Tesla Solar Products vs Competitors [Read This First]
While Tesla’s solar panels and Solar Roof are certainly not as well known as their vehicles, they are taking off and creating quite a stir with their competitors. Tesla provides free estimates to its solar systems on their website and aims to become a major name and competitor within the solar field. Tesla’s solar options do have competition, but Tesla excels when it comes to cost, durability, and effectiveness, being at the same standard or better than their competition in almost all cases. But how do the Tesla solar systems compare to other manufacturers on the market? What are the advantages and disadvantages? This guide will compare the Tesla solar panels to the Tesla Solar Roof and both of Tesla’s solar solutions to other solar systems like SunPower, Panasonic, and LG.
Tesla Solar Systems
Armed with these solar options and features, Tesla is prepared to outfit any consumer with a custom solar system solution to start converting sunlight to power for their home. In fact, despite their short history, they are quite a well-known competitor to other companies.
Tesla Solar Panels
The solar panels that Tesla offers on their website are not made by them. They are Tesla-branded, however. Their solar panels used to be exclusively made by Panasonic, but more recently, Tesla has been utilizing other manufacturers to make their branded products.
Recent reports indicate that a Korean company called Hanwha supplies most of Tesla’s solar panels now. Whatever solar panel you get, rest assured that Tesla will fully test, verify, and ensure it meets their strict quality standards.
The pricing of Tesla’s solar panels is available on their website. They include information on tax incentives, break-even periods, and an estimate on how much money you can save on your power bill each month.
For a standard residential home, you can expect to pay around 25,000 for 12.24 kW solar panels and the solar inverter. After the federal tax credit, which is over 6,000 for this system, your net expense would be around 18,000.
Tesla also provides information on solar panel systems with different kilowatt capacities. After all, kilowatts matter a lot when it comes to a Tesla system, especially when it comes to how many panels and how much money will be involved. The chart below provides some examples:
|Kilowatt||4.08 kW||8.16 kW||12.24 kW||16.32 kW|
|Daily Solar Production||15-19 kWh||30-38 kWh||44-56 kWh||59-75 kWh|
|Self Power %||41%||46%||46%||46%|
|Monthly Bill Reduction||55/month||110/month||140/month||140/month|
|25 Year Savings||15,000||30,000||35,000||35,000|
|Break-Even Period||9 Years||9 Years||10 Years||13 Years|
The above table used a 150/month average monthly power bill (before solar) as the reference for the solar reduction to the monthly bill. The break-even period is the time it takes for the monthly power bill savings to exceed your initial price to install the solar panels. Keep all of this in mind when considering the competition.
Tesla Solar Panels Versus the Competition
There are many solar panel manufacturers in the world, and it is a rapidly growing industry. Engineers are working hard to improve solar efficiencies and reduce their costs to release a new competitive product.
In the US, there are two main solar panel competitors to Tesla, which are SunPower and LG.
Located in San Jose, SunPower is an American energy company that was founded in 1985. They manufacture solar cells, solar panels, and energy storage batteries. It is a publicly-traded company under the stock ticker SPWR.
SunPower’s main product is their high-efficiency solar cell, which is called Maxeon. They integrate the Maxeon cell in all the solar panels they manufacture and sell. They also manufacture the highest efficiency and highest wattage panels on the market. SunPower makes four different types of panels, which are:
- A Series: This series uses the 5th generation of Maxeon solar cells, comes in a 400W size, and boasts a 22.3% solar efficiency.
- X Series: This series boasts 22.7% efficiency, provides around 370 watts, and it is great for space-constrained areas because of a smaller size.
- E Series: This series is available in 320, 327, or 345-watt sizes and has a 20% efficiency. This is their run-of-the-mill solar panel.
- P Series: This series has roughly 19% efficiency. Panel sizes are 380-400 watts and are intended for large commercial projects, like warehouses.
Warranty and Features
SunPower provides a great warranty of 25 years. However, it is not just the length that is fantastic. The warranty terms are wonderful too. Here are some highlights of what is covered:
- 100% of repair and replacement costs on defective parts
- Damage in shipping
- 8% DC power decline after 25 years
- 90% peak systems AC power
Their solar panels have built-in microinverters that optimize power conversion directly on the panel. They also include the fifth version of the solar cell that SunPower originally invented decades ago.
