A 3-in-1 solar roof gets its name because it has been designed to accomplish three functions: insulation, protection, and solar power generation. – This means you can get a roofing system capable of withstanding harsh weather conditions like hurricane winds and hail, while helping you save energy in two ways:
By providing insulation, the insulation baked into the 3-in-1 roof makes indoor spaces more comfortable while reducing your heating and cooling costs. At the same time, 3-in-1 roof tiles generate electricity with built-in photovoltaic cells, lowering your monthly power bills.
When using the 3-in-1 roof, you also get a wide variety of design options. There are many shingle types and colors available, so you can choose a roof design that matches the rest of your home.
You can also choose between exposed solar shingles, which have a higher productivity, or you can cover them with a semi-transparent layer that matches the shingle design.
When the photovoltaic cells are covered, their productivity decreases slightly but they become completely invisible, blending in with the rest of the roof.
Solar roofs are part of a broad product category called building integrated photovoltaics or BIPV.
Unlike traditional solar panels, which are attached to the roof structure using a racking system, BIPV products are designed to become part of your building.
There are two main cases where a solar tile roof can be a great option:
- When building a new home, you can combine the roof and solar panels into a single system, without having to deal with two separate contractors.
- When your roof needs a replacement soon, a solar roof offers reliable protection from the element, with built-in electricity production.
Traditional solar panels are recommended when you have a roof in good condition that will not need a replacement in at least 20 years.
However, when you need to install a new roof anyway, you have an excellent opportunity to use solar shingles.
Did you know? A solar roof can sometimes have a lower cost than a normal roof with a solar panel system on top.
3-in-1 Solar Roof: Technical Specifications and Main Features
The 3-in-1 solar roof shingle offers the following features, as you can see in the product website:
- Power output: 50 watts per shingle
- Product name: SSM50
- Manufacturer: Fermi Power
- Solar cell type: Monocrystalline silicon, 156 x 156 mm
- Solar cell efficiency: 18.8%
- Operating temperature: -104°F to +185°F
- Tile load:170 lb. per sq.ft.
- Dimensions: 33” x 14.5” x 0.787”
- Wind load: 30 lb. per sq.ft.
- Snow load: 30 lb. per sq.ft.
- Wind speed rating: 200 mph
- Maximum series fuse rating: 15 A
- Fire rating: Class A Type 2
- Mechanical load rating: 30 psf
- Superstrate material: Low iron tempered glass, 3.2 mm thickness
- Wiring: Sunlight resistant, 90°C wet or dry, 2000V, 12 AWG conductor
- Certification: UL 1703 Standard for Flat-Plate Photovoltaic Modules and Panels.
The 3-in-1 solar roof offers various shingle designs and colors. You can choose between classic, modern, shake, and slate shingles.
The colors available are terracotta, base gray, celery, cedar, white, slate green, sierra, sandstone, pueblo brown, midnight, garnet, and limestone.
When operating with exposed photovoltaic cells, the 3-in-1 solar roof can achieve an efficiency of 17-19%. This value decreases to 15-17% if you decide to use a colored glass covering. When using concealed solar cells, the efficiency decreases by an additional 2.8%.
The 3-in-1 roof company website has pictures of the three installation options: exposed PV cells, colored glass (smooth or textured), and concealed cells.
If you decide to use colored glass or concealed cells, you will need more solar shingles to reach a given electricity output. However, you might still be interested in these options if you don’t like the appearance of exposed photovoltaic cells.
On the other hand, if you want to achieve the highest electricity production per square foot and the appearance of your roof is secondary for you, exposed PV cells offer the maximum yield.
Dual Energy Savings: Solar Power and Roof Insulation
Solar roof shingles and traditional solar panels achieve savings by generating electricity, which is then subtracted from your monthly power bills.
In addition, a 3-in-1 roof can also help you save money by cutting your heating and cooling costs with effective insulation.
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC) account for over 50% of energy consumption in most residential and commercial buildings.
Space heating costs increase in northern states with cold winters, while air conditioning costs are higher in southern locations closer to the tropics.
That said, HVAC will normally be your highest energy expense if you own a home or commercial building, regardless of how costs are divided between heating and cooling.
There are three main ways to reduce your HVAC costs:
- Upgrading to newer and more efficient space heating and air conditioning equipment.
- Improving the operating efficiency of HVAC systems with smart thermostats and other automatic controls.
- Increasing building insulation and improving airtightness, which reduces the workload on HVAC systems.
