Tesla Solar Roof (Everything you need to know)
The Tesla solar roof is another brand-new product that offers large scale energy savings compared to a typical modern rooftop. Elon Musk unveiled this latest addition to the Tesla offerings back on October 28, 2016, along with the announcement that Tesla will be acquiring SolarCity. According to Elon Musk, Tesla’s goal is to make solar roofs:
- Look better than a normal roof
- Generate electricity
- Durable and last longer
- Have better insulation, and
- Have an installed cost that is less than a normal roof plus the cost of electricity.
Therefore, Tesla solar roofs are better for people who want to earn money off their rooftops. It proposes making your roof an investment asset rather than simply a liability.
So, does this value proposition make sense, or should you avoid it?
Tesla solar roofs are a good pick over traditional rooftops. It is perfect for people who have an upcoming canopy overhaul and want to add value to their property and electricity savings. However, for the pure rational investor, solar panels are still by far the quickest way to get a return on your investments.
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What is a Tesla Solar Roof?
The Tesla solar roof is the latest innovation from Tesla, which allows your rooftop to generate solar energy and earn you savings.
It is the same as a solar panel but blends in as a typical granite-looking rooftop which is the highlight of this Tesla product.
Each tile comes with a lifetime of the house warranty and 30-year power generation guaranteed. After the electricity production, Tesla estimates that its solar roof will be cheaper than regular tile roofs or virtually pay for itself through electricity savings.
Now let’s talk about choices. In general, each solar roof tile comes with a “color louver film” covering. The unique film allows the Tesla solar roof tiles to blend into the roof while exposing them to the sun above. Lastly, each tile has tempered glass on top for durability. Talk about icing on the cake.
As of the moment, Tesla Solar Roofs come in four flavors: Textured Glass Tile, Slate Glass Tile, Tuscan Glass Tile, and Smooth Glass Tile.
How Does A Tesla Solar Roof Work?
So how does a Tesla Solar Roof Work exactly? Simply put, through its solar energy business companies, SolarCity and Tesla Energy, Tesla introduced a natural-looking solar panel variation. It works precisely like a solar panel, using high-efficiency solar cells and modules integrated inside textured solar roof tiles.
They are meant to compete more with traditional roofs that need replacement than their solar panel cousins. However, one cannot avoid comparing whether you are an enthusiastic clean energy supporter or a rational investor.
How Much Does A Tesla Solar Roof Cost?
According to Tesla itself, a typical homeowner can expect a rate of 21.85 per square foot when they decide to replace their existing tiles with Tesla Solar Roofs.
The latest solar tile model (version 3) is 114 cm long by 43 cm wide and is rated at 58 watts. Each tile costs about 6.49 per watt.
Many factors play into the pricing so expect some variations. Still, electricity bills, system size, roof complexity, and location have the most significant impact overall. You can play with these dials yourself using Tesla’s website.
We want to point out that this online calculator often recommends add-ons such as a Tesla Power wall. It’s not bad, but we still want to inform you about this feature.
Is A Tesla Solar Roof A Good Investment?
Okay, before we proceed, we want to point out that the following two (2) sections are the core discussions for this post. They are lengthy and may require some patience to grasp fully. However, if you hang in there, these will help you understand how to compare alternatives when deciding what to do with your roof investment.
In summary, we will compare:
- Different solar roof investment alternatives;
- How to decide which one to go with; and
- Whether you should get add-on energy storage and solar roof tiles so you can power your entire house on solar energy alone.
All good? Great, let’s proceed.
Analyzing Project Alternatives
Now, for you money-conscious investors out there, let’s discuss if a Tesla Solar Roof is a good investment. To answer this question, we will compare four alternatives:
- Solar Panel
- Solar Roof
- Solar Panel plus roof replacement
- Roof Replacement only
For this simple case study, we will consider a 1000 sqft, single-story home in California that has an average monthly bill of 150
Thinking about it more rationally from a purely financial standpoint. You can also choose to invest the savings from deciding not to go solar, yielding compounded interest.
Can A Tesla Solar Roof Power My Entire House?
“Can A Tesla Solar Roof Power My Entire House?”
Now, this could be a tricky question for some of you.
Yes, in a way, a Tesla Solar Roof system can power an entire house. Now, we can go two ways from here:
- We can be content with this straightforward answer and move on to the next section; or
- We can ask an additional question and wonder how long can a tesla solar roof power my entire house.
For the latter, it depends on how much power and energy your Tesla Solar Roof produces. Therefore, it is good to know the difference between the two.
