Complete guide to the Tesla Solar Roof: is it better than installing solar panels?
Tesla and SolarCity announced the launch of the Tesla Solar Roof in 2016 with the expectation that it would become the solar system of the future. Fast-forward six years, and people are still confused about what exactly it is and how much it costs.
The confusion is warranted. Tesla changes their minds about the Solar Roof more often than Elon Musk tweets.
We’re removing the mysterious veil that hangs over the Tesla Solar Roof and explaining everything from how it works and how much it costs to whether or not it’s even worth buying.
Find out how much a solar system would cost for your specific home
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Tesla Solar Roof at a glance:
- The Tesla Solar Roof integrates solar panels into regular roof shingles so homeowners can generate solar power on their roofs without having to worry about the look of their home being tainted by solar panels.
- A 6.14 kW Solar Roof will cost a total of about 51,000 before incentives for an average-sized roof, but the price can vary depending on the roof’s complexity.
- Tesla estimates that a 6.14 kW Solar Roof will cost a total between 39,800 and 48,700 before incentives for an average-sized roof, depending on its complexity.
- Tesla charges somewhere around 20 per square foot of total roof space for non-solar roofing materials, but the final rate will vary depending on your roof’s pitch, how many obstructions there are, and how many mountain planes your roof has.
- Tesla charges between 13.30 and 18.54 per square foot for non-solar roofing materials.
- While the Solar Roof looks nice, it won’t give you as much savings as traditional solar panels, and you have to deal with Tesla’s unreliable service for 25 years.
What is the Tesla Solar Roof?
One of the biggest issues homeowners have with solar panels is how they look. As a response, in 2016, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced Tesla Energy’s new product. the Tesla Solar Roof. on the set of the then-popular television series Desperate Housewives of all places (that should have given us some sort of indication that the Tesla roof was probably going to be all for show).
The Solar Roof was designed to function like photovoltaic solar panels while seamlessly integrating into a roof. This way, homeowners could still enjoy the benefits of solar energy, like electric bill savings and using clean energy, without having to sacrifice their home’s aesthetics.
In order to get a uniform look, a home’s entire roof is replaced with Tesla shingles. Not all of these shingles will generate electricity (we get into that a little later), but the whole roof will be covered in Tesla-brand shingles.
Tesla Solar Roofs generally include three pieces of equipment: active solar shingles, inactive shingles, and a Tesla solar inverter.
You can watch SolarReviews founder Andy Sendy give his expert opinion on the Tesla Solar Roof:
How much does a Tesla Solar Roof cost?
You can expect to spend anywhere from 35,000 to upwards of 70,000 for the installation of a Tesla Solar Roof. With that said, there’s a lot that goes into the cost, making it a bit complicated to figure out what exactly you’re being charged for and why.
And if we’re being honest, the way Tesla displays the pricing line items can be a bit tricky to navigate. That’s why we’ve broken down what factors influence the price and explain what exactly you’re paying for.
Breaking down the price of Tesla’s Solar Roof
Tesla Solar Roof systems are designed entirely with Tesla-exclusive equipment. The total cost of a Solar Roof installation consists of three main components:
Here’s the breakdown of how each one of these contributes to the final price:
Active solar shingles
Cost: 1.80 per watt
Tesla’s active solar shingles are tempered glass shingles that contain solar cells and generate electricity.
It costs about 1.80 per watt to install the active Solar Roof tiles. If you installed a 7 kilowatt (kW) Tesla Solar Roof, the active shingles alone would cost 12,600 before any incentives are considered. The bigger the solar system you need, the higher the total price will be.
Regular solar panels cost around 3.00 per watt on average, so the solar portion of the Tesla roof is technically cheaper than solar panels.
Each active shingle is 15” by 45” and is designed to have a similar look to slate shingles. Tesla’s solar shingles are 72 watts in size, meaning you’d need about five shingles to produce the same amount of power as one 370-watt solar panel.
Inactive shingles / non-Solar Roofing materials
Cost: About 20 per square foot of total roof space
The next portion of your Solar Roof cost is kind of a mashup of “general roofing materials” like underlayment and inactive shingles. When we say “inactive shingles”, we’re talking about all of the shingles on the roof that don’t produce electricity. The inactive shingles are designed to look just like the active solar shingles, so you can’t distinguish one from the other when they’re on your roof.
Tesla doesn’t provide the exact pricing for these roofing costs, and it can vary depending on how complex your roof is, how big your roof is, and the number of solar roofing tiles you have.
