Integrated Solar Panels: Pros, Cons & Costs
If you’re one of the many homeowners who want to generate their electricity with solar technology but you’ve been putting it off because you don’t want to (or can’t) add solar panels on top of your roof, integrated or in-roof solar panels could be your solution.
However, if you're already in the market for solar panels, you can also check out our free service to procure the best deals available in your area. If you happen to be unsure of what system you need or which one will be the best for your house, you can easily get in touch with 4 MCS-certified engineers to ensure you're getting the best guidance.
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What are integrated solar panels?
Integrated solar panels are also referred to as in-roof solar panels. They are essentially the same as traditional solar panels which are installed on top of roof tiles or slates, but these panels are integrated into the roof, i.e. they replace a section of your roof with no tiles underneath. Integrated solar panels are designed to be weatherproof and to be as strong as normal roof tiles but also include photovoltaic cells to generate electricity for your home.
Although sometimes referred to as solar roof tiles, integrated solar panels are not designed to look like roof tiles or slates and generally aren't a complete roofing solution. If you're looking for a complete solar roof replacement take a look at “What are Solar Panel Roof Tiles?“.
Pros of integrated solar panels
On-roof solar panels have a reputation for being bulky and unsightly as they require the installation of mounts and clamps to hold up the panels. Even though more recent models are far more streamlined in design, in-roof solar panels go one step further. As they’re installed as part of the roof’s structure, they sit flush with the roof tiles and blend in more seamlessly. Arguably a more attractive option than on-roof panels which could be of particular importance if you may want to sell your home in the future.
Installing solar panels on top of tiles will add weight to the structure of the roof which could cause issues over time. Conversely, with roof-integrated systems no mounting frame is needed as a section of standard roof tiles is removed and replaced with lighter PV panels which means no additional weight is added.
When the concept was first introduced to the market integrated roof panels were significantly more expensive than on-roof panels. However, as the technology has become more popular and more and more manufacturers are offering integrated solutions, the costs of solar panels have come down considerably (decreasing from 80% to 90% over the past 20 years across the board). In addition, integrated solar is a less costly option than a complete solar roof replacement.
New builds & roof replacements
While roof-integrated panels can be retrofitted they are best suited to new build projects or roof replacements. This is because the PV panels are fitted at the same time as the roof tiles, meaning solar panel installers won’t need to walk on the finished panels which can cause fine cracks which only become noticeable sometime later after weathering. Installing the solar at the same time as the roof means replacements are much less likely to be needed.
Restricted planning permission
As integrated solar panels are designed to sit flat with the roof and often in a similar colour scheme they are often more likely to meet planning permission in listed buildings or protected areas. In addition, as they’re not adding to the weight of the roof they may be a better choice for older, more delicate architecture.
Cons of integrated solar panels
Integrated systems can lag in solar panel efficiency. It’s worth noting that integrated solar panels are usually around 5-10% less efficient at generating energy than on-roof solar panels. This is because on-roof panels have a gap between the panel and roof tiles which allows air to circulate, keeping the panels at a lower temperature. Integrated panels don’t have this ventilation and so are operating at higher temperatures.
Potentially higher cost
While retrofitting in-roof solar panels into an existing roof is possible, this is a more complex and potentially costly installation than on-roof panels. Installing panels into new roofs can cost roughly equal to traditional panels, however, this is not the case for new roofs.
Not ideal for all roofs
It's best for roofs with a slope of between 12° and 50°. Additionally, the best roofs for integrated panels are asphalt, metal, and tile roofs. The efficiency of tiles or their setup can be affected by these factors.
Integrated solar panel manufacturers
|Roof Integrated System
|All-in-one in-roof solar systems
|Monier InDaX PV
If you're in the market for a solar panel system that fits your home perfectly, we highly recommend getting quotes from multiple installers so you can assess your options. That way, you can be sure you’re getting the best deals along with hiring the most trusted engineers in your area. However, finding trusted installers can be difficult, so our service can put you in touch with the best ones in your area. Click the button below to receive up to 4 free, non-binding quotes.
