Tesla Solar Roof: Better Than Installing Solar Panels

The Tesla Solar Roof was introduced in 2016 with the intention of becoming the solar system of the future, according to Tesla and SolarCity. After six years, nobody has a clear understanding of what it is or how much it costs.

The confusion is justified because Tesla revises its position on the Solar Roof more frequently than Elon Musk tweets.

In this post, we’ll explain everything about the Tesla Solar Roof, including how it functions, how much it costs, and whether or not it’s even worthwhile to purchase.

Tesla Solar Roof at a glance:

  • The Tesla Solar Roof integrates solar panels into regular roof shingles so homeowners can generate solar power on their roofs without having to worry about the look of their home being tainted by solar panels.
  • A 6.14 kW Solar Roof will cost a total of about $51,000 before incentives for an average-sized roof, but the price can vary depending on the roof’s complexity.
  • Tesla estimates that a 6.14 kW Solar Roof will cost a total between $39,800 and $48,700 before incentives for an average-sized roof, depending on its complexity.
  • Tesla charges somewhere around $20 per square foot of total roof space for non-solar roofing materials, but the final rate will vary depending on your roof’s pitch, how many obstructions there are, and how many mountain planes your roof has.
  • Tesla charges between $13.30 and $18.54 per square foot for non-solar roofing materials.
  • While the Solar Roof looks nice, it won’t give you as much savings as traditional solar panels, and you have to deal with Tesla’s unreliable service for 25+ years.

What is the Tesla Solar Roof? 

The aesthetics of solar panels are one of the main complaints made by homeowners. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Energy, responded by unveiling the Tesla Solar Roof in 2016 on the set of the then-popular television series Desperate Housewives, of all places (that should have given us some sort of indication that the Tesla roof was probably going to be all for show).

The Solar Roof was created with the intention of performing similarly to photovoltaic solar panels while smoothly blending into a roof. In this manner, homeowners might still reap the rewards of solar energy, such as lower electric bills and the use of clean energy, without compromising the aesthetics of their homes.

Tesla shingles are used to replace the entire roof of a house for a unified appearance. The entire roof will be covered in Tesla brand shingles, however not all of them will produce electricity (more on that later). Tesla Solar Roofs typically consist of three pieces of hardware: a Tesla solar inverter, active solar shingles, and inactive solar shingles.

How much does a Tesla Solar Roof cost? 

The cost to build a Tesla Solar Roof can range from $35,000 to as much as $70,000. Having said that, a lot goes into the price, making it challenging to understand exactly what you’re paying for and why.

And if we’re being really honest, it can be a little difficult to navigate the way Tesla presents the pricing line items. To help you understand what you’re buying, we’ve broken down the factors that affect the price.

Breaking down the price of Tesla’s Solar Roof 

Systems for Tesla Solar Roofs are made entirely of Tesla-only components. There are three main costs involved in installing a solar roof:

  • Active solar shingles
  • Inactive shingles
  • Roof tear off

Here’s the breakdown of how each one of these contributes to the final price: 

1. Active solar shingles 

Cost: $1.80 per watt

Tempered glass shingles with solar cells within that produce power are the active solar shingles from Tesla.

The active Solar Roof tiles require an installation fee of roughly $1.80 per watt. Before taking into account any subsidies, the cost of the active shingles for a 7 kW Tesla Solar Roof would be $12,600. The cost will increase overall the larger the solar system you require.

The solar component of the Tesla roof is technically less expensive than solar panels, which typically cost $3.00 per watt.

Each active shingle is 15″ by 45″ and is made to resemble slate shingles in appearance. Tesla’s solar shingles are 71.67 watts in size, therefore five of them would be required to generate the same amount of power as one 370-watt solar panel, according to Electrek. Tesla’s website does not, however, provide any official performance or power ratings specifications.

2. Inactive shingles / non-Solar Roofing materials 

Cost: About $20 per square foot of total roof space

Inactive shingles and underlayment are a couple of the “generic roofing components” that make up the next part of the price of your solar roof. When we refer to “inactive shingles,” we mean all of the roof’s shingles that don’t generate power. When installed on your roof, you won’t be able to tell the difference between the active solar shingles and the inactive solar shingles because they are made to look exactly alike.

The price of these roofing costs is not specified by Tesla, and it can change depending on the size, complexity, and quantity of solar roofing tiles on your roof. It’s also difficult to determine how much of these expenses go into active shingle hardware, such as underlayment.

It’s difficult to see how precisely Tesla is classifying your roof and what pricing they’re using for the estimate because Tesla doesn’t allow you to choose the complexity of your roof when using their estimator. As a result, we provide a rough estimate of $20 per square foot of total roof space, albeit it may be higher or lower.

You may anticipate the price of the inactive shingles and roofing materials to be around $32,000 based on the average roof area of 1,700 square feet. The size and complexity of your roof will affect the cost you spend.

Tesla also costs a lot for the roofing material they use. An asphalt shingle roof replacement typically costs $7.00 per square foot. Even metal roofing possibilities are less expensive than what Tesla is asking for. You can likely replace it for less than what Tesla is offering unless you decide to go with ultra-premium roofing material.

3. Roof tear off  

Cost: About $3.58 per square foot

Tesla will also charge to remove your old roofing material. Tesla will charge you around $6,100 for the tear-off of a typical-sized roof. The cost might change a little.

