Is a Tesla Solar Roof or Regular Roof a Better Buy? We Find Out


Tesla Solar Roof or Regular Roof

As people look to curb consumption and live a more sustainable lifestyle in 2021, the occurrence of solar-powered homes has been on the rise. However, despite the improvements in solar technology, many homeowners still cannot get over the unsightly aspect of solar panels on top of their house. As a result, the sleek Tesla roof that is nearly indistinguishable from a regular roof is becoming more popular. But is it a good buy?

The Tesla solar roof is the best buy for homes that want a high-quality combination of aesthetics, protection, and solar energy production. For homes that are more interested in one of these specific areas, a regular roof may be a better buy.

As with anything involving cutting-edge technology, the cost is a significant factor. The up-front cost of installing a Tesla solar roof will be markedly higher than most regular roofing products. However, the Tesla roof’s lifetime energy savings will help balance out this initial expense, making it more competitive from a cost perspective after years of use have accumulated.

Tesla Solar Roof or Regular Roof: Finding the Best Buy

What constitutes a good buy for one person may not be the same for the next. It all boils down to consumer preference. Therefore, it is essential to know which qualities you value before shopping for a new roof.

Although the Tesla roof has many outstanding features that will appeal to a broad market, traditional roofing products do have their advantages. The following breakdown will look at many common roof types to see how they stack up against the Tesla solar roof on several critical points.

Tesla Solar Roof

The comparison must start with the Tesla solar roof itself. The Tesla solar roof has been a game-changer in the world of solar-powered homes because it eliminates many of the aesthetic concerns that have plagued traditional solar panels. In fact, the sleek design of the Tesla solar roof has been reported by some to have a cleaner aspect than similar asphalt or metal shingles.

The Tesla solar roof comprises a mixture of photovoltaic, energy-producing tiles and regular, non-energy-producing tempered glass tiles. There is no difference in appearance between the solar and non-solar tiles, creating an attractive, uniform appearance on the top of the home.

Advantages of the Tesla Solar Roof

The following are some important strengths of the Tesla solar roof:

  • It has an attractive appearance that surpasses traditional solar panels and rivals regular roofing products. Some looks that are offered by Tesla include Tuscan glass tile, slate glass tile, textured glass tile, and smooth glass tile.
  • A standard 10 kW Tesla roof will produce between 11,000 kWh and 15,000 kWh of electricity per year, enough to meet the average American home’s yearly energy needs.
  • It comprises durable tempered glass tiles capable of withstanding heavy impact.Tesla claims that its solar roof is three times stronger than a regular roof.
  • Installation by Tesla or a Tesla-certified partner is included as part of the purchase price.
  • The customizability of energy-producing capabilities: the average mix for a Tesla solar roof is 30-40% solar tiles and 60-70% non-solar tiles. This can be adjusted to meet the energy needs of each specific household.
  • It is compatible with the innovative Powerwall, which allows solar energy to be stored and used during nighttime or low solar output periods.
  • There are tax credits and other energy-efficiencies credits issued by the government.
  • The roof has a 25-year warranty, meaning the roof is expected to last for at least that long.

Disadvantages of the Tesla Solar Roof

While the advantages of the innovative Tesla solar roof are many, it does have some drawbacks. Many of these are due to a lack of research, as there has not been enough time to assess how the Tesla solar roof will perform over the life of the 25-year guarantee issued by the company. Still, these concerns should be considered before having it installed:

  • There is degradation over time. While all roofs will lose protective and insulative quality as they age, the Tesla solar roof has the additional drawback of its photovoltaic cells losing efficiency the older they get.
  • There are customer service concerns. A backlog in orders for all things Tesla-related has led to some extensive wait times in getting the roof installed, so if a problem were to arise that needs repair, it might be challenging to get a certified technician to your house promptly.
  • It is not as strong an option in areas that receive heavy snowfall or little sun. Without adequate sunlight, the Tesla roof may not be as effective.
  • New generations of the Tesla solar roof are likely to be unveiled with regularity. While this won’t necessarily make your Tesla solar roof obsolete, it can be frustrating to have a better alternative released shortly after your roof is installed.

Cost of the Tesla Solar Roof

The reported cost of the Tesla solar roof varies widely. However, it should be noted that any way you want to look at it, the up-front cost will be hefty. For an average-size home with average energy needs using the standard mix of solar and non-solar tiles,the cost to install the Tesla solar roof is about $22 per square foot, coming to a total cost of over $40,000.

However, some large homes with greater-than-average energy needs have reported the cost to be upwards of $35 per square foot, with a total cost approaching a whopping $100,000.

