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Evaluating GAF Solar Shingles for Your Home: A Comprehensive Guide

December , 2023 | 15 min. read

By Nicole Corson

two roofers installing solar shingles, Let's do this. Energy from every roof.

Are you nearing the time for a roof replacement and simultaneously eyeing ways to cut down on your electricity bills? If so, the idea of generating your own power and reducing dependence on the grid might just be the right path for you.

The Potential of Solar Energy in Roofing

Solar shingle being installed on a roof

Considering solar energy as part of your roofing solution could be a smart move, especially if the financials align with your budget. Perhaps you're drawn to the innovative Solar Energy Shingles, regardless of the cost or investment return.

At RoofCrafters, we've been roofing for 30 years and have held the title of GAF Master Elite Contractor for over a decade. The introduction of GAF’s Solar Energy Shingles (ES) is an exciting development for us. We look forward to integrating clean energy solutions into roofing systems.

We aim to provide honest, transparent information about these solar shingles. As installers of GAF's solar roofing, we acknowledge our enthusiasm might shine through in this guide. But, our commitment is to offer you all the essential details to make an informed decision.

By the end of this article, you'll have a clearer understanding of whether GAF solar shingles are the right fit for your home. We'll delve into:

  • Setting your solar objectives
  • Assessing your home's energy efficiency
  • Comparing integrated solar shingles and traditional solar panels
  • Exploring available solar incentives
  • The features of GAF Timberline Solar Energy Shingles (color options, installation process, and warranties)
  • Advantages of choosing solar shingles

Ready to explore the world of solar roofing? Let’s get started

Identifying Your Objectives for Switching to Solar Energy


When deciding whether to go solar, it’s important to start by thinking about what your goals are for solar. Why do you want to go solar?

Understanding your reasoning will help you make the most of your investment. Everyone's situation may be a little different. 

2 story house with GAF solar energy shingles

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to gain clarity on your solar investment: 

  • Am I looking to maximize the return on my investment?
  • Can a solar system help me save money?
  • Do I want to reduce the upfront cost of my roof using a solar system?
  • Will this help me reduce my carbon footprint and positively impact my environment?

Get clear on your personal goals. Going over all the pros and cons before designing a solar system will help you get the best return on your solar investment. As a bonus, you’ll make yourself a lot happier in the long run by avoiding the dreaded buyer's remorse. 

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Assessing Your Home's Energy Efficiency Before Solar Investment


Evaluating your home's energy efficiency before investing in solar energy is important. This may not be high on your “honey-do” list, but you may be surprised at what you can uncover in energy losses. 

Here are the key factors to take into account when evaluating your home for wasted energy:

  1. Check for air leaks

  2. Inspect your insulation

  3. Check your windows and doors

  4. Check your HVAC system

  5. Check your major appliances

  6. Inspect all lighting


Well, say you have air leaks somewhere in your home. You will need to run your HVAC unit more in the summer to keep your home’s temperature nice and cool. Winter comes and you find out your insulation is insufficient. You'll start to lose heat. And then you'll need to run your HVAC unit more to stay warm and cozy.

If your windows and doors are not energy efficient, they will allow both heat and cold air to come in and go out of your home, requiring what? Yeah, you guessed it; running your HVAC unit even more. 

Now, let’s say your HVAC unit is not energy efficient; it will require more power to run it. The same goes for your major appliances and lighting. All of this increases your energy consumption and electric bill. The higher your electric bill is, the more kWH (kWh = kilowatt-houryou are using. You get the point. 

If your home is not as energy efficient as possible, you'll end up needing a larger solar system to power your inefficient home. Therefore making your home as energy efficient as possible before going solar, you'll be able to reduce your solar energy investment. 

Now if your house is energy efficient, you’ll be ready to choose which system will best help you achieve your goals. Rack-mounted solar panels or GAF’s integrated solar shingle roof. 

Comparing Traditional Rack-Mounted Panels and GAF-integrated Solar Shingles


The average cost of an architectural shingle roof replacement is between $11,200 and $17,100. If your roof doesn’t need to be replaced and you want to go solar, a traditional rack-installed solar system may be the best option for you. Again this is considering you are looking to recoup your investment as quickly as possible. 


