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.
Solar Panels vs. Solar Roofs: What You Need to Know
Solar energy is a renewable source that is excellent for the environment. Switching to solar energy prevents the impacts of climate change. You have multiple options for your home, such as solar panels or solar roofs. While they both capture energy from the sun, they work slightly differently. Here is everything you need to know about each option, to make the best choice for you.
By Rose Morrison, managing editor of Renovated
What Are Solar Panels?
Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity you use to power your appliances. They are made up of photons that knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity.
These are typically installed on the roof, but you can also place them on the ground overtop parking lots. Before placing these panels, know whether or not your roof needs any repairs to prevent any surprise maintenance costs.
Here are a few more things to consider:
- What is the shape of your roof?
- What direction does it slope?
- How much weight can it handle?
- Where will runoff water go?
- How will you connect to the grid?
What Are Solar Roofs?
These are made of thin photovoltaic (PV) sheets that overlay or replace your roof shingles. They work like solar panels by absorbing sunlight and converting it to electricity. Tesla is a popular brand for solar shingles, but there are other companies to consider too, such as Luma.
Solar Panels vs. Solar Roofs: The Differences Between the Two
While both work by capturing the energy from the sun, they have a few differences to note. Each one has pros and cons in terms of its cost and installation process. Here are a few things to consider before making your purchase.
Installing solar panels is more cost-effective than solar roofs. If you’re replacing your roof, you can add solar shingles to your construction budget. The average cost for solar panels is about 11,144 to 14,696 after applying tax credits.
On the other hand, a solar roof can cost between 52,200 and 64,110 before tax incentives.
Their Visual Appearance
Adding any feature to your roof can impact your home’s curb appeal. Solar tiles are designed to look like traditional shingles and can blend well. This can increase your home’s resale value. However, PV panels are installed on top of the current material, so they stand out more. They are also bulkier and are currently limited to black or blue colors.
The Complexity of Installation
Solar roofs can take longer to install than solar panels and involve a more complex process. And it’s easier to find a contractor for solar panels. Plus, you can detach and reinstall them if you decide to move.
With solar roofs, you need to cover the entire surface area, and there are fewer specialized contractors. However, they can save you time if you’re replacing your roof anyway and intend to invest in solar down the line. If your current roof is older or missing shingles, a replacement is often necessary.
Their Energy Efficiency
PV panels are more efficient than solar roofs because you can turn them in any direction to capture the most sunlight. In addition, they aren’t affected by the underlying roofing material. So, you can reduce your electrical consumption and save between 10,000 and 30,000 over your lifetime.
While you’re still lowering your electricity usage, solar roofs are less effective. One reason is that their efficiency depends on the placement and orientation of the roof. Since they’re installed into the structure itself, you can’t rotate them to a new position. In addition, solar shingles may not be suitable for all roof types.
Solar panels come with a longer warranty and have been on the market for longer than solar roof shingles. However, solar shingles are built into the roof, so they can potentially withstand harsher weather conditions. Plus, unlike solar panels, they have fire-resistant properties.
How long each product lasts depends on the manufacturer and installation. Since solar roofs are a relatively new product, their longevity hasn’t been fully tested.
The Return on Investment
Solar panels have a better return on investment due to lower installation costs and higher efficiency. However, both types of solar system can lower your monthly bills and offer tax incentives. You can claim the federal residential solar energy credit on federal income taxes. To qualify, you must meet the following criteria:
- Your system was installed between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2023
- It’s located at your primary or secondary residence
- You own the solar PV system
- The panels are new or you’re using them for the first time
The Materials Used in Manufacturing
Solar roofs are usually made from copper indium gallium selenide, which is what makes them thinner. It is a semiconductor material ideal for higher conversion rates. Some are made from monocrystalline silicon, which is used to fabricate computer chips. They are more expensive but have a higher efficiency rating.
Solar panels mostly use silicon material as well, although the frame enclosing the sections is made of glass.