Although this cost is steep, the energy savings over time should be considered. An average monthly electric bill of $150 would accumulate $45,000 of energy costs over a 25-year period, which would replace most or all of the initial cost of installation. It should also be noted that a Tesla roof would likely significantly increase the resale value of a home. However, there is not enough transaction history to determine by just how much.

Is the Tesla Roof the Better Buy?

The Tesla solar roof will likely be seen as an excellent buy for those early adopters of technology and individuals who are willing to pay a premium for energy efficiency. Buyers are likely to be willing to pay more for quality and appearance than pure functionality.

Traditional Asphalt Roofs

Now that you know the specific pros and cons related to the Tesla solar roof, it is time to start breaking down how its traditional competitors stack up. At the top of the list is asphalt shingles. As some 75% of all American homes are roofed in asphalt, you are likely considering the upgrade to Tesla from this standard product.

Asphalt roofs will come in a couple of fabrications. The first option is a fiberglass mat covered in asphalt that is sprinkled with additional asphalt granules to provide color and reflect sunlight. These fiberglass-based shingles are lightweight and resistant to tearing.

The second fabrication is an organic mixture of recycled paper saturated in asphalt and covered with granules. These asphalt shingles perform well in high winds but tend to dry and lose their waterproof abilities more quickly than fiberglass-based asphalt products.

Advantages of Asphalt Roofs

Regardless of which asphalt fabrication is used on your roof, it will provide several benefits:

  • It has aesthetic compatibility with a wide range of home designs and siding choices.
  • It has the largest selection of color choices of any roofing product on the market.
  • It provides strong fire protection.
  • There are easy to find local installers, with DIY installation and repairs possible for most asphalt products.
  • It can last up to 30 years in mild climates that do not face extreme weather.

Disadvantages of Asphalt Roofs

Despite their strong points, asphalt shingles do come with a litany of concerns, including:

  • Excessive sun exposure can lead to drying and cracking in as little as ten years, leading to higher repair and replacement costs than most other roofing products.
  • While some asphalt shingles can perform well in strong winds, others perform terribly in inclement weather, shedding granules and “blistering,” the process in which small holes are formed in the asphalt roofing to allow the transfer of unwanted air and moisture.
  • There is very low thermal mass, meaning that heat is readily transferred into the home’s interior, leading to elevated air conditioning needs during the summer months.
  • They are lacking in terms of environmental-friendliness, as there are few ways to reuse, repurpose, or recycle old asphalt shingles.
  • Asphalt is known to be hospitable to mold or algae, posing a threat in damp or shady areas.

Cost of Asphalt Shingles

The cost of asphalt shingles is one of the main reasons they are attractive to homeowners, as asphalt is one of the most affordable roofing products on the market. Depending on the shingle’s quality, asphalt roofing solutions will cost between $2 and $5 per square foot, making the total cost of roof replacement anywhere between $5,000 and $12,500.

While this is a low initial cost, the relative frequency of needing replacement combined with the negligible energy savings will make the cost of asphalt accumulate over time.

Is an Asphalt Roof the Better Buy?

Asphalt shingles will likely appeal to cash-strapped homeowners who need an immediate roof upgrade. They may also be appealing to landlords who need roofing solutions en masse and are unconcerned by utility bills paid by tenants.

Traditional Wood Shingles and Shakes Roofing

While not as prevalent as asphalt, wood is another desirable roofing option for some homeowners. When choosing a home roofed in wood, homeowners will have the option of choosing either wood shingles or wood shakes.

Wood shingles are machine cut and have a smooth, clean appearance that gives the roof a more uniform aspect. Wood shakes are hand-cut from blocks of wood and will have a more rustic, natural appearance.

Advantages of Wood Roofing

Whether choosing wood shingles or shakes, you can expect the following benefits:

  • Wood has a natural beauty that appeals to homeowners who want the cabin-style feel to their home.
  • Wood has a much higher insulation value than asphalt, as the thermal mass of wood does not readily transfer ambient temperature into the home.
  • You can choose from salvaged timber, making wood roofing a strong choice for those homeowners looking to reduce forest waste.
  • Wood roofs can be recycled into wood chips, mulch, or compost.
  • It is the only roofing type that plays well with architectural styles such as Tudor, Victorian, Cape Cod, bungalow, and cottage.

Disadvantages of Wood Roofing

Nonetheless, wood roofing will come with several drawbacks, including:

  • High maintenance is required. Wood roofing that is left untreated is susceptible to several issues, such as fire danger, insect infestation, and moisture absorption.
  • Treated wood roofs can last up to 30 years, but a replacement will be required much sooner for untreated products.
  • It may be prohibited in dry regions such as California and Colorado.
  • It requires skilled installation, as improperly installed wood roofs quickly deteriorate and create significant leaks in the building envelope.
  • Repairs can be difficult and costly to perform.

