Thinking of getting a Tesla Solar Roof? Here’s everything you need to know
First launched in 2016, Elon Musk’s Solar Roof system has taken the photovoltaic (PV) world by storm. Tesla’s Solar Roof is not the only solar roof tiles on the market but is some of the most attractive and most expensive.
Solar tiles offer a completely different approach to solar PV installations, the final product is, inarguably, far superior in aesthetic terms to traditional solar PV installations, and seeks to add a cool factor to generating your own power.
While Tesla claims its Solar Roof is competitive in terms of providing a two-for-one solution (you do get a new roof after all), ultimately, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
So, is Tesla’s Solar Roof all it’s cracked up to be? Let’s take an honest look.
What is Tesla’s Solar Roof?
Tesla’s Solar Roof, like other solar roof tiles, is an innovative system of specially engineered roofing tiles or shingles. Unlike conventional solar PV panels that are mounted onto an existing roof, a solar roof acts as a direct replacement for existing roof coverings.
The system allows potential customers to benefit from generating their own power without unduly affecting the aesthetics of their homes. Win-win.
Tesla’s Solar Roof consists of two main types of textured glass tile shingles. The first is purely decorative and is termed inactive. These look exactly the same as the second kind, called Active, to ensure a uniform look of the finished roof.
The Active shingles are effectively small, shingle-sized solar panels that are integrated into the main roof surface in strategic places to maximize their efficiency. In most cases, most of the south or west-facing areas of a roof will consist of Active shingles, with the rest of the surface consisting of the visually similar Inactive shingles.
Active shingles, like conventional solar panels, will also be fitted as close to the best angle of incidence to the Sun’s rays throughout the year. In the northern hemisphere, this is as close to a 60 degrees inclination as possible, which, on most domestic homes is around 30-45 degrees, depending on the pitch of your existing roof.
Of course, if you choose to install a Solar Roof, your old roof will need to be stripped and replaced in totality.
The system can also be used with a Tesla Solar Inverter to convert the direct current generated by the shingles to useable alternating current in your home. While non-Tesla inverters can also be used, the use of Tesla’s own proprietary equipment ensures the systems will run with fewer potential snags.
This inverter also enables you to tag on a Tesla Powerwall battery to store excess energy, if desired.
The system was developed in a collaboration between Tesla and its subsidiary SolarCity and was first announced in 2016. It wasn’t until 2018 that Tesla and SolarCity were in a position to begin the manufacture and delivery of their first Solar Roofs, however.
Since then, Tesla has continued to make improvements to the technology, with its latest variant, Solar Roof V3, boasting the best efficiency and durability to date. The product comes with a generous 25-year weatherization warranty.
Great, but what are some of the downsides? One is whether Tesla actually serves your geographical area.
For the most part, Tesla should be able to provide an installation in most of the continental United States. However, in some states, they may use authorized installers to do so.
The same is true for other parts of the world, with the rollout continuing around the world. If you are interested in finding out if they serve your area, the best thing to do is contact Tesla, or try to get a quote, and they will tell you.
How much does a Tesla solar roof cost?
According to data from actual Tesla quotes, their Solar Wall system costs approximately 1.80 per generated watt of electricity for their Active shingles. The cost of their Inactive shingles then varies depending on the complexity of the roof in question.
For simple roofs, i.e., basic pitched roofs start at around 13.30 per square foot. For more tricky roofs like hipped roofs or multiple-level roofs, these shingles should cost about 15.30 per square foot. For more complex roofs (i.e. cross-gabled, steep or variable pitched, multiple heights, or lots of obstacles), costs could be as high as 18.54 per square foot.
You will also be charged for the removal and disposal of your old roof at a rate of around 3.55 per square foot.
Just like any solar energy installation, the actual cost will vary depending on the size of roof coverage, location, and construction of the building. Smaller pitched roofs on a single-story home will be considerably cheaper than a large complex roof on a multi-story building, for example.
This is for a variety of reasons, but chief among them are additional costs for access equipment to higher roofs or increased time in labor to design and install the roof on larger and more complex roofs like cross-gabled roofs.