Simply put, power is the WORK done by an electric circuit. In this case, the electric circuit is your Tesla Solar Roof tiles that are wired to a power inverter. On the other hand, energy tells us HOW LONG can an electric circuit produce power. This is why power units are expressed in WATTS while energy is expressed in WATT-HOURS.
Factor Affecting Tesla Solar Roof Energy Production
Next, recall that solar power and energy production depends on many things.
Suppose you are not yet familiar with this concept and would like to know more. In that case, we recommend quickly going through previous articles we made covering this topic. We promise it is worth your time if you are interested in geeking out on irradiation, roof tilt, solar panel orientation, and duck curves.
But, in a way, a properly-sized Tesla Solar Roof can roughly power an entire house for about four hours on a sunny day. If you want to run your home on primarily solar energy, you could do it by doing two things:
First, getting an energy storage system. In the case of Tesla, they have what you call a power wall that can be integrated with the solar roof and store solar energy for later use.
Peak Sun Hours
Second, you could get more solar power depending on your electricity consumption. The reason why is because, ideally, on a good day, your solar roof receives an equivalent of about 5 hours of direct sunlight daily. These are also called peak sun hours, and they vary depending on your location (see figure below). You can find out your number through our online resource.
Your solar roof produces power that looks like the graph on the bottom left-hand side during a good day. However, days aren’t always ideal, as you can see on the bottom-right-hand side.
This means that even though your solar roof is receiving irradiance in the wee hours of the morning, it is not receiving enough to produce maximum power. In effect, your solar roof makes energy equivalent to 5 hours of its full power daily.
Energy Storage to Maximize Solar Energy Use
Therefore, having add-ons like (1) additional solar roof tiles and (2) an energy storage device allows you to:
- Fully offset your electricity consumption;
- Store solar energy; and
- Utilize it more efficiently (time of use)
A Tesla Power Wall that can store a day’s worth of energy in our sample household costs 10,500. Upgrading it to hold two or three days of energy storage capacity will cost you 17,000 and 23,500, respectively.
This add-on is perfect if most of your electricity consumption is during early mornings and evenings without sunlight.
Now, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Energy storage is a rabbit hole on its own, and we geeked out on this topic a while back. Suppose you are interested in an additional discussion about Tesla Power Wall energy storage devices. In that case, we recommend reading this section of our article.
How Long Does A Tesla Solar Roof Take To Install?
According to Tesla, How long it takes to install a solar roof depends on the solar system size and complexity of the roof, as shown in the figure below. It also depends on how quickly the utility permits you to operate a Tesla Solar Roof after the testing and commissioning phase.
Don’t worry, though. Tesla includes handling the permitting process in the installation package.
Does A Tesla Solar Roof Increase The Value Of My Home?
Now, does install a Tesla Solar Roof increase the value of your home? Yes, but make sure to advertise it properly since you will be putting an additional financial burden on the next homeowner.
Here’s a sales tip: advertising the low electricity bill that comes with buying the home with supporting documents such as the previous year’s total bill. You can then compare this to years when the house didn’t have a Tesla Solar Roof yet.
However, please ensure that you have fully paid for the solar roof to avoid complications post-purchase.
In summary, having a Tesla Solar Roof will increase the value of your home. It can be a good selling point for your house through low electricity bills and are perfect for clean energy supporters. However, make sure you have settled your loan obligations before selling the home to avoid problems.
Will A Tesla Solar Roof Catch On Fire?
Whether solar panels or solar roof tiles, photovoltaic systems have a low risk of catching fire. A study was done back in 2018 that backs this up. Fire emergency risks in PV systems are negligible as long as fire protection standards, high-quality components, and proper installation practices.
The most considerable risk of a solar rooftop posing a fire hazard is the lack of regular inspections and maintenance after special events such as storms or earthquakes. But in general, PV systems pose no particular concern for fire dangers.
And yet, despite these facts, a recent incident involving Tesla and solar fires made it to news headlines wherein Tesla solar panels caught fire at an Amazon and Walmart facility. Allegations were focused on poor installation practice, according to former Tesla employees.
Climatebiz still maintains that solar fires shouldn’t cause excessive worry despite these current events. Besides, solar roof installations are inspected by local fire departments before their owner receives the Permission to Operate (PTO), which is considered the utility’s seal of approval that the Tesla Solar Roof is safe and works as intended.
Does A Tesla Solar Roof Make Noise?