All series of panels are built from high-quality materials with excellent corrosion resistance. Because their panels last so long, they are confident with offering such a great warranty.
One major downside with SunPower is that they only offer their services in 26 US states, so if you live outside of these states, SunPower will not even be an option for you. Thankfully there are other options.
Headquartered in Korea, LG is a large conglomerate corporation with many different divisions. LG is mostly known for their consumer electronics, but they have many divisions, ranging from chemical to appliances and, more recently, solar panels.
LG began offering their solar panels to the US in 2020 and simultaneously launched their new solar panel product line, the LG NeON® 2. In the US, LG’s solar panels are manufactured in a plant they opened in 2019 in Alabama. LG provides a lineup of solar panels as well, which include:
- NeON 2 Panel: LG’s most common/standard panel
- NeON R Panel: A high-performance panel
- NeON R Prime Panel: A premium, modern solar panel
- NeON R ACe Panel: A high power, Smart AC solar panel
All of LG’s panels incorporate the “Cello” technology with their monocrystalline N-type solar cell. This sounds fancy, but it is just a technical term for the technology that converts sunlight into usable energy.
LG’s solar technology provides great performance, efficiency, and high power output. Their 25-year warranty provides guarantees of reliability, quality, and durability. Their warrant covers performance (90% power output after 25 years), product, and labor for the full 25 years.
How SunPower and LG Stack up Against Tesla
SunPower leads the way with the best solar efficiency, narrowly beating LG and Tesla by less than 1 percent. 22% to 23% is not a huge difference and will have a minuscule effect on your overall energy savings. For solar efficiency, even though SunPower is higher, it is essentially a tie amongst all three manufacturers. Let us compare:
|Warranty||25 Years||25 Years||25 Years|
|Performance||Great Durability||Great Durability||Greatest Durability|
|Extra Benefits||Price matching, the system integrates with Tesla app and products||Best warranty terms- the whole system is covered, as well as defect removal and install of new parts||Multiple panel options, “Smart panels,” simple to install|
|Cost||Same or lower (through price matching)||Generally lower cost than Tesla||Can be higher or lower, depending on panel type|
Tesla Solar Roof
It is worth noting that Tesla’s Solar Roof is a completely different product from their solar panels. The Solar Roof completely replaces your traditional roof tiles or shingles with tempered glass solar shingles.
The Solar Roof is made from interlocking roof tiles that are manufactured with embedded solar cells. The solar cells are interlinked and absorb energy from the sun, collect it as DC power, and pass it along to the solar inverter. The inverter then converts the DC power to AC power to be used by your home. It can also:
- Provide excess power back to the grid
- Provide power from the grid to your home during non-peak solar times
The Tesla Solar Roof has the following performance specifications, cost, savings, and break-even period. The below data is based on an average 2,000 square foot home with a monthly electric bill of 150 before solar installation.
|Daily Solar Production||25-32 kWh|
|Self Power %||45%|
|Monthly Bill Reduction||100/month|
|25 Year Savings||15,000|
|Break-Even Period||15 Years|
You may have noticed that the Tesla Solar Roof costs a lot more than the Tesla solar panels. So what gives? Remember, the Solar Roof is also a replacement for your roof, not just a solar system. So think of the expense of the Solar Roof as an expense for a roof replacement and a solar system.
Tesla Solar Roof Versus the Competition
The Tesla Solar Roof was the first solar roof on the market when it was first made commercially available in 2017. From 2017, when they released version 1, to 2020, when they released version 3, Tesla spent a lot of time and investments into research and development to improve their Solar Roof.
The payoff to all the research and development was that commercially viable and easily mass-produced version 3. In recent years, other manufacturers have taken notice and begun to offer products similar to the Tesla Solar Roof, including Luma, Forward, Exasun, and CertainTeed.
Luma Solar Roof
Located in Rochester Hills, Mi, Luma manufactures high-quality, luxury solar roofs. Their solar roofs are manufactured to look elegant and provide energy to the home. Luma’s solar roof system is the only upgradable solar shingle system on the market.
