Companies Race to Make Solar Shingles More Affordable
Tesla first made solar shingles a thing in 2016, when the company unveiled the Tesla Solar Roof. Blending asphalt shingles with the means to generate energy was a new idea—one that other companies have tried to emulate to transform the roofs of American homes.
Consumers have been hesitant to adopt solar shingles because of the steep cost to manufacture and install them. Also, they are not yet as efficient as regular solar panels.
GAF Energy is the latest company to join the solar shingle race to try to overcome those issues. One of the largest roofing companies globally, GAF Energy announced it is launching solar shingles with the debut of its Timberline Solar. The company says its option will be a cheaper alternative to Tesla’s Solar Roof. The company is already winning attention with a Best of Innovation Award for Smart Cities at CES 2022, the annual mega tech show that runs this week in Las Vegas and virtually.
“We’re part of the world’s largest roofing manufacturer,” Martin DeBonon, president of GAF Energy, told CNBC. “We have access to materials that typical solar companies don’t have access to. No one has ever specifically tried to make a solar product that a roofer can install. And we’ve done it, and our product goes on with just a nail gun. It goes on twice as fast as typical solar.”
The shingles are 17 inches tall and 64 inches long, larger than Tesla’s solar shingles. The company says the larger shingles mean there are fewer parts to manufacture and fewer wiring connections, which will help decrease costs. GAF Energy did not release specific pricing information for the solar shingles.
“Let’s say in many parts of the country, you have a $15,000 cost for the roof. Getting a solar system, adding that would be another $15,000,” DeBono told CNBC. That would include a new roof and solar panels, which at $30,000 total would be less expensive than other similar products. Tesla’s projected cost for an average-sized 1,700-square-foot Solar Roof in the Bay Area is about $40,700, prior to solar subsidies, CNBC reports.
Roofing experts believe GAF Energy is in a prime position to shake up the solar shingles race. About one out of every three asphalt shingle roofs in the U.S. is a GAF roof, David Winter, co-CEO of Standard Industries, told CNBC. “So we’re the people that are sitting at the proverbial kitchen table with the homeowner at that moment that they need to replace their roof, where we can introduce the idea of solar,” Winter told CNBC. “The natural moment to actually put solar on a roof is that moment when you’re already about to replace your roof. It makes literally no sense to put brand new PV on an old roof that’s well into its warranty.”