How to Decide Which Is Best for You?
Now that you understand the similarities and differences, it all comes down to preference. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. If you’re installing a new roof, solar shingles are the better option. They are ideal for remodeling projects or when building a new home. Some households find them more visually pleasing than solar panels that stand upright.
If you want to add solar energy to your existing home, PV panels can be a more affordable and efficient option. Also, it may take time to find a specialized contractor to install solar shingles.
Another thing to consider is whether you’re planning on selling your home soon. The bulky style of solar panels may be less attractive to potential buyers. Yet, you can more easily take them with you if you choose to.
Switch to Renewable Energy Today
Solar panels and roofs are similar in their main function. Yet, they differ in price, installation process, and overall efficiency. Choosing which one you want can feel overwhelming. So, start by examining your roof and its structural integrity to determine whether you need a replacement.
You also want to think about your budget and design preferences. Then, find contractors who specialize in energy to help you make an informed choice. Whichever way you decide to go, switching to renewable energy helps the planet and saves you money.
About the Author
Rose is the managing editor of Renovated and has been writing in the construction industry for over five years. She’s most passionate about sustainable building and incorporating similar resourceful methods into our world. For more from Rose, you can follow her on
Solar Shingles For Your Roof [Data Facts]
Solar roof shingles are the best possible replacement for traditional solar panels. Although solar shingles have been around for a while, their popularity only spiked when Elon Musk announced his own Tesla solar roof. With a competitive price, sleek design, and unprecedented functionality, solar roof solutions are the best investment for those who do not want to compromise their roof looks and property aesthetics.
What are Solar Roof Shingles?
Solar roof shingles are roof tiles with built-in solar cells. The photovoltaic shingles can, therefore, completely substitute for your roof and look much better than standard solar panels added to the roof. Proponents of the technology also say that roof shingles are more durable than traditional solar panels and that they give multipurpose to the otherwise useless surface: generating electricity and staying protected from the elements now go hand in hand.
As yet another product on the solar market, solar tiles can help usher renewables into daily life and help mitigate climate change. Made from conventional roofing materials, with an added solar cell in each tile, they are a great substitute for building-integrated photovoltaics – a solution many disliked. The newer generation of solar tiles can cover the entire roof and give it a uniform, sleek design that you will want to see, not hide away from.
When choosing solar shingles, there are several factors you should consider. All of these are important in determining what your roof will look like, which brand you will use, how much energy you will get, and lastly, what the cost will be. The factors to consider when choosing solar shingles for your home include:
The lifespan of solar shingles is around 25-30 years. This means that your shingles will generate electricity for the next two to three decades after the installation is done. During this time, your shingles will produce energy that is enough to pay them off, especially as your energy costs will be almost nullified. Conventional shingles cannot do this.
When it comes to the size of your shingles solar array, it can be observed that the size can relate to the size of individual shingles and the size of the total solar array. In the former case, choosing shingles you think will work the best with your existing shingles is the most important factor. In the latter case, the size of your solar system is also important, as it should be large enough to produce all the energy your family needs, especially in the upcoming years. You may need an expert to help you with the calculations.
The number of roof shingles is also important. Here, you need to understand that each shingle produces only a limited amount of energy. This means that you need to divide your total energy needs with the DC output of the shingle model you would like to purchase. As most shingles can produce between 35 and 80 Watts a piece, you will need quite a few to cover your needs.
Bear in mind that the total cost of your installation and the average cost per foot sq. will depend on the ratio between active and inactive shingles. Tesla solar shingles, for example, come with both active and inactive shingles. However, their ratio is determined by your energy needs and roof size.
The material used in your shingles also has a big say in their looks and performance. In general, the basis for the shingles is asphalt, concrete, or metal. The solar cell inside can be polycrystalline or monocrystalline. Alternatively, thin-film solar cells can also be found. Monocrystalline shingles have the highest efficiency, while thin-film technology offers the lowest possible power output.