Tesla may also require customers to upgrade their electrical systems in order to actually work with their Solar Roof system. Upgrading elements like electrical panels can cost anywhere in the region of 5,000 and up.
However, to give you a rough estimate, using Tesla’s own calculator, a good-sized family home would cost around 70,000 dollars to install an 8.05 kW system before tax incentives. This quote is based on a home in Nashville, Texas, with a floor area of 2,500 feet 2 (232 m 2 ) and using an average monthly energy bill of 115 (this was the U.S. average in 2019, according to the EIA).
This, according to Tesla’s estimates, should be able to produce for this hypothetical home, somewhere in the order of 12,800 kWh/year, or roughly 100% of the building’s electrical energy consumption. You also get the added bonus (for additional cost) of energy storage with this system, which is a considerable advantage over some conventional domestic solar panel arrays.
If this estimate is accurate, that should provide a payback period (the time taken to recover your initial investment) of about 50 years, give or take. This will likely be closer to 40 years after tax incentives are factored in to reduce your initial capital outlay.
Another estimate for a 1,700 ft 2 (158m 2 ) roof in California with an electrical bill of 150 per month came in at 39,000 before incentives for a 6.13-kilowatt system. It should be noted that this quote was generated in 2022 and for a different state, so costs likely vary for that reason.
You should also remember that energy costs from the grid are likely to rise over time, so the true payback will likely be much shorter, ignoring any maintenance and cleaning costs of course.
We’ve chosen this square footage as it is about the average size of a new family home in the United States.
To put that into perspective, installing a similarly sized conventional solar panel array would cost around 26,000 before incentives. Using the same statistics as above would give you an equitable payback of between 15 and 22 years, depending on tax incentives.
However, remember that the estimated lifespan of conventional solar panels is also roughly 25 to 30 years, so you would probably need to replace the array after a few decades.
It should be noted, however, that such estimates should be taken with a pinch of salt. The final figures will likely vary widely depending on where your home is located if you were to actually order an installation.
This is especially the case for conventional solar panel installations and you are always advised to source several quotes from recommended installers before authorizing any work.
Any and all costs for such installations should also include any planning and design work required prior to the installation. This will not only ensure the costings are as accurate as possible but also discover if your existing roof is appropriate for such an installation.
The latter is less relevant for Tesla solar roofs, as these tend to be a direct replacement for your existing roof covering.
You should also note that costs are likely to vary over time as labor, consumable, and material costs will fluctuate, given the current economic climate. There may be other costs, too, such as various local authority planning requirements, where relevant.
Solar panels vs. Tesla solar roof: which one is better?
Generally speaking, on a per watt average cost, Tesla’s Solar Roof is actually pretty reasonable, all things considered. According to some estimates, in the United States, Tesla’s come in at around 1.80 per watt. Traditional solar PV panels tend to cost around 3.00 per watt.
However, any direct comparison between the two is complicated by a few factors. The first is that Tesla’s Solar Roof is not just some PV solar panels but actually a new roof and some PV panels in one package.
Traditional solar PV panels are where your roof can handle it, simply mounted to an existing roof without needing to replace it. So, in order to provide a fair comparison, we’ll need to do a like-for-like summing up.
New solar roof emulates asphalt shingles, right down to the nails
- Tim De Chant
- 01/4/2022 7:17 pm
- Categories: Tech
reader Комментарии и мнения владельцев
A new solar technology introduced yesterday at CES could bring power-producing roofs mainstream by relying on an old building material—nails.
For years, homeowners who wanted solar power have stripped their old roofs of shingles, added new ones, and then slapped large solar panels on top using sturdy frames. It’s a model that works well, but it also creates a two-step process that engineers have been striving to simplify.
Plenty of companies have offered their own take on solar roofs, but so far, they’ve remained niche products. GAF Energy is hoping to change that with the Timberline Solar Energy Shingle that looks strikingly like typical asphalt shingles. But their key feature isn’t so much that they emulate the look of asphalt shingles, but that they’re installed in nearly the same way. Roofers can slap the flexible sheets down and nail the top strip to the roof, just like they do for traditional roofs.