You may be surprised to find out that Luma invented solar roofs and has been in business since 2007. Luma was founded by two brothers, Robert and Gary, and continues to be owned by them. Luma has even completed solar projects all over the world.
Luma claims to provide the best curb appeal compared to any solar system on the market. Their solar roof certainly does look elegant and not at all like solar panels. It looks more like a designer roof than a solar system. However, it only works with sloped roofs. Luma offers two main options versions of their solar roof:
The integrated shingles take the place of some of the shingles of your traditional roof, whereas the edge-to-edge system provides more coverage of your roof. As a premium option, Luma offers the “Mirage collection,” which they refer to as full coverage for the roof. Here are some of the differences between Luma’s three options:
|Roof type||Integrated Shingles||Edge-to-edge||Mirage Collection|
|Power Output||65 W per shingle||65 W per shingle||75 W per shingle|
|Power Warranty||25 Years||25 Years||25 Years|
|Installed Cost||4.50 per watt||38 per square foot||Special inquiries only|
Forward Solar Roofing
Forward Solar is a startup company based in the bay area of California. They do not have a commercially available product yet, but you can log onto their website and sign up to reserve a solar roof once it is released.
Forward was founded in 2017 and is currently only taking reservations in regions around San Francisco and Oakland in CA. Forward’s core principles are to provide:
- An elegant and timeless roof design
- High energy density system
- Cost-effective solutions
Forward Solar’s panels are made out of high-quality tempered glass, similar to Tesla, include a passive venting system (which is unique to the industry), and are available in five different colors. Forward Solar is the only company to offer color options on solar collection systems. Here are some of the key specifications of Forward Solar’s roof:
- 19 watts of power per square foot
- Solar roofing cost of around 4 per watt
- Non-solar roofing portion cost of around 13 per square foot
- 30-year weatherization warranty with a “40-year life guarantee”
Since Forward Solar does not have a mass-producible product yet, it is hard to compare competitively to the Tesla roof at this time, but it is a promising group to look at when it comes to solar roofing options.
Exasun is a European manufacturer of a solar roof and is based in the Netherlands. Their solar roofing systems offer great durability and efficiency, a high-performance ratio, and a beautiful design. It is completely manufactured in the Netherlands and is not available yet in the US.
Exasun got its start a few years ago when they launched their X-Glass Black glass module in April 2015. Since then, they have developed additional solar products, which now include:
- X-Glass: Low profile solar panels
- X-Facade: Solar panels that attach to the facade of large buildings instead of the roof
- X-Tile: A solar roofing tile that can be placed between various types of tiles and is available in multiple colors
- X-Roof: A solar roof with integrated solar cells
- X-Colour: Their unique color technology, which can be applied to any of their solar products
Since the X-Roof is the most similar product to the Tesla Solar Roof, it is best to FOCUS on that for the sake of the comparison. It is a sloped roof that incorporates solar cells and collects sunlight. It functions and looks similar to the Tesla Solar Roof, but it is available in many colors, not just black.
The X-Roof is made out of durable tempered glass and was designed with fast installation in mind. Like the Tesla Solar Roof, it can withstand high impacts from hail without being damaged. The X-Roof is great for renovations, new constructions, and slanted roofs.
Since Exasun does not provide their product in the US and because energy costs are very different in Europe, it would be difficult to compare to Tesla’s Solar Roof side-by-side.
A US-based manufacturing company, CertainTeed produces building materials and solar roofs. CertainTeed is owned by Saint Gobain, a large French conglomerate. Their claim to fame in the solar world is providing premium solar systems, with their main 3 product lines being:
- Solar Panels: The Solstice product line
- Solar Shingles: The Apollo II system
- Solar Tiles: The Apollo Tile II system
You might be wondering what the difference is between solar shingles and solar tiles. Well, CertainTeed solar shingles are designed and shaped to look like regular shingles and replace your whole roof.
The solar tiles, on the other hand, are the same shape as standard clay tiles and can replace your whole roof or just integrate with your regular tiles.