Different materials mean different efficiency, which, in turn, means differences in the energy generation capacity. With solar shingles, you can generally expect an energy generation capacity of between 35-80 Watts per shingle, which is great considering their cost and the number you need. Always take all these factors into consideration before making your purchase.
How Do Solar Shingles Work?
Solar shingles have been around for a while. They came into the market because many people complained that traditional PV panels simply do not look good enough on their roofs. With the advent of polycrystalline silicon solar cells and thin-film solar panels, the market was finally ready for solar shingles and their production. Thin-film solar cells are inexpensive to produce, but as the technology is still new, the cost of solar shingles is still relatively high.
Solar shingles are installed as regular shingles: they are mostly either screwed or nailed in place. Once there, they are connected either in series or using parallel connections and connected to your solar inverter and the solar battery. Once everything is connected, they act as regular solar panels, producing electricity when exposed to direct sunlight.
One of the biggest solar shingles pros is that they produce solar energy and act as a traditional roofing material. You get to use renewable energy in your home and do so at a high conversion efficiency: some solar shingles use monocrystalline technology – enabling around 20% conversion efficiency.
Types of Solar Roofing
As solar shingles became more popular over time, other types of solar products started appearing. Solar shingles or solar roofs became so popular because they already included the cost of replacing the roof and reduced the need to look for two separate contractors: one to replace the roof and one to install PV panels. For this reason, two new products have sprung up in the solar market:
Integrated Solar Metal Roofing
Integrated solar metal roofing is a type of multi-layer metal roofing that consists of glass coating, color, and a monocrystalline layer. The wiring and all other electrical components are hidden under metal for a clean look. The entire system is placed on a vented racking system, increasing its efficiency and power output.
Interlocking Solar Panel Roofing
In response to the ever-increasing of solar roofs, GAF and Suntegra introduced interlocking solar panel roofing. This kind of roofing helps you avoid the solar shingle cost and all the additional work accompanying solar shingles. A system like this is easy to install, competitive in price, and it makes a good compromise in an aesthetic sense, especially between regularly mounted solar panels and an interlocking, integrated system.
Solar Roof: Installation Cost Average Cost
Solar shingles worth thousands of dollars are sold every minute in the US. But what is the cost of a roof installation for you? The answer to how much money you should cash out for solar shingles on your rooftop depends on the following factors:
- The age and the condition of your roof,
- The orientation and the slope of the roof,
- The average insulation in your area (in hours/year),
- The average solar irradiation in your area (in W/m2),
- Your energy habits and needs,
- Any future plans for introducing new electricity-powered devices.
All these factors will significantly influence the cost of solar shingles and roofs in each case. These factors, especially your energy needs (on an average monthly basis), will determine the number of solar shingles or integrated solar panels you need, as well as which type of solar shingle products you will need. A solar shingle roof can therefore cost anywhere between 15,000 to 20,000, with additional costs if you need a new roof.
Solar Roof Brands
As solar shingle roofs have proven to be reliable, cost-effective, and aesthetically pleasing, more homeowners wanted to add these to their new homes. The increase in demand drove the up and has made the solar roof business more lucrative. For this reason, many companies offer one form or another of solar roofs. Tesla solar roof tiles ushered the way to the new area.
Although solar shingles have been sound for several years now, it was the Tesla Solar Shingle that has really brought it to the full attention of the market. With the Tesla solar roof, Tesla promises, you will pay around the same price as for a standard roof and solar panels combined. In reality, Tesla mostly matches their promise as they approach each rooftop individually.
In most cases, depending on your home size and energy needs, your Tesla solar roof will consist of both active solar tiles and inactive solar tiles. This approach gives Tesla more chances to come up with an ideal solar roof for you, as well as to limit the expense. However, standing at 13.50 per square foot of inactive solar shingles, Tesla solar roof is still way more expensive than a standard asphalt shingle, constant at around 3.50-5.50 per square foot.