By relying on the shingle installation process, GAF Energy is counting on the scale of the roofing industry to make solar more accessible. “The roofing ecosystem is 20–30 times larger than solar. In the United States, 200,000–300,000 people get a new solar system each year. Over 5 million get a new roof,” Martin DeBono, CEO of GAF Energy, told Ars. “Our innovation is you now have a nailable solar roof, which fits the way that the majority of roofs are installed.”
New spin on an old idea
The solar roof concept has been around for years, and so far the best known is Tesla’s. Their solar roofs are stylish and subtle, with power-producing shingles that are nearly indistinguishable from regular tiles. But despite several revisions, they remain challenging to install at a reasonable cost. Just this year, the company significantly increased the cost of its solar roofs, adding a “roof complexity” factor that affects the total price.
GAF Energy’s approach attempts to simplify several parts of the process. The first, DeBono said, is customer acquisition. Solar installers spend enormous sums to sign up new customers, which gets added on to the price of each installation. Last year, installers spent 0.75 per watt to find new customers, according to analysts at WoodMackenzie. On a typical 7 kW system, customer acquisition adds 5,250, or about 23 percent of the system’s cost. By comparison, DeBono said that “roofers spend very little on sales and marketing.”
The company sought to reduce the time and complexity of the installation process by using a format that roofers are familiar with. They also increased the dimensions of each shingle, which reduces the total install time for the entire roof.
Lastly, GAF Energy moved much of the wiring on top of the roof rather than burying it beneath the shingles. Rows of solar shingles are daisy-chained together and connected with wiring runs that look like seams on a metal roof. Each wiring run supports 2 kW of solar panels. Roofers make the electrical connections between shingles, and an electrician inspects them all when installing the inverter and tying the system into the grid.
Plenty of tweaks
Engineers changed the wiring layout based on the company’s experience with previous generations of solar roof. “With our current product, Decotech, the wires are underneath,” DeBono said. “It’s a bear when the inspector wants to see the wiring—you’re taking off flashing. And similarly for other built-in photovoltaic roofs if the inspector says, ‘I want to see all the connections are made,’ you’re going to be popping up the waterproof layer to show them.” With the new top-mounted system, installers just have to pop off a waterproof cover. It’s an approach that should also make troubleshooting and repairs simpler.
DeBono also said that the panel’s smaller scale made it easier to wring more efficiency out of the system. “Because each one of our panels is 45 Watts and only 10 volts, we have access to a whole host of electronic components that don’t have to be able to withstand 300 Watts, 50 volts,” he said. “That allows us to be more efficient in the electricity generated from those panels.”
The panels themselves are made out of monocrystalline PERC cells, which stands for “passivated emitter and rear contact,” a type of construction that allows some of the photons that pass through the panel to be reflected back to it. That helps boost efficiency to 23 percent per cell, DeBono said. (He wouldn’t say who their supplier is but made a point to say that they’re not made in China.) The cells are fixed to a flexible substrate and topped with a hardened glass that’ll withstand hail. The entire system can withstand hurricane-force winds up to 130 mph, and it’s Class A fire rated. UL certified the shingles as both solar panels and roofing materials, a first, and they can be walked on like traditional shingles.
Though the entire system uses one inverter, GAF Energy added electronics to the panels to allow them to cope with shading. And because the solar shingle panels are relatively small, they should be able to deliver more power under shady conditions than traditional, larger panels.
The entire roof comes warrantied for 25 years, and DeBono said they will be offering a more comprehensive warranty that will also include guaranteed power output. Plus, he points out that GAF Energy’s parent company, Standard Industries, has been around for over a century. “Whether we succeed or fail, the parent company is going to be around to honor our warranty claims,” he said.
Is the price right?
The big question, of course, is price. DeBono wouldn’t give a hard number since the total cost includes installation and the rest of the roof, all of which vary by market. But “a homeowner won’t pay any more for a GAF solar roof than they would if they were to get a new roof and have someone put solar on it. That’s our benchmark,” he said. “We’re half the cost of a Tesla solar roof in any given market right now.”
Though GAF Energy announced the shingles yesterday, DeBono said they’ve already been installing them in various markets in the US. “We’ve actually installed this. We’ve got permits, we’ve passed inspections.”
