Nearly every homeowner will more than likely need to replace his or her home’s roof at some point. A new roof is a lucrative investment that can increase your home’s value tremendously. You could actually save up to 70 percent of what you invest in a new roof through the increase of your home’s resale value. But, what about replacing it with a Solar Roof?
Many homeowners shy away from solar panels because they are not aesthetically pleasing, but Tesla has alleviated this negative with solar shingles. They are durable, stunning, and great sources of renewable energy. However, the cost could negate the overall savings.
Tesla introduced its Solar Roof in 2016 as an environmentally-friendly way to replace your entire roof while also going solar. This solar option was a bit slow to take off, but many homeowners have since replaced their older, traditional roofs with Tesla’s solar shingles. This could be the perfect option to go solar, but is it worth the hefty price tag? Read on to find out more.
What is a Tesla Solar Roof Exactly?
Tesla has been selling its solar panels for years, but one of the main deterrents has been the overall, bulky look of placing solar panels on top of your existing roof. Many homeowners have even voiced their aversion to solar panels so much that they did not care about the money they could save versus the look of solar panels on their home.
Then came Tesla’s solar shingles, and everything changed. Now, you can actually replace your entire roof with a brand-new roof that is made of a mixture of active solar shingles and inactive regular ones. The active shingles are building-integrated photovoltaic shingles that work like solar panels yet are striking to the eye.
- The active solar shingles look like traditional shingles because the solar energy system is fully integrated into those active shingles.
- They are mixed with inactive, non-solar shingles, such as asphalt or metal shingles, that give a stylish and sleek look to your roof.
- These active shingles will produce solar energy for your home, just like panels.
Replacing a roof with Tesla’s solar shingles can be a great way to go green in that you will save money on your electric bill over time. However, these profits come at a steep cost. Consumer Reports calculated Tesla’s Solar Roof at more than $70,000 to install, quite a bit higher than the average $15,000 to $40,00 for a traditional roof replacement.
Much More Expensive than a Traditional Roof
When you decide to replace your roof, you really just need to choose the type of shingles – asphalt, metal, clay, etc. – and the installer to hire to do the job. However, a Tesla Solar Roof is more complicated, and these complications come at a cost. This is because you are not just purchasing the active shingles when you want to go solar.
A Tesla Solar Roof will only provide renewable solar power 24 hours a day, seven days a week, if it is used in conjunction with Tesla’s Powerwall battery. Otherwise, you will not have solar energy during a power outage or blackout because the solar shingles only work when the grid is on and running.
The Tesla Powerwall battery stores solar energy from your active solar shingles during the day when energy is off-peak, and prices are low. Then, the Powerwall will discharge this stored energy later in the day when the energy prices are at their peak, expensive rates. This saves money on the electric bill and offers energy during an outage.
A Tesla Powerwall could run an additional $8,000 to $10,000 depending on where you live and who is doing the installation. This cost is in addition to the roof itself, which could come in at $30,000 to $60,000 or more:
- Tesla’s claims for a 10-kilowatt roof on a California home: $33,950
- This number equates to $5.60 per square foot and $2.11 per watt.
- An average roof could cost anywhere from $3.50 and $5.00 per square foot and could run between $5,000 and $30,000 at its highest, most premium price.
Even if you save $2,000 a year on your electricity bill, which would equal a $50,000 cost savings for the life of the 25-year warranty on the Tesla solar shingles, these savings may not cover the upfront cost during the life of the roof. That being said, going solar means tax savings, which could cut the cost of your roof.
Tax Incentives Could Cut Your Solar Roof Cost
The federal government is continuing to reward homeowners who are making their homes environmentally friendly, and that includes a 26 percent tax deduction for going solar. How does that work? When you file your income taxes, you can claim up to 26 percent of the entire cost of your Tesla Solar Roof as a tax deduction.
If you owe the IRS taxes during the year you purchase your Tesla Solar Roof, the 26 percent tax deduction will reduce what you owe. If you do not owe a substantial amount of taxes to the IRS, or if you do not owe anything, you will get the 26 percent deduction back as a tax refund. The government is basically giving you a discount on a Solar Roof.
