Everything you need to know about Solar Roof Tiles

This blog will explore everything you need to know about this emerging technology.

Australia is well and truly the sunburnt country, particularly here in Brisbane, with abundant clear skies perfect for solar. In fact, Queenslanders are leading the way in adopting solar technology, with 40% of homes in QLD and SA alone having solar.  It’s this combination of plentiful sun and rising energy prices, that create a huge opportunity for Australians to continue embracing solar. If you’re looking to make the move to solar, you’ll know roof panels are long established and well known, but what about the newest technology - Solar Roof Tiles? If you’re looking for a non-obtrusive way to bring solar energy into your home then solar roof tiles could be for you. This blog will explore everything you need to know about this emerging technology. ‍

Solar roof tiles explained

What are solar roof tiles? 

Put simply, they’re like traditional roof tiles, but capable of collecting solar energy. Dig a little deeper however, and you’ll see how clever they are. What makes them so smart is the fact that they don't require mounting on top of a roof, they actually integrate within a tiled roof giving them the technical classification of Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV). Functionally, this means you can cover more of your roof with solar panels, and aesthetically they fit in seamlessly with your home. 

Now, contrary to what you might be thinking, solar roof tiles don’t need to take over your entire roof. The ingenious thing about the product is that by their nature they can slot in seamlessly to a tiled roof. As much or as little as needed. So, depending on your location, budget and energy goals you can create the perfect solar setup for your home.

Image via Tesla.

How they work

How Solar Roof Tiles Work

Just like traditional solar panels, solar roof tiles capture sunlight and convert it into electricity. As with any solar installation, there are other components required. A solar setup of any size needs these three components:

  • Solar Roof Tiles - to capture sunlight and convert it into electricity.
  • Solar Inverter - to convert the captured solar energy into usable electricity which can flow through your home. The Inverter you choose can have arguably the most significant impact on how well your system performs so choose wisely.  
  • Battery storage - does exactly what it says on the tin. A battery will store excess electricity for use later on.

When it comes to sunlight capture, not all roofs are made equal. Like any purchase, you will get what you pay for. Broadly speaking there are three types of solar panel technology to look out for  - monocrystalline (efficient and expensive), polycrystalline (still efficient but less expensive) and thin film (inexpensive solution).

Most solar roof tile manufacturers use monocrystalline technology which is the most efficient of the three, but also the most expensive. Interestingly, Tesla recently launched a new solar roof tile which actually has the capability, via a thin coloured film on each tile, to blend in with the other tiles on a roof. If you’re willing to pay for the privilege of course. But, more on the cost of tiles later. 

Water and weather resistance 

Unlike solar roof panels that are installed on top of a roof, solar roof tiles integrate within a roof. But there’s a catch - almost every manufacturer requires you to install their own traditional tiles alongside the solar tiles. This is to ensure a snug and safe and watertight installation. Solar roof tile manufacturers will have their own specific set of installation requirements, so look at them closely when choosing. If installed correctly, water ingress should not be an issue.  

On a side note, should you find yourself on the roof of your home, you can walk on the solar roof tiles. All solar roof tiles are rated for high weather performance and can withstand weight better than other roofing materials like Colourbond or traditional tiles.

Maintaining a solar roof for top performance

Cleaning and maintenance of your solar roof tiles 

As with any solar technology, you’ll need to look after your investment to ensure it keeps producing electricity for your home. To maintain efficiency of your solar roof tiles, they should be kept clear of debris (fallen branches, dust etc) and kept moderately clean. The good news is, unless you’re in a dry, dusty environment, rain will usually be just fine to keep your tiles performing well. If you do need to clean them, we do not advise climbing on the roof - simply hose your roof down from the ground. 

The second element is maintenance. As with most technology, solar systems benefit from servicing to make sure everything is performing well, so consider having your provider service your solar roof installation once every 5 years. 

Take a closer look at living with solar roof tiles in this short video. YouTuber Alex Flack reviews Tesla Roof Tiles after one year and answers his most frequently asked questions. 

Comparing your choices

Solar Roof Tiles versus Solar Panels 

There’s a lot of information out there, so here’s a quick overview of the key differences between solar panels and solar roof tiles. 

FactorSolar RoofJinko Solar Panel
Avg. output per sq metre

The amount of energy produced over an average square metre.

165 Watts 217 Watts
Avg. efficiency rating

The portion of energy in the form of sunlight that can be converted
into electricity by the solar cell.

10-20% 16-22%
Cost per watt

Total installation cost measured divided the total system capacity.

$8.00 less than $1.00
Typical installation fee (6KW system)

Average cost inclusive of technology, trades and other factors.

$15,120 - $48,000
$4,200 - $6,000
Avg. time to see return on investment

The time it will take for the savings generated by the system
to equal and surpass the installation cost.

20+ years 4-6 years
Installation speed

How long it takes for a system can be installed at your home.

5-14 days 1-2 days

How long the system will reliably produce energy before needing
to be replaced.

25 - 30 years 25 - 30 years


What to consider when choosing solar roof tiles. 

There’s a lot to think about when deciding whether solar roof tiles are right for your home. Now, knowing the basics of what they are and how they work, you’re equipped to make a more informed decision. If you’re looking to explore further, these are the critical factors to consider to avoid common mistakes when looking at Solar Roof tiles. 

  • Cost - it goes without saying the biggest factor is clearly the cost of installation. Solar tiles can cost more than double the price of traditional solar panels, which ultimately means they will take longer to deliver a return on investment. 
  • Aesthetics - traditional solar panels and solar roof tiles perform the same function, with very similar technology. The biggest difference is how they are integrated with your roof. Consider solar roof tiles if the visual appeal of your home is an important factor. 
  • Installation - solar roof tiles do take longer to install than panels, so set aside plenty of time for the installation. The other thing to consider is that in some instances a roof may not align to the sun correctly, or the roof may be the wrong shape size for traditional solar panels. Roof tiles can be a solution in such cases. 
    - where solar panels are installed on top of a roof, solar tiles are integrated within the roof. This means the product is more durable in extreme weather conditions such as high wind, and shouldn’t experience water ingress issues. Consider your environment and weather conditions when deciding if solar roof tiles are the right option.
  • Comparative output - solar tiles due to their size and design don’t capture as much energy as a solar panel (think one single panel with no wasted space, versus several small tiles interlocking and overlapping). Solar panels can generate up to 30% more energy per square metre versus tiles. So, consider the balance between aesthetics, performance carefully - especially when looking at performance degradation over time. 


Solar tiles are an exciting emerging technology, with the potential to transform the market. However, there are plenty of trade-offs to consider when comparing solar roof tiles against solar panels. While many benefits and performance measures are the same or similar, the critical difference to consider is cost and when you’ll see a return on your investment. With roof tiles costing as much as 4x the amount of traditional solar panels, you’ll need to decide if the aesthetic benefits outweigh the potentially prohibitive costs. 

Nonetheless, with a basic understanding of what they are and how they work, you’re now equipped to investigate further and ask the right questions of providers. Our team has over a decades experience installing solar for homes across Brisbane, so If you’d like to explore solar further, get in touch. We’d love to help you on your journey.

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