Tesla Solar Roof Review (Is It The Best Option?)
In this EcoWatch review on the Tesla Solar Roof, you’ll learn:
- What is the Tesla Solar Roof?
- How the Tesla Roof works with active and inactive tiles?
- Is the Tesla Solar Roof A Good Option?
- How you can get a Tesla Roof installed?
This article has helped many homeowners understand how they can benefit from a Tesla Solar Roof and can make your solar purchase decision a lot easier. Let’s get started!
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What Is the Tesla Roof?
In 2016, CEO Elon Musk unveiled the Tesla Solar Roof, a futuristic product consisting of photovoltaic (PV) roof tiles capable of generating clean energy. The roof is designed to maximize your energy production without sacrificing the aesthetics of your home. This addresses one of the most common complaints surrounding solar panels, which is the way they look.
Although the idea started trending quickly, it took almost two years for Tesla’s solar shingles to make their way onto the roofs of real homeowners. After a few more years of improvements, we’re finally seeing Tesla Solar Roof installations become more common.
Tesla’s Solar Roof tiles integrate the functionality of solar cells into roof tiles, making it possible for one product to offer two different uses. Categorized under Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV), solar roof shingles look much sleeker than traditional residential solar panels, transforming the aesthetics of a roof equipped with solar.
While there have been other solar shingle products on the market, Tesla’s textured glass tile shingles offer some remarkable advantages. These include a 25-year warranty and impressive hail, fire and wind ratings. Tesla claims its shingles offer more durability and weather protection compared to traditional roof shingles.
How Does the Tesla Solar Roof Work?
The first few attempts at BIPV solar roofs were made by pasting flexible solar panels over regular shingles. However, it was an inefficient method with questionable durability.
When Tesla got into the solar game and designed its solar roof tiles with subsidiary SolarCity, it integrated solar cells directly into the shingles (initially using a Panasonic cell before parting ways with the company).1 This makes the solar cells almost impossible to spot.
A Tesla Solar Roof comprises two types of roof tiles — active and inactive. They look identical, but the active tiles generate power and the inactive do not. Most homes only need part of their roof to be covered in active tiles to offset their energy bills. The inactive tiles can be strategically placed in shady spots to maximize the efficiency of the active tiles while maintaining a seamless design.
Solar shingles generate direct current (DC) power, so a Tesla roof also needs an inverter to turn it into usable alternating current (AC) power for your home. Tesla recommends adding a Powerwall battery to the system as well. This lets homeowners store solar energy for use at night or as backup power during a grid outage.
How Much Does the Tesla Solar Roof Cost?
We evaluated a typical house in California with a 2,000-sqare-foot roof and an average electric bill of $150 per month. According to Tesla, such a home would require a 6.14 kilowatt (kW) Solar Roof. Along with the recommended Powerwall, this would cost $48,300 after factoring in incentives like the federal tax credit (the system would cost $69,000 without the tax credit).
Without an energy storage system, the roof would cost about $45,200. Tesla also charges for tearing off an existing roof. In this example, roof removal costs $7,700.
Here’s a breakdown of Tesla roof pricing for the home we analyzed:
|Tesla Roof Installation Components||Cost|
|6.14 kW Solar Roof||$50,700|
|Estimated Federal Tax Credit Value||-$20,700|
|Estimated Price After Incentives||$48,300|
Tesla describes these costs as “estimated costs” and has a disclaimer stating that the prices may change based on actual installation and roof removal conditions.
This change was reportedly made after some homeowners were asked to pay more after signing a contract for a certain purchase cost. If you decide to go ahead with the quoted prices, you will be required to pay a $250 refundable deposit.
Is the Tesla Solar Roof A Good Option?