Luma Solar Roof
Luma Solar roof, on the other hand, comes with greater solar power – each of its solar tiles is rated at an 80 Watt power output. The solar panel shingles they place have inactive shingles as well so that you can have a uniform look and feel to your solar roof without any compromises. The inactive solar shingle installation also costs less, as they are cheaper to manufacture. This way, you keep the costs at an acceptable level: Luma Solar Shingle solution costs around 4.50 per Watt of DC capacity.
CertainTeed Apollo II
CertainTeed offers two solar products for partial or full roof replacement. The company offers Apollo II Shingles and Apollo II tiles. Both come with monocrystalline solar cells and are sure to fit in with your existing roof pretty well. As they are monocrystalline solar cells, these two products have high-efficiency levels and are comparable in their performance to the Tesla Solar Roof.
Suntegra also offers two lines of products to its customers: solar shingles and solar tiles. Their solar shingles come in the following power output ratings:
They are made of high-quality, durable material, comparable to asphalt shingles in their durability. Unlike a traditional solar panel, they do not have the blackish hue that most solar shingles have. Unlike most solar panels, they are quite expensive, as their price starts at 3.80 per Watt of DC power.
The Suntegra solar tiles, on the other hand, come at a higher price range: 6.16 – 6.57 per Watt of DC power capacity. They come with slightly lower efficiency and power output: 64 and 70 Watts. If you still decide to install solar shingles by the same company, you will get more residential solar power from the same roof surface area.
GAF Materials Corporation
GAF is currently one of the largest producers of roofing materials in the US. Recently, it has introduced its own line of solar shingle solutions, which are supposed to cover the entire roof in solar cells. Some of its solar tiles are made from asphalt, so the installation is similar to the installation of traditional asphalt shingles – they are nailed into the underlying construction.
Total roof replacement with GAF solar roof tiles may cost you around 30,000 for a standard US roof. Each tile is certified at 45 Watts of output power, giving you more than enough electricity for an average US residence.
Forward Solar Roofing
Forward Solar Roofing has come up with a solution for integrated solar metal roofing. This way, the company can offer active solar shingles (or solar roofing) that cost around 50% per square foot compared to Tesla solar roof. As solar shingles cost a lot of money, a complete solar roof may be quite pricey. Forward solar roofing avoids these costs and saves you money.
Solar shingles are much like your standard roofing tiles – occasional rain will do most of the cleaning and maintenance for you. Still, if you live in an area with a lot of trees or even an area with heavy snowfall, you may want to invest some time in clearing the shingles from anything that may shade them, especially during the autumn and winter part of the year.
Besides this, there is very little maintenance. It is usually suggested that an electrician should visit the site once a year and check the wiring and solar batteries (if you happen to have them), but there is very little work that actually needs to be done once your new roof is in place.
Cost Comparison Between Solar Shingles Conventional Roof
Many homeowners do not want to install traditional solar panels, as solar shingles look so much better. Made to resemble conventional roofing materials, they are the way to go for everyone who can afford them. Cost, in particular, is the biggest issue, as solar shingles are even more expensive than conventional solar panels.
For this reason, it is recommended that you only consider solar shingles on a new property or if you are already planning to replace the entire roof. This will give you a unique opportunity to explore different options and solar roofing brands available out there. As more solar shingle manufacturers come to the market, traditional roofing materials are likely to fall behind in the production lines, leaving space for the next-gen technology.
Cost Comparison Between Solar Shingles Conventional Solar Panels
Before comparing solar shingles and panels, it is important to note that, although they serve the same function, they are different products. Solar shingles are considered more of a high-end product and are meant for:
- Homeowners who want to preserve the aesthetic aspect of their home,
- Homeowners who want a more sleek and durable product that will last for decades,
- Homeowners who want to replace their roof and install panels – solar shingles reduce workforce costs and save time.
