooth, dragon-scale-esque roof that looks modern, stylish, and, well, just great.

Furthermore, SunStyle goes one step further and is able to color-match its solar shingles to match the style and aesthetic of the property. You can even get them in a terracotta red or slate gray, so they blend in seamlessly with their surroundings.

New vs Existing Roof

If you have a perfectly good and functioning roof, having SunStyle shingles may not be for you. Since you have to remove the existing roof to have them installed, this will not only be a waste of a good roof but will also cost you more money overall.

SunStyle solar shingles are best suited for new build projects or properties where the roof would need replacing anyway.

Since solar panels can be installed on top of existing roofs, this makes them ideal for existing and structurally sound rooftops. 


There are two ways of looking at the versatility of solar shingles vs. solar panels.

Firstly, SunStyle shingles could be considered more versatile because they can be installed to fit any shape, style, and size of roof. Even if you have features such as hips, valleys, dormers, or gables, the shingles can be adapted to fit perfectly. 

In contrast, solar panels have to be installed on a large flat space and are nearly always square or rectangular in size. Because they face more restrictions than roof shingles, this makes them less versatile in this respect.

However, the advantage of solar panels is that they can be installed just about anywhere, and they’re not just constricted to rooftops. They’re transportable! If you move a lot, you can take your solar panels with you. And if you find they’re not quite in the right position, they can be remounted elsewhere.

Understandably, SunStyle shingles are fixed, and once they have been installed, they’re not going anywhere. 

This can make SunStyle shingles a difficult choice for those with properties that don’t have a south-facing roof or if the area of the roof receiving the sun is obstructed in any way. And if you decide to up sticks and move elsewhere, you can’t exactly take your roof with you.

Durability and Weather Resistance

Because solar shingles become your roof, they have to act like a roof, too, and provide protection from adverse and harsh weather conditions. SunStyle’s shingles are extremely durable and can withstand hurricane winds, hail, rain, and snow with no issues.

The smooth surface of the shingles also makes it impossible for snow to grip onto and it quickly slides off onto the ground. That means your shingles will continue to harvest energy even in terrible weather conditions.

While the risk of fire in any type of solar installation is extremely low, solar shingles have better fire resistance than panels.

And what about panels? Well, they’re very durable too, though perhaps slightly less so than shingles. Panels can easily handle snow, ice, and rain, but you are more likely to get snow build-up on them. And where winds are concerned, there is potential for strong winds to get underneath a panel installation and tear it off the roof. However, this would be extremely rare if it did happen.

Installation Process

A solar panel installation is quick and easy. Depending on how many panels you are having installed, a typical installation will take between 2 – 3 days.

A SunStyle installation takes more work, and it can be even longer if the original roof needs to be removed first. Since each installation is a custom process, you also have to factor in production time so the team can manufacture the solar shingles that conform to the shape of your roof.

Overall, you can expect your SunStyle solar installation to take up to a week, but this could easily be longer for more complex designs.

In the grand scheme of things, though, both types of installation don’t take that long. And waiting a week for your new solar roof isn’t going to cause too much disruption to your life.

Energy Efficiency

The overall efficiency of any solar installation largely depends on how much access to sunlight the panels get throughout the day. This means that positioning is very important to receive the maximum efficiency possible.

Solar shingles are slightly less effective than solar panels. This is because there is constricted airflow beneath the shingles resulting in more heat dissipation and decreased energy efficiency.

That’s not to say they’re not worth it, though. A SunStyle installation can reduce your energy bills by up to 40% – 70%, which is a significant saving.

Because solar panels have increased airflow underneath and can be positioned optimally, they are capable of achieving an up to 90% reduction in energy bills.


The great news is that both solar panels and SunStyle shingles have excellent longevity, and provided you carry out regular inspections and maintenance; your installation should last you several decades.

Traditional panels have a lifespan of over 25 years, but this can often be far longer. In fact, some panels created in the 1980s are still operational and fully functional today.
SunStyle solar shingles also have a very similar lifespan. The company provides a 25-year product guarantee for its shingles as well as a 10-year performance guarantee of 90% nominal output and an additional performance guarantee of 25 years at 80% nominal output.

Maintenance and Repairs

Both solar panels and solar shingles are easily maintained and require little of it. 

With solar panels, you have to consider the underlying roof tiles and that they are susceptible to accumulating dirt and debris. The panels themselves are easy to clean, but the way they are positioned may make it difficult to get to the roof itself to clean it or perform maintenance.

Solar shingles provide a smooth, even surface so dirt is easily removed, and there are generally no nooks and crannies where grime or debris can build up. Additionally, the shingles are too smooth for snow to grip onto so easily, so you generally don’t get a problem of too much buildup during colder months.

Overall, shingles are easier to maintain because you don’t have an underlying surface to worry about.

Solar Roof Panels vs SunStyle Shingles: Which Should You Choose?

Both solar panels and SunStyle shingles are great options, and really, we feel that you can’t go wrong with either of them. But, there are situations where one may be better than the other.

Consider the following. This will help you determine which option to choose:

  • How much money are you looking to invest in your solar installation?
  • Which direction does your roof face, and how much sunlight does it receive?
  • Are you planning to stay in the property long-term, or do you think you will relocate?
  • Is your existing roof due for an upgrade, or is it perfectly sound?
  • Which do you prefer? A stunning-looking roof that no one would ever suspect is solar panels but a slightly lower efficiency? Or a regular solar array with less style and grace but greater efficiency?


There are arguments for and against each type of solar roof installation, but ultimately it comes down to your investment budget, needs, and aesthetic preferences. Crucially, both are great for your energy bills and great for sustainability. And that’s what really matters overall.

Yet, if you do decide that solar shingles are the best choice, then we feel that SunStyle offers a sleek, modern, and beautiful result that you absolutely won’t regret. 

Need more information? Have more questions? Great! Our amazing team is waiting to talk to you.

We’ll give you the lowdown on the different types of solar installation and help you determine which will work best for you. Whether you want to set up a solar farm on your existing commercial land, transform your farmhouse roof, or something in between, you can rely on 8760 Solar to give you the best advice. 

Call or email our team today


(719) 470-0254

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Solar Shingles As Efficient as Solar Panels?

Solar shingles are not quite as efficient as solar panels. This is because the reduced airflow underneath the shingles reduces efficiency. Overall, shingles can reduce power bills by up to 70%, while traditional panels can achieve up to 90% reduction.

What Are the Drawbacks of Solar Shingles?

Solar shingles are more expensive and harder to install than traditional panels. They also cannot be moved or adjusted once installed and are slightly less efficient than panels.

How Much More Expensive Are Solar Shingles As Opposed to Solar Panels?

On average, solar shingles cost between $25,000 – $60,000 to install, while solar panels cost $15,000 – $25,000.

What Is the Difference Between Solar Panels and Solar Roofs?

Solar panels are square or rectangular panels that are fixed on top of an existing roof using a rail or bolts. Solar roofs are made up of solar shingles. These shingles act as the roof itself, as well as absorbing and harvesting sunlight.

Can You Walk on Solar Shingles?

You cannot and should not walk on a solar shingle roof. The shingles are not made to withstand heavy weights, and the smooth surface of the shingles puts you at significant risk of slipping and falling.

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