Tesla Solar Roofs do not make any noise once installed. These tiles are connected to inverters that operate at a low decibel output, so you can expect no annoying buzzing sounds or motor noises like the ones standby generators make.
In conclusion, you can expect no problems from Tesla Solar Roofs in the noise department.
Is A Tesla Solar Roof Waterproof?
Yes, aside from durability, Tesla Solar Roofs are also waterproof and can fully protect your home during storms and other potential water calamities. When your solar installer finishes putting up your solar roof, you can observe that these solar tiles overlap to prevent leaks.
For more complex roofing architectures, your installer should have a solution ready to keep sure that the Tesla Solar Roof behaves like a typical roof and keeps all the water out of harm’s way.
Tesla offers a comprehensive 25-year warranty covering materials, installation, labor, parts, and electrical components. This means that if anything goes wrong, repairs and replacements are covered by Tesla.
Tesla solar roofs are an innovation from Elon Musk’s team that promises to deliver solar energy with a more visual appeal compared to other more common solar panels. They are perfect for clean energy supporters who want to do their share in the green movement while keeping their rooftops’ slick and low-key look.
However, in our cost-benefit analysis, we saw that you could get your money back twice as fast if you stuck with a normal solar panel system.
Don’t get us wrong. We love the designs and flavours a Tesla Solar Roof has to offer. However, surely Elon could be even more generous by allowing for a price drop similar to what solar panels experienced in the past decade.
Addressing the Elephant in the Room about Tesla
Some controversies are surrounding Tesla recently regarding safety and their sincere commitment to delivering on their promise. Solar fires have been a buzzword in the past few years, but they shouldn’t cause any excess worry since studies prove that PV systems have a negligible risk of catching fire.
Now, Suppose you can’t shake off feeling anxious about these things. In that case, we recommend talking to your solar installer about frequent preventive maintenance focusing on fire hazards such as arc flash, and choosing the best underlayment material suitable to your needs.
For those unfamiliar with what we said, arc flash is a phenomenon where electricity produces a light and heat arc discharge due to exposed electrical wiring coming in close contact with its surroundings. Proper installation practices and regular maintenance can remedy this.
On the other hand, an underlayment is a barrier that goes between the roof’s deck and the top layers, may they be shingles or tiles. It serves as a barrier protecting your home from the entire spectrum of elemental risks such as water, moisture, chemical, and thermal build-up.
Ask your installer which type of underlayment is best for fire prevention in your case.
Teaching our Savvy Readers How to Fish
Now, if you withstood the cost-comparison analysis earlier like a champ, we want to say congratulations. You are the real MVP, and it just shows that you take this major decision as seriously as they come.
We understand that the considerations for the tesla solar roof case study are limited. However, your key takeaway from today’s analysis is learning the ropes on comparing alternatives and weighing options.
Here at Climatebiz, we also subscribe to the concept of teaching people how to fish. Now suppose if you have varying situations from the analysis we presented. Then, you can simply plug in your personal information over at the Tesla Solar Roof online calculator and do customized cost-benefit research.
WWhat’simportant is that we have now demonstrated that solar panels are the best from a purely investment-driven perspective. Tesla Solar Roofs are worth considering if you are looking to replace your rooftops since it earns you back your money spent in the long run compared to a simple roof replacement.
Going beyond the Payback Period
Arguably, investing your money saved from the “Roof Replacement Only” scenario into something else like the stock market might be enticing financially as well. However, the beauty of going solar is that your decisions are likely to evolve from a profit-only bottom line into what we call a triple bottom line which considers economic, environmental, and societal profits.
Whether you choose solar panels or Tesla solar roof tiles, going solar in itself is already a worthwhile endeavor. It has a lot of wins in the intangible benefits category.
Tesla Solar Roof: the complete review
In October 2019, Tesla Motors announced the launch of the Tesla Solar Roof V3, the company’s third version of its integrated solar glass shingle. Among several updates, version three included larger tiles, lower production costs, increased power density, and a more straightforward installation process.
Additionally, the total number of parts in the product decreased. Tesla predicted that these changes would significantly reduce the cost of the product; however, the company has continued to struggle with expediting its solar roof installations.
The Tesla Solar Roof: EnergySage’s take
While Tesla is most famous for its electric vehicles (EVs), the company’s future lies in total clean energy integration – a one-step carbon reduction process that involves pairing solar panels with your Tesla EV. For home owners who want the benefits of solar without the “look” of solar, the Tesla Solar Roof provides an enticing alternative: but is this luxury roof the right option for you?
What’s in this article?