Cost of Wood Roofing

The cost of wood roofing is substantially less than the Tesla solar roof but is about twice as expensive as asphalt shingles. With estimates of anywhere between $4.50 and $9.00 for a total cost of anywhere between $10,000 and $20,000.

Like with asphalt shingles, the lower initial cost should be taken with a grain of salt. Keeping the roof properly cleaned and treated throughout its useful life will lead to additional expenditures on top of this initial investment. The homeowner should expect to see negligible reductions in the monthly utility bill when going with wood options.

Is a Traditional Wood Roof a Better Buy?

Homeowners wanting a natural appearance or attempting to work in one of the aforementioned architectural styles will likely choose wood roofing. Additionally, those with time and money to invest in home maintenance will also be more inclined toward this choice.

Metal Roofing

Although metal roofing may not be the most aesthetically-pleasing option to put on top of your home, it is enjoying a rise in popularity among homeowners who want low-resource protection.

While many multi-purpose barns and sheds are practically roofed in corrugated metal sheets, there are many contemporary metal options for homeowners, such as shingles, shakes, and tiles, to give the modern home a more attractive aspect.

Advantages to Metal Roofs

Metal roofing will provide the following benefits to a home:

  • It has a wide selection of colors and designs that can rival asphalt.
  • It is highly durable, with most metal roofs lasting at least 50 years but, in all likelihood, will outlive the life of the building itself.
  • It does a better job of reflecting solar radiation than asphalt.
  • It has a Class A fire rating, the highest possible fire resistance for a roofing product.
  • It is easy to install for roofing professionals and can be installed by DIY enthusiasts.
  • It more readily sheds rain and snow than other roofs, with no threat of moisture absorption.
  • It looks good on many home designs and siding options.
  • It is commonly fabricated from recycled products and can be recycled itself at the end of its useful life.

Disadvantages to Metal Roofs

On the flip side, there are some notable downfalls to metal roofing:

  • Without sturdy substrate and quality roof insulation, metal roofs will be among the noisiest roofing products on the market, readily transferring noise from rain and hail into the home.
  • Although there are several more attractive metal designs in the current market, it is not thought of as one of the most desirable selections in terms of appearance.
  • It can dent in the face of hail or other heavy impact. Furthermore, most homeowners’ insurance policies have an aesthetics exclusion, meaning that they will not replace a functional roof for purely cosmetic reasons.
  • While metal does a decent job of reflecting sunlight, any warmth received will be readily transferred into the home, as the metal has a negligible R-value (a measure of a building material’s insulative properties).
  • Although metal is fire resistant itself, the product’s durable nature makes it challenging for firefighters to break through the roof and fight fires that ignite in the attic or upper stories of a home.

Cost of Metal Roofs

The cost of a metal roof varies widely based on the type of metal used. However, most estimates place the cost anywhere between $5 and $20 per square foot, meaning that an average-size home’s total cost will range between $10,000 and $35,000.

Although metal roofs are more expensive than asphalt or wood, they benefit from likely requiring few, if any, future repair or replacement costs. However, the higher initial cost is not offset by the same significant energy savings as the Tesla solar roof.

Is a Metal Roof a Better Buy?

Metal roofs are likely to be appealing to homeowners who have a little extra money and want durability with hands-off maintenance. They may be particularly attractive to homeowners in areas with heavy snowfall.

Concrete and Clay Roofing

These old-school ceramic roofing options have been modernized to meet the needs of contemporary homes. Traditional clay tiles have been reinforced for added strength and durability.

Concrete tiles are made of an updated concrete blend that makes them lighter and easier to work with than old-fashioned concrete options. Fiber cement tiles use a mixture of wood, fiberglass, and cement to make an even lighter composite that makes a strong roofing choice.

Advantages of Concrete and Clay Roofs

No matter the ceramic fabrication chosen, the concrete or clay roofing will be finished with a glaze coat for waterproof protection and offer the following benefits:

  • It rivals metal for the most extended life on the market, with most ceramic roofs lasting 50 or more years.
  • It has elite protection from fire and insects.
  • It has the highest thermal mass of any roofing product. Solar heat that is not reflected is absorbed, stored in the ceramic tiles, and slowly released into the interior, regulating controlled temperatures better than products such as asphalt and metal.
  • Ceramic tiles are easily recycled and repurposed at the end of their roofing life.
  • It looks great on period architecture such as Spanish Mission, European, and Mediterranean homes.