Tesla also doesn’t let you select the complexity of your roof on their estimator, so you can’t gauge exactly how they’re classifying your roof and what price they’re using for the estimate. Because of this, we give a ballpark figure of around 20 per square foot of total roof space, but it could be more or less.
Based on the average roof size of 1,700 square feet, you can expect the inactive shingles and roofing materials to cost around 34,000. The price you pay will depend on the size of your roof and how complex it is.
That’s quite a high price for a roof replacement. Typically, you can replace an asphalt shingle roof for around 7.00 per square foot. There are even metal roofing options that are cheaper than what Tesla’s charging. The roofing material might be so high because Tesla’s pushed some of the installation labor and materials that technically go with the active solar shingles onto the inactive materials to allow them to advertise a really low price per watt of solar.
What is roof complexity? Tesla looks at three things to determine how complex your roof is: The number of mountain planes, the pitch, and the number of obstructions like skylights and vents. The more mounting planes and obstructions, the more complex the roof is. If your roof has a steep pitch, it will also be considered more complex.
Cost: About 2.00 per square foot
Tesla also charges for the removal of your existing roofing material. For an average-sized roof, Tesla will charge you about 3,500 for the tear-off. The price may vary slightly.
This price is a little high for a roof tear off; asphalt shingles typically cost about 1 per square foot to remove and dispose of.
You might be able to skip the tear-off cost if your existing roof is made of 3-tab asphalt shingles that are less than 3/8 inches thick and are in good condition. If this is the case, the solar shingles can be installed right over the shingles already on your roof.
But other types of roofing materials like architectural asphalt shingles, cedar shakes, or concrete tiles need to be completely removed before Tesla can install their solar shingles.
Does the Tesla Solar Roof qualify for the federal solar tax credit? Yes! Costs associated with the active solar shingle portion of the roof qualify for the 30% solar tax credit. So, if your total roof installation is 40,000, but only 10,000 of it went towards the installation of the active shingles, the tax credit would only apply to that 10,000.
See what solar incentives and rebates you qualify for
How much does a Tesla Solar Roof cost compared to solar panels?
The total installation cost of a Tesla Solar Roof is going to be much higher than that of a traditional solar panel installation. However, the Tesla Solar Roof also includes a roof replacement. So, when you factor in the price of both a roof replacement and regular solar panels, the totals come out to be closer than you might expect.
The easiest way to compare these costs is with an example. Let’s say you own a home in Florida that has 1,700 square foot roof and uses about 12,100 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity in a year.
The Tesla Solar Roof, in this example, will cost 64,200 before incentives, whereas the conventional solar installation and roof replacement will cost 43,900.
To cover that electricity usage, Tesla recommends installing a 9.00 kW solar roof system that would cost 64,200 to install before incentives. Of that cost, 16,200 would be for active solar shingles, 3,500 would be to tear off your existing roof, and 44,500 would replace your roof.
Installing 9.00 kW of regular solar panels would cost about 25,200 before incentives. Tearing off your existing roof, assuming it was asphalt shingles, would cost just about 1,700. Replacing your asphalt shingles would cost around 17,000. That brings the total cost for a traditional roof replacement and solar installation to 43,900 before incentives.
For this example, you would save a little over 20,000 by going the traditional route as opposed to opting for the Solar Roof. Of course, there are a ton of factors that go into this, like what type of roofing material you’re using, your electricity usage, and the size of your roof.
Do you have to install a Tesla Powerwall with the Solar Roof?
Yes, you have to install a Tesla Powerwall battery with the Solar Roof. The cost of the Powerwall home battery will be included in the initial estimate you see on Tesla’s website.
If you do choose to install the Tesla Powerwall, it will cost an additional 11,500, but it will be covered by the federal tax credit.
Find out if solar battery storage is worth it where you live
How long does the Tesla Solar Roof last?
Tesla’s solar shingles are designed with durability in mind and have a Class 3 hail rating, the second-highest rating available, as well as the highest fire rating possible.
Plus, the Tesla Solar Roof is covered by a 25-year product warranty, a 25-year module warranty, and a 25-year weatherization warranty. So, just like traditional solar panels, you can expect the Tesla Solar Roof to last at least 25 years.
The 25-year product warranty exceeds solar industry standards, with most solar panels offering between 10 and 12-year product warranties. The 25-year module warranty covers the active solar shingles and gives you an idea of how much power the shingles will provide you as they age. This warranty falls right in line with solar industry standards. it’s not bad, but it’s nothing impressive either.
