Solar PV Tiles: The Ultimate Guide

The ultimate guide on solar PV tiles. Everything you need to know. What are the benefits and drawbacks? How much does a system cost? The feed-in-tariff?

solar pv tiles

We all know what solar panels are and what they look like, they are everywhere.  But what you may not have seen so much of are solar PV tiles.  They are a relatively new idea that aims to blend solar systems into the roof.

Solar panels have been around since the 70s.  To be honest they look like an eyesore.  Solar PV tiles appear as standard roof tiles, you can get them in a range of sizes, styles and colours to match your needs.

This guide will cover everything from how solar PV tiles works, what they are made of to benefits, drawbacks and cost.


How do solar PV tiles work?

They actually work in a very similar way to traditional solar panels.  They convert light into electrical energy.  The amount of electricity generated will depend on the intensity and strength of light exposure.

That means a south facing roof is best.  A sloped roof of more than 20 degrees with no shade or obstructions will improve efficiency as well.


What are solar PV tiles made of?

Usually solar PV tiles are made from monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon photovoltaic panels.  These two materials are very efficient. The efficiency of these materials is actually backed by a 25-year guarantee.


The benefits:

Solar PV tiles are best used during new roof builds or if replacing a roof covering.  They are made to the same size as large roof tiles and are designed to integrate with existing roof tiles.  That makes solar tiles easy to install.  Many designs can be installed straight from the manufacturer without any special tools needed.

Solar PV tiles are also a great alternative to panels for those whose roofs would not be able to support the weight of traditional panels.  Tiles are also easily connected to the electricity supply.

Tiles are less obtrusive than their panel counterparts.  No heat, noise or radiation is emitted.


The drawbacks:

Solar PV tiles bring a lower return on investment than panels.  They are more expensive and less efficient.

The price for a square metre of PV tiles can cost around £500 (not including installation)

They are also between 10-20% less efficient than panels.  Solar PV tiles have an output of between 50-120 Watts per square metre.  Compare that to solar panels, which produce more than 134 Watts per square metre.


Cost of Solar PV tiles:

As with all renewable energy systems, the price will vary between suppliers.  However, as most suppliers are also installers so you could get a discount by agreeing a lower installation price.

The price of a 2kW system (including installation) will cost £15,000 – £20,000.  To put that into context, a 2kW system would generate 35-50% of an average home’s electricity demand.  You would need about 40 solar tiles for this and 16 square metres of roof space.


Solar tiles and feed-in-tariff:

Solar tiles are very expensive.  However, you can make money by generating energy, and by selling your surplus to the grid.  Government will pay you for every kWh generated.  Energy companies will also purchase your surplus electricity.

This means you should definitely consider installing the biggest system you can possibly afford as it will give you a better return on investment.


 Image: TradeFord 


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