With this in mind, we can compare the pricing. Solar shingles will cost between 15,000 and 20,000 for an average American home. An average solar panel installation will cost around 16,000 for an average US home. This puts them in pretty much the same price range, depending on the brand and the size of the system.
However, if you need to replace your roof and get access to solar energy, then shingles are a much better option. Do not forget that solar panel installations demand a good and sturdy roof. Replacing the roof will cost thousands of dollars. With solar shingles, the costs are absorbed, as you do not need to pay extra for the tiles/shingles as you do with a standard roof.
Another important aspect to consider is the manufacturer. Tesla solar shingles, for example, often cost multiple of those other producers. That is because Tesla solar shingles are considered a premium product, and there is even a lengthy waiting list for those who would like to install them. However, in both cases, you can count on solar tax credits and other incentives.
Benefits of Solar Roof Shingles
Like any other solar product, solar shingles have many benefits. Being able to make your own residential solar power from your roof without compromising the look of your property on its own is a benefit high enough for many American homeowners to go with this product. The major benefits of solar shingles include:
- Reduction in carbon footprint,
- Saving on your electric bill,
- Being able to apply for tax credits (under the Federal ITC) and solar rebates,
- Preserving or improving the looks of your home and the roof.
Drawbacks of Solar Roof Shingles
However, most solar shingles have their drawbacks as well. As it goes, solar shingles are a relatively new product on the market. They are still considered a high-end, luxury product that costs a significant amount of money. As the solar industry keeps rolling out new solar power systems and cheaper solar shingles, it can be expected to see more of them on the roofs around the US. The major drawbacks of solar shingles include:
- The very high initial price per square foot and project – as most solar shingles need to be mounted on a new structure (to ensure safety and durability for years to come), you may also need to have a full roof replacement,
- Solar roofing comes in limited styles. Unlike traditional roofing shingles, solar shingles contain silicon solar cells. This solar energy solution, for this reason, needs to have a surface that can interact with sunlight – giving you a limited availability of colors and patterns,
- Solar shingles are similar to solar panels – they need exposure to direct sunlight, always at a certain angle that’s supposed to help generate the most electricity. These thin-film solar cells need to face the South – if your home roof does not face the South, it may be impractical to install solar shingles, as solar panels will yield the maximum energy output if tilted or re-oriented. We cannot say the same for solar shingles, as they have to be laid flat on the roof surface.
Are Solar Roofs included in Solar Incentives and Tax Credits?
Yes, your solar shingle roof is included in solar incentives and tax credits. As this type of roof can produce renewable energy, it is eligible for most state and federal solar incentives and taxes. You should apply for the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit, state solar incentives, as well as state and utility company rebates. The Federal ITC gives back around 22%of investment value back, while rebates and incentives can give back up to 1 per Watt of DC capacity.
Do homes with solar sell faster?
Yes, homes with solar sell faster. Many new homeowners are eco-conscious people who know that a solar roof increases the value of the property without an increase in property taxes. Furthermore, the freedom of having no or very low power bills is attractive to many. If you are thinking about installing solar panels on your existing roof before selling, this may be a good option, as every kW of solar capacity installed on your roof increases your property value by around 6,000.
Are Solar Roofs Worth it?
Yes, solar roofs are worth it. Most solar roofs (such as Tesla solar roof) are comparable in cost to a conventional roof with solar panels installed. The Tesla solar roof also has the benefit of a unified look of the roof, as not everybody is comfortable with the sight of solar panels on their existing roof. The best thing to do to ensure you have a solar roof in place is to start planning one before your house is built to ensure that all equipment can be installed right away, with no delays.
What time of day are solar panels most efficient?
Solar panels and solar roof tiles are most efficient during the solar noon – around 2 PM during the summertime in the Northern hemisphere. You will see the highest net solar power production from your solar panels or solar roof tiles between 10 AM and 4 PM, as this is the time when the Sun is at its highest position in the sky. Besides time, there are other factors that can influence the efficiency of your solar panels, such as orientation, shading, longitude and latitude, and the time of the year.