The weatherization warranty is designed to cover the ‘roofing’ aspect of the Solar Roof. Like most shingle warranties, it’s prorated, meaning how much is covered depends on how long you’ve had the roof. You can probably find shingle warranties out there that provide a little more coverage than Tesla’s, but it’s not horrible.
The Tesla Powerwall is covered by a separate 10-year warranty.
What size Tesla Solar Roof do you need?
The size of the Tesla Solar Roof you’ll need depends on your energy usage and where you live. The characteristics of your roof will also play a role in how much solar you’ll need.
The following table gives a rough estimate of how much homeowners in different states could pay for a Solar Roof in order to cover the average electric bill in that state:
|North Carolina||120||8.50 kW||52,800|
|New Jersey||110||7.70 kW||51,360|
Based on a 1,700 square foot roof before incentives and a roof replacement cost of 20 per square foot of total roof space. Includes roof tear-off.
How much can you save on electricity bills with the Tesla Solar Roof?
You can eliminate all or most of your monthly electricity bill with a Tesla Solar Roof, just like you can with solar panels. There may be some stipulations though, like what kind of net metering program your utility offers and the size of your roof.
Even though you can potentially get rid of your electricity bill, you also have to think about how much you’re saving compared to how much you paid for the system. Consider the example from earlier. the 6.14 kW Solar Roof in California, which would save you a little over 50,000 over its 25-year lifespan, which would just break even.
The traditional 5.55 kW solar system, on the other hand, would save you 64,000 over 25 years and have a payback period of around 5 years.
The Tesla Solar Roof payback period takes the entire installation into account, including the non-solar portion, because you have no choice but to get the entire roof replacement. But even if you looked at just the solar portion, the active shingles would break even after 7 years. 7 years is a great payback period, but it’s still longer than it would be if you just got regular solar panels.
Is the Tesla Solar Roof worth it?
We’re going to cut to the chase. for most homeowners, the Tesla Solar Roof isn’t a worthwhile investment. Installing traditional solar panels is going to be cheaper, no matter how you slice it. Even if you also need a new roof, Tesla’s roofing material and removal costs are so high that unless you were already planning on getting a premium roof installed, it’s going to be more expensive than it needs to be.
The Solar Roof can be a good option if you’re building a new, high-end home. The sleek design will match the aesthetics of modern homes, and those in the luxury market will probably like the idea of having a high-tech roof. Because costs for building new homes will already be high, the additional costs of the Solar Roof likely won’t break the budget.
Setting cost aside, we’re still not so sure the Solar Roof is the right way to go solar. Despite being introduced in 2016, Tesla didn’t start installing Solar Roofs until 2018, and it’s still unknown how many have actually been installed. From the numbers we’ve seen floating around, it doesn’t seem like the Solar Roof is a profitable product for Tesla, so we wouldn’t be surprised if they decided to stop selling it together.
Because there aren’t a ton of Solar Roofs out there (from what we know), we also can’t be sure how Tesla handles repairs and servicing of this product. If it’s anything like how Tesla Energy usually deals with customer service, though, it doesn’t seem promising. Tesla is notorious for having subpar customer service when it comes to its energy division. You can see for yourself in Tesla’s customer reviews here on SolarReviews.
People have reported waiting weeks to hear back from their Tesla advisors if there is an issue with their system. In mid-2020, Tesla started canceling Solar Roof preorders after homeowners had paid their deposits. claiming the sites weren’t within their service territory. And not long after, Tesla changed the of Solar Roof installations for homeowners who already signed contracts. If you can’t even trust that they’ll honor their contract. what can you trust them about?
The bottom line is even if the Tesla Solar Roof can seem like a competitive option for those looking to switch to solar in theory, in reality, it raises some pretty big red flags. Before you dive headfirst into a 50,000 deal with Tesla, you should consider getting quotes from solar installers in your area for conventional solar systems. You can even consider other solar shingle brands, like the new solar roof product from roofing giant GAF.
Reputable local solar installers will be able to provide you with a more personalized installation experience and will be there to support you for the 25-year lifespan of your system.
reasons why you should NOT get the Tesla solar roof
We know that Tesla sounds like it’s the most cutting-edge high-tech company on the planet, but it seems like CEO Elon Musk should FOCUS a little less on getting to Mars, and a little more on improving his company’s customer service here on Earth.
Even Musk has said it himself; Tesla made some pretty ‘significant mistakes’ when it came to the solar roof (also referred to as the Tesla solar shingles). It looks cool, sounds cool, but for most homeowners it’s not a practical decision to install.