How the Other Solar Roof Competitors Stack up Against Tesla
Exasun and Forward solar both have nice-looking products, but they are not yet a viable option for most people living in the US. Luma and CertainTeed do have commercially available solar roof systems, so take a look at how the Tesla Solar Roof compares to them.
|Solar System||Tesla Solar Roof||CertainTeed Apollo II||Luma Solar Roof|
|Warranty||25 Years||25 Years||25 Years|
|Performance||A Rating||A Rating||A Rating|
|Other||The system integrates with the Tesla app and products||Does not replace the whole roof||Provides more than one tile type|
CertainTeed and Luma both offer a similar 25-year warranty as Tesla. The Apollo II shingles do not replace or cover your entire roof, whereas one of the Luma systems does (similar to Tesla).
The major difference between the Apollo II and the Tesla Solar Roof is that the Apollo II solar shingle system is not an edge-to-edge roof. This means that the shingles integrate with your existing shingles and are not entirely replaced like with the Tesla Solar Roof.
In general, CertainTeed’s costs are a little higher, but consider that you will also have to cover the cost of the remaining traditional roof tiles or shingles and the maintenance associated with that.
If you prefer to have your entire roof the same texture and even look throughout, go with edge-to-edge solar roof coverage with either the Tesla or Luma systems. The main difference between Luma and Tesla is the installation cost, with Luma being higher on average, and the look of the solar tiles.
Tesla Versus Tesla – Solar Panels or Solar Roof?
Tesla’s solar panels compete with the other manufacturers on the market very well, as does their Solar Roof. Another difference Tesla has compared to the competition is its mobile app. With the app, you can monitor your complete solar system. You will be able to notice and fix high power draw issues quickly with the 24/7 monitoring capabilities.
But how do the Tesla Solar Roof and Tesla panels compare against one another, and why would you get one over the other? This decision entirely depends on the individual’s goals and desires, but here are some factors to weigh in your decision making:
- Curb Appeal: Does a solar panel or Solar Roof look better to you?
- Total Cost: How much are you willing to spend?
- Current Roof Condition: Do you need a new roof anyway?
- Power Requirements: How much energy do you need?
Things to Consider
One major factor you should consider is that the cost of a traditional roof plus solar panels are generally more than the Solar Roof. The Solar Roof kills two birds with one stone. Here is a look at how the Solar Roof and solar panels compare (again using a 2000 square foot home with a monthly electric bill of 150 for estimations):
|Tesla Solar System||Tesla Solar Roof||Tesla Solar Panels|
|Kilowatt||7.8 kW||8.16 kW|
|Self Power %||45%||46%|
|Cost after incentives||20,000||12,000|
|Roof Replacement Cost||Included in above||~16,000|
|Monthly Bill Reduction||100/month||110/month|
|25 Year Savings||20,000||30,000|
|Break-Even Period||15 Years||9 Years|
As you can see, the upfront cost of the solar panels is much cheaper than the upfront cost of the Solar Roof. However, if you consider the cost of an average premium roof, which is around 16,000, the Tesla Solar Roof is the overall lower cost option. If you need a new roof or are building a new home, the Tesla Solar Roof is a better choice.
The Solar Roof is also more durable, has a longer warranty, and would need replacement much later than a traditional roof. You should consider these future cost savings as well when making your decision. You will also have to consider if you prefer the look of the solar tiles or the look of solar panels on top of a regular roof.
Compatibility with Other Solar Products
Both of Tesla’s solar system options work well with their other solar products, like the Powerwall, solar inverter, and solar app. Here is how these devices work together:
- Solar Inverter: It converts DC solar energy from your panels or Solar Roof to AC power for your home. It also controls the charging of Powerwall(s), provides and draws energy from the power grid or Powerwall(s), and monitors energy usage.
- Tesla Powerwall: It collects and stores solar energy for later use. It can provide energy at night, on cloudy days, or when the power grid is down. For Tesla aficionados, you can charge your Tesla car with the Powerwall.
- Tesla app: It not only connects to your car but also your solar system! You can monitor energy usage and absorption, Powerwall charge levels, and even control some aspects.
Should You Get the Tesla Solar Roof or Solar Panels?
