Since SolarCity introduced their glass solar tiles, the first thing many people have asked is “How much do they cost?” It is estimated that the average 2,500 sq.ft. home with of a 70% solar roof (the percentage that the average home needs to generate to cover all its electricity consumption), including a storage battery, would be $58,200. That does not account for incentives or electricity savings, but it does provide a good starting point for comparison. Elon Musk said the material will average $21.85/square foot.


Of course, that still leaves us with the question: “How does that compare with other solar options?” These new solar tiles are still a very early technology. Today’s traditional solar PV systems are the most affordable and productive in the market. That having been said, although every installation is somewhat different and uniquely fit to your home’s specifications, we can offer a solid baseline for price point comparisons.

Rooftop Solar Systems with Solar Panels

Most traditional rooftop solar systems consist of rack-mounted solar panels connected to a power inverter. LA Solar Group typically uses a low-profile mounting system, which positions  the panels as close to the roof as possible for a more aesthetically pleasing effect.

There are number of factors that affect the price of solar systems, including:

  • Power output in watts
  • Efficiency rating
  • Degradation rate
  • Manufacturer
  • Manufacturing method (i.e.: poly v. monocrystalline)
  • Number of modules installed

Rack-mounted systems like this typically range from $15,000-$30,000, before factoring in electric bill savings or incentives. This is a reasonably priced and commonly chosen option for homeowners who are deciding to go solar. The return of investment on purchasing a solar system is between 5-8 years, depending on system size.

Solar Shingles

SolarCity isn’t the only company that’s been working on integrating solar photovoltaic (PV) cells into roofing material. Several companies offer solar shingles, including Certainteed Apollo Shingle and GAF Decotech. Solar shingles are installed directly into the roof, without roof penetration or racking.

Solar shingles are slightly less efficient that solar panels, and cost a bit more, but are more aesthetically pleasing. They don’t require any racking systems because the shingles themselves are the roofing component. Homeowners can maximize solar shingle productivity by having them installed on their roof in locations that capture the most sunlight throughout the day.

Shingles are also lightweight. At about 12 pounds each, they don’t require structural reinforcement. Solar shingles also have an advantage over traditional solar panel system in wire management, since they eliminate any hanging or exposed wiring.

Roofing Without Solar

It’s important to note that traditional roofing without solar is also an expense. According to Consumer Reports, asphalt shingle roofs are roughly $20,000, and slate roofs average $40,000. Clay roofing is typically installed in higher-value homes, and can cost more than $50,000. If you need roofing work done and have a little wiggle room in your budget, that’s an excellent time to go solar. You can handle your roofing needs and lower your electric bills at the same time for only a few thousand dollars more.

Other Considerations

Price isn’t everything, of course. You’ll want to know that your solar system is working properly and continues to perform at the levels you were promised. Your system should include power monitoring for your home, so you can track how your system is performing for free.

You’ll also want to know your installer stands behind its work, and that you’ll have someone to call if things aren’t right. LA Solar Group is California State Licensing Board-licensed for solar, roofing, and electrical installation. All our solar installations–traditional panels and solar shingles alike–carry a 25-year power output warranty.

If you have any questions about the cost of going solar, we can answer them. There are also a lot of solar power incentives in Los Angeles and financing options to help you go solar. We would be happy to help you learn about them and your eligibility for each.