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.
Is the Tesla solar roof worth the additional cost compared to solar panels?
In early 2018, Tesla finally began manufacturing solar tiles for the public at their New York-based Gigafactory 2. That’s great news, but are Tesla’s premium solar products worth the extra cost in 2019? And how do they compare to the cost of traditional solar panels? Let’s take a look.
First things first, let’s get our nomenclature in order. Tesla actually manufactures two different solar products. Their famous solar tiles, in which solar cells are embedded into glass roofing tiles, as well as traditional solar panels, which must be bolted to the existing roof like any other solar panel.
Both Tesla’s solar tiles and panels incorporate Panasonic’s legendary HIT series of ultra-efficient solar cells. These are some of the most efficient solar cells available on the market. Most standard-quality solar panels see efficiency rates around 16% to 18%. That is, they are able to convert 16% to 18% of all the sunlight that hits the panel into usable electricity.
Panasonic’s HIT panels, on the other hand, enjoy 19% to 21% efficiency. You’re probably thinking that’s not a huge difference, but you’d be wrong. Do the math and you’ll find that a solar panel that is 21% efficient can actually produce 30% more electricity than a solar panel that is 16% efficient!
Tesla partnership with Panasonic goes all the way back to 2016, when Tesla chose Panasonic to get their solar panel production in their then-new Gigafactory 2 facility off the ground. Panasonic foot the bill for the factory and Tesla agreed to purchase all the solar products manufactured at the site.
Panasonic initially shipped in solar cells it produced in Japan and then manufactured the solar panels in the New York factory. By August 2017, production had progressed and Tesla began producing both the solar panels and the solar tiles at the Gigafactory 2, each using Panasonic’s solar cells.
After numerous delays and a trial run, in 2018 the factory took over the entire manufacturing process, from solar cells all the way up to the finished panel and tile.
Tesla Solar Roof Cost vs Solar Panels Cost
Tesla’s solar panels are premium products, in line with other top-tier manufacturers like LG and Sunpower. Their panels command higher than standard-quality offerings, but they are also more efficient and have much better warranties.
If you’re in the market for a premium solar panel, the Tesla solar panel is a great option. It’s backed up with Panasonic’s incredible technology and likely has a good, long-term warranty.
The panels themselves will likely be 1.5x to 2x more expensive than standard-quality panels, but the rest of the installation costs like installation and other equipment should remain fairly similar to any other traditional solar installation.
And installing Tesla’s traditional solar panels is certainly cheaper than their solar tiles, which are hard to justify in any situation. If you’re needing a new roof anyway or are building a new home, Tesla’s solar shingles make much more sense, but it’ll still be cheaper to simply install normal asphalt shingles and a traditional solar installation.
Beyond the aesthetics, the next selling point for Tesla’s solar shingles is the simplicity of the system. You don’t need to buy a new roof and solar panels, they’re integrated into each other. As such, if we want to compare costs, we can’t just compare the cost of Tesla’s solar shingles to installing solar only, but the cost of installing a new roof as well.
Tesla’s solar roof costs about 21.85 per square foot, with 35% of the tiles being solar tiles, and the rest non-solar tiles. Covering a 2,500 square foot roof in Tesla shingles then would cost a total of 54,600.
How does that compare to a new roof with traditional solar panels? First, asphalt shingles cost around 4/square foot, so covering a 2,500 square foot roof would cost 10,000.
As far as the solar installation goes, we’d need more info than just the roof size to really size the installation appropriately, but let’s say the installation is 6.2 kilowatts – the average installation size in the US as of 2018. At the average installation cost of about 3/watt, that totals 18,600. Combing the roof and solar installation, you’re looking at a grand total of 28,600 – about half the price of the Tesla shingles.
Of course, the solar installation and the Tesla shingles are eligible for the 30% federal Investment Tax Credit. Tacking those on, our total costs drop to:
- Tesla Solar Roof Cost: 38,220
- Solar Panels Asphalt Shingles Cost: 23,020
The difference is much less, but you’re still spending quite a bit more on the Tesla solar shingles than traditional solar panels on a separate asphalt roof.
That being said, there are a few long-term benefits of Tesla’s shingles over the traditional system:
- Tesla’s shingles are guaranteed for life. While the solar cells might stop functioning, you basically have a permanent roof that is covered under warranty forever. Compare that to asphalt shingles’ estimated lifespan of 10 to 20 years.
- Tesla’s solar cells are very efficient and should produce more electricityper cell than traditional solar panels. Unfortunately though, Tesla’s yet to publish any specs or data on their solar shingle’s production, so we can’t make a definitive statement around production yet.
