Since the introduction of Timberline solar shingles by GAF Energy in 2021, these shingles have been installed in 16 states. Annually, 5 million new roofs are installed on homes, with GAF shingles being used on 1.5 million of them, according to Rey Holmes, the Vice President of Services and Product at GAF Energy.
The unique product and business model of GAF Energy make direct comparisons with other companies more complex. In this review, we will highlight any areas where direct comparisons are difficult or where certain aspects cannot be definitively stated.
- What Does GAF Energy Provide?
- Advantages and Disadvantages of GAF Energy Solar Roofs
- What Other Solar Products Does GAF Energy Install?
- What Do GAF Energy’s Warranties Look Like?
- Does GAF Energy Use Subcontractors for Installation?
- Is GAF Energy Available in My State?
- Timberline Solar Shingles Cost
- GAF Timberline Solar Roof Financing
- Is GAF Energy the Best Choice for Solar Installation?
- Go Solar with 8MSolar
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What Does GAF Energy Provide?
GAF Energy specializes in solar shingles, a distinct alternative to the conventional solar panels that are mounted on roofs using metal racks. Their product, named Timberline Solar, integrates into roofs in a similar manner to traditional asphalt shingles, lying flat and incorporating electrical components within a conduit at the front of each shingle. This design offers a less conspicuous appearance compared to standard solar panels, though it doesn’t achieve the seamless aesthetic of the more expensive Tesla Solar Roof.
Comparing the energy generation capabilities of solar shingles like Timberline Solar with those of traditional solar panels from other companies is less straightforward due to the differing technologies.Though when comparing Timberline Solar to other solar shingle options, GAF Energy’s product stands out.
Timberline Solar Shingle Specifications
|Wattage per shingle
|Wattage per square foot
The warranties offered for Timberline Solar are comparable to those of the Tesla Solar Roof and surpass those of other solar shingle brands on the market. GAF Energy also provides additional coverage choices, with two different warranty extensions available. Notably, Timberline Solar shingles have the highest efficiency rating among most other solar shingle products, reaching around 23% efficiency.
However, Timberline Solar shingles offer a lower wattage output per shingle, at 45 watts, which is the least we’ve encountered. In comparison, the typical wattage for solar shingles is around 70 watts, while standard solar panels range between 250 and 400 watts. Therefore, to fulfill your home’s energy requirements and to match the output of a single solar panel, you might need a greater number of Timberline Solar shingles than other brands.
Additionally, Timberline Solar shingles are somewhat larger than comparable products, like those from Tesla, and solar shingles are often sold by square footage.This is good to keep in mind when you consider that covering your home’s energy needs might require more Timberline Solar shingles due to their wattage output.
In late July of 2023, GAF Energy initiated a recall for certain solar shingles and related equipment installed from November 2021 to April 2023 due to a potential fire hazard. By early August, GAF Energy stated that 80% of the installations impacted by the recall had been rectified. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission reported one incident of fire and five thermal events related to this issue.
Advantages and Disadvantages of GAF Energy Solar Roofs
- Simple installation similar to a standard roof
- Enhanced durability with extended protection against leaks and defects
- Superior energy efficiency
- Fixed positioning; lacks adjustability in angle
- Lesser energy generation per shingle compared to alternative solar roofing options
- Potentially higher expenses compared to traditional solar panels
What Other Solar Products Does GAF Energy Install?
GAF Energy exclusively offers Timberline Solar shingles, not traditional solar panels. Additionally, the company itself does not handle installations; instead, they are performed by GAF-certified contractors. Homeowners can track the electricity production of their solar roof through GAF Energy’s homeowner portal, which is accessible via the web rather than through a mobile app.
In terms of solar inverters, which are crucial for converting solar energy into electricity usable in homes, GAF Energy utilizes Delta and SolarEdge string inverters. SolarEdge inverters are known for their wide distribution, high efficiency, and robust warranty. Delta inverters also offer reliable performance, though SolarEdge is generally considered the superior option between the two.
Regarding solar battery storage, GAF Energy does not provide this directly. However, the Timberline Solar roof system is compatible with various battery options available in the market. To integrate a solar battery, homeowners need to consult with a licensed energy storage contractor for installation.
What Do GAF Energy’s Warranties Look Like?
GAF Energy’s warranty offerings for their Timberline Solar shingles are competitive compared to other solar shingle products available in the market. Here are the key aspects of their warranty:
GAF Energy assures that their Timberline Solar shingles will be leak-free due to manufacturing defects for a period of 25 years, highlighting their confidence in the product’s durability against water intrusion.
