Need to replace your home’s roof? It might also be an excellent time to consider solar energy installation. Solar energy is eco-friendly, and it may also save you money on your electric bill.

Traditional and integrated solar roofs are the two most common varieties. Traditional solar roofing is likely what comes to mind when you think about solar panels: large racks put on the roof. This type of system is suitable, but there is now a newer, superior option in the shape of integrated solar.

Integrated solar roofs are simple to install, offers superior roof protection, and has a more appealing appearance.

GAF Integrated Solar Roofs Solar Roofs

Integrated Solar Roofs: GAF DecoTech

Solar panels integrated into the roofing system are referred to as integrated solar roofing. While a rack system separate from the roof is used to install a typical solar panel system, the GAF DecoTech system is direct-to-deck, which means it’s integrated into the roofing system.

Integrated solar systems are just as efficient as a standard installation. GAF DecoTech uses highly efficient photovoltaic panels. The system can help you save money on power, and the savings will eventually pay for the system as well as your new roof.

​​DecoTech vs Other Solar Options

GAF’s solar system provides a sleek energy solution, but it may not be the perfect fit for every home. Here’s how it stacks up against regular solar panels, alternative solar shingles from companies like SunTegra and CertainTeed, and new solar roofing solutions from Tesla and Forward Labs.

Performance and Efficiency

DecoTech panels are made of the same photovoltaic (PV) cells as other solar panels. They have a 17 percent efficiency, which is comparable to traditional solar panels.

DecoTech’s panels outperform solar shingle solutions in terms of efficiency. SunTegra shingles have efficiency ratings ranging from 13.9 percent to 15.9%, whereas CertainTeed shingles have efficiency ratings ranging from 14.7 percent to 15.3 percent.

It’s worth noting, though, that this isn’t always the result of a lower-quality product. The reduced efficiency of solar shingles is due to the lack of air circulating beneath the solar cells to cool them in building-integrated solar panels. Solar panels, like any other electronic device, can overheat. While this kind of installation creates a seamless appearance, it also produces less electricity.

Integrated Solar Roofs by GAF


A typical solar panel installation takes only a few hours to complete because the procedure is straightforward. Solar panel workers install the brackets and mounting system, then attach the solar panels to the structure.

The GAF DecoTech solar roofing system requires a more complicated technique. A roofing company installs the solar system in conjunction with a new roof. The advantage is the streamlined process allows for roof and solar panels to go up at once. However, it is obviously more complicated than installing a roof alone.

Roof Integrity

Traditional solar systems use racking systems attached to the roof with bolts. If the bolts aren’t correctly sealed, it can create leaks. An integrated system reduces the risk of roof damage and leaks.

Animals and birds often create nests in solar racking systems. Animals cannot do this in a DecoTech system because the integrated design has a smaller profile. The panel’s flashing also protects the roof from wind or water damage.

Curb Appeal

If installing a hidden solar power system is your primary concern, Tesla and Forward Labs are the only true “solar roof” with solar cells that are invisible from ground level.

The DecoTech solar roof system is similar aesthetically to a traditional solar panel system, although it does have a lower profile.


​​GAF has a nationwide network of installers as part of the largest roofing producer in North America. It is true that not all of GAF’s workers are trained to install DecoTech systems, but the size of the network gives GAF a clear advantage over alternative solar roofing solutions.

SunTegra solar roof alternatives, for example, are only accessible “in certain parts of the United States, Canada, and Mexico,” namely California and New Jersey. Tesla’s solar roof and Forward Labs’ systems are currently only available in a few California test areas, with no indication of when they will be offered elsewhere in the country.

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If you are interested in solar energy, DecoTech’s solar roofing option can be a good compromise between an aesthetically beautiful, expensive solar roof and a regular solar panel system. However, DecoTech’s advantages come at a cost, and a basic solar panel system is often a far more cost-effective solution for your home — unless you are also in the market for a new roof.

Comparing all of your alternatives, whether it’s a solar roof, solar shingles, or ordinary rooftop panels, will help you figure out each solar option’s relative costs and benefits. It may be a good idea to get custom quotes for each option with a local installer so you can really compare apples to apples.