Tesla Solar Roofs have been widely discussed, debated, and criticized since the first version rolled out nearly five years ago. Since then, Tesla has released two updated and improved versions of their solar roof, with the most recent – V3 – released in 2019. Just how well do Tesla solar tiles hold up when put to the test, though?
The newest version of Tesla Solar Roofs, or V3, features stronger, more durable tiles than past versions. When tested, Tesla Solar Roof tiles out-performed traditional solar panels in terms of durability and resistance against both hail and wind.
Because Tesla Solar Roofs are exactly what the name suggests – an entire roof rather than panels installed on top of an existing roof – how well they can withstand harsh weather is important. Read on to learn more about the durability of Tesla Roofs and how they have fared against harsh weather, including hurricanes.
What is a Tesla Solar Roof?
First released in 2016, Tesla Solar Roofs consist of glass solar tiles and non-solar tiles that serve as a complete, energy-producing roof. Tesla Roofs have been praised for their aesthetic beauty, durability ratings, and ability to provide backup energy through Tesla’s Powerwall batteries during grid outages.
The third and latest version of the Tesla Roof (V3) became available in 2019, and with it came improved solar tile efficiency, strength, design, and a significant price reduction from the previous two versions. Tesla also ramped up installations and increased the availability of its solar roofs in the V3 update.
Tesla Solar Roofs can also be connected to batteries called Powerwalls, which store energy that is generated throughout the day to be used when needed. This allows for backup power during grid outages and can increase the amount of money saved on energy costs.
During the first few years following the release of the first Tesla Solar Roof, several issues were brought to light. Only a handful of installations were done prior to 2019, and many wondered if – or when – the Tesla Solar Roof would fade into oblivion. Instead, the V3 update seems to have saved the product, at least for the time being.
Can a Tesla Solar Roof Withstand a Hurricane?
Hurricanes can be some of the most damaging natural disasters, and for those living in areas where they are common, hurricane protection is very important. While not every hurricane is as devastating as Katrina, Maria, or Harvey, they do pose the risk of structural or property damage.
One way to determine how well Tesla Roof tiles, or any solar panels, will hold up in a hurricane is by comparing the wind resistance rating wind speeds in a hurricane There are five categories of hurricanes, each distinguished by wind speed:
- Category 1: 74-95 mph winds
- Category 2: 96-110 mph winds
- Category 3: 111-129 mph winds
- Category 4: 130-156 mph winds
- Category 5: Over 157 mph winds
Any hurricane that is category 3 or higher is considered to be a major hurricane capable of extreme or devastating damage. When it comes to wind resistance, most average solar panels are rated at up to 140 mph, meaning they should be able to withstand up to a category 4 hurricane.
By comparison, Tesla Roof tiles are rated at 166 mph wind resistance – theoretically able to withstand a category 5 hurricane. Last year, Tesla installed its largest Solar Roof on a home in Florida, a state that sees more hurricanes than anywhere else in the US and has some of the strictest wind resistance requirements for buildings and structures.
There are no 100% guarantees of protection against hurricane damage simply due to the unpredictability of hurricanes and their ability to cause widespread, devastating destruction. However, the wind and hail resistance ratings of Tesla Roof tiles show that they are capable of withstanding more extreme weather than regular solar panels.
How Durable are Tesla Roof Tiles?
While there is some skepticism about how well Tesla Roofs hold up when exposed to harsh weather, the company stands by the strength of its product. Although Tesla Roof tiles are made of glass, they are designed to withstand all types of weather. Compared to regular roof tiles (not solar panels), Tesla Roof tiles are three times as strong.
Tesla offers a 25-year tile, power, and weatherization warranty on its solar roofs, and Tesla Roof tiles are rated higher in wind, hail, and fire resistance than traditional solar panels.
How Long Do Tesla Roofs Last?
Because Tesla Solar Roofs only became available in 2016, their overall average lifespan is still unknown. Whether or not a Tesla Roof will last as long as traditional solar panels, which have an average useful life of about 25 years, remains to be seen.
Are Tesla Roofs Covered by Home Insurance?
