Solar Shingles Efficiency vs Solar Panels Efficiency

Do you wish you could get rid of your monthly utility bills? Along with things like your mortgage and insurance, utility bills are some of those consistent payments you dread making every month. With solar energy solutions, you can put the power of the sun to use for your home.

One of the biggest decisions you have to make before going solar is whether you should install newfangled solar shingles or traditional solar panels. While several considerations come into play, solar shingles efficiency vs. solar panels efficiency is one of the most important. Here’s what you need to know about how efficiency ratings compare between these technologies available from different manufacturers.

Solar Shingles Efficiency

Two companies currently lead the US residential solar shingle market: Dow and CertainTeed. Each company has a line of solar shingles they are most proud of. Learn the top features of these solar shingles and see how they compare.

Dow’s Powerhouse Solar Shingles Efficiency

Dow is the first company responsible for helping build the solar shingle market in the US. The biggest focus for the company right now is to bring costs lower than traditional solar panels. This goal has yet to be achieved, but costs have certainly come down in the past few years. Currently, they’re about on par with traditional solar panels, once you subtract the cost of purchasing and installing a new roof.

The exposed area of each Powerhouse shingle is 10 inches by 23 inches, or about 1.6 square feet. Rated at 12 watts per square foot, you need about 52 panels to produce 1 kilowatt (kW). Most residential solar arrays are 5 kW, meaning you would need about 260 shingles and 417 square feet of roof space to produce the power you need.

CertainTeed’s Apollo II Solar Shingles Efficiency

The other leader in the US solar shingle market is CertainTeed. Each Apollo II solar shingle is comprised of 14 high-efficiency monocrystalline silicon solar cells and has a power rating of 60 watts. The exposed area of each shingle is 46 inches by 14 inches, or about 4.4 square feet. At 60 watts per panel that’s about 13.6 watts per square foot. This means you need about 17 shingles to produce 1 kilowatt. To achieve the standard 5 kW system, you would need 85 shingles and 380 square feet of roof space

With the goal of making solar shingles more versatile, both flat and curved shingles are available from CertainTeed. Both traditional metal-racked shingles and more aesthetically pleasing black panels are available, though the black panels carry a 30% cost premium.

Solar Panels Efficiency

You have many solar panel manufacturers to choose from today. Two of the most popular residential solar panel companies in the US are SolarWorld and SunPower. Here’s a look at how the efficiency of these panels compares to solar shingles efficiency.

SolarWorld Solar Panels Efficiency

Solar panels from this manufacturer boast reduced light reflection from the outside and an internal light-trapping mechanism to bring more of the sun’s rays into the solar cell. These technologies allow SolarWorld solar panels to max out at about 17.9% efficient.

Each module contains 60 monocrystalline silicon solar cells, and the highest output panels produce 300 watts. At 40 inches by 66 inches – or 18.3 square feet – SolarWorld panels produce about 16.4 watts per square foot. This means you need about three panels to produce 1 kW or almost 17 panels and 305 square feet of roof space to produce 5 kW of energy.

SunPower Solar Panels Efficiency

SunPower’s X-Series are the most efficient solar panels in the world at 21.5% efficient. The top model in the series has 96 monocrystalline silicon solar cells and produces 345 watts of power. At 41 inches by 61 inches, each panel is 17.4 square feet, meaning they produce almost 20 watts per square foot. You need three panels to produce just over 1 kW, or 15 panels and 261 square feet of roof space to produce just over 5 kW of power.

The Breakdown

Dow’s Powerhouse Solar Shingles
12 watts per square foot
260 shingles and 417 square feet of roof space to produce 5 kW

CertainTeed’s Apollo II Solar Shingles
13.6 watts per square foot
85 shingles and 380 square feet of roof space to produce 5 kW

SolarWorld Solar Panels
16.4 watts per square foot
17 panels and 305 square feet of roof space to produce 5 kW

SunPower Solar Panels
20 watts per square foot
15 panels and 261 square feet of roof space to produce 5 kW

Based on these figures, it’s clear that solar panel efficiency still beats out solar shingles efficiency, and SunPower is the very best.

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