Disadvantages of Concrete and Clay Roofs

Despite the listed benefits of concrete and clay roofing tiles, there are some notable drawbacks, including:

  • Even though newer fabrications have made improvements, ceramic roofing is still significantly heavier than other options. This can require reinforced framing to ensure compatibility as well as a professional installation with powerful machinery.
  • It must be regularly sealed to prevent moisture absorption, as untreated ceramics are highly porous.
  • It can become brittle with age if left untreated, leaving ceramic tiles susceptible to cracking in the face of impact.
  • It is difficult and dangerous to walk on, so inspecting the roof and maintaining the chimney can be tricky.

Cost of Concrete and Clay Roofs

Concrete and clay tile is the first traditional roofing product that rivals the Tesla solar roof in terms of up-front cost. Homeowners can expect to pay between $15 and $25 per square foot for these ceramic options, making the total cost for an average-size house between $25,000 and $50,000.

While this is an expensive price tag, the high thermal mass will likely do quite a bit to help control HVAC costs, although it will come nowhere near eliminating them like the Tesla solar roof. The longevity of properly treated ceramic roofing should also keep the cost of replacement at a minimum.

Is a Concrete or Clay Roof the Better Buy?

These ceramic options will appeal to homeowners with deeper pockets who want to capture a more stately, European look for their property. In terms of regular roofing products, they also likely provide the most desirable intersection of appearance, durability, and energy control.

Tesla Solar Roof vs. Regular Roof with Solar Panels

At this point, it is essential to consider the viability of a Tesla solar roof versus a regular roof with solar panels. Both formats will offer protection for the home while simultaneously actively converting sunlight into electricity. However, as was the argument with the Tesla solar roof, there are pros and cons to each side.

Aesthetics

The most significant advantage of the Tesla solar roof compared to a regular roof with solar panels is its appearance. While the Tesla solar roof has a sleek, uniform appearance that is nearly indistinguishable from a regular roof, solar panels will protrude and give the home a more ungainly aspect. Even the innovative Tesla solar panels that use 30% fewer anchor points will be noticeable on the roof.

Efficiency

From an energy conversion standpoint, solar panels are more efficient than Tesla solar tiles. This means that comparatively more Tesla tiles will need to be used to create the same amount of energy as a lower number of traditional solar panels.

However, it should be noted that additional Tesla tiles will have no adverse effect on the home’s appearance, while even a few solar panels will be noticeable.

Cost

Due to the increased efficiency, solar panels can be installed on regular roofs more affordably than a Tesla solar roof.

This helpful study estimates that the actual cost of a Tesla solar roof for an average-size house after tax incentives are factored in will amount to $23,388—assuming both systems use the same power output for their solar cells. A basic roof replacement for the same property with the installation of solar panels is estimated to be $18,824.

Durability

The Tesla solar roof is guaranteed for up to 25 years, making it more durable than asphalt or wood but likely less durable than metal or ceramic.

Solar panels themselves will have a durability similar to that of the Tesla solar tiles, so the roof’s overall durability will come down to the main components of the roof on which the solar panels are mounted, which is variable.

Compatibility

The Tesla solar roof makes for an attractive pairing with many houses, offering an appearance similar to that of asphalt or metal tile. As holes have to be drilled into the roof to mount solar panels, their compatibility can vary.

Solar panels work best on standing metal roofs, but they can also be effectively mounted on asphalt or ceramic options. If your roof is made of wood or slate, it is best to consider an entire roof replacement to a preferable material before mounting solar panels.

Tesla Solar Roof vs. Regular Roofs: Which is Better?

The Tesla solar roof is the better buy for the homeowner who wants the best intersection of aesthetics, protection, and electricity production. Even though it will be slightly more expensive and less efficient, the Tesla solar roof should still provide enough energy production for an average American house.

However, if utility is the goal, with less concern for aesthetics, then a regular roof with solar panels is a good buy, as you can get the same energy production with less solar investment. You can even get the sleek Tesla solar panels to make the aesthetic drawbacks less noticeable.

It is important to note, though, that even though a regular roof plus solar panels combination can be had for less than a Tesla solar roof, by choosing a superior roofing product, such as metal, to pair with the solar panels, the cost may end up being similar, if not more, than a Tesla solar roof.

Conclusion

Many homeowners with an eye on sustainability have likely looked into some energy-efficient home renovations. To this effect, the thought of installing a Tesla solar roof has likely crossed their radar.

While a Tesla solar roof will have an initial cost significantly higher than most standard roofing options, the attractive appearance and long-term energy savings will make it a better buy in the long run.

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Greg

Hi, I'm Greg. My daily driver is a Tesla Model 3 Performance. I've learned a ton about Teslas from hands-on experience and this is the site where I share everything I've learned.

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