It is easy to see that Tesla provides great solar products all around. They have a wonderful warranty and great customer support. If Tesla services the area you live in and you are looking to get a solar system for your home, you should consider their Solar Roof or solar panels.
Both Tesla’s Solar Roof and panels work seamlessly with the Tesla app and the Powerwall. With a Tesla solar system and one to ten Powerwalls, you can potentially store enough energy to power your home off the grid for close to 2 weeks!
Take some time and consider which system is right for you and if you should include a battery backup Powerwall. Whatever choice you make, you will be basking in the sun in no time!
Does Tesla Offer Discounts on Solar?
Tesla solar is already the lowest cost-per-watt solar on the market, but are there any other ways to save money when ordering?
In short, the only way to get a discount on Tesla solar products is by using an existing Tesla owners “referral link” when ordering.
Tesla has did this same “referral program” concept with it’s vehicles and essentially it allows new customers to get a discount on their purchase by using an existing customers personal referral link.
In regards to Tesla solar discounts, using a Tesla referral link when ordering will save you 300 off solar panels or 500 off solar roof.
The referral discounts are typically only available for a limited time before Tesla stops offering the discount, so take advantage of the savings while you can.
Tesla provides easy online tools to estimate the cost to install a solar system, including solar panels, the Solar Roof, solar inverters, and Powerwall batteries at your home.
The great estimators also give you the advantage of providing information on the tax incentives you can receive in your area. For this reason, coupled with Tesla’s solar price matching, it would be a hard decision not to choose Tesla for your solar needs!
The articles here on ThatTeslaChannel.com are created by Greg, a Tesla vehicle and Tesla solar expert with nearly half a decade of hands-on experience. The information on this site is fact-checked and tested in-person to ensure the best possible level of accuracy.
Tesla has recently launched a new ‘Ownership Loyalty Program’ that comes with some deep discounts for Tesla owners, but it seems a little off-character for the Tesla brand. Tesla does car.
Tesla has a very similar approach to the original “Ford” vehicles in regards to naming its vehicle models. Ford started with the Model T in 1908, and Tesla started with the Model S in 2012. If.
About the Author
The articles here on ThatTeslaChannel.com are created by a Tesla vehicle and Tesla solar expert with nearly half a decade of hands-on experience. The information on this site is fact-checked and tested in-person to ensure the best possible level of accuracy.
See available Tesla Discounts with a current Tesla owner’s Tesla Referral Link when ordering. Save money and save the planet!
Disclaimer: That Tesla Channel (TTC) is an independent enthusiast organization and is not affiliated with Tesla Motors, Inc. or its subsidiaries. TTC is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, and other affiliate programs, and as an affiliate, earns from qualified purchases. Tesla, Tesla Motors, Tesla Roadster, Model S, Model X, Model 3, Model Y, and Cybertruck are trademarks or registered trademarks of Tesla Motors, Inc. in the United States and other countries.
Tesla Solar Vs. ADT Solar: Which Company Is Better?
Here’s what we’ll cover in this solar provider comparison:
- Which solar panel installation company is better: Tesla Solar or ADT Solar?
- Which company is cheaper: Tesla Solar or ADT Solar?
- Does Tesla Solar or ADT Solar have better solar warranties?
Each product and or company featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Written by Dan Simms
Dan Simms is an experienced writer with a passion for renewable energy. As a solar and EV advocate, much of his work has focused on the potential of solar power and deregulated energy, but he also writes on related topics, like real estate and economics. In his free time — when he’s not checking his own home’s solar production — he enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, skiing and rock climbing. Learn About This Person
Reviewed by Melissa Smith
Melissa is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainability studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a nonprofit that’s featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral. Learn About This Person
Why You Can Trust EcoWatch
We work with a panel of solar experts to create unbiased reviews that empower you to make the right choice for your home. No other site has covered renewables as long as us, which means we have more data and insider information than other sites. Our rankings are never affected by revenue or partnerships.
Jump to Section:
Find the best price from solar installers in your area.
The company you choose to handle your solar panel installation will affect your entire experience from initial consultation to long past the installation process. The installer has an impact on your cost, warranty coverage, system longevity and much more.