Do solar panels work during rain?
As the sky is mostly overcast during the rain, your solar panels will not work. This is especially true for dark, gloomy days with thick clouds in the sky. However, your solar panels can still produce some electricity in the event of a slightly overcast sky. The biggest benefit of mixing rain and solar panels is that your solar system will be free of dust after rain and will be able to produce much more electricity than before.
Solar shingles are considered the next generation of solar panels. Relatively cheap and perfect for those who are looking to upgrade their property and change their roof, solar shingles are the energy source of the future. As they produce free electricity and are eligible for tax incentives, you can also expect to have significant savings on your power bill. Now is the right time to choose between traditional solar panels and solar roof shingles.
The Cost of Solar Panels: Is It Worth It?
Do the benefits of solar panels outweigh their costs?
Nathaniel Riley brings 28 years of experience in financial services, including merger-arbitrage trading, hedge funds, and alternative investments.
Somer G. Anderson is CPA, doctor of accounting, and an accounting and finance professor who has been working in the accounting and finance industries for more than 20 years. Her expertise covers a wide range of accounting, corporate finance, taxes, lending, and personal finance areas.
Skylar Clarine is a fact-checker and expert in personal finance with a range of experience including veterinary technology and film studies.
What Is Solar Power for the Home?
Homeowners who install solar power systems can receive numerous benefits: lower electric bills, lower carbon footprints, and potentially higher home values. But these benefits typically come with significant installation and maintenance costs and the magnitude of the gains can vary widely from one house to another.
This article will help homeowners make the financial calculations required to determine the viability of solar power in their homes.
- Those seeking to go green may want to consider equipping their home with solar panels.
- Not only is solar power good for the environment, but you can earn money selling back excess power to the grid.
- While costs have come down over the past years, installation and maintenance of solar panels can be quite expensive.
- Solar panels are best suited for homes that receive ample sun exposure throughout the year.
- Before committing to solar power, be sure to understand both the social and economic factors.
Understanding Solar Power
In principle, working out whether it makes financial sense to install solar power for your home is simple. You will need to calculate:
- The cost of a solar power system
- How much energy it will produce
- What you would otherwise pay for the same amount of energy
- How many years it will take for your upfront investment to pay for itself in saved energy costs
- Whether the system will pay for itself in five years
If it does and you have the upfront capital, it’s probably a great idea. If you’ll have to wait longer for savings or take out a loan to afford the system, you’ll need to think the decision through carefully.
In practice, however, things are not this simple. There is a large variation in each of these factors, and that can make the costs and benefits of installing solar power for two homes—even if they are neighbors—radically different.
There are some tools that can help, though. Solar Reviews offer a calculator that will quickly provide you with representative costs and savings for a solar power system in every part of the U.S. Calculators like this are a good place to start if you are new to solar energy and want to understand the basic cost model.
In the rest of this article, we’ll take you through each of the key factors you should consider when calculating the costs and potential savings of solar power for your home.
Before getting solar panels, get quotes from several reputable installers to compare.
The Cost of Solar Power for Homeowners
First, let’s look at the cost of installing a solar power system for your home. The average, upfront cost of a residential solar power system is between 3,500 and 16,000.
Why the huge range of costs? Well, a lot of the variation depends on the size of the system you’d like to install and the type of panels you want to use. Whatever system you use, keep in mind that solar power is capital intensive and the main cost of owning a system comes upfront when buying the equipment. The solar module will almost certainly represent the largest single component of the overall expense.
There are some additional costs, as well. Other equipment necessary for installation includes an inverter (to turn the direct current produced by the panel into the alternating current used by household appliances), metering equipment (if it is necessary to see how much power is produced), and various housing components along with cables and wiring gear. Some homeowners also consider battery storage. Historically, batteries have been prohibitively expensive and unnecessary if the utility pays for excess electricity that is fed into the grid (see below). The installation labor cost must also be factored in.