Some customers have reported difficulties finding an insurance company that is willing to cover their Tesla Solar Roof. Others saw their yearly insurance cost increase with Tesla Roof coverage. The best way to determine if your current home insurance provider will cover a Tesla Solar Roof and how much it will cost is to contact your agent.
The 25-year warranty provided by Tesla does offer some protection for solar roof owners, as well. It covers the glass tiles, output capability of the solar tiles, and weatherization (water leaks or other weather intrusions resulting from the installation process), according to the Tesla website.
Does Anyone Have a Tesla Roof?
In the early versions of the Tesla Solar Roof, stories of excessively long wait times were common, and many people expressed frustration or gave up on the idea of actually getting a Tesla Roof. With so few installations in the first three years after officially becoming available, some speculated whether Tesla Roofs would ever take off.
Excessive wait times, limited availability, and high costs were some of the main issues addressed in the third version of the Tesla Solar Roof, however. Since the V3 release, installations have increased significantly, and it seems that Tesla Solar Roofs won’t be going away any time soon.
How Many Tesla Roofs Have Been Installed?
According to the Tesla website, over 400,000 solar roofs have been installed. So far, there is no other source that confirms this number, but the increase in net income and profit margins reported by the company in the second half of 2020 suggests that Tesla Solar Roof installations really have increased at a fairly quick pace.
Many people that have had a Tesla Roof installed have taken pictures, videos, or otherwise documented the process and results, which can be viewed online. Despite concerns and warnings of critics, the response and feedback from those who have invested in and installed Tesla Solar Roofs have been mostly positive.
How Long is the Wait for a Tesla Roof?
In late spring of 2020, Tesla began canceling orders and refunding deposits placed by customers in areas that are not covered by the company. Many people criticized this move by Tesla, with good reason – customers that had been on a waitlist for months or even years were informed via email that they would not, in fact, be getting a Tesla Roof.
While Tesla has improved the installation speed and availability for its V3 solar roofs, many customers are still reporting long wait times after placing a Tesla Solar Roof order. Currently, their availability in the US is still somewhat uncertain, and the wait time for Tesla Roofs remains largely unknown.
Tesla Roof vs Solar Panels: Which is Better?
If you are considering investing in solar energy for your home and are unsure of what the best option is, there are several factors to consider, particularly when choosing between a Tesla Roof or traditional solar panels. Ultimately, the best choice will likely depend on your budget, location, needs, and preferences.
Let’s take a look at how Tesla Roofs compare to traditional solar panels in terms of cost, availability, installation time, capability, and weather resistance.
In the past, one of the biggest concerns about the Tesla Solar Roof was its total cost. With the V3 release of the Tesla Roof, a steep price cut was included, making the cost of Tesla Solar Roofs much more competitive with solar panels.
For example, a 7.8kW Tesla Solar Roof, after federal tax credits, would cost about $21,500 for a 1,500-square foot house. A traditional 7.8kW solar panel system would cost about $15,000 after federal tax credits, though if you factor in the cost of a standard roof replacement, the total cost comes to about $21,400.
Tesla Roofs differ from solar panels in that they literally replace the entire roof of a home rather than being installed on top of an existing roof. Because of this, investing in a Tesla Solar Roof will require a considerable amount of money and time.
There are several different companies that sell and install traditional solar panels, making them more readily available than Tesla Roofs. While Tesla has increased the availability of its solar roofs, it is still somewhat limited.
The time it takes once an order is placed for a Tesla Roof to be designed, installed, and inspected before it is finally ready to be used can take several months. Installation of the roof itself usually takes less than two weeks, though the time it takes for installation to start after ordering can be anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months.
After installation, your Tesla Roof will need to be inspected and then approved by your utility provider before it can be used. Solar panels, on the other hand, can usually be installed in an afternoon. Again, the difference here is because a Tesla Roof replaces an entire roof, which can be a lengthy process.
One of the biggest advantages Tesla Roofs have to offer is the ability to store energy generated by the solar tiles in their Powerwall batteries which can then be used to provide power when needed, even during grid outages. Traditional solar panels cannot be used as a source of backup energy during a grid outage.