The company offers a 15-year warranty for resistance against winds reaching up to 130 mph, ensuring stability and resilience in high-wind conditions.
Power Production Warranty
GAF Energy guarantees that the energy production of their solar shingles will not decline by more than 2% in the first year and no more than 0.55% per year after that. After 25 years, the shingles should still operate at 84.8% of their original capacity. This degradation rate is comparable to many current solar panels, though it may not match the performance of some premium models.
Additionally, GAF Energy offers two optional enhanced solar warranties for an extra cost:
Solar Plus Warranty Addendum: This addendum provides a one-year warranty on electrical workmanship and extends coverage for third-party electronics to 10 years.
Solar Max Warranty Addendum: Opting for this addendum upgrades the warranty to 10 years for electrical workmanship and 25 years for third-party electronics. It also includes a 25-year solar power generation guarantee, ensuring that the Timberline Solar system will produce a specified amount of kilowatt-hours over various intervals within the 25-year period. The specifics of this guarantee are determined on a project-by-project basis.
Rey Holmes from GAF Energy mentioned that while the company is not currently focusing on backup batteries, their systems are compatible with all major battery brands, allowing customers the flexibility to integrate a battery if desired.
Does GAF Energy Use Subcontractors for Installation?
Yes, GAF Energy relies on a network of certified electrical and roofing contractors for the installation of their Timberline Solar shingles. These solar shingles are designed to be nail-able, which allows them to be installed by qualified roofers in conjunction with standard roofing shingles. The installation process involves a local GAF-certified roofer who will fit the solar shingles, while an electrician will be responsible for installing the inverter, managing the wiring, and taking care of other electrical aspects of the system.
Is GAF Energy Available in My State?
Timberline Solar Shingles are available in the following 16 states:
While GAF Energy is the manufacturer of Timberline Solar shingles, their installation is exclusively carried out by GAF-certified Master Elite roofers. As a result, while some customers might discover GAF Energy through its website, the majority of interactions and transactions occur directly through the contractors.
For those interested in acquiring a roof with Timberline Solar, GAF Energy’s website offers an online form. By completing this form, you can either be connected with a local installer or placed on a waitlist, in case Timberline Solar is not yet available in your area. The entire process, from the initial order to the final installation, is managed by GAF-certified roofers. However, local electricians are brought in by these roofers to manage specific aspects of the project, such as the installation of inverters and the necessary electrical wiring.
Timberline Solar Shingles Cost
Determining the exact cost of a Timberline Solar roof can be challenging. The key difference between Timberline Solar and conventional solar panels complicates direct price comparisons. Unlike conventional solar panels, which are mounted on existing roofs, Timberline Solar serves as an integral part of the roof itself. Therefore, purchasing Timberline Solar involves acquiring both a new roof and a solar solution simultaneously.
Although the cost varies depending on the market and specific project details, GAF Energy indicates that the combined expense of a new roof and Timberline Solar is generally comparable to the cost of installing a new roof along with traditional rooftop solar panels. Because of this, opting for Timberline Solar is financially sensible primarily if you are already considering a roof replacement.
The following prices are the average cost of residential solar panel installation in North Carolina and Virginia. It’s important to note, however, that this data does not include the costs associated with solar shingle or solar roof systems. Additionally, state incentives and tax credits are not factored into these estimates.
- Average Total Cost: $31,590
- System Size: 9 kW
- Cost per Watt: $3.51
- Average Total Cost: $32,310
- System Size: 9 kW
- Cost per Watt: $3.59
GAF Timberline Solar Roof Financing
GAF Energy does not directly provide financing or leasing options for Timberline Solar installations. However, the GAF-certified contractors who install the system may offer financing solutions. It is common for solar installers and contractors to have access to various solar loan or financing programs, with some being more favorable than others. If you have the option to choose from multiple GAF-certified solar roof installers in your area, it’s advisable to compare their financial offerings to find the one that best aligns with your budget.
Additionally, there are alternative methods to finance your solar roof. These include paying the full cost upfront in cash, obtaining a personal loan from your bank, or using a home equity line of credit. Each of these options has its own advantages and considerations, so it’s important to evaluate them based on your financial situation and preferences.
Is GAF Energy the Best Choice for Solar Installation?
Determining whether GAF Energy is the optimal choice for you involves several considerations. Timberline Solar from GAF Energy stands out as one of the top choices in the solar roofing market. It competes with other major players like Tesla Solar Roof, which, although sleeker, tends to be more expensive and has a slightly lower wind resistance (20 mph less than Timberline). Additionally, Timberline Solar shingles have a maximum efficiency of 23%, the highest observed among solar shingle brands, according to GAF Energy. Price-wise, Timberline Solar is competitive with conventional solar options.