DeBono is hoping that, by selling a new roof and solar power as one package, his company can convince more people to go solar. “What we say,” he said, “is that with this roof, mister and misses customer, you can generate enough electricity that it will not only pay for the solar system, but also pay for the roof itself. And that’s a very compelling value proposition.”
Should you replace your roof with solar shingles?
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Any homeowner who’s concerned about carbon footprints and energy costs has considered solar power — usually, in the shape of solar panels. But now there’s another option: an entire solar roof.
Solar roofs are composed of solar shingles, aka solar tiles, that can fit over existing shingles or be installed on their own. So the energy-harvesting ability is baked into the roof itself. The shingles do everything regular shingles do, roof-wise (protect your house from the elements), are fire-resistant, and are quite durable. Plus, they look a lot more sleek and seamless than solar panels.
If you’re considering replacing your roof (or are building a new one for a new home), solar shingles may be a particularly timely choice. The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in August 2022, offers enhanced tax credits of up to 30 percent of the cost of installations, increasing the incentive to go solar.
Let’s shed more light on the subject.
What are solar shingles?
Solar shingles or tiles are like regular roof shingles. But instead of being made of asphalt, clay or slate, they are made of glass that contain photovoltaic cells. Photovoltaic cells act as semiconductors and transfer energy collected from the sunlight into electrons, which can then become electrical current to power your home. Each shingle typically produces between 13 and 63 watts of energy, depending on the brand (one of the latest, by industry leader Tesla, claims to have a max power of 71 watts). While they both convert sunlight to energy, solar shingles are quite different from the solar panels (we’ll dig into the differences later).
The first solar shingles were developed by DOW Chemical Company, rolling out in 2011. But the concept began to get serious traction in 2016, when Tesla purchased manufacturer Solar City and began offering what it deemed the Tesla Solar Roof. Today, there are several brands of the solar roof tiles available through manufacturers like CertainTeed, GAF Energy, Luma, SunTegra and of course Tesla. (Dow dropped out of the game.)
The average size of a solar shingle or tile is about 12 inches wide by 86 inches long. It takes about 350 solar tiles for a standard-size roof. Tiles weigh about 13 pounds per square foot, so most roofs can handle them without additional reinforcement.
What do solar shingles cost?
Although the have been dropping of late, as more makers enter the market, solar roofs are expensive. On average, the cost to install solar roof shingles runs 21 to 25 per square foot or 2,100 to 2,600 per roofing square. So a total project could easily average 60,000 to 75,000 — at least. That’s considerably higher than the cost of a conventional roof (between 5,646 and 12,031. according to HomeAdvisor). Even expensive traditional materials like clay or slate (800 to 1,800 per square) cost less than solar tile.
What solar roof tiles will cost you depends on several factors including:
- Roof size: The bigger the roof, the more shingles needed.
- Roof pitch/slope: As is the case with any roof, the more extreme the angling, the more difficult/risky the installation will be, which affects the overall cost.
- Home location: Labor (installation) costs vary by city and state.
- Energy needs of your home.
- Particular manufacturer/brand of shingle or tile.
Still, solar shingle have dropped since their introduction, and they may continue to do so, given the Inflation Reduction Act’s significant incentives and grants for solar implementation, for builders as well as consumers. The Solar Energy Industries Association believes that the IRA’s investment in clean energy will spur “a renaissance in American solar manufacturing,” driving down costs. as its recent “Catalyzing American Solar Manufacturing” report put it.
What do you save in energy costs?
While expensive to install, a solar roof can save in the long run. Depending on the number of tiles on your roof, solar shingles can reduce energy costs by anywhere from 40 to 60 percent, according to the consumer education site SolarReviews. Additionally, you may be eligible for federal and state tax incentives.
Helping the immediate bite a bit: Per the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, eligible homeowners who install solar shingles will qualify for a 30 percent tax credit on the installation cost. Starting in tax year 2023, this credit continues through 2032 (and then at a reduced percentage through 2034). Several states offer credits, rebates and other incentives as well.