In addition to installation costs, there are some further costs associated with operating and maintaining a PV solar array. Aside from cleaning the panels regularly, inverters and batteries (if installed) generally need replacement after several years of use.
While the above costs are relatively straightforward—often a solar installation company can quote a price for these for a homeowner—determining subsidies available from the government and/or your local utility can prove more of a challenge. Government incentives change often, but historically, the U.S. government has allowed a tax credit of up to 30% of the system’s cost.
details on incentive programs in the U.S., including programs within each state, can be found on the Database of State Incentives for Renewables Efficiency (DSIRE) website. In other countries, such information is often available on government or solar advocacy websites. Homeowners should also check with their local utility company to see whether it offers financial incentives for solar installation and to determine what its policy is for grid interconnection and for selling excess power into the grid.
The U.S. installed 19.2 gigawatts of solar PV capacity in 2020 to reach 97.7 GWdc of total installed capacity, enough to power 17.7 million American homes.
Calculating Your Energy Production
The second factor you’ll need to consider in your calculations is the amount of energy your system will produce and when it will do that. This can be a very complicated calculation to make, even for experienced solar engineers. However, let’s run through the basics.
One of the most important considerations is the solar irradiation levels available in the home’s geographical location; in other words, how sunny it is where you live. When it comes to using solar panels, being closer to the equator is generally better, but other factors must be considered. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) produces maps for the U.S. showing solar irradiation levels and the tools on its website provide detailed solar information for specific locations within the U.S.
Equally important is your home’s orientation: For rooftop arrays, a south-facing roof without trees or other objects obstructing sunlight maximizes the available solar energy. If this is not available, panels can be mounted on external supports and installed away from the house, incurring additional costs for the extra hardware and cables.
And then you must factor in the size of your system. Solar panel size is quoted in terms of the theoretical electrical output potential in watts. However, the typical output realized for installed PV systems—known as the capacity factor—is between 15% and 30% of the theoretical output. A 3 kilowatt-hour (kWh) household system running at a 15% capacity factor would produce 3 kWh x 15% x 24 hr/day x 365 days/year = 3,942 kWh/year or roughly one-third of the typical electricity consumption of a U.S. household.
How Much Will You Save?
Once you know how much a solar power system will cost upfront, and how much energy it will produce, you can (theoretically) predict how much you can save in energy costs per year.
This is another tricky calculation, however, because a lot depends on how you pay for electricity at the moment. Utilities often charge residential consumers a flat rate for electricity, regardless of the time of consumption. This means that instead of offsetting the expensive cost of peak electricity production, homeowners’ solar power systems merely offset the price they are charged for electricity, which is much closer to the average cost of power production.
However, many utility companies in the U.S. have introduced pricing schemes that allow homeowners to be charged at different rates throughout the day in an attempt to mirror the actual cost of electricity production at different times: This means higher rates in the afternoon and lower rates at night. A PV solar array may be very beneficial in areas where this sort of time-varying rate is used since the solar power produced would offset the most costly electricity.
Exactly how beneficial this is for a given homeowner depends on the exact timing and magnitude of the rate changes under such a plan. Similarly, utilities in some locations have pricing schemes that vary over different times of the year due to regular seasonal demand fluctuations. Those with higher rates during the summer make solar power more valuable.
Some utilities have tiered pricing plans in which the marginal price of electricity changes as consumption rises. Under this type of plan, the benefit from a solar system can depend on the electricity use of the home; in certain areas subject to rates that increase dramatically as consumption increases, large homes (with large energy needs) may benefit most from solar arrays that offset high-cost marginal consumption.