It can be really hard to discern whether or not the Tesla solar roof is a worthwhile investment. Even in cases where it does come close to similar installations in terms of price, there are just too many compromises homeowners have to make when they go with the Tesla solar roof that we don’t think are worth it.
Check the cost of going solar in your area
The biggest drawback to the Tesla solar roof is the price. Unless you’re in the market for a total roof replacement and a solar panel installation, the solar roof makes absolutely no financial sense.
Even if you are looking for solar and a new roof, you can probably get a conventional roof replacement and solar-plus-storage system for less than if you went with the Tesla solar roof.
A Tesla solar roof uses two types of shingles to replace your existing roof. Active solar shingles that contain photovoltaic solar cells and generate electricity for your home, and inactive roof shingles that look like the photovoltaic shingles but do not generate electricity.
Technically speaking, the 1.80 per watt-price of the solar roof is cheaper than the average cost for solar, but that’s partially because Tesla is such a large company that they can take afford to take some losses on their price, and because they probably rolled some of the material and labor costs into the price of their roofing materials to make the solar appear cheaper.
Their roofing materials cost between 15.30 and 21.27 per square foot, depending on how complex your roof is. A traditional roof replacement for asphalt shingles would cost somewhere between 4.00 and 10.00 per square foot.
You can learn more about the difference in the costs of the Tesla solar roof and conventional solar installations in our in-depth article, Complete Guide to the Tesla Solar Roof.
See what local installers are charging for rooftop solar panels
You have no control over the design
When it comes to solar, Tesla’s big on the “one-size-fits-all” approach. While this does allow them to shave down some costs, it comes at the expense of homeowners.
For one thing, you don’t have a say in how your solar system is designed. This isn’t as big of a deal with the solar roof compared to a regular solar energy system because you don’t have to worry about aesthetics when you’re placing the solar shingles.
But say for example, in order to keep the installation costs down, you might not want to size the system to cover your entire electric bill. Or maybe you want the Powerwall batteries to be installed on the east side of your house instead of the west side where your patio is. You don’t really get to choose, Tesla does.
In fact, some homeowners have even reported that Tesla charged them 2,000 in order to request changes to their design plans. It does, however, seem to vary for every homeowner, as some didn’t report having the same charge applied to them.
Tesla hasn’t released any official performance specifications on their solar roof tiles, which in and of itself is a red flag. But, from what’s circulated on the internet, they seem to be about 18% efficient, which falls in line with traditional solar panels.
Despite having similar estimated efficiency ratings to that of conventional solar panels, they don’t perform as well because they are attached flush to your roof. Conventional solar panels are mounted on racking, and can be installed at an ideal angle to maximize solar production.
The solar shingles just go against your roof, so the angle they sit at is predetermined and can’t be adjusted. This means you’ll likely need a bigger-sized solar shingle system to cover your electric bill than if you had installed a solar panel system, which, in turn, causes you to spend more.
For instance, you would need to install a 8.18 kW Tesla solar roof system to cover a 200 electric bill in California. You would only need about 5.71 kW of traditional solar panels to eliminate that same bill.
You can’t add more solar in the future
If you get your solar roof installed and realize you need more solar shingles to meet your energy needs, you’re out of luck.
Tesla will not expand the size of your solar roof system. what you get is what you got. With traditional solar panels, you can add more panels if you need more, provided you have the roof space.
Tesla is notorious for having poor long-term customer service when it comes to its solar department. People have waited weeks to hear back from service representatives when they’ve had questions or issues with their solar roof installations. This isn’t always the case of course, but based on what we’ve seen, it seems to be more common than not.
It’s not just the company’s customer service though, the whole solar operation is unreliable. We already mentioned that they don’t provide technical specs for their solar shingles, and the lack of transparency is honestly concerning.
Not to mention, Tesla had made claims of new solar roof products (like a clay version of the shingles that were supposed to be made available all the way back in 2017) and never delivered.
Tesla is also constantly changing their pricing structure for the solar roof, making it difficult to discern what you’re actually paying for and at what rate. While changing isn’t a huge issue, we drew the line when the company instituted price increases for homeowners who already signed contracts.
Yep, you read that right. Homeowners who already signed contracts for their solar roof installations received news that the would be changing, and in some cases the costs increased by more than 75% of their original contracted price. Five months and a class action lawsuit later, Tesla finally agreed to honor original contract pricing for solar roof projects, but it left a sour taste in our mouth.
How to switch to solar. without Tesla
It’s really tempting to go solar with Tesla. Their solar roof looks awesome and their solar panels cost way less than what most other solar companies are charging. But when you take that low (initial) price, you’re compromising on things like installation quality, customer service, and design freedom.