There’s a lot in here, and we’ll try to speak to every aspect of the solar roof. Skip ahead to any of the sections below:
- What are solar shingles?
- Latest news on the solar roof
- Solar Roof key events timeline
- Solar roof specifications
- Cost estimates
- Should you wait for the Tesla Solar Roof?
- Tesla’s competitors
The Tesla Solar Roof: what you need to know
Some solar industry stakeholders believe that solar needs to be rebranded as an aesthetic and technical improvement that can be a part of a home renovation rather than a hefty module affixed to your rooftop. That sentiment was emphasized in Elon Musk’s October 2016 launch of Tesla’s first roofing product. With the Solar Roof, the company aims to bring solar further into the mainstream by removing any sort of aesthetic concerns that homeowners may have.
“I think there’s quite a radical difference between having solar panels on your roof that actually make your house look better versus ones that do not, I think it’s going to be a night-and-day difference,” said Musk in a statement before the official launch of Tesla’s first solar roof. Two months later, he unveiled the solar roof using a crowded, suburban event in California to demonstrate that Tesla’s panel design was so seamlessly integrated that the entire audience of press needed to be altered to its presence on the house in front of them.
Using a Tesla Powerwall home battery with the Tesla Solar Roof
Tesla Solar Roofs come paired with energy storage in the form of a Tesla Powerwall battery. The Tesla Powerwall boasts a maximum power rating of 7 kW with no sun or 9.6 kW with full sun to go along with 13.5 kWh of usable capacity. It can also help provide solar power to your home during a power outage. It also comes with the Tesla app that allows users to monitor their energy production in real- time. Tesla Powerwalls are eligible for the federal tax credit.
What’s the latest news on the Tesla Solar Roof tiles?
Tesla has now installed Solar Roofs across the country, though the exact number of installations is unclear. This solar product has been gaining popularity among some consumers, leading to long installation wait times for customers who sign contracts. In April 2021, many of these customers were shocked when they received emails from Tesla quoting higher installation costs than their contract prices. The lack of explanation and transparency caused confusion and frustration among consumers, especially if they could no longer afford the hefty price tag.
During Tesla’s quarterly earnings call in April 2021, CEO Elon Musk affirmed that demand “remains strong” for the Tesla Solar Roof, despite increases in Solar Roof pricing. He did concede that Tesla “basically made some significant mistakes in assessing the difficulty of certain roofs.” Tesla has added roof complexity information to its website and a roof complexity disclaimer to its Solar Roof calculator; however, Tesla notes that your roof complexity won’t be determined until after you place an order for a Solar Roof. Tesla divides the complexity into three categories–simple, intermediate, and complex–based on the following criteria:
- Simple: single-level roof, uncrowded mounting planes, few obstructions (pipes, chimneys, skylights), low pitch
- Intermediate: multi-level roof (roof sections built on multiple stories of your house), more crowded mounting plane, more obstructions (pipes, chimneys, skylights), higher pitch
- Complex: multi-level roof (roof sections built on multiple stories of your house), heavily crowded mounting plane, many obstructions (pipes, chimneys, skylights), steep pitch
Based on previous reports, the price of a Tesla Solar Roof varies substantially depending on your roof’s complexity.
Timeline of key Tesla Solar Roof news and announcements
Tesla seems to have a pattern of overpromising and underdelivering in regard to its solar roof. Here’s a breakdown of what the past several years have looked like for the company and its customers.
- April 2016: Tesla purchases Solarcity and begins production on solar panels and the solar roof.
- May 2017: Tesla began taking orders for its Tesla solar tiles
- August 2017: Elon Musk revealed that he and another Tesla executive already had the roof installed on their respective properties.
- January 2018: The company announced it was ramping up production of the roof product at its Buffalo Gigafactory. Tesla then started initial installations with customers at the top of its waitlist in the California area in mid-March, roughly eight months after its initial estimate.
- May 2018: Tesla had about 11,000 orders for the solar roof and it was struggling to meet the demand.
- August 2018: Only 12 solar roofs had been installed in California, the leading state in the country for solar.
- September 2018: A report was released stating that solar roofs may not be widely installed for a long time. According to CNBC, Musk said they needed more time to work out all the details. “There’s only so much accelerated life testing that you can do on a roof. So before we can deploy it at a large number of houses we need to make sure that it’s that all elements of the roof are going to last for at least three decades,” said Musk in a summer 2018 meeting. The statement lacked both commitment and a clear timeline.