- When it comes time to sell your home, you’ll probably see a higher increase in home value with the Tesla solar shingles than with traditional solar panels. Again, this isn’t 100% sure, but we’re guessing Tesla’s panels should hold their value pretty well, and translate that to an increase in your home’s value.
How Do Tesla’s Solar Tiles Stack Up to Traditional Solar Panels?
Tesla’s solar tiles are unique in the solar industry, because you’d never even know they’re up there. Traditional solar panels, as you’ve probably noticed, are pretty easy to spot. Let’s compare Tesla’s solar shingles to traditional solar panels in three categories:
- Aesthetics: Tesla has all other solar manufacturers, even other solar tile manufacturers, beat here.
- Cost: Tesla solar tiles are much more expensive than installing traditional solar panels.
- Efficiency: Tesla’s partnership with Panasonic gives them access to some of the most efficient solar cells on the market today.
Let’s take a look at each of these categories a bit more in depth.
Aesthetics: Tesla Wins Hands-Down
This is the biggest selling point for Tesla’s solar shingles. They just look so good. Let’s admit it, renewable energy is beautiful, but those solar panels bolted on your neighbor’s roof aren’t. Sure, they complement certain home styles quite well, but most of us don’t live in the bold, ultra-modern homes that solar companies use in their advertisements.
Tesla’s solar shingles, on the other hand, are so well-designed you wouldn’t even know the roof you’re staring at is pumping out electricity. Of course, if you want your neighbors to now you’re so green-minded, then you might have a problem.
Compared to other solar tiles on the market, Tesla still comes out ahead. Unlike competitor’s products, Tesla’s solar tiles are designed to cover your entire roof. Tesla manufactures tiles both with and without solar cells inside. With matching solar and non-solar tiles, your roof looks uniform, but you don’t waste money installing solar tiles in shaded areas.
Other solar tile manufacturers only produce tiles with solar cells inside, so the solar tiles will only cover part of your roof. They’re still certainly an improvement over traditional solar installations, but instantly recognizable as something other than just a normal roof.
Overall, nothing comes close to Tesla’s solar tiles.
Efficiency: Tesla Uses Some of the Most Efficient Solar Technology Available
Thanks to their partnership with Panasonic, Tesla solar panels and solar tiles are built around some of the most efficient solar cells available today. Somewhat annoyingly, Tesla hasn’t yet released any official stats on either their solar panels or tiles yet, so we can still only offer conjecture on their wattage and efficiency.
We do know that Tesla solar panels are 325 watts, but that’s all the info Tesla has officially released. We can reasonably assume their solar panel is similar to Panasonic’s own 325-watt panel, which boasts an efficiency of 21.76%.
As we mentioned earlier, standard-quality solar panels are typically around 16% to 18% efficient, so that’s quite a jump in performance.
Tesla’s solar tiles, which measure 8.7” X 14”, each contain two solar cells that produce 6 watts of electricity, for a max of 12 watts per tile. At this wattage, 27 solar tiles is equal to a single Tesla solar panel.
Tesla has yet to release numbers on the efficiency of the tiles, but unless the textured glass severely hinders sunlight from making it to the solar cell, it’s hopefully close to the panel efficiency above, since both the tiles and panels use the same Panasonic solar cells inside.
Who’s the Winner?
Tesla solar panels and tiles are a premium solar option. As we’ve seen they’re more expensive than installing traditional solar panels, but you’re also getting a high-quality product with great efficiency and aesthetics.
The question remains though, are they worth the extra cost? For the vast majority of homeowners, we think not. For most of us, traditional, standard-quality solar panels will work just fine. They’re extremely cost-effective, time-tested, and easy to install. They might not look as sleek as Tesla’s solar shingles, but they’re excellent at producing clean energy and saving you money.
There are a few instances though where solar shingles might make sense. First, if you’re building a new home or need to reroof anyway, Tesla’s solar shingles make more financial sense, especially when considering their ‘forever’ warranty. Second, if you like being on the cutting-edge of technology and don’t mind the additional cost that early adopters inevitably pay, who are we to stop you?
Eventually, as Tesla continues to grow and other companies start offering similar products, solar shingles will make better financial sense. There’s already a handful of solar tile manufacturers out there, like Luma Solar, RGS, and CertainTeed either in testing or commercially available.
Eventually, we wouldn’t be surprised to see solar shingles on roofs across the US, but it’ll likely take a while. Early solar enthusiasts have already installed traditional solar panels on their roof, so the lowest fruit’s already been picked. Couple that with the high cost of Tesla’s solar shingles, and it might be a while before they catch on in a big way.