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GB Sol is a Wales-based solar manufacturer with over 20 years of solar expertise and an award-winning product called RIS (Roof Integrated System). It is ideal for full or part roof systems to be fully tested by the BRE (Building Research Establishment) and MCS certified (or equivalent). GB Sol specialises in bespoke solar projects and also offers solar PV slates for complete roof replacements.
Solarcentury was founded back in 1998 and today is an international leader in the solar industry. Solarcentury used to produce solar roof tiles for a complete roof replacement but began offering the popular Sunstation Built-in Plus as their integrated option. Currently, they have been acquired by Statkraft, one of the largest renewable energy producers in Europe.
Based in the UK, Viridian Solar is a popular manufacturer of all-in-one in-roof solar systems. They offer a unique look for photovoltaic systems owing to the integrated PV modules. Their in-roof solution comes with certified wind and fire resistance along with cost reduction for new buildings. Their Clearline Fusion panels blend in great with most roofs.
Redland is part of the BMI (Braas Monier and Icopal) group which is Europe’s largest manufacturer of flat and pitched roofing and waterproofing solutions. Redland itself can trace its history back to 1919 and has 6 distribution sites across the UK. In addition to a wide range of roofing materials and supplies, Redland also manufactures solar panels which provide clean, solar electricity generation and a secure roof covering including the InDaX integrated solar system.
GSE Integration is a product range by a French solar company, SVH Energie. The GSE In-Roof System dominates over 60% of the market share of residential installations in France. The company aims to produce photovoltaic panels that are simple, lightweight, watertight and inexpensive. The GSE In-Roof can be easily fitted on all roof types with pitches between 12° to 50° and in small or large formations. The materials used in the system are also 100% recyclable.
How Much Does Roof Integrated Solar Cost in the UK?
The cost of integrated solar is comparable to traditional on-roof solar installation, but it is difficult to estimate as there are so many factors to consider e.g. whether it’s a new build or retrofit, how much energy you need the panels to generate, which manufacturer you choose.
New houses can reap the benefits of lower costs on GSE or Easy Roof Evolution in-roof systems putting them in the same price bracket as an on-roof system. This would be roughly £1,200 per kWp (ex. VAT and scaffolding costs).
Viridian systems fall just under £1,400 per kWp. The GB-Sol complete solar roof system is more expensive. Depending on the finer design points, the price can approach £3,000 per kWp. Alternatively, one of the advantages of the GB-Sol system is that it doesn't require tiling, so for some homes, it may be a better fit for your needs.
There are a few factors that decrease costs for integrated panels. Since in-roof systems don't require roof tiles, they can cut those costs out for new roofs.
Keep in mind that these prices are averages based on information that may not apply to your region or installation needs. Manufacturers usually don’t publish prices as each installation is so unique. If you'd like more in-depth insight into this topic you can visit our dedicated page on the costs of solar panels.
However, if you're only looking for a simple price calculation, one of the best ways to find the deals that are most relevant to your home and situation is to compare quotes from multiple installers. Do away with all the hassle of rigorously checking the latest prices or trying to figure out which panels suit your home needs by getting an expert to help you out. Find an engineer you can trust.
You can get a competitive deal on your solar quotes by sending us an enquiry today. We’ll find you up to 4 MCS certified (or equivalent) solar installers in your area. Each will provide you with a recommendation for the best solution for your home at a competitive price. Just click the button below to check out the best options.
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What is an integrated solar panel?
Integrated solar panels are essentially the same as traditional solar panels aside from being integrated into the roof, i.e. they replace a section of your roof with no tiles underneath. They have specific advantages over their on-roof counterparts as well as disadvantages.
How do you integrate solar?
First, the installer attaches and installs your solar panel system, passes it through the home's electricity, hooks the system to an inverter and wires everything into a home circuit breaker panel and into the fuse box. The cost of this process can vary based on numerous factors.
How can PV be integrated into roofs?
Engineers replace a section of your roof with no tiles underneath (ordinarily on a new roof). Integrated solar panels are designed to be weatherproofed and as strong as normal roof tiles but also include photovoltaic cells to generate electricity for your home. The cost can vary depending on a few factors.
Which are the best integrated solar panels?
There are a number of highly popular solar panel manufacturers that you can choose from. GB Sol, Solarcentury, Redland, and GSE Integration are all well-renowned brands and they provide a range of offerings and warranties.