If you’re researching solar companies to handle your home energy system installation, you’ve probably come across Tesla Solar and ADT Solar as two prominent options. Both companies have their upsides and drawbacks, so it can be tough to choose which is best for your needs.
In this article, we’ll offer some insight into which company has the edge. We’ll compare these providers based on some crucial data points and explain why we generally recommend ADT Solar over Tesla Solar.
Overview: Tesla Solar Vs. ADT Solar
Tesla Solar and ADT Solar both provide wide coverage, and they’re among the most popular renewable energy companies in the U.S. We feel it’s necessary to compare these companies, as many customers will likely have one or both of these providers on their lists of potential companies to hire for solar power conversion.
|Company||Brand Is Best For||Price||Warranty Coverage||States Served||BBB Rating||Payment Options||Solar Services Offered|
|Tesla Solar||Wide Coverage Area and Affordability||25-year equipment, 10-year workmanship warranties||50 states||B||Cash, loan||Solar panels, solar battery backups, EV chargers, solar roof tiles, solar system monitoring|
|ADT Solar||System Customization and Coverage||25-year equipment, power production and workmanship warranties||23 states (expanding to 5 more)||B||Cash, loan, solar lease, PPA||Solar panels, battery storage, EV chargers, solar monitoring|
Tesla Solar Overview
Tesla was founded in 2003. While it’s primarily focused on luxury electric vehicles (EVs), it also manufactures tier-one monocrystalline solar panels and some of the best clean energy storage systems in the industry — the Tesla Powerwall.
In 2016, Tesla purchased SolarCity, another of Elon Musk’s companies. Since then, it has provided solar services to the entire country through third-party installers.
Tesla is far from the best solar company in the country, but it’s one of the most popular and an overall great option for converting to solar power.
ADT Solar Overview
Formerly known as Sunpro Solar, the company provided high-quality solar equipment and positive customer service experiences starting in 2008. In 2021, Sunpro was purchased by the home security company ADT, and has been rebranded to ADT Solar.
ADT Solar is best known for its outstanding warranty coverage and affordable solar equipment.
ADT Solar doesn’t have as large a coverage area as Tesla, but it does perform some in-house installations, which helps maintain better customer service overall.
Will GAF Energy beat Tesla on integrated solar roofs?
The sister company of roofing giant GAF has sector-spanning smarts and thousands of installs to date.
SAN JOSE. California — GAF Energy has installed several thousand integrated solar roofs. That’s more than Tesla Energy has installed despite the ambitious promises of its CEO. Elon Musk. In fact, GAF Energy President Martin DeBono believes that his company’s just-launched photovoltaic roof shingle design positions it to solarize millions of residential roofs.
“ What we’ve built is a nailable solar shingle that goes on as fast or faster than a regular shingle, looks great and generates electricity,” said DeBono, who spoke with Canary Media during this reporter’s recent visit to the company’s new 50.megawatt-capacity, 112. 000.square-foot manufacturing facility in San Jose, California.
GAF Energy is a Standard Industries company and sister company to GAF. one of the world’s largest roofing companies. GAF manufactures asphalt shingles as well as roofing materials such as thermoplastic polyolefin ( TPO ), polyvinyl chloride ( PVC ) and underlayments.
Standard Industries businesses include operating companies GAF. BMI. Grace, Siplast, Schiedel and SGI. as well as Standard Investments and Winter Properties. Forbes ranks Standard as No. 65 on its list of America’s largest private companies.
Disrupting the roofing industry
“ Technology has ripped apart every industry, and technology is going to change roofing. We’re the largest roofing manufacturer in the world; either we’re going to go disrupt the roofing industry ourselves or someone else will,” said DeBono.
The CEO contrasted the traditional solar mounting process — solar panels installed on racking secured by drilling through the roof and “ trying to hit a rafter” — with the GAF Energy product, “ a shingle that is lapped, installed and booked just like any other shingle would be in order to create a waterproof barrier.”
DeBono said GAF developed the product by thinking like a roofing company, not a solar company, building a roofing product that happens to have solar capabilities. He said the roofing industry is 20 times larger than the rooftop solar business and has an enormous advantage in scale.