- November 2018: According to a Bloomberg report, the company began ramping up production, implementing 24/7 operating hours with about 80 employees per shirt for solar roof shingle production alone. Tesla’s head of energy operations, Sanjay Shah, stated that Tesla was gearing up for the solar roof side of its business to see “tremendous growth in 2019.” Musk himself tweeted that the first solar roof deployments would begin around summer 2019.
- June 2019: Despite continued delays and earnings losses, Musk tweeted that he hoped to manufacture about 1,000 solar roofs per week by the end of 2019.
- October 2019: Tesla announced the Tesla Solar Roof V3, which featured updates to increase manufacturing and deployment, and reduce prices.
- Late 2020: Tesla experienced some achievements for its solar roofs throughout the year, almost tripling its installations between quarter one and quarter two. In quarter four, Tesla announced that it had “made great progress growing [its] solar roof deployments,” but didn’t provide date to back up its claim.
- April 2021: Tesla Solar Roof customers have continued to experience delays and a lack of transparency from Tesla.
- May 2021: Some customers sued Tesla over unexpected hikes.
- June 2021: electrek confirmed that Tesla’s head of energy operations had left the company after months of rumors.
- October 2021: Tesla expanded solar roof installations to anywhere in the United States.
- November 2021: electrek announced that Solar Roof tiles will be more efficient, have higher capacity, and might be able to be installed over existing roofs.
Tesla Solar Roof specifications: what are you getting?
If you’re interested in installing a Tesla Solar Roof, you’re probably wondering what you’re getting of each solar shingle. We’ll explain some of the specifications of the Solar Roof:
Despite previous announcements about multiple design offerings–including tuscan glass tile, slate glass tile, textured glass tile, and smooth glass tile–the Tesla Solar Roof is only currently available in one shingle design. According to Tesla’s website, each shingle has a dimension of 15 inches by 45 inches, is 5 mm thick, and is made of glass, polymers, fiberglass, and silicon. The shingle is designed to resemble a traditional asphalt shingle.
Tesla provides 25-year product, weatherization, and module warranties, comparable to leading solar panel brands. The warranty also guarantees that your Solar Roof will be at least 95 percent of its “Rated Peak Power” at five years following installation and that it will decline by no more than 0.5 percent per year for the following 20 years –essentially guaranteeing 85 percent output in year 25. Its inverter has a 12.5-year warranty, which aligns with warranties for other string inverter brands; however, this warranty is lower than warranties for many microinverters, which are often 20 to 25 years.
How much does the Tesla Solar Roof cost?
With the new complexity categories explained above, it’s a bit difficult to fully estimate the cost of a Tesla Solar Roof. The cost varies significantly depending on whether your roof is “simple” or “complex” and depending on the square footage of your roof. If you have a fairly small – and not too complex – roof that you already need to replace, the price of a Solar Roof will probably be fairly comparable to that of a new asphalt roof installation plus solar panels. However, as you increase the size and/or complexity of your roof, you can expect this number quickly skyrocket.
Should you wait for the Tesla Solar Roof?
Standard solar panel technologies are typically evaluated based on their performance, durability, and warranties. However, Tesla’s lack of transparency makes it difficult to compare to traditional solar panels. Four years after the initial launch of Tesla’s solar roof, the company still hasn’t revealed the shingles’ efficiency and customers are still experiencing long wait times and surprise price increases.
If you’re in dire need of a roof upgrade or if you won’t need a roof upgrade for a while, the Tesla Solar Roof may not be worth your long wait. Solar panels are extremely dependable (and we think they look great, too!). However, if you need to upgrade your roof soon (but not immediately) and your roof isn’t too complex or large, you may be a good candidate for the Tesla Solar Roof. Additionally, if you’re set on the look and have the capital to cover the cost, the system may be the best choice for you, though it may be worth your while to compare the Tesla Solar Roof to other solar roof products.
Tesla’s solar shingles are best suited for new construction
Most existing solar shingle technologies are also known as building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) because they are integrated with your existing roof and are a similar size and shape to standard roof tiles. Tesla has created something different. In August 2016, Musk first explained the difference between solar shingles and Tesla’s solar roof: “It’s not a thing on the roof. It is the roof.”
Unlike other solar shingles, Tesla’s roof tiles are designed to completely replace your existing roof (though electrek did recently report that you may soon be able to install them over existing roofs). As a result, the most cost-effective way to install them is when your home is being built, which means that they are best suited for homebuyers who have a say in the design and materials of their newly constructed home. While this doesn’t mean that they can’t be used on existing homes, retrofitting your roof with Tesla solar tiles means removing your existing roof (which Tesla will do for you). As a result, retrofitting your roof with Tesla solar tiles is only practical when your roof is already due to be replaced.