At SolarReviews, we strongly recommend going solar with a reputable, local solar installation company when you’re looking to switch to solar power, even if it is a little more expensive than Tesla. These companies will take the time to understand your unique situation and find solutions tailored to your needs during the installation process. And you can trust that down the line, they’ll have your back.
You can get started with your journey to going solar by using our state-of-the-art solar panel calculator that gives you accurate solar savings and production estimates for your specific home.
Solar Panels vs. Tesla Solar Roof: The Key Differences
It’s pretty obvious when you have solar panels. Less so if you have Tesla’s Solar Roof. But there’s a price to pay for that sleek design.
When you think of solar power systems. you probably imagine the classic solar array : some black panels that point toward the sky and absorb the energy of the sun’s light and convert it into usable electricity. But if you look closely at the roofs of some houses, you might notice a surprise.
In 2016, Tesla.- yes, that Tesla.- introduced something novel. Instead of solar panels that sit in your front yard or stand out on the roof, Tesla decided to turn every shingle into a solar panel. The Tesla Solar Roof replaces an existing roof and captures sunlight to help power your home in a clean and streamlined manner.
There are some significant downsides, namely that the Tesla Solar Roof is quite expensive. (Tesla does not operate a public relations department to field requests for comment.)
Can solar panels save you money?
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For homeowners interested in solar energy, that creates the ultimate question: Should you go with the standard solar panel system or try the less intrusive.- but pricey.- Tesla Solar Roof? To help you with your buying questions, I have compiled the biggest differences between the two solar options below.
Solar panels should be relatively familiar by now, as they have been gaining popularity and have become more affordable in recent years. An array can be located on your roof or set to stand in your yard, depending on what works best for you. While there are a variety of different brands and types of panels, they all offer a clean energy alternative to fossil fuel sources like coal or natural gas. These panels can be expensive, and some are more difficult to install than others. But for the most part, you can expect cheaper energy bills, a smaller carbon footprint and increased property value.
Tesla Solar Roof
Instead of using panels, the Tesla Solar Roof turns your entire roof into your solar array. The Tesla solar roof uses tempered glass panels that replace your standard shingles, providing the same protection you’d expect from a traditional roof while also capturing solar energy. The Tesla Solar Roof is novel, but less proven and harder to transfer to another home if you move because they are custom made for each roof.
Solar panels or a Tesla Solar Roof?
Price is a tricky thing when it comes to solar systems, as a lot of it is going to be dependent on what your house and property is capable of supporting. There is the cost of solar panels, the infrastructure needed to support them, the installation costs.- and you have to account for the actual capacity of the system. In both cases, you can get tax credits and other incentives for installing these systems, so that will help to ease the price somewhat. Research suggests solar panels cost between 15,000 to 25,000 to buy and install.
Can solar panels save you money?
Interested in understanding the impact solar can have on your home? Enter some basic information below, and we’ll instantly provide a free estimate of your energy savings.
For the sake of simplicity: conventional solar panels are cheaper than the Tesla solar roof in terms of the overall cost. Tesla has also had some challenges keeping the price down for its solar roof system, which has been a point of issue for some people. Price estimates suggest can scale from 30,000 to 75,000, with some people reporting installation costs as high as 100,000.
The installation process for solar energy systems can be complicated. In general, traditional solar panels are easier because they can be installed in different places depending on the layout of your property.- either on your roof or on the ground. The Tesla Solar Roof can only be installed on your roof, obviously, and is a bit more of a to-do since it requires replacing your entire roof. There are fewer contractors familiar with the Tesla solar roof system than conventional panels, so this can create challenges in finding a capable installer.
Solar power capabilities
Both the Tesla Solar Roof and traditional solar panels will have a similar ability to meet your power needs, although your ability to scale your solar power system to your electricity needs might be more limited with the Tesla Solar Roof compared to panels. It will likely be easier to expand a setup with traditional solar panels in the future if you find your electricity needs have increased.
Mobility and longevity
One downside of the Tesla Solar Roof is the fact that it really can’t move with you. Because it is custom-fit to the roof of your home, you can’t pack it up and install it on another home. Conventional solar panels offer a bit more flexibility here, as you could potentially take your solar system with you.- though you may want to leave it to benefit from the boost in property value that they provide.
Winner for most: Solar panels
For now, conventional solar panels are the safer bet if you are looking to make the switch to solar power. They are a proven product. They are also typically cheaper and offer a bit more flexibility in terms of how you install them.