Tesla Roof tiles, specifically V3, have proven to be slightly stronger and more durable than most traditional solar panels. Compared to solar panels, Tesla Roof tiles are rated to withstand larger-sized hail, stronger winds, and have more fire resistance. If you live in an area where harsh weather is common, this is something you will want to consider.
How Do Tesla Roofs Affect Home Value?
One concern of potential solar panel or roof customers is how the value of their home will be affected by a solar system. Research has shown that, rather than negatively impacting home value, solar panel systems and Tesla Solar Roofs increased the value of homes where they were installed.
In 2019, on average, homes with solar panel systems sold for about 4% more than homes without solar energy. However, a Tesla Roof is permanent, so if you do decide to move, you will have to leave the solar roof behind.
Do You Have to Buy a Powerwall with a Tesla Solar Roof?
Tesla Powerwalls, which are batteries that store energy generated by the Tesla Solar Roof tiles are not required to install a Tesla Roof. However, they are necessary for providing power in cases of grid outages.
Tesla Solar Roof and Powerwall owners have reported being able to use energy from the Powerwall batteries even when the grid is out, which can be very helpful, especially for those in areas where hurricanes are common. A Tesla Powerwall makes for a good source of backup energy, especially if access to fuel for generators is not available.
The cost of one Tesla Powerwall is not exactly cheap, though, and just one Powerwall battery will likely not be sufficient for sustained backup energy. Before installation, a Tesla Powerwall costs almost $8,000, which will add to the total cost of a Tesla Solar Roof. That being said, they are one of the best solar batteries currently available.
Is a Tesla Roof Worth It?
Whether or not a Tesla Solar Roof is worth investing in is largely a matter of personal opinion. They have some significant advantages over traditional solar panels, but they also have some considerable disadvantages.
Other than limited availability and long wait times, the solar tiles on Tesla Roofs are less efficient than some traditional solar panels. The efficiency of Tesla Roof tiles was improved in the V3 update, but they are still below-average when compared to the efficiency of traditional solar panels.
The amount of money you can save on electric bills with a Tesla Roof is potentially significant, and those who do have Tesla Solar Roofs have reported significant savings on energy costs thanks to the energy generated by the solar tiles. Tesla Powerwalls also increase the amount that can be saved on energy costs.
The Tesla website makes some big claims about the ability of a Tesla Solar Roof to pay for itself over time, though many are skeptical. Owners of Tesla Solar Roofs
For one Tesla Roof owner, the amount paid out of pocket for energy costs in the first year of owning a Tesla Roof was roughly $80 – thousands of dollars in savings from previous energy costs.
Choosing Between a Tesla Roof and Solar Panels
If you are unsure of whether a Tesla Roof or a traditional solar panel system is the best option for you, there are some general factors to consider. Tesla Roofs are a good option if:
- Your existing roof is in need of replacement
- You prefer the sleek, attractive appearance of the Tesla Roof to traditional solar panels that are mounted on a roof
- You live in an area with harsh weather
- You want a backup power source during grid outages
- You want to be able to track and monitor electricity use in your home
- Cost and waiting time are not your main concerns
- You live in an area with access to Tesla Roof installers
A traditional solar panel system is a good choice if:
- You don’t want to replace your entire roof
- You are looking for a less expensive solar energy option
- You want solar panels installed quickly
- You prefer higher-efficiency solar panels
- You want the security of a more widely-used, available, and tested product
Ultimately, if you are looking for the quickest, most hassle-free solar energy option for your home, your best bet is to go with traditional solar panels. Tesla Roofs are an impressive, attractive, and durable product, but there is still plenty of room for improvement in terms of availability and customer service with Tesla Solar Roofs.
Up until recently, the outlook for Tesla Solar Roofs was questionable at best. With the 2019 release of the V3 Tesla Solar Roof came improvements, updates, price cuts, and increased availability, and the company seems determined to make their solar roofs competitive and even preferable to traditional solar panels.
The durability and strength of Tesla Solar Roofs is impressive, and Tesla Roof tiles are rated higher than traditional solar panels in weather and fire resistance. Currently, some of the biggest complaints about Tesla Roofs are their limited availability and unclear wait times. A Tesla Roof should be able to handle a hurricane – if you are able to get one.
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