Solar shingles vs solar panels
Both solar shingles and solar panels can be a great option to take your home energy efficiency to the next level. But which is best for you? The advantages of each in a nutshell:
|weather-resistant and durable
|Can be more energy-efficient depending on roof slope, sunlight exposure
|Greater energy-bill savings
|Shorter installation time
|aesthetically pleasing (fewer potential HOA issues)
|inexpensive to install
What are the advantages of a solar roof?
When compared to conventional roofs and solar panels, there are some advantages to investing in solar shingles.
- They are projected to be long-lasting (30-40 years)
- They reduce energy use/carbon footprint and bills
- They blend in better and resemble traditional roof materials
- They are more cost effective per watt of solar energy than solar panels
- They are easier to maintain than solar panels
What are the disadvantages of a solar roof?
Downsides of solar shingles relate to their being such a new technology.
- Availability is more limited
- They are more expensive than conventional roofs and solar panels
- They have fewer style and color options
- Since part of the roof itself, they cannot be installed at an angle like solar panels can, to produce maximum energy
- They are not conducive to a DIY installation
The final word on solar shingles
Solar shingles are still pretty new, which means experienced installers and contractors may be limited in your area. And their exact lifespan and durability is still something of a question mark, of course: None have been around long enough to prove the current projections. Nor is there much sense, as yet, as to how they’d affect a house’s resale value (though eco-friendly features, in general, are getting more popular with homebuyers).
Still, if you’re an environmentally-conscious homeowner in need of a full roof replacement or a roof for a new build, solar shingles are worth considering. With some states now requiring that newly built homes be solar power-equipped, and enhanced federal tax credits in effect starting in 2023, the time to go solar may be now.
What is the Cost for a GAF Timberline Solar Energy Shingle Roof?
With the rise in popularity of producing solar energy, homeowners are starting to consider going solar when it’s time for a roof replacement. This can be a great idea because using your roof to produce solar energy can be a solid investment.
But the truth is, everyone isn’t going to be able to afford to invest in solar. That’s why it’s important to know how much a roof replacement is going to cost using the new GAF Timberline Solar Energy Singles. Before deciding if it’s right for your home.
Unfortunately, roofing contractors like to keep their numbers under lock and key. That is until you offer to invite them to your home to do an inspection. We disagree with that.
Our family at RoofCrafters Roofing has been helping homeowners make their roof replacement decisions for nearly 3 decades. Because of this, we’ll help you determine if the GAF solar shingle roof will be a great investment and fit your budget.
In this article you’ll learn:
- The 5 main factors that’ll impact the cost
- The average cost of a Timberline Solar ES roof
- The benefits of producing solar energy
By the end of the article, hopefully, you’ll have all the answers you need to decide if solar shingles will be a great investment for you.
Factors that Impact the Cost of a GAF Solar Shingle Roof
It would be impossible for us to give you an exact price without knowing all of the many factors used to calculate the costs.
The 5 main factors that’ll impact the costs to produce solar energy are:
The square footage of your roof.
The Square Footage of Your Roof
There are several factors that go into a roof replacement. The size of your roof is one of the many factors and will also have one of the greatest impacts on a solar roof investment. A solar roof replacement requires purchasing specially designed asphalt shingles. The new GAF Solar HD asphalt shingles are almost 2 inches larger than the standard architectural shingles. Yes, this means your entire roof has to be replaced. We can’t just add solar shingles to your existing roof.
The new GAF Timberline Solar HD shingles are designed to be compatible with the GAF Timberline Solar Energy-producing shingles. This requires purchasing the correct amount of Timberline Solar Energy Shingles to power your house. This leads us to our next factor, energy consumption.
What is Your Average Annual Household Energy Consumption?
Electricity usage over time is measured in watt-hours. Your electricity provider or utility company typically measures usage in kilowatt-hours or kWh. ( kWh = kilowatt-hour ) One kWh is one kilowatt generated for one hour. Let’s say you use a 40-watt light bulb for five hours, you’ll have used 200 watt hours or 0.2 kWh of electricity.
We all use different amounts of energy. Depending on how energy efficient your home is and how conscious you are about your energy usage. The good news is you can reduce both and in turn save yourself bundles of money. It really matters how much electricity you consume annually. Once we know how many KW’s you need we can effectively calculate the size of the solar system needed to power your home. The less energy you consume the smaller the solar system is needed.