Who are Tesla’s solar roof competitors?
Though the buzz around Tesla’s illustrious roof product has made it appear like it’s a new concept, it is merely the continued repackaging brilliance that some call the “Musk effect.” Development of solar roof tiles and solar shingles has been evolving for many years, and a number of companies have taken a stab at designing a versatile, subtle rooftop solar medium that could be considered a genuine roofing material rather than a module add-on. Here are some of Tesla’s solar roof competitors that offer similar BIPV products:
- Luma – these solar shingles can be integrated with all roofing material and install similarly to traditional metal roofing. Luma markets its product as the only upgradable solar shingle system and boasts an efficiency of 22.1 percent.
- Suntegra – this Northeast solar manufacturer is at the forefront of the solar roof product line. The company hails from New York and began offering its two solar roof products just a few months before the announcement of Tesla’s shingles. Suntegra’s solar shingles are designed to be integrated with low-profile roof materials and are about 15.9 to 17.2 percent efficient. Its solar tiles are slightly less efficient at 13.9 to 15.1 percent and are designed to be integrated with standard flat concrete tile roofs.
- CertainTeed – originally a roofing company, this contractor now offers two solar roof products, with similar integration strategies to Suntegra. Its Apollo II system includes solar shingles to match low-profile roofs, which are about 15.4 percent efficient. CertainTeed’s Apollo Tile II system integrates solar tiles with flat concrete tiles roofs and its tiles are about 16 percent efficient.
It’s important to note that the solar shingles and tiles offered by these companies do still stand out against other roofing material. None can compete with Tesla in terms of aesthetics or subtlety, but they do offer low-profile BIPV solutions that may alleviate aesthetic concerns for some solar shoppers.
Frequently asked questions about the Tesla Solar Roof
While the cost of switching to solar is high, and the news and information surrounding Tesla Solar Roofs can be confusing or nearly obsolete, it’s important to research each product, company, and topic before making a decision. Learn more about the Tesla Solar Roof by reading these commonly asked questions:
Depending on your location, Tesla will send its own installers or contractors to set up your system after purchasing a Solar Roof.
Tesla claims that their shingles are three times stronger than the average roof tile and are built to endure all weather conditions. They have the highest fire rating (Class A) and are built to withstand 110 mph winds (Class F), so you can feel confident even in extreme weather conditions.
Tesla offers a 25-year warranty on the system’s tiles, power, and weatherization. Plus, its inverter has a 12.5-year warranty, giving homeowners peace of mind regarding their investment.
Learn how much solar can save you today before you make your decision
Just as Tesla doesn’t make electric vehicles for the masses, Tesla’s solar roof isn’t feasible for every home. In many ways, the company’s solar roof product is similar to its first electric car. If you are an early adopter of newer technologies, don’t care about price, and are prepared to wait for a product with an uncertain manufacturing timeline, then waiting for Tesla’s solar roof could be the right decision for you.
Additionally, waiting to go solar has its risks, even if you’re interested in the solar roof. The cost of going solar is falling every year, and there are premium solar panels already available today that come with high-efficiency ratings and a sleek black design. If you wait years for the Tesla Solar Roof, you will lose out on years of savings on your electricity bill. You also run the risk of missing out on financial incentives for solar: many state tax credits have already expired and as of now, the federal investment tax credit for solar will be lowered to 22 percent in 2023.
Before you make the decision to wait for the Tesla Solar Roof, use our solar calculator to learn how much you can save today by going solar. If you’re ready to explore the solar options for your home, join the EnergySage Marketplace and get custom quotes from solar installers in your area. You might be surprised by just how much you can save now by installing traditional solar panels on your roof.
Where to buy solar roof tiles
reading on EnergySage
Looking to go solar? Here’s everything you need to know in… Solar shingles: what you need to know in 2023 Best solar panels in 2023: Top products compared Tesla Solar Roof cost vs. solar panels Solar farms: what are they and how do they work?
About Emily Walker
With over five years of experience in environmental science and clean energy, Emily is an expert in solar, battery, and energy management technology and policy. She holds a Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science and Biology from Colby College. Emily is always looking for ways to live her life more sustainably and is currently in the process of electrifying her home.
Tesla Solar Roof: To Wait or Not To Wait?