Tesla solar panels and tiles are incredible products, but you’ll see a better return on your solar investment with standard-quality solar panels since the Tesla solar roof cost is still very high in comparison – at least for now.
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Tesla Solar Roof
Transform your home with the latest solar technology. With building-integrated solar PV from Tesla Solar Roof, you can enjoy a beautiful roof with all the benefits of renewable energy.
We customize your Solar Roof system for your unique roof structure and power needs. After all, why purchase a roof and a solar PV system separately when you can tie them together? We’re proud to partner with the team at Quality Roofing in Milton Florida to bring you the latest in solar technology.
Give us a call today for more information, or to receive your free customized quote.
Transform your home into its own power plant without compromising on aesthetics.
Active solar PV tiles are almost undetectable to the naked eye making your home the envy of the block.
What other roof can help pay for itself over time?
With Solar Roof, you can add value to your home and lower your electric bill with solar PV tiles integrated right into your shingles.
Plus, Tesla Solar Roof can even increase your roof’s solar capacity when compared to traditional solar panels.
We’re no stranger to extreme weather here on the Gulf Coast. The good news is, Solar Roof tiles are built to last.
With three times the strength of traditional roof tiles, all-weather protection, and a 25-year warranty, you can rest easy knowing your Solar Roof will produce clean energy for decades to come.
Why Install Solar With Tesla Solar Roof?
Installing a solar power system in any capacity reduces your monthly electric bill, adds value to your home, and helps to keep our environment healthy. But with Tesla Solar Roof you can take advantage of all the benefits of renewable energy without sacrificing on aesthetics and curb appeal.
The Tesla Solar Roof: What You Should Know
If you’ve been in the market for a new roof or a solar array, chances are you’ve heard whisperings about the Tesla Solar Roof. It’s the perfect combination of upscale, aesthetically pleasing roofing tiles that just so happen to generate electricity. Thanks to our close strategic partnership with Sun Valley Solar Solutions, Azul Roofing is pleased to announce that Tesla‘s revolutionary Solar Roof is now available!
Like all new technologies, questions about Solar Roof’s abilities abound. And while we can’t possibly answer everything in the context of this short blog, we wanted to take a few minutes and address some of the most common. Whether you’re in the market for a new roof, are interested in solar panels — or both — the Solar Roof might be a good option for you. Read on to learn more about this cutting-edge technology and see if it’s the right choice for you.
Solar Roof Tiles are Extremely Durable
Choosing the Tesla Solar Roof means choosing one of the most durable tiles on the market. Solar Roof tiles are made with tempered glass, making them more than three-times stronger than many traditional roofing systems. They’re also engineered for all-weather durability — so whether you’re in Flagstaff facing the snow, or in Phoenix facing the heat, Tesla has engineered the Solar Roof to handle it all.
In addition to durability, Tesla backs Solar Roof with an industry-leading 25-year weatherization, power, and tile warranty — longer than many traditional roofing systems. So there’s ample reason to feel confident that an investment in Solar Roof will pay off for many years/decades to come.
The Solar Roof Pays You Pack
Unlike a non-generating roof tile, Solar Roof will begin putting money back in your from the moment it’s switched on. By installing the Solar Roof, you’ll be able to reduce your monthly electricity bills and replace an aging roof all at the same time. What’s more, the Solar Roof can be combined with technologies such as the Tesla Powerwall. The compact and sleek Powerwall home battery stores any excess solar energy, making it available to further offset purchased utility power at night or to provide security during power outages.
Increased Curb Appeal
Increased curb appeal is one of the many benefits of getting a new roof. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and many homeowners find the look of traditional solar panels to be less than appealing. With the Solar Roof, you won’t have to compromise.
The beautiful Tesla Solar Roof alternates between a combination of energy-producing and non-energy producing tiles. This mix of tiles allows the Solar Roof to easily integrate with a wide variety of roof shapes and sizes. Both tile types are entirely indistinguishable from one another and combine to create an invisible solar array that’s aesthetically pleasing at any angle. Want more production? Add more power-producing tiles. It’s that simple.
Two Teams For The Price Of One
Azul Roofing Solutions is the only Tesla Certified Solar Roof installer to forge a strategic partnership with Arizona’s most trusted solar design team. Since 2006, Sun Valley Solar Solutions has helped more than 8,500 homeowners go solar. With Azul handling the roofing side and Sun Valley Solar Solutions ensuring a safe and reliable grid connection, you’ll gain access to expertise not available from other roofing teams.
If you’re interested in the Tesla Solar Roof, we invite you to request a free, no-obligation quote! Simply click the button below to get started.