Architecture and Technology: The Tesla Solar Roof Design


Architecture and Technology: The Tesla Solar Roof Design

There is a new kind of solar roof out there that is as energy efficient as it is beautiful. As usual, Tesla has produced a seamless design for a fully integrated system. The solar roof panels like individual tiles placed in a customized fashion to fit your home’s unique architecture.

The Tesla Solar Roof is designed for durability, efficiency, and aesthetics. It is essentially a new roof with integrated solar panels, rather than the traditional clunky aesthetic of solar panels added atop the roof. And you can monitor its energy production via the Tesla app.

Only a handful of people have had the chance to experience the Tesla Solar Roof. This article takes you through everything there is to know about how the solar roof looks, what it costs, the specs, the reviews, and more.

The Aesthetics of the Design

Unsurprisingly, the aesthetics of the Tesla Solar Roof design are as impressive as any other feature of the product. The salient difference between the Tesla Solar Roof and standard solar panels is integrating the tiles within the roof.

It isn’t as though you’re buying an addition to your roof when you get the Tesla Solar Roof—you are buying a new roof that happens to have integrated solar tiles.

The Tesla Solar Roof Simply Looks Like a Roof

The Tesla Solar Roof is slate-colored, like standard solar panels. However, unlike standard solar panels, they also look like slate tiles. They are perfectly fitted to the home’s architecture, as you would expect a brand-new tiled roof to be.

What makes the Tesla Solar Roof impressive aesthetically is that it simply looks like a roof, rather than a roof that has solar panels on it.

The Tesla Solar Tiles Are Made Out of Tempered Glass

Tesla’s solar tiles are textured and made out of tempered glass. Not all tiles on the Solar Roof are solar tiles, but all are glass. Part of the design during the implementation of individual roofs is the determination of how many tiles should be solar versus non-solar. The difference between the tiles is indiscernible from a street view. 

Textured glass tile is currently available. However, other designs have been unveiled as potential future options like Tuscan Glass Tile.

So, eventually, there may even be various roof styles to look forward to.

The current textured tile is a great look for mid-century modern architecture. As the name implies, the Tuscan tile will be a perfect fit for Tuscan style homes.

The slate glass tile will be an apt choice for anyone with a Victorian style home. The smooth glass could be the perfect option for contemporary flat roof style homes.

The Durability of the Design

Tesla is adamant about pronouncing the durability of the tempered glass tiles used for their solar roof system, claiming they are 3x stronger than standard roofing materials.

Tesla Touts Tempered Glass Tiles are 3x More Durable than Standard Roofing Tiles

Tesla promises its solar roof tiles are built to last—claiming they are 3x stronger than standard roof tiles. Additionally, Tesla says these tiles are designed for all weather. The assurance is that the Tesla solar roof will last longer than a standard