Residential solar installations exceeded 130. 000 systems in the U.S. last quarter, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, while more than 5 million new roofs are installed on U.S. homes each year, according to DeBono, who also said that GAF commands a 25 percent share of the U.S. roofing market.
For a traditional solar company, the process of customer acquisition is the most expensive part of a residential solar system, costing far more per watt than the solar panels themselves. DeBono estimates that customer-acquisition costs for roofers are “ typically less than 500. compared to 3. 000 to 5. 000 for a solar roof.”
DeBono said GAF Energy is making it easier to complete the electrical connections by placing the electronics and wiring on the top side of its shingles. “ GAF Energy does all the electrical services. The roofer does the roof, and at a later date, the GAF Energy employee will come and install the inverter and finish the electrical run,” he said.
“ As the manufacturer of both the solar and the shingle itself, we want to make sure that it’s done correctly if we’re going to be on the hook for a 25.year warranty,” he said.
Installation time is one to three days, according to DeBono, which compares favorably to the weeks-long construction process often needed to install a Tesla solar roof (despite that company’s repeated insistence that it takes only five to seven business days).
Get Caught Up
Can the US manufacture enough solar panels to meet its surging demand?
“ Because it’s built as a roofing product, it has to meet roofing standards. It has to be able to be submerged in water; it has to be able to withstand hail; it has a Class A fire rating — all standards that a solar panel does not need to meet but a roof does,” said DeBono.
It’s a roof and it’s BIPV
GAF Energy’s solar roofing system is a type of building-integrated photovoltaics, known as BIPV. Bunea said, “ It’s a roof and it’s BIPV. so when we are certifying, we have to certify in both worlds. We have roofing industry standards as well as BIPV standards.”
She added, “ The testing agencies have become smarter about building-integrated photovoltaics.”
In September 2021. GAF Energy’s solar shingle achieved UL ’s 7103 certification, which authorizes the company to install its system on residential roofs as a roofing product and a solar energy product — the first product to be recognized as both, according to GAF Energy.
There’s huge potential for the product. Americans want solar on their homes. Even as the pandemic persisted, residential solar deployment in the U.S. was up 21 percent in 2021 compared to the previous year, reaching a record 3. 9 gigawatts, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.
BIPV is a tough business
But GAF Energy has some competition. In addition to Tesla, there are a number of BIPV designers and installers operating today, including ArteZanos, Atum, CertainTeed, Forward, Heliatek, Lumeta, SunTegra, Ubiquitous Energy and Viridian Solar.
There is also a long list of less-than-successful BIPV efforts.
But GAF Energy’s parent company is fully behind its lofty aims.
“ Realizing our vision of a breakthrough mass-market solar roof has been our mission since we launched GAF Energy in 2019 ,” said David Winter and David Millstone, co-CEOs of Standard Industries, in a press release.
DeBono notes that unlike the offerings of some other high-profile vendors, “ The product is available today; it’s not vaporware.” He adds, “ Our mission is energy from every roof, starting with composite shingle roofs.”
Correction: This story initially reported that GAF Energy’s mono PERC solar cells are domestically manufactured. In fact, they are manufactured overseas, not in the U.S. (though not in China).
Eric Wesoff is the editorial director at Canary Media.
Will Tesla’s Solar Roof Change the Residential Solar Market?
Oliver Koehler, CEO of SunTegra, believes the Tesla solar roof marks the start of the PV mass market—and offers an opening for competition.
Solar has been on an amazing growth trajectory. As we approach the milestone of 2 million homes with solar power, we need something more beautiful to reach the mass market. Enter the Tesla solar roof.
Tesla’s solar roof has redefined the popular conception of what residential solar can be. In an industry that has done very little product-level innovation, Tesla’s new product is a radical reimagining that has left consumers in awe.
Industry wonks have tried to make sense of Tesla’s solar roof by digging into the numbers and converting dollars per watt to dollars per square foot. But in the mind of the customer, Tesla’s solar roof will be the definition of next-generation solar.- whether it makes economic sense or not.
Elon Musk’s initiative has captured a latent yearning on the part of customers for a tailor-made design that integrates with their homes and the way they live. As the CEO and founder of SunTegra, a competing solar shingle and tile company, I’ve seen first-hand that the next generation of solar customers want a low-profile, more integrated solution that blends in with their home.