If you are interested in a metal roof or tile roof, a traditional rack-installed system would be your best option. Rack-mounted panels have custom brackets designed for metal and tile. Installed properly they'd allow attachment without causing roof leaks.

close up of Rack mounted solar on a roof with gaps

Would you agree that traditional rack-mounted panels installed on a roof are not aesthetically pleasing? Some of them remind of us a bad game of Tetris! They're mounted above the roof leaving gaps. Debris and wildlife infestation can also get trapped in these gaps. It can be an eyesore.


rodent infestation under solar panels on a roof


Also, with traditional solar panels, you will have 2 to 3 installers. The roofer, the solar installer, and the electrician. This means you will also have several different warranties. Separate material warranties for the roof, the solar system, and the electrical components. You’ll also have separate labor or workmanship warranties for the 3 trades. This has already caused much confusion. When you have a leak, whose fault is it? See where we are going with this? An integrated solar shingle roof eliminates all this unwanted confusion.

GAF Solar HD asphalt shingle side by side with GAF HDZ shingle

One of the biggest aspects of the integrated shingle roof is that you’ll need to be in the market for a roof replacement. Again, assuming that your return on investment is important. The GAF Solar ES will not tie into an existing shingle roof system. The exposure on the shingles is approximately 2 inches larger than a standard architectural shingle. Thus making it impossible to add new solar shingles to an existing architectural shingle roof and make it waterproof. 

rack mounted solar panels on an asphalt roof

Compared to the bulky rack-mounted panels. Because the solar shingle lays flat against the underlayment and decking. They are low profile; the arrays are installed in square and rectangle columns making them uniform. They look a lot like nice glass skylights. To us, they're much more aesthetically pleasing. Which is going to add curb appeal.

GAF Solar Energy shingles on a 3-d cad drawing of a house

If you don’t need a new roof, traditional rack-mounted solar panels will be your best option to get the fastest return on the investment. And if you are close to needing a roof replacement and you are concerned about the look of the solar on your home. Well the Timberline Solar ES may be the best choice for you.

Let’s dive deeper into investing in GAF’s solar roof by discussing some of the incentives.

Exploring Financial Incentives for Investing in Solar Shingles


Financial incentives take many forms. The incentives available are what help reduce the cost of the initial investment. Which makes it much easier to get a return on the investment in a shorter period. Let's face it, we're all looking for a ROI, right? 

Solar incentives diagram

Here is a list of the most popular solar incentives: 

  • Federal Solar Tax Credit
  • State Tax Credits
  • Net Metering
  • Local Solar Incentives
  • Sales Tax Exempt
  • Property Tax Exempt
  • Production Incentives
  • Cash Incentives


Explaining the Investment Tax Credit for Solar Energy Systems


The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is the federal solar tax credit. The credit was put into place to help incentivize homeowners to switch to producing their clean energy. 

Here’s how it breaks down:

  • Currently, it allows you to deduct up to 30% of the total cost of installing a solar energy system from your tax liability.

  • You must own the system, leases are excluded.

  • There is no cap on the amount.

  • You must have a tax liability to benefit.

Solar incentives listed, state, cash, SREC"s, performance based

Since our states also operate independently from our federal government some states offer tax credits too.

You can easily check to see if your state has incentives

Understanding Net Metering and Its Benefits for Solar Systems


In short and not to bore you. You sell the utility company any extra energy that your solar system produces. This could potentially be a great way to shorten the time and even to make a greater return on your investment. Solar net metering drawing diagram

Here is how it works:

  • It’s a billing arrangement between you and the electric company

  • It measures the energy your home pulls from your utility’s electrical grid. And the excess energy your solar panels produce and export back to the grid

  • Keeping track of energy going in and out of your home using a net meter

  • When there is a surplus your energy meter will run backward and you’ll get either a monetary or a kWh credit 

  • You can use this kWh credit anytime you need more energy than the system is producing, at night or on extremely cloudy days.

You can check with your utility company to see if they offer net metering. The solar roofing contractor you decide to go with will provide you with this information.

Now let’s discuss the fun stuff... solar roof colors!

Examining the Features of GAF Timberline Solar Energy Shingles: Colors, Installation, and Affordability


It was important for GAF to get their certified contractors on board with installing the new integrated solar shingles. They needed to make 3 things happen while developing the new shingles. Their contractors agreed to the solar shingles needing to meet these requirements:roofer nailing the new GAF solar energy shingle


  1. Be affordable to consumers with competitive pricing

  2. Be easy to install and service

  3. Be better looking than the other products on the market


Here’s where we stand on affordability. 