When deciding between solar shingles and solar panels, key factors include your budget and aesthetic preferences. Solar shingles are an ideal option if your roof needs replacing before adding solar panels and if you prefer a more integrated, less conspicuous solar solution. Conversely, if your roof doesn’t require replacement and aesthetics aren’t a major concern, conventional solar panels would probably be a more suitable choice. It’s important to note that while Timberline Solar’s long-term performance is comparable to many standard solar panels, some high-performance panels may offer better efficiency over their lifespan.
Solar roofs are still somewhat specialized within the broader solar market, with limited installers offering them. In some cases, you might find only one solar roof provider in your area. To ensure you get the best possible deal, it’s advisable to seek quotes from as many solar roof installers as possible, even if the options are limited.
Go Solar with 8MSolar
Considering the switch to solar energy? Get solar panels installed by 8MSolar. We are a team of solar experts here to help people in North Carolina and Virginia with their solar installation. And even if you live outside of those areas, we’d still love to help you with any solar questions you might have. With over two decades of experience, we can help you find and plan your perfect solar system. Contact 8MSolar today!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What’s the difference between solar panels and GAF solar shingles?
Both solar panels and solar shingles are designed to generate electricity from sunlight, but they differ significantly in terms of aesthetics, performance, and cost.
Aesthetics: Solar panels are typically mounted on top of your roof or installed on the ground. They are known for their wide and somewhat bulky appearance. In contrast, solar shingles are smaller and designed to blend in with traditional roofing materials. They look like regular roof shingles and integrate seamlessly with your roof, offering a more aesthetically pleasing option for those who prefer a less conspicuous solar solution.
Performance: Most monocrystalline solar panels, which are a common type of solar panel, generally have higher efficiency ratings compared to solar shingles. This means they can convert a greater percentage of sunlight into electricity. Solar shingles, while innovative and visually appealing, often have slightly lower efficiency due to their size and design constraints.
Cost and Installation: The decision between solar shingles and solar panels may also hinge on your roofing situation. If your roof requires a complete replacement, solar shingles could be a more cost-effective and practical choice, as they can replace traditional shingles while also serving as a solar energy source. However, if your existing roof is in good condition, adding solar panels might be a more straightforward and less expensive option.
Overall, if aesthetics are a primary concern and you’re looking for a solar solution that blends with your home’s design, or if you’re already planning a roof replacement, solar shingles could be the ideal choice. But, if you’re seeking higher energy efficiency and your current roof is suitable, solar panels would probably be the better option.
Do solar shingles have any downsides?
Solar shingles come with several drawbacks compared to traditional solar panels. The primary challenges include:
Lower Efficiency Ratings: Solar shingles typically have lower efficiency in converting sunlight into electricity compared to solar panels. This means they are less effective in generating power per square foot of roofing.
Higher Installation Costs: Depending on the manufacturer and the specific circumstances of your roof, installing solar shingles can be more expensive than installing solar panels. This is often due to the complexity of integrating them into your roof and the need for specialized installation.
Limited Availability: Solar shingles are a relatively newer technology compared to solar panels and are not as widely available. This limited market presence can make it challenging to find installers or specific shingle models.
Lower Wattage Output: Generally, solar shingles produce less wattage per unit than solar panels. This means you may require more solar shingles to meet the same energy needs as a smaller number of solar panels, potentially leading to higher costs and more complex installation requirements.
These factors make solar shingles less suitable in certain situations, particularly where maximizing energy generation efficiency or minimizing costs is a priority. However, they remain a good option for those prioritizing aesthetics or dealing with specific roof-related constraints.
Do the Timberline Solar shingles by GAF Energy qualify for the federal tax credit?
Yes, Timberline Solar shingles are eligible for the federal solar tax credit. As they are categorized as photovoltaic (PV) equipment, they qualify for this incentive. The federal solar tax credit enables homeowners to claim 30% of the total cost of their solar system, including Timberline Solar shingles, as a credit against their federal taxes. However, it’s important to note that while this tax credit applies to the solar aspect of the installation, it may not extend to cover the costs associated with the non-solar portion of your roof replacement.
How long do solar shingles last?
Solar shingles typically have a lifespan ranging from approximately 20 to 30 years. This durability is similar to that of traditional solar panels, which often last for 25 years or longer. However, the actual lifespan of a solar shingle roof can vary depending on factors such as the manufacturer’s product quality and the proficiency of the installation. Ensuring that you choose a reliable and skilled installer is crucial for maximizing the longevity and effectiveness of your solar shingle system.