The insulation provided by the 3-in-1 solar roof reduces the energy consumption of heating and cooling equipment by up to 38%.
Roof insulation helps save energy all year long, reducing heat gain during summer and heat loss during winter. – This means the 3-in-1 roof also saves energy whenever your HVAC systems are operating, and even at night when solar cells are not generating electricity.
If you plan to upgrade your heating and cooling equipment soon, the new units can achieve synergy with a 3-in-1 solar roof.
During summer, the roof will generate electricity that can be used to cover some of your cooling costs, while reducing the amount of heat that must be removed by the air conditioning system.
Roof insulation accomplishes the opposite function during winter, keeping heat inside and reducing the workload on your space heating system.
Most heating equipment runs with fossil fuels like natural gas or propane, which means you cannot use the electricity generated by solar cells. But solar electricity can still be used to power electrical HVAC components such as air handlers, or other home appliances.
How Much Does the 3-in-1 Solar Roof Cost?
When installing the 3-in-1 roof, you can expect a total installed cost of $32.00 – $38.00 per square foot (estimated based on the results of calculation for the new 3-in-1 classic solar roof), before the federal and state incentives, not including the cost of an optional energy storage battery and a matching hybrid inverter.
Note that 3-in-1 solar tiles and all other components used for power generation qualify for a federal tax credit equivalent to 26% of their cost as of 2022.
Keep in mind that the tax credit decreases to 22% in 2023 and 10% for businesses only in 2024 (0% for homes).
If you’re considering a solar roof, or a traditional solar panel system, you should act quickly and get the 26% tax credit while it remains available.
The 3-in-1 solar roof qualifies for PACE financing, which stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy. A PACE loan generally has a term of 10-20 years, and the payments are charged along with your property taxes. – This means you can potentially install a 3-in-1 solar roof for $0 upfront, and then make payments amortized over the term of the loan, while realizing the ongoing energy savings.
Keep in mind that the 3-in-1 roof not only saves by generating electricity, but also by reducing your heating and cooling costs.
PACE loans also have the advantage of being bound to the property and not the owner, which means you can easily transfer the loan if you sell your home. Remember that the 3-in-1 roof warranty can also be transferred to a second owner.
With the combination of PACE financing and a transferable warranty, you can benefit from the 3-in-1 solar roof even if you plan to move.
Does the 3-in-1 Solar Roof Have a Good Warranty?
You can get a 25-year warranty if your 3-in-1 solar roof is installed by a qualified contractor. This warranty not only covers the photovoltaic cells, but also the roof tiles and other system accessories.
The 25-year warranty is available at no additional cost, and there is also an optional lifetime coverage plan, where you can purchase a warranty extension in 5-year periods.
- To keep the warranty active over the 25-year period, you must agree to have the 3-in-1 roof inspected by a qualified contractor at 5-year intervals.
- Also keep in mind that the warranty does not cover low-slope roof designs. Your roof must have a slope of at least 4:12, or otherwise you will not qualify for the warranty.
- In case of manufacturing defects, the 25-year warranty covers materials and labor during the first 10 years, and only materials after the 10th year.
The 25-year warranty is available for owners of single-family homes, and the coverage period is reduced to 20 years in all other cases. This includes single-family homes owned by real estate companies, apartment buildings, office buildings, schools, mixed-use buildings, etc.
The 25-year warranty can be transferred to another homeowner on a single occasion if the property is sold during the coverage period.
How Does the 3-in-1 Solar Roof Compare with other Products?
In terms of product design, the 3-in-1 roof can be compared with the products offered by Tesla (still limited availability), Luma Solar, and Forward Solar (currently taking reservations). – All three companies focus on achieving the “invisible” appearance, where solar and non-solar roof areas look identical.
However, the 3-in-1 roof also gives you the option of exposed solar cells: your roof will no longer have a uniform appearance, but PV cells become more productive when they are not covered by colored glass, or any other layers designed to conceal them.
Unlike the cost of traditional solar panels, which is easier to predict, the cost of a solar roof can vary significantly depending on design factors and site conditions.
That said, 3-in-1 solar roof can be installed for about $8.76 per watt (or $6.35 per watt after applying the 26% federal solar tax credits) when conditions are favorable, while some competing products often exceed $8.00-$10.00+ per watt installed. – This makes the 3-in-1 roof a viable and competitive option for the right house/building.
Factor in the added benefit of reducing your HVAC costs with effective roof insulation (you will still want to make sure the attic space is also properly vented before/during the design and installation phases to achieve the highest possible efficiency, home health, and ROI from your investment).