Key takeaways


esla Solar Roof positions itself as a revolutionary new product that can change the way we think about solar energy. With its sleek and modern design, the Solar Roof promises to be a stylish and energy-efficient addition to any home. However, with a cost that is significantly higher than traditional solar panels, many homeowners are wondering if the premium look of the Solar Roof is worth the added expense. In this article, we will explore the features and benefits of the Tesla Solar Roof and how it works, as well as examine whether the higher cost is justified in light of the potential savings on energy costs. We’ll provide insight on how they are installed and any potential drawbacks to help you make an informed decision about whether the Tesla Solar Roof is the right solar choice for your home.

The position of Tesla within the solar industry

In 2016, Tesla made a big move in the solar market by purchasing SolarCity - a solar service provider founded by none other than Tesla CEO Elon Musk's cousins. This acquisition meant that Tesla had a significant boost in its solar installation capabilities. Musk envisioned creating solar roofs that would not only have a more visually appealing appearance compared to traditional roofs, but also have the ability to generate solar electricity, have a longer lifespan, a better insulation, and ultimately be much more cost-efficient when compared to a traditional roof and separate electricity costs. He believed that these roof tiles would revolutionize the residential solar market and that combining the forces of Tesla and SolarCity would drive the company's growth while providing clean energy to homeowners.

After acquiring SolarCity, however, Tesla solar installations took a sharp plunge. In the last quarter of 2017, Tesla reported a whopping 43% drop in solar installations compared to before the big merger. This led to the company losing its spot as a market leader in 2018, and by 2021, it was even overtaken by Freedom Forever in the ranking of top three residential solar installers in the US, as reported by Wood Mackenzie.

As Tesla turns its attention to becoming a one-stop-shop for technology solutions, it is increasingly relying on subcontractors for solar installations. This shift in strategy may cause Tesla slide down the ranks of solar installers even further, says Wood Mackenzie.

Tesla Energy had been struggling since the acquisition, however, the company has been showing signs of improvement in how they have been performing recently. Despite facing challenges in the solar industry, the manufacturer has had a few successful quarters in the US residential solar market. In late 2022, they announced they'd installed more than half a million solar setups and confirmed 4 GW of solar deployed, with an average capacity of 8 kW per installation.

Understanding solar shingles: A roof and solar power combined

Solar shingles are a unique type of roofing material that combines the traditional function of a roof with the added benefit of solar power generation. These shingles are crafted from sturdy and are seamlessly integrated into your roof, just like traditional shingles. But unlike them, solar roofs have built-in solar photovoltaic cells that convert the sun's energy into clean, renewable electricity.

There are two main types of solar shingles currently in use: traditional silicon solar cells and the newer copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS) thin film cells. Silicon solar shingles are similar to traditional solar panels in that they are rigid and framed, but are designed to be thin and match conventional roofing materials. CIGS solar shingles, on the other hand, utilize the latest thin film technology and can be made into much more flexible and lightweight shingles that blend seamlessly with an existing or new roof.

Solar shingles work similarly to traditional rooftop solar panels by converting solar energy into electricity through the release of electrons when sunlight hits a semiconducting material. While both solar shingles and solar panels use the photovoltaic effect to generate electricity, they have distinct installation methods.

Instead of being placed on racks, solar shingles are directly affixed to the roof deck in the same way as regular shingles. They are usually integrated into the roofing process, whether it be during new construction or when an existing roof needs to be replaced. This allows solar owners to avoid unnecessary shingle replacement and can be done by a single professional roofing contractor.

Utilize our solar calculator to input key parameters such as location, roof size, and energy consumption to receive customized recommendations tailored to your specific needs and circumstances.

What is Tesla Solar Roof?

Tesla is promoting their Solar Roof as a combination of cutting-edge technology and sleek design. Although the concept of incorporating solar power into building design (known as building-integrated photovoltaics or BIPV) is not new, Solar Roof is certainly the most well-known example.

Tesla Solar Roof is built using a mix of glass solar tiles, glass roofing tiles, and architectural-grade steel tiles. Installing a solar roof means swapping out your entire roof for a blend of active and inactive shingles. The active shingle has solar cells, which generate electricity for your home, while the inactive one acts as regular shingle and does not produce power. The Tesla Solar Roof system comes equipped with a Tesla solar inverter and can be linked with a Tesla Powerwall battery.