The Tesla solar roof sounds like everything that our favorite 80’s era sci-fi novels and movies promised the future would bring. At Southern Energy Management, we’re just as excited about the Tesla solar roof as everyone else. And, as one of North Carolina’s select Certified Tesla Powerwall Installers, you can bet that we’ve got our eyes on all the latest news on Tesla solar shingles.
One of the big questions, though, is “When will Tesla’s Solar Roof be available?” The short answer is that Tesla’s solar shingle product is still in the very early stages of launching on the East Coast.
Since Tesla’s solar shingle system is so new, especially in North Carolina, and because the pricing and energy savings for the roof are unclear, our stance is that if you’re interested in going solar in the next 5 years, your best option is going to be the tried-and-true panel technology that has been tested and continually improved since the 1970s. In the rest of this post, we’ll dive deeper into our reasons for that opinion so you can decide for yourself. But first, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about what the solar roof is.
What is the Tesla Solar Roof?
Tesla’s Solar Roof is made up of photovoltaic cells integrated into shingles. Tesla is not the first company to launch a solar shingle – we installed some of Dow’s now discontinued solar shingles in 2014 – but they’re definitely the sexiest attempt to date. Solar shingles function in the same way as traditional solar panels: photovoltaic cells convert photons from the sun’s rays into electricity.
A solar roof consists of both active and passive shingles. The active shingles do the actual work of producing energy for your home. The passive shingles are used on areas of your roof that aren’t suitable for the active cells – either because of building regulations or lack of solar potential – to maintain a uniform appearance.
Previously, there was talk of 4 solar shingle styles: Tuscan, Slate, Textured, and Smooth Glass. As of now, Tesla is only advertising a shingle that appears most like the Textured Glass option.
Tesla Solar Shingle Specs
Tesla’s solar shingles are a sleek, slate grey at 15”x45” and come with a 25 year tile, power, and weatherization warranty. The tiles have an ASTM D3161 Class F wind rating, and a ANSI FM 4473 Class 3 hail rating. That’s all fancy jargon to say the tiles are tested to hold up to 110mph winds and 1 ¾ inch hail.
When will the Tesla solar roof arrive in North Carolina?
A few installers have started to offer Tesla’s solar roof in North Carolina. Right now, NC homeowners who are getting solar shingles installed are paying a price premium to be in the front of the line.
As a Certified Tesla Powerwall Installer, we’ve talked with Tesla about the solar roof and previewed the product. At this point, we’re continuing to offer Tesla’s traditional PV panels, but not their shingle roof material. We love the Poweralls, solar panels, and solutions Tesla continues to put out, but since their solar roof product is still so new, with such complex technology behind it, we don’t want our customers to be first in line to experience the kinks of a first generation product. We know the Tesla solar roof is going to be a game changer and we’ll be on board as soon as we feel that this product has proven long term success for our customers.
If getting Tesla’s solar roof is make or break for you on your solar journey, we have good news — there are other solar companies in NC that have taken on rolling out this product! Tesla is also currently taking 100 refundable deposits to hold your place in line through their online ordering portal. That being said, there is no guarantee for when your solar roof will be installed (or by which contracted installer).
Each Powerwall installed between now and October 31, 2023 is eligible for a 500 rebate from Tesla. We’re also offering an extra 1,000 discount when you install a Powerwall with your solar system.
Solar Roof vs Solar Panels
There are two major differences between a solar roof and a traditional solar panel system — complexity and price.
Talk with any roofer or solar company that has worked with the solar shingle product, we’ll bet they’ll tell you that the Tesla solar roof is one of the most complex and intricate roofing systems that they have ever seen. An average 8kw solar roof will have around 460 solar shingles, which means there are 460 wiring connection points on your roof (or 460 possible break points). On the other hand, a traditional solar system for this size will include around 25 solar panels, meaning 25 connections.
With a traditional solar system, you can also get panel level solar monitoring so you would know exactly when a panel is underperforming while being able to pinpoint exactly where the problem is in your system. This level of monitoring just isn’t available yet for the solar roof, making it a challenge to quickly address any issues when they come up.
Next on the list is price. Tesla’s Solar Roof website has a slick calculator that takes your address and uses Google’s Project Sunroof to automatically generate a Solar Roof solution for your home. While the tool is fun to play with, the and energy savings it estimates don’t impress us when compared to traditional solar panels. Let’s take a deeper dive into price differences between the Tesla Solar roof and traditional solar panels.
What Are Tesla Solar Roof Tiles? Are They Worth It?
Many homeowners who have researched solar panels for their home eventually come across the Tesla Solar Roof. The solar roof tiles developed by Tesla, while not revolutionary, are making waves in the solar and roofing industries.