Tesla’s Solar Roof shows a lot of promise, but the custom tiles can be cost-prohibitive and early troubles with the product make it hard to recommend at this stage. Future versions of the Tesla Solar Roof may improve and make good on the promising concept. For now, stick with what works so you can save on your energy bill and shrink your carbon footprint.
Tesla has started testing v3.5 of Solar Roof on employees’ homes
Tesla is giving their employees access to their latest solar roof product, version 3.5 to help test it before it does a wider launch later this year.
It’s unclear as to what exactly the new features are in version 3.5, but the FOCUS seems to be on durability and ease of installation. If implementations on employees’ roofs go well, we’ll most likely see an introduction of the new Solar Roof at the end of this year when they begin installations.
The company has gone through a few different versions of the solar roof over the years, with Solar Roof version 3 launching in 2019. CEO Elon Musk stated that Tesla was aiming to produce 1,000 new Solar Roofs per week by the end of 2019.
According to Electrek, Tesla halted scheduling solar roof installations across most markets in the US. This is allegedly due to high cost, and issues with the roof tiles. Third-party companies, however, were able to continue installing Solar Roof.
During the second quarter of 2022, Tesla installed 23 roofs per week or 2.5 MW, short of their intended goal. It’s possible Tesla was waiting for the newer version of the roof tiles before resuming installations.
Until recently, it was difficult to gauge how many Solar Roof installations took place because Tesla bundled the number of installations with its solar panel retrofits, which are much more popular due to their cheaper cost.
As Tesla prepares to resume Solar Roof installations in the fourth quarter of this year, we anticipate that this new iteration of the product will simplify installation, reduce costs, and increase the product’s reliability.
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Tesla’s NACS Connector Standardization: SAE Takes the Wheel, Volvo Joins the Race
In a significant move for the EV industry, SAE International, formerly the Society of Automotive Engineers, is to set performance standards for Tesla’s NACS (North American Charging Standard) connector.
To expand the compatibility of the proprietary charger network beyond Tesla vehicles, this move has the potential to redraw the boundaries of the EV charging ecosystem. Until now, Tesla’s exclusive NACS connector was engineered for its global Supercharger network, consisting of approximately 17,800 Superchargers in the US alone.
SAE’s Role in Ensuring Standardization and Compatibility
In response to the significant shift towards NACS, SAE has decided to set the stage for this connector’s future. The standards proposed by SAE will dictate how the plugs interface with charging stations, establish charging speeds, and set requirements for reliability and cybersecurity. Although the decision seems to potentially mark the end of the road for new CCS1 charger plugs, the thousands of existing CCS-enabled EVs guarantee this design won’t disappear soon.
A spokesperson for SAE has clarified that the organization is not choosing the NACS connector over CCS but responding to its widespread adoption. The goal is to ensure that the most popular charging system is standardized and compatible with a wide range of EVs.
Consumer Demand Drives Major Shift in Charging Standards
Interestingly, the transition toward standardizing the NACS connector appears to be primarily consumer-driven. The number of NACS-equipped vehicles on the road significantly outweighs those with CCS connectors, nearly two to one. Given the technical challenges and infrastructure issues encountered by alternative charging networks such as Electrify America, ChargePoint, and EVgo, it’s no wonder that most EV owners favor Tesla’s reliable Supercharger network.
Reacting to this trend, major automakers, including Ford and GM, have announced their plans to align with Tesla’s charging system by manufacturing EVs equipped with NACS connectors. This week, Volvo made a similar announcement, signing an agreement to join Tesla’s Supercharger network starting in 2025. It’s important to note that while automakers won’t be charged a licensing fee for adopting NACS, EV owners will still have to pay to use Tesla’s charging stations.
This new chapter in the EV charging story signifies a more unified future that is not just about driving electric vehicles but about making electric driving more accessible to all.
Tesla Solar Roof: Everything You Need to Know
Elon Musk and the Tesla Solar program released the heavily-anticipated solar roof. The release of the solar roof also prompted a complete overhaul of the Tesla website; which you can now read up on information about the solar roof as well as place a 1,000 deposit to claim your solar roof.
Unfortunately, the unveiling of Tesla’s solar roof left us with a plethora of unanswered questions. Our preliminary findings were that the Tesla solar tiles were more expensive than expected and quite overpriced.
Besides the solar roof cost, however, there are still numerous other questions that need to be addressed:
- Solar Roof Cost vs. Solar Panels Cost
- How Does the Tesla Solar Roof Work with the Federal Solar Tax Credit?
