Can I install solar PV slates or tiles that look similar to my existing roof?

A number of companies produce solar tiles or slates, designed to have similar dimensions to flat slate tiles and so suitable for integration into this type of roofing.

However, many of these do not have the visual appearance of slate - the solar tiles will still have a blueish and/or crystalline surface.

Bear in mind also that many types of solar panel can be fitted as an 'integrated' solar roof - with the panels flush to the tiles. If you need to reroof anyway, or are building a new home, putting in an integrated roof will save on tiling costs. As long as you get the PV system installed by an accredited installer (which you can find on our solar PV installer page) you will receive the Feed in Tariffs (click here for more details).

It is also important to ensure that any integrated array - whether tiles or panels - has adequate ventilation to avoid overheating. Read more here about ventilation of roof-integrated arrays. Even with these ventilation measures, an integrated roof is likely to have an lower output that an equivalent non-integrated roof.

As solar tiles will still look different to slates or tiles, they may not be any easier to get planning permission for in situations such as a listed building, national park or conservation area. For those buildings it would be necessary to check first with the planning authority. For most homes, any kind of solar roof where the panels either form the roof or are mounted just above it (as most are) will be a 'permitted development', so planning permission is not needed.

The company Solar Century makes solar tiles/slates, and you can find other examples by going to the Microgeneration Scheme product listings and searching for solar PV products with the keyword 'slate' or 'tile' and following the links.

As with any solar system, do get a few quotes to compare. You can also check the quoted cost using our solar calculator, to see if it is in line with expected costs. With some solar slates or tiles, you may need to cover a greater roof space to get the same output. Installing a new renewable energy system is far more expensive per unit of energy saved than, for example, improving the energy efficiency of your house by installing extra insulation or draught-proofing - so do always take energy conservation measures first.

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