The Tesla Solar Roof has come a long way from its initial designs and promises great savings for homeowners. However, there are still many questions that remain unanswered and cost estimates that don’t pan out in the end.
What Is The Tesla Solar Roof?
The Tesla Solar Roof is a building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) product that functions as both a roofing material and a photovoltaic solar panel system. The solar roof tiles can be installed in place of regular roofing material with the same protection value, and they come in various designs resembling terra cotta tiles, slate, and composite shingles.
The solar roofing tiles come in two formats: energy producing and non-energy producing. Energy producing tiles incorporate solar cells that produce energy when exposed to sunlight. Non-energy producing roof tiles do not produce solar energy, rather they look nearly identical to the energy producing solar tiles and serve to complete the roof’s protection and aesthetics.
The solar roof shingles available today are the third version developed by Tesla since its initial product came out in 2016. According to Tesla, the latest version of their solar shingles are larger, more efficient, easier to install, are cheaper to produce, and have fewer parts.
While Tesla is not the first company to develop solar roofing tiles, it is by far the largest player in the game today.
How Much Does It Cost?
Deciphering the ultimate cost of a Tesla Solar Roof can be a tricky task. As with any solar install, many factors contribute to the cost of a solar project. Add to this conflicting numbers between cost estimates from Tesla and real-life solar installs, and the task is even more challenging.
However, we can use numbers provided by Tesla and numbers provided by real-life solar estimates from Tesla to compare the costs versus a conventional solar installation.
According to Tesla, their Solar Roof costs 21.85 per square foot with the assumption that 35% of the roof will be covered by non-energy producing tiles. That means a 2,000 square foot roof would cost about 44,000. Keep in mind that this includes the cost of replacing the entire roof material in place of solar tiles.
However, according to actual solar estimates from prospective Tesla customers. the actual cost of a Tesla Solar Roof comes out to approximately 35 per square foot. That adds over 26,000 to the cost of a 2,000 square foot roof.
As you can see, the pricing difference between what Tesla estimates and the ultimate price can be quite different.
The unfortunate task of getting a true price estimate for a is that not many have been installed yet. Tesla, not known for their transparency, has not provided numbers about how many Tesla Solar Roofs have been installed, nor provided much information about the ultimate costs of those installs.
How Do Solar Roof Tiles Compare To Other Roofs?
To compare the price of installing a Tesla Solar Roof to reinstalling other roofs, we need to break down two components: the cost of installing solar panels and the costs of reinstalling a roof.
For a conventional solar installation, the average cost per Watt is approximately 2.75/Watt. That means, for an average home that installs a 7 kW solar panel system, the cost would be 19,250 (before solar incentives, such as the 30% solar tax credit ).
As you can see, the cost of installing solar panels is much less than the cost of installing a Tesla Roof. If you were not considering reinstalling your roof, just installing solar panels would be your best option.
However, what if you are also considering reinstalling your roof along with installing solar?
The average cost of replacing an asphalt shingle roof for a 2,000 square foot home comes out to approximately 7,000, according to homeguide.com. If we add this to the cost of installing solar panels (19,250, before incentives), the estimated cost would be 26,250.
On paper this example of installing solar panels and reshingling the roof would cost less than installing a Tesla Solar Roof. However, what if your roof is not made of asphalt shingles?
Below are cost estimates from homeguide.com for reinstalling different roofing materials. As you can see, the costs can vary quite a bit, but it can give you a good idea of the potential costs of reinstalling your roof. Combine this cost with the cost of installing solar panels (estimated 2.75 per Watt), and you will have an idea of how the price might compare to Tesla (estimated 21.85 per square foot).
Is The Tesla Solar Roof Worth It?
As you can see, there are many variables and many numbers to consider when comparing the Tesla Solar Roof with a conventional solar panel installation. It can be difficult to truly compare apples to apples.
In many cases, homeowners are not looking to reinstall their roof along with installing solar panels. In this case, just installing solar panels is usually a better option than installing a whole Tesla Solar Roof.
However, if you are considering reinstalling your roof along with installing solar panels, the pricing becomes more competitive. It would be a good idea to analyze the chart above to estimate how much reinstalling your roof might cost. From there you can speak with both your local solar company and Tesla to get an estimate of the cost for both options.
To get a free solar estimate, or if you have any questions about how solar works, Green Ridge Solar is here to help. Contact Green Ridge Solar today for a free solar analysis, or check out our Solar Calculator to see how much you could save with solar.
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