Assessing the Affordability of GAF Solar Shingles in Comparison to Traditional Solar Panels


Solar Energy Industries Association or SEIA reports the national average price of solar is $2.94 per watt for solar panels. For a 5kw system that would equate to $11,000. 

graph showing an increase in savings

GAF’s solar shingle is coming in at around 2.50 per watt. This can vary depending on all the different factors that go into a roof replacement. As a GAF Master Elite Contractor, that's a definite yes to affordable and competitive!

Ease of installation


The average time from start to completion won’t change much when installing solar shingles. An average size home can typically be done in 1 to 3 days depending on the complexity of the roof.

roofers nailing GAF solar shingles to a new roof


GAF has done a great job making the connections and installation of the solar shingles easy. Because the new solar shingles are installed by nailing them to the decking like shingles. Since adding installing a 10 x 10 array of solar shingles will only add around 30 minutes. This helps keep the labor cost down too.

roofer connecting solar energy shingles

The roof installers don't do the electrical work either. The electrical work gets done by certified electricians after the roof is completed. Another yes for us!

Exploring Color Options for GAF Timberline Solar Shingles


GAF has launched the Timberline Solar ES using 4 of their most popular Timberline shingle colors.

  1. Charcoal
  2. Birchwood
  3. Pewter Gray
  4. Weathered Wood

We did mention at the beginning as a GAF Master Elite Contractor that we were going to be a little biased! And with that, we’ll leave the last one mentioned above up to you. Is it a better-looking product than others on the market? 

GAF solar energy shingle arrays on a 2 story brick housePhoto credit; GAF Energy 

Understanding the Benefits and Costs of GAF Timberline Solar ES


Choosing the GAF Timberline Solar ES for your roofing needs presents a blend of benefits that extend beyond mere aesthetics. This new roofing solution meets energy needs and saves money.

Graph of return on investment through energy savings going with solar shingles

Here are the top six reasons why the Timberline Solar ES roof stands out as a beneficial investment:

  1. Substantially reduce your monthly energy bill 

  2. Offset the cost of your roof with electrical savings 

  3. Foster energy independence 

  4. Increase the value of your home by as much as 4%

  5. Reduce greenhouse emissions and your carbon footprint through clean energy production

  6. 25-year warranty from one source.

Well, by now you know the most affordable time to go with the new solar shingle is when you need a new roof. You can easily turn two big home improvement projects into one. And offset the cost of the roof with your utility savings and the incentives. You'll be protected with a 25-year warranty for your roof and solar.

Graph showing solar max and solar plus warranties

What’s it going to cost to produce your power and turn your roof into an energy-producing asset? We can't give you an exact price for a roof without knowing all the many factors that go into calculating the cost. Factors such as the square footage of the roof, average yearly power consumption, and square feet of roof on sun-facing slopes, just to name a few.

birds eye view of house with sun facing roof slopes

But we can tell you that an architectural shingle roof that would cost you around $15,000 would cost around $30,000 adding the new solar shingles before any incentives. Applying only the 26% Federal tax credit would mean that the GAF Timberline solar energy shingles roof would run you around $23,000. Not bad to produce your energy, huh? 

Moving Forward with Your Solar Roofing Decision


Now, you have explored GAF Timberline Solar Energy Shingles. With this important knowledge, you can determine if this modern roofing option suits your requirements. If these solar shingles align with your goals, the next step is to connect with a reputable local contractor to kickstart your project.

RoofCrafters has devoted 30 years to providing excellent roofing services. We serve the southeast region. Our commitment extends beyond installation. We offer manufacturer-backed lifetime warranties to safeguard your investment. The introduction of an affordable solar shingle option excites us. We're eager to help you transform your roof into a valuable asset that produces clean energy.

 GAF is launching the new Timberline Solar ES state by state in phases. If you are considering a new solar shingle roof and want to be first on the list as it becomes available in your state. You can submit your information below and we will contact you to discuss your solar goals as soon as your market is open.

Nicole Corson

At RoofCrafters, our mission is to provide job opportunities for others to thrive and grow while making a meaningful impact within our communities.