For some homes, it might even be possible to make money by selling solar power back to the grid. In the U.S., this is done through net metering plans, in which residential consumers use the power that they put into the grid (when the rate of electricity generation from the solar array is greater than the rate of household electricity consumption) to offset the power consumed at other times; the monthly electric bill reflects net energy consumption. The specific net metering regulations and policies vary across regions. Homeowners can refer to the DSIRE database and should also contact their local utilities to find more specific information.
Calculating Solar Power Costs
At this point, you will be in a position to make a final calculation, and an assessment of whether solar power makes sense for you.
The overall cost and benefit of a solar system can theoretically be evaluated using the discounted cash flow (DCF) method. Outflows at the beginning of the project would consist of installation costs (net of subsidies) and inflows would arrive later in the form of offset electricity costs (both directly and through net metering).
However, rather than using DCF, the viability of solar power is usually evaluated by calculating the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), then comparing it to the cost of electricity charged by the local utility. The LCOE for household solar will typically be calculated as cost/kilowatt-hour (/kWh or ¢/kWh)—the same format commonly used on electricity bills. To approximate the LCOE, one can use the following equation:
LCOE (/kWh) = Net Present Value (NPV) of the Lifetime Cost of Ownership / Lifetime Energy Output (kWh)
The useful life of a PV solar module is generally assumed to be 25 to 40 years. The cost of ownership includes the maintenance costs, which must be discounted to find the NPV. The LCOE can then be compared to the cost of electricity from a utility; remember, the relevant price is that which occurs during times at or near peak PV solar production.
Is Solar Power Worth It?
Once you’ve worked through all of these calculations, you’ll likely end up with a single number—the number of years it will take for a solar system to pay for itself in savings from your energy bills. If you live in a sunny part of the country and have high utility bills at the moment, you could be looking at a system that will reach this point in five years. Other homeowners may have to wait 10 or 20 years to reach this point.
In other words, most homeowners will eventually see a benefit from a solar power system; it might just take decades for this to be realized. Whether it is worth installing such a system therefore often comes down to a number of much less technical factors than those we’ve listed above: how long you are going to stay in your home, the subsidies available in your area, and simply whether you want to do your bit for the environment.
Pros and Cons of Solar Panels for Your Home
Like most things, solar power has its benefits and drawbacks. At the same time, some economic costs may be defrayed by the social benefits to the environment and lowering your carbon footprint, which may be more important to you than a purely monetary evaluation.
- Green energy that lowers your carbon footprint
- Net metering allows you to sell back excess energy produced
- You may be eligible for certain tax breaks
- Installation and maintenance costs are still high
- Solar only works when the sun is out
- Parts of the system need to be replaced every few years
- Some tax breaks may have expired or will be expiring
Can a House Run on Solar Power Alone?
Practically, it is not often possible. This is because solar only works when the sun is shining—when it is cloudy or nighttime, they do not generate electricity. There are some battery solutions to provide power during these times, but they still tend to be quite expensive. Most homes with solar panels still rely on the grid from time to time.
Do You Really Save Money With Solar Panels?
Depending on where you live, it is possible that the system can pay itself back and more over time. This is because you won’t be spending as much money buying electricity from your utility. If net metering is in place, you could reduce your bills even further.
How Much Does a Solar Panel Cost?
have been coming down steadily over the years. The total cost will depend on how many kilowatts of power your array will generate. According to consumer reports, after solar tax credits are accounted for, the cost for a solar panel system on an average-sized house in the U.S. in 2021 ranges from 11,000 to 15,000.
How Long Will It Take To Recoup the Initial Cost?
Depending on where you live and the size of your system it can take, on average, anywhere from 10 to 20 years to break even on a solar installation.
The Bottom Line
Determining whether to install a PV solar system may seem like a daunting task, but it is important to remember that such a system is a long-term investment. In many locations, solar power is a good choice from a financial perspective.
Even if the cost of solar power is found to be marginally more expensive than electricity purchased from a utility, homeowners may wish to install solar power to avoid future potential fluctuations in energy costs, or may simply wish to look beyond their personal financial motivations and use solar for green living.