- Solar Roof Efficiency vs. Solar Panel Efficiency
- How Much Do Tesla Solar Tile’s Weigh?
- Can the Tesla Solar Roof Work with a Flat Roof?
- Solar Roof Durability vs. Solar Panel Durability
- Who Should Buy a Solar Roof?
In our comprehensive analysis of the Tesla Solar Roof, we will give in-depth breakdowns of all the topics above. While Elon Musk and Tesla have been historically successful with product releases, the history of solar tile technology has not. This product is the biggest test for Tesla to date, and the fate of this new solar product is still up for debate.
Solar Roof Cost vs. Solar Panels Cost
When determining the value of the solar roof for you and your home, you need to take into consideration your roof size as well as your monthly electric bill amount. The higher your bill, the greater your electricity consumption, which in turn will mean you will require a greater number of solar tiles on your roof relative to non-solar tiles.
To help you understand the potential value of the solar roof Tesla created a calculator to show upfront estimates for their roof. The calculator is fun to play around with but it doesn’t take certain factors into consideration that would provide an actual comparison to the value of standard solar panels.
Tesla has said in the past that they “believe in transparency and putting the customer in control.” While this may be the case, it seems odd that the calculator doesn’t show you power ratings for the solar tiles. All it shows is total system cost and the ratio of non-solar tiles to solar tiles necessary to offset your monthly electric bill.
We will provide you with everything you need including required system size, all you need to do is register here.
Based off of your address we will show you:
- Usable sunlight hours per year
- Proper system size
- Yearly savings
- The increase in the value of your home
Equivalent trees planted from switching to solar Once you figure out the necessary system size for the Tesla Solar Roof you can then determine your Price Per Watt (PPW); this is a key number to have when comparing the cost of solar systems.
- Multiply your roof square footage by the percentage of the solar tiles
- Then multiply this number by 42 (the cost of a solar tile)
- Finally, divide by the number of watts
Using these calculations, the cost of the solar portion of Tesla’s Solar Roof comes out to 6.30/watt. With this number, there is a /- of about 0.50/watt since the Tesla solar calculator uses 10% increments.
These solar tile costs are approximately double the cost of some already available solar options. That leaves the big question of whether or not the aesthetics of a solar roof is worth an extra 25,000-35,000: a Tesla Solar Roof also requires an entire roof replacement.
So if you think the aesthetics of a solar roof is worth an extra 30,000 or so and you are ready for a roof replacement, you may want to consider visiting the Tesla website to put down your 1,000 deposit.
How Does the Tesla Solar Roof Work with the Federal Solar Tax Credit?
When it comes to the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Tesla claims it can be applied to their entire solar roof and their home storage battery the Powerwall. This is not necessarily the case. The issue here is that this type of solar technology doesn’t fit into the structure of the current ITC. For this to change, a special appeal process is necessary to decide which parts of the solar roof fall under the ITC.
This all depends on how the IRS decides to view Tesla’s new solar roof. If they determine the non-solar tiles are “so specifically engineered that it is in essence part of the machinery or equipment with which it functions,” then the entire roof will fall under the federal solar tax credit.
Determining the solar roof and its impact on the ITC will certainly be a lengthy process. As customer service advocates at Pick My Solar, we can only hope that Tesla will take care of the entire process for their homeowners.
The federal solar tax credit, however, is going to start scaling down at the beginning of 2020 and be completely phased out in 2022. When taking into consideration the buying and installation process of the newly released solar roof, a large number of homeowners may miss out on the chance to claim the federal solar tax credit.
“Taking pre-orders for this unproven technology will undeniably have a negative impact on the adoption of solar,” says Solar.com CEO Max Aram, “By leveraging Tesla’s sexy brand Elon Musk can lure a few thousand homeowners off the solar market. Many of these homeowners may never get their system turned on before the expiration of the Federal Tax Credit. The difference between Solar Roof and Model 3 is that Tesla has already proven they can manufacture great cars and Model 3 is coming at an affordable price point. With solar roofs, he hasn’t proven either.”
Solar Roof Efficiency vs. Solar Panel Efficiency
The brand new solar roof will be entirely manufactured in the United States. Tesla plans to manufacture all of their solar tiles at their Buffalo facilities using solar cells provided by their partner, Panasonic. Peter Rive, the CTO at SolarCity had previously claimed the efficiency of one of their solar tiles was equivalent to a standard panel. However, according to SolarCity’s website the colored film of the solar tile “allows the cells to blend into the roof while minimizing solar efficiency loss.” While it appears this would mean the efficiency of solar tiles would be lower than those of solar panel, this isn’t necessarily the case.