How Many Sun-Facing Roof Slopes are on Your Home?
We use one of many tools to determine the amount of sun on your roof. The amount of great sun-facing slopes will also have an impact on how many arrays of solar energy shingles will be required. Optimal sun-facing roof slopes are typically east and south-facing roof slopes.
Having roof slopes that are shaded may require compensation. Which means installing more arrays of solar shingles on less optimal slopes. Compensation is needed sometimes. We need to produce enough electricity to power your home based on your yearly energy consumption. Once this is determined the next main factor that impacts cost is the difficulty of your roof.
The Complexity of Your Roof Replacement Will Impact the Cost
Is your roof steep? The steepness of your roof pitch will have a major impact on calculating the final cost of your solar investment. Because the safety and set-up take longer. And the roofers are not able to work as fast. Slower installation times increase the labor cost of any home improvement project.
We view investing in the new integrated solar energy shingles as doing two home improvement projects in one. New roof and new solar system, all in one. Keep in mind, once the solar roof is installed the electricians will be required to get on the roof to connect all the wiring to make your new system run. If your roof is steep or difficult to access the labor portion of the installation will also increase. Difficulty or complexity will impact the cost.
The good news is that incentives available may be able to offset these costs as well as your new roof.
What Incentives are Available for Using Your Roof to Produce Energy?
Financial incentives take many forms. The incentives available are often what help reduce the initial investment. Thus making it much easier to get a return on the investment in a shorter period of time. Our federal and state governments have incentives in place to help homeowners afford to produce clean energy.
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
Incentives will help reduce the cost and in many cases offset the cost of the roof replacement. Thus making the two home improvement projects in one a fairly easy decision.
What is the Cost of a Timberline Solar ES Roof?
As you can see, there are many factors that’ll impact the cost of a new solar energy roof. It would be nearly impossible for us to provide you with an exact cost without knowing all of the factors. So to be fair, we will provide you with the average cost of a Timberline Solar roof installed on a fairly simple roof of a 2000 to 2500 square foot house. Fair?
Also very important, is a house that needs a solar system to produce 7 KW of electricity. Just like the square footage of the house we’ve selected is average, most houses will range between needing 5 KW and 9 KW of electricity usage. So a 7 KW solar system is average.
You can expect the average cost of a solar roof system to be between 35,000 and 40,000. That’s before deducting any incentives previously mentioned. By applying the 26% federal tax incentive alone, it’d reduce the average cost to between 25,900 and 29,600.
Keep in mind, that the average price we’re providing is for a complete solar roof system. This includes a complete roof replacement. This means installing the new Timberline Solar HD asphalt shingles and installing enough of the new Timberline Energy Shingles to produce 7 KW of electricity. Two home improvement projects in one.
If you’re concerned about the rising cost of electricity. This may be a great investment for you. There’s no doubt in our minds that the cost of electricity will continue to rise. Producing your own clean energy and decreasing your reliance on the utility company may be worth looking into.
Let’s go over some of the other benefits of the new GAF-integrated solar shingle roof.
The Benefits of Producing Solar Energy
Here’s a list of what we believe may be the top 5 benefits of choosing the new GAF Timberline Solar roofing system for your home.
Substantially reduce your monthly energy bill.
Hiring a Great Roofing Contractor to Install Your Timberline Solar Roof System
Now that you have an idea of what the cost will be to turn your roof into an energy-producing asset. You’re probably ready to hire a contractor to start the process. But remember the numbers we provided are only an average cost. The final price will be determined after your local GAF Master Elite Contractor performs the onsite inspection.
Our family here at RoofCrafters Roofing has helped thousands of families over the past 3 decades. Not only by providing high-quality materials and 25-year workmanship warranties. But we’ve also helped by educating them about the roofing industry. And by guiding them to make the best decisions for protecting their families for many years to come.
If you believe that we’ll be a great fit for your roofing or solar needs and would like us to come out to see if a solar roof is right for you submit your info below. We look forward to discussing your solar goals soon.
At RoofCrafters, our mission is to provide job opportunities for others to thrive and grow while making a meaningful impact within our communities.
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