It should be noted, however, that the federal tax credit only applies to the cost of the active solar shingles. As discussed, a Tesla Solar Roof is a combination of building-integrated photovoltaic shingles and inactive, non-solar shingles. The cost of the inactive, non-solar shingles does not qualify for the 26 percent federal tax deduction.
If you purchase a Tesla Powerwall battery, you can write off 26 percent of that cost as well. In addition, twenty states are currently offering rewarding state incentives for homeowners who decide to go solar, and some electric companies are also offering solar renewable energy credits and other incentives that could reduce your electric bill.
How Long Should a Solar Roof Last?
The active solar shingles are quite durable and have received high ratings from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for hail, the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) for wind, and Underwriter Laboratories (UL) for fire. According to Tesla’s website, the active solar shingles have notable ratings in wind, fire, and hail:
- Wind rating – American Society for Testing Materials D3161 Class F
- Fire rating – Underwriter Laboratories Class A (the highest rating from UL)
- Hail rating – American National Standards Institute FM 4473 Class 3
What do these numbers mean in real terms? The active solar shingles can withstand hurricane-strength winds up to 166 miles per hour, and Tesla made a video showing a Solar Roof that can withstand a two-inch stone of hail moving 100 miles per hour. The intermixing of active and inactive shingles is important to note when discussing this durability.
The durability standards listed above are only for the active Solar Roof shingles. Since these shingles are combined with traditional, inactive shingles, those standard shingles may need to be replaced if severe weather or fire hits your home. Tesla does offer impressive 25-year warranties for tile, power, and weatherization.
This means your Solar Roof is protected from any tile failure resulting from water damage or other kinds of weather-related failures for up to twenty-five years. The output capacity of the solar arrays is also covered for twenty-five years, and the glass on the tiles themselves has a remarkable lifetime warranty.
Your Tesla Solar Roof Will Look Beautiful
A Tesla Solar Roof will not only look more aesthetically pleasing than traditional solar panels but will probably look more stunning and beautiful than a traditional roof. This is because the active solar shingles are made of glass, giving them a sleek, stylish look when combined with the traditional, non-solar shingles. There are four types of tiles:
- Textured glass tile
- Smooth glass tile
- Tuscan glass tile
- Slate glass tile
Depending on your type of home, where you live, and the look you want to achieve, you will more than likely have one of the four types of glass tiles above to meet your aesthetic needs. All four choices are made of quartz, are visually appealing, and give the Solar Roof a smooth, glassy look for nearly any climate anywhere in the world.
If you are thinking of replacing your traditional roof with a Tesla Solar Roof, the type of glass tile will be the first choice you will need to make and should be determined depending on two things: what type of appearance do you want and what is the climate in which you live? This will determine whether smooth or textured will work best.
For example, if you live in a very cold, snowy area, you will probably want to choose a smooth glass tile. Why? The smooth glass will allow the snow to slide right off of your roof, which is needed since snow can block your solar rays. You would not want textured or slate glass tile that will hold the snow and block your solar rays.
Tesla Solar Shingles vs. Tesla Solar Panels
If you are in need of a new roof, you should weigh the costs of replacing it with a traditional roof and then getting solar panels to save money on your electric bill. A solar panel system will probably last at least 30 years, which could save thousands of dollars on your electric bills over that time and is much less of an upfront cost.
Pairing your solar panel installation with a traditional roof replacement could be cheaper than replacing your roof with a Tesla Solar Roof. As discussed, Tesla’s solar shingles come with a hefty price tag compared to just purchasing Tesla’s solar panels. Tesla has actually touted their solar panels as the most inexpensive option on the market today.