Currently, Panasonic’s N3300 HIT modules have an efficiency of 19.7%. The have developed solar cells as efficient as 23.5% in their labs. The solar industry average for solar panels is approximately 16%, while Pick My Solar’s installers come in at around 19.5%. So even if the colored film of the solar tiles lessens the efficiency by a few percentage points, the solar tiles efficiency still may be equivalent to that of standard solar modules.
When it comes to the efficiency of Tesla’s solar roof in comparison to standard solar panels, there is no clear cut winner. Just make sure that if your home is very limited in regards to roof space, you go with the highest efficiency module possible to power your home.
How Much Do Tesla Solar Tile’s Weigh?
Per Tesla, their new solar tiles will be approximately half the weight of a standard roof tile. This is a hard claim to make without defining the “standard roof tile” being used in this statement.
To understand the range of tile weights, let’s look at this:
- Concrete Tiles – between 9.5 – 12 lbs. per square foot
- Asphalt Shingles – between 2.5 – 4 lbs. per square foot
- Spanish Tiles – between 6 – 19 lbs. per square foot
- Slate Tiles – between 7-10 lbs. per square foot
Our approximation when taking all of the solar tiles components into consideration is that the tiles will weigh about 15 – 20 lbs. This is a rough estimate due to Tesla’s ambiguity when discussing the weight of their solar tiles.
We reached out to one of our excellent roofing partners, Chandler’s Roofing, to get their perspective on Tesla’s new solar product;
“Aesthetically the Solar Roof is beautiful, but we’ll need to wait and see how Tesla will resolve taking it to market,” says Trevor Leeds, President of Chandler’s Roofing, “Roofing is a different animal than solar. There are different variables that have to be considered like waterproofing and the roof-attachment method. Compliance codes for roofing are also much different than solar. Will Tesla figure out how to be a national roofing contractor? Is Tesla looking to assume this liability and overhead? All of these unknowns will need to be worked out.”
Can the Tesla Solar Roof Work with a Flat Roof?
Unfortunately for homeowners with flat roofs, the Tesla Solar Roof will not be an option for you and your home. The minimum roof pitch eligible for a solar roof installation is 3:12 (or 14 degrees). This puts the Tesla solar roof at a disadvantage considering solar panels can work on all roof types. All it takes for solar panels to be effective on flat roofs is a tilted racking system.
Solar aside, tiling is not recommended for flat roofs due to leaking potential. This is a very real risk considering the wiring components located inside the solar tiles.
Solar Roof Durability vs. Solar Panel Durability
Tesla is extremely confident in the durability of its solar roof. Elon Musk has stated that the Tesla Solar Roof has an “infinity warranty” or for the lifetime of your home, whichever comes first. While the durability of the new solar tiles has not been successfully field testing, there are videos online of the Tesla Solar team launching hail and other heavy objects at the solar tiles to show their durability. Based on a video recorded in a Tesla owned factory, it seems the solar tiles are stronger than a tempered-glass solar panel.
Standard solar panels, however, are usually warrantied by the manufacturer for 25 years and the panels typically will last longer than the warranty. The expected lifetime of solar panels has also been field tested, unlike the solar roof.
The biggest question here is what is going to happen when solar tiles start degrading and losing their efficiency? When solar panels need to be replaced or corrected (which is rare) it is a pretty simple replacement. But what happens when there are solar tile problems? How much of the roof is going to have to be replaced? It seems that making any corrections to a Tesla Solar Roof is going to be very expensive and labor-intensive.
Who Should Buy a Solar Roof?
The initial appeal of the Tesla Solar Roof will target the wealthy, tech-savvy homeowner with a passion for renewable energy. Due to the solar roof cost, the purchaser of a solar roof will have a deep passion for aesthetics.
There is certainly a risk-reward aspect of being one of the first owners of a Tesla Solar Roof. The reward is obviously being able to be one of the first owners of this beautiful technology. The risk is the same. Being the owner of the first version of anything comes with the risk of having to be patient while kinks are worked out.
If you want to be an owner of the Tesla Solar Roof you will need a large amount of expendable cash and an even larger amount of patience as it could take years for the solar roofs to get installed.
There is no doubt that the new Tesla Solar Roof has brought excitement into the solar industry and with manufacturers recently going out of business, maybe the timing was perfect. With the buzz surrounding the new solar roof in full effect, even Elon Musk admitted the solar roof would have some tough challenges in the years ahead. So even with its beauty and PR buzz, we will have to wait and see what the future holds for Tesla’s solar roof.
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