To answer this question, let’s compare the cost of a Solar Roof to that of a Tesla solar panel system. For the same house we used in the above example, Tesla suggests a 4.80 kW solar panel system with a Powerwall home battery and quotes a notably lower estimated price of $17,816.
|Traditional Tesla Solar Panel System
|Tesla Solar Roof
|Tesla Solar Roof|
|Size Needed||4.80 kW||6.14 kW||6.14 kW|
|Cost After Tax Credit||$16,852||$48,300||$38,300|
Traditional solar modules are more efficient than solar roof shingles, therefore requiring less capacity. In this case, a traditional solar array only needs to be 4.80 kW to generate the same amount of power as a 6.14 kW Solar Roof. This means that a Tesla roof ends up costing three times as much as traditional panels — a staggering difference in investment.
Tesla’s solar roof may not be worth the added premium for most customers. Nevertheless, there are still times when a Tesla Solar Roof is worth it.
For example, if you are planning to replace an aging roof, it makes sense to upgrade to a roof that generates power and saves money, aka the Tesla Solar Roof. In such a case, the cost of getting a new Solar Roof may be comparable to the cost of getting a new roof plus a traditional solar power system.
If you aren’t concerned about its higher costs, you can also opt to buy the Solar Roof purely for its aesthetic appeal and stealthy presence.
Check out this video from a real Tesla Solar Roof owner to learn more about whether the roof is a good option for you:
Tesla Solar Roof Pros & Cons
As we covered, the most significant advantages to a Tesla Solar Roof include unparalleled aesthetics with excellent durability. However, solar shingles yield slightly less energy than traditional solar panels and carry a higher price tag.
|Tesla Roof Pros||Tesla Roof Cons|
|High durability||Efficiency lower than traditional systems|
How Can I Get a Tesla Solar Roof Installed?
The installation process of a Tesla Solar Roof is similar to a traditional solar panel installation but requires more time. You can order your Solar Roof directly through Tesla’s website or a certified Tesla roof installer. Bear in mind that you must live in Tesla’s coverage area for Solar Roof installations. In more remote areas, it may not be possible just yet.
Here is a list of the steps involved:
- Place Order: The first step in placing your order is paying a deposit of $250. Orders are placed through Tesla’s website after you have reviewed the estimated size and price of your system. Tesla uses your average electricity bill to recommend a system size.
- Assessment: The numbers on Tesla’s design page are based on basic approximations, and a proper design of your solar roof system will require a more detailed assessment. For this, Tesla’s engineers will assess your location virtually using satellite imagery. You will also be required to submit your full electric bill for Tesla to better understand your energy needs. If the assessment shows that your home isn’t a good candidate for a Solar Roof, Tesla will refund your deposit.
- Permits: Your city and utility company will treat your Solar Roof like any other solar power system, meaning you will require permits to install and operate the solar tiles on your roof. This step may take a few weeks, depending on where you live.
- Installation: Once you have the permits, the technicians will tear down your existing roof and install the new solar roof. This may take a week or more based on the size and complexity of your roof.
- Inspection and Permission to Operate (PTO): Once installed, your system will be inspected for safety by both your city (in some cases county) and your utility. Before you can turn your system on, you’ll need to receive written permission to operate (PTO) from your utility. The company installing your system will likely take care of the paperwork.
The best way to find out if the Tesla Solar Roof is right for you is to connect with a local solar company. Some solar companies are certified by Tesla to sell and install Solar Roofs. You can get started by clicking below
FAQs: Tesla Solar Roof
The total cost of your Tesla Solar Roof will vary depending on where you live and the square footage of your roof, so it’s hard to give an exact figure.
On average, it typically takes between 9 and 15 years for homeowners to pay off solar panel roof products, but with fully integrated solar roofing material being more expensive than panels you can expect upwards of 20 years or more.
The answer to this question depends on the size of your roof, how much direct sunlight it receives and your household energy needs. Under the right conditions, a Tesla Solar Roof could power an entire house, especially if paired with a Tesla Powerwall battery.
However, because solar shingles are less efficient compared to solar panels, the Tesla Solar Roof may not be the best solar product for power-hungry home, but it may still significantly reduce your monthly electricity bills.
The Solar Roof uses solar and non-solar tiles. Their non-solar roof tiles cost roughly $11 per square foot. The typical homeowner can expect to pay $21.85 per square foot of solar roof, which considers about 35% of the roof is solar and the rest is non-solar tiles.2