One advantage of Tesla’s solar panels versus the entire Solar Roof is the transparency of pricing. Tesla’s cost for solar panels is simple – there are four options depending on the size of the solar paneling system you need to fully power your home. Before federal incentives, the cost of Tesla solar panels differ from 4 kilowatts to 16 kilowatts:
- 4 kW system size costs $8,200, or $2.04 per watt ($6,068 with 26% federal deduction)
- 8 kW system size costs $16,400, or $2.01 per watt ($12,136 with 26% federal deduction)
- 12 kW system size costs $24,600, or $2.01 per watt ($18,204 with 26% federal deduction)
- 16 kW system size costs $32,800, or $2.01 per watt ($24,272 with 26% federal deduction)
Looking at the numbers above, if you need the largest 16-kilowatt solar panel system to fully power your home, it is probably smarter to just replace your entire roof with a Tesla Solar Roofing system. That way, you get a brand new roof for a comparable price as the 16-kilowatt system size of solar panels. Those prices also do not include the Powerwall.
Solar Shingles Cost vs. Efficiency
Because the Tesla solar shingles are building-integrated photovoltaic shingles, these options have come with some issues versus standard solar panels. Unlike solar panels, which are mounted on the roof but not integrated with the roof itself, the shingles shade the roof, and this means there could be a degree difference throughout the roof itself.
Solar panels are usually mounted anywhere from four to six inches off of the roof itself, which means they are cooler than solar shingles. Since solar cells operate more efficiently when they are cooler, you may need more solar shingles to cover a much greater surface area than a more inexpensive solar panel option.
More solar shingles mean a greater cost, whereas the Tesla solar panel systems are much more transparent when it comes to cost. It has also been reported that Tesla has even raised the price of their solar shingles for customers after they had already signed a contract. This lack of transparency could continue to deter solar shingles over panels.
Purchasing Tesla’s solar shingles is quite an investment, yet customers do most of the legwork online without even talking to a real person. The actual order, assessment, approvals, and scheduling can all be done through the web, making a complicated process that much warier when not discussing it face-to-face with a professional:
- Order the roof and pay a deposit fully through Tesla’s Web site before anything is even assessed.
- After the money is exchanged, you will then receive a virtual assessment of your home’s roof by uploading your electric bill and providing some information about your house.
- You will then wait to receive the proper permitting approvals so that Tesla can begin the installation of the Solar Roof. You still have not met with a professional face-to-face at this point and are now ready to schedule.
- This is when you would schedule the actual installation, which Tesla says should take about a week but, in reality, has taken actual customers much longer. One customer sat for months without a roof because of complications!
- After installation is complete, the roof is inspected and approved for interconnection to the utility grid.
You can plan to wait up to six weeks for your utility company to come to approve your solar setup. Once this is done, you can turn on your solar panels or Solar Roof and start reaping their benefits.
In Some States, You Can Rent
Solar shingles have also been known to be less efficient than traditional solar panels, which could also negate the heftier cost of having shingles replace your entire roof. You may need a much larger area of active solar shingles to cover your roof than using solar panels. This larger area of active solar shingles will come with a much larger price tag.
Are you still unsure if replacing your entire roof with Tesla’s solar shingles is for you? Maybe you are unsure how much you will actually save on your electric bill compared to the hefty upfront price tag of solar shingles or solar panels?
These five states have the option of renting Tesla’s solar panels for only $50 a month to see if solar is right for you:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
If you begin the process by renting, you can check your bill to see what you are saving. This is a very inexpensive way to dip your toe in the solar pool before going full in with a brand new Solar Roof or solar panels that you end up owning for the life of your home.
That being said, if you are in need of a new roof, replacing it with solar shingles will allow you to generate savings on electricity while not needing to spend money on rental fees or the combination of solar panels and a new roof. In the end, you should weigh the cost of the solar shingles versus simply adding solar panels to your existing roof.
If you are in need of a roof replacement, there are many benefits to purchasing a Tesla Solar Roof. However, the upfront cost will more than likely be more expensive than simply replacing your old roof with a new, non-solar option. You should weigh the benefits of getting a new roof and solar panels versus an entire Tesla Solar Roof.
Solar panels may be a cheaper option for powering your home with renewable, clean energy. Or you can even possibly rent solar panels first to see if solar is right for you. Then you can decide if Tesla solar shingles are the right choice to help the environment while saving money on your electric bill or if panels are the way to go.