When it comes to the expense of tearing off a roof, this is a rather high figure; asphalt shingles only cost approximately $1 per square foot to remove and dispose of. Even slate roofing, one of the priciest roofing materials, only costs $3.00 per square foot to remove on average.

If your current roof is comprised of 3-tab asphalt shingles that are less than 3/8 inches thick and in good shape, you might be able to forego this expense. If so, you can simply put the solar shingles on top of the tiles you currently have on your roof.

However, before Tesla can install their solar shingles, existing roofing materials like architectural asphalt shingles, cedar shakes, or concrete tiles must be fully removed.

How much does a Tesla Solar Roof cost compared to solar panels? 

In comparison to a conventional solar panel installation, the total cost of installing a Tesla Solar Roof will be significantly greater. The Tesla Solar Roof does, however, also come with a new roof. Therefore, the totals come out to be closer than you might anticipate when you account for the cost of both a roof replacement and conventional solar panels.

Using an example, you can compare these expenses with ease. Let’s imagine you own a house in California with a straightforward, 1,700 square foot roof and an annual electricity consumption of roughly 9,300 kilowatt-hours (kWh).

 Tesla Solar Roof cost

Tesla suggests constructing a 6.14 kW solar system, which would cost $51,152 to install before incentives, to cover a 9,300 kWh electricity demand. From that sum, $11,052 would go toward active solar shingles, $6,100 toward removing your old roof, and $34,000 toward a new roof.

To cover 9,300 kWh of electricity demand, only 5.55 kW of standard solar panels would be required, costing roughly $16,650 before incentives. We now need to think about the price of a conventional roof replacement. A new roof made of architectural asphalt shingles would cost roughly $11,900, however a roof tear-off would only cost about $935.

The standard solar installation and roof repair would cost roughly $29,485, when you add it all up. This means that in this example, choosing the conventional method rather than the Solar Roof would result in a savings of just under $20,000. Of course, there are a ton of variables at play here, including the size of your roof, the sort of roofing material you’re using, and your electricity consumption.

Do you have to install a Tesla Powerwall with the Solar Roof? 

No, a Tesla Powerwall battery is not required to be installed in conjunction with a solar roof. Although you can order without the energy storage option, the price of the Powerwall home battery will be included in the initial estimate you see on Tesla’s website.

The Tesla Powerwall installation will cost an additional $11,500, but the federal tax credit will pay for it.

How long does the Tesla Solar Roof last? 

Tesla’s solar shingles are built to last and have the highest fire and hail ratings as well as a Class 3 hail certification, the second-highest grade available.

A 25-year product warranty, a 25-year module warranty, and a 25-year weatherization warranty are all included with the purchase of the Tesla Solar Roof. Therefore, you may anticipate the Tesla Solar Roof to endure at least 25 years, much like conventional solar panels.

The 25-year product warranty is longer than the industry average for solar panels, which is between 10 and 12 years. The active solar shingles are covered by a 25-year module warranty, which gives you an idea of how much electricity you may expect from the shingles as they get older. This warranty is adequate by solar industry standards; it’s not terrible, but it’s also not particularly noteworthy.

The Solar Roof’s “roofing” component is covered by the weatherization warranty. It’s prorated, like the majority of shingle warranties, so the amount of coverage is dependent on how long you’ve owned the roof. There may be shingle warranties available that offer a little bit more coverage than Tesla’s, but it’s still not bad.

There is a separate 10-year warranty for the Tesla Powerwall.

What size Tesla Solar Roof do you need? 

Your energy usage and the location of your home will determine the size of Tesla Solar Roof you require. How much solar energy you’ll require will also depend on the features of your roof.

The following table provides a rough estimate of how much homeowners in various states could spend on a solar roof to pay for that state’s typical power bill:

Table 2 shows the average expenses for installing Tesla Solar Roofs by state.

StateAverage electric billSolar Roof sizeTesla Solar Roof installation cost*
California$1305.32 kW$49,700
Texas$14011.63 kW$61,034
Florida$14010.11 kW$58,298
North Carolina$1208.04 kW$54,572
Arizona$1408.13 kW$54,734
Nevada$1207.49 kW$53,582
Georgia$1309.35 kW$56,930
New Jersey$1107.53 kW$56,654
Virginia$13012.53 kW$62,654
Massachusetts$1507.82 kW$54,176

How much can you save on electricity bills with the Tesla Solar Roof? 

Like solar panels, a Tesla Solar Roof can help you eliminate all or most of your monthly electricity expenditure. However, there can be certain restrictions, such as the type of net metering scheme provided by your utility and the size of your roof.

Even if you may be able to do away with your electricity bill, you also need to consider how much you are saving in comparison to the cost of the system. Think about the 6.14 kW solar roof in California from the preceding example. Over the course of its 25-year lifespan, it would save you just over $50,000, just breaking even.

The conventional 5.55 kW solar system, on the other hand, has a payback period of about 5 years and would save you $64,000 over 25 years.

Since you are compelled to replace the complete roof, the Tesla Solar Roof payback period considers the entire system, including the non-solar component. However, even if you only included the solar component, the active shingles would reach break-even point after 7 years. Although the payback period of 7 years is excellent, it is still longer than it would be if you had purchased standard solar panels.

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