Until now, the customer challenge has been awareness. Most homeowners didn’t know that alternatives to conventional rack-mounted systems even existed. Thanks to Elon Musk and his ability to capture the media’s attention, this is no longer a problem.
To achieve broader market adoption, solar roofs will have to be competitive, available when a roof needs replacing, and easy to install.
Is the Tesla solar roof priced competitively?
As the founder of a company that already manufactures and sells solar roofing products, I was very interested in deconstructing the economics of Tesla’s solar roof product relative to conventional rack-mounted solar and other solar shingle products that already exist on the market. Here is what I found.
Based on Tesla’s online calculator and released information, the company has pegged the installed price of its solar tiles at 42 per square foot. By estimating the output and size of their solar tile, I have calculated that 42 per square foot translates to an installed price of approximately 3.50 per watt for just the active solar panel area.
Today, the average price for conventional solar with a premium all-black solar panel is about 3.25 per watt.- making Tesla competitive with a higher-cost system. Of course, the competitiveness of the price truly depends on when the customer will receive the product and whether Tesla can earn a reasonable profit. I expect Tesla’s pricing will have to be higher longer-term.
Another thing to remember is that the solar portion of the roof is only part of the equation. If you buy the Tesla solar tile, you still need to buy the non-solar glass tiles for the rest of your roof.
Based on information released by Tesla, the installed price for the non-solar glass tiles is approximately 11 per square foot. This installed cost is expensive if compared to high-volume common roofing materials.- 3 per square foot for asphalt shingles and 7 per square foot for concrete tiles.- but is similar to lower-volume, high-end roofing materials such as ceramic or clay tiles, standing seam metal and slate.
Based on these roofing costs and Tesla’s published aggressive pricing, Tesla’s total roof solution requires a premium for the most common types of roofing materials, but is economic for high-end roofing materials.
In comparison, the SunTegra solar roof solution offers a lower premium for more common roofing materials compared to conventional solar, but is less economic than the Tesla roof for high-end roofing materials.
Although high-end roofing products represent a smaller portion of existing housing stock, they likely overlap quite well with Tesla’s high-end target customer, who is also shopping for the latest Tesla electric car. From a business perspective, it makes sense that Tesla is doubling down on its loyal customer base.
When will the Tesla solar roof be available in volume?
In order to really change the market, the Tesla solar roof product will have to be made available in high volume. If history is a guide, Tesla has a habit of hyping products before they are ready to scale. Many in the industry believe the same will be true for Tesla’s solar roof. Tesla likes to dangle the beta to generate interest, and then deliver the final product behind schedule.
There are two factors that lead me to believe that high-volume rollout of Tesla’s solar roof will take several years.
The first factor is practicality. Tesla’s solar roof is still in development and has likely had limited field testing. A solar tile roof, as it is contemplating, requires many electrical connections and needs to reliably function as a roofing material. The product and installation methods need to be developed and regulatory issues have to be addressed before high volume can occur. From experience, I know this takes time.
The second reason is cost. As I alluded to above, my own estimate is that Tesla’s initial pricing is closer to the actual cost and that the company will have to charge a higher premium to make a profit. That leads me to believe that its strategy will initially FOCUS on low-volume test customers that will be forgiving as Tesla works out the kinks.
Will competitors fill the gap?
If in fact Tesla has created market demand without a product to deliver scale, there may be an opening for companies like SunTegra. (Others are making the same argument in the pages of GTM.) The residential solar industry has flattened out and needs new products to energize sales. If Tesla’s solar roof initiative is successful, other solar retailers such as Sunrun, Sunnova and Vivint will be looking for product partners that can help them compete.
Tesla’s solar roof initiative won’t transform the solar market overnight, but it has helped redefine what residential solar can be. I believe the market will follow suit. Welcome to the solar mass market.
Oliver Koehler is CEO and founder of SunTegra. Jigar Shah, co-founder of Generate Capital, contributed to this piece.
Listen to our analysis of Tesla’s solar roof on The Energy Gang podcast.