Technical analysis of the Tesla Solar Roof: Performance and solar efficiency

Let's take a closer look at the details of the Tesla Solar Roof. The main component of the roof is the SR72T1 photovoltaic shingle, which has a power output of 71.67W. Tesla will determine how many solar shingles you need based on your home's energy needs. The remaining areas of your roof will be covered in non-solar shingles that match the appearance of the generating units.

Normally, solar panels for residential use have a power output ranging from 350W to 400W, meaning that you would need 5-6 Tesla shingles to match the output of one traditional panel. For a home that requires an 6-kW solar power system, you could either use 15 traditional solar modules rated at 400W each or 84 Tesla solar shingles.

The efficiency of Tesla solar shingles is around 19.4%, which is slightly lower than traditional panels, but they still perform well overall. Each shingle is made with 14 monocrystalline solar cells and has received certifications for wind resistance, fire safety, and hail protection.

Homeowners with high-pitched roofs can benefit from this Tesla solar product, as it can be installed safely on pitches up to 24:12. Note that the minimum pitch requirement for the Solar Roof is 2:12, so it is not suitable for flat roofs. Tesla roof tiles also come with a 25-year warranty, which is in line with the warranties offered by leading solar manufacturers.

Tennessee, known for its diverse landscapes and vibrant culture, is also embracing solar energy with companies like Silicon Ranch leading the charge.

Comparison of traditional solar panels and Tesla Solar Roof

  • Design: Compared to traditional solar panels, Tesla Solar Roof stands out with its cutting-edge design. It looks just like a traditional roof, so you wouldn't even know it had solar panels unless someone pointed it out. Tesla offers four different tile designs to match the aesthetic of your home, including textured, smooth glass, Tuscan, and slate options that are just as attractive as traditional asphalt roofs.
  • Eficiency: The performance of Tesla solar shingles is good, but the efficiency rate of around 19.4% falls short of traditional panels. This can make homeowners wonder if the extra cost is worth it, especially if the main objective is to offset energy costs rather than enhance the appearance of the roof.
  • Durability: Tesla claims that their Solar Roofs are extremely durable and are built to last. They offer 25-year warranties, which is the same as other solar panels in the market. However, what sets Tesla Solar Roofs apart is their ability to withstand extreme weather conditions such as hail and wind. For instance, while typical photovoltaic panels can only endure hail up to one inch in diameter, Tesla Solar Roofs can handle hail as large as 1.75 inches. Similarly, standard solar panels are rated for wind speeds of up to 140 mph, but Tesla Solar Roofs can withstand winds of up to 166 mph, the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane.

Cost of Tesla Solar Roof: Understanding Solar Roof cost estimator

So how much does a Tesla roof cost? The company doesn't disclose their rates outright. Instead, they offer a way to estimate the cost of installing their solar shingles on your home through a tool on their website called Tesla Solar Roof calculator.

Tesla roof calculator helps homeowners determine how many solar tiles they would need to power their home entirely with solar energy. The tool takes into account the cost of the roof, the Tesla Powerwall battery, and the cost of electricity in the homeowner's area.

Tesla Solar Roof calculator also factors in a 30 percent federal investment tax credit (ITC), but not any additional incentives or credits from state and local governments that can lower the cost even more. Note that the manufacturer stated to Consumer Reports that it does not use the address provided in the Tesla roof calculator for marketing purposes.

The cost of a solar system isn’t the only information Tesla roof calculator can provide, as it also a detailed estimate of the solar savings based on a 30-year timeframe, which is the same as company’s warranty for the Solar Roof. Therefore, Tesla roof calculator also allows them to see the long-term financial benefits of investing in a Solar Roof.

While the Tesla Solar Roof calculator is precise, to get a comprehensive view of costs and savings, it is recommended to speak with a Tesla representative, as there are many additional factors that can affect the cost of the solar installation.

The cost of Tesla roof solution is partly determined by how difficult the installation is. The systems are classified as simple, intermediate, or complex. A simple roof is typically a single-level, low-pitched roof with few obstacles. An intermediate roof is multi-level, has a steeper pitch and more obstacles. A complex roof is multi-level, has a very steep pitch, and many obstacles. While the exact increase in cost between classifications is not known, estimates using the Tesla Solar Roof calculator suggest that the difference between each level can be anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000.

Another aspect that affects the cost of a Tesla Solar Roof is whether or not you need to replace your existing roof. The Solar Roof is designed to be installed on an asphalt or composition shingle roof that is less than 20 years old and consists of just one layer of 3-tab shingles. However, if your roof is made of a different material or is on a more complex structure, a full roof replacement may be required. This can increase the overall cost by anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000.

Curious about Tesla's advancements in solar technology? Delve into our comprehensive guide on Solar by Tesla to learn about Tesla's latest developments in the solar energy sector. Additionally, explore the innovative features and benefits of the Tesla Solar Roof in our article on Tesla Solar Roof.

Comparing the cost of Tesla Solar Roof to traditional solar panels

When using the Tesla roof calculator to see how the costs of a Tesla Solar Roof compare to a traditional solar panel installation, keep in mind that the Tesla option includes a roof replacement. So, while the initial cost of Solar Roof may be higher, when you factor in the cost of both a roof replacement and regular solar panels, the totals end up being closer than you might think.

For example, if you own a home in Florida with a 1,700 square foot roof and an annual electricity usage of 12,100 kilowatt-hours (kWh), Tesla suggests installing a 9kW Solar Roof system to cover that usage. The total cost for installation, including tearing off the existing roof and replacing it, would be approximately $64,000 before incentives. Of that, $16,000 would be for the solar shingles, $3,500 for removing the current roof, and $44,500 for a new roof.

On the other hand, the cost of installing 9kW of regular solar panels comes in at about $25,000 before incentives. The cost of removing an existing asphalt shingle roof would be roughly $2,000, and the cost of installing new asphalt shingles would be around $17,000. Therefore, the total cost for a traditional roof replacement and PV installation would come out to $44,000 before incentives.

As you can see, the cost difference between traditional solar panels and a Tesla Solar Roof in this scenario is around $20,000 in favor of traditional panels. Though, it's important to consider how the roofing material, electricity usage, and roof size can influence the cost.

Installing a Tesla Solar Roof: Steps to follow

By now, you may be wondering how to get your own Tesla solar roof. Here's a brief step-by-step guide on how to install one on your home.

Ordering and depositing for a Solar Roof

To get started with your order, you'll need to pay a $250 deposit. Once you've reviewed the estimated size and cost of your system, you can place your order on Tesla website. They'll use your electricity bill to suggest a system size that's right for you.

Virtual inspection

The cost estimates provided by the Tesla roof calculator are just rough cost estimates and to design your Solar Roof system properly, Tesla engineers will conduct a more in-depth cost assessment. This includes assessing your location using satellite imagery and analyzing your electric bill to understand your energy needs. If it's determined that a Solar Roof isn't the best fit for your home, Tesla will refund your deposit.

Securing approvals for your solar shingle roof

The process of installing and operating the Tesla solar tiles on your roof will be pretty much the same as with any other solar power system, which means you will need to obtain permits. This step may take a bit of time, possibly a few weeks, depending on where you reside.

Finalizing the installation of your Solar Roof

Once the necessary permits are obtained, Tesla technicians will take off your old roof and install the new solar roof. The length of the process may vary from a week or more, depending on how large and complex your roof is. After the installation is finished, the system will be inspected for safety by both the local government and your utility provider. Utilize our solar calculator to input key parameters such as location, roof size, and energy consumption to receive customized recommendations tailored to your specific needs and circumstances.Utilize our solar calculator to input key parameters such as location, roof size, and energy consumption to receive customized recommendations tailored to your specific needs and circumstances.Utilize our solar calculator to input key parameters such as location, roof size, and energy consumption to receive customized recommendations tailored to your specific needs and circumstances.

Final verdict: Is the Tesla Solar Roof a cost efficient addition to your home?

To wrap up, if you are a homeowner in need of a new roof and want to maintain some of the aesthetics and functionality of a traditional roof while incorporating solar power, the Tesla Solar Roof is a cost effective option. However, if cost reduction on your electric bills is your primary concern, you would be much better off opting for a conventional solar panel installation, even if it means replacing your roof. Make sure to use the Tesla Solar Roof Calculator and get multiple quotes from solar installers in your area to ensure optimal cost and quality for your solar installation.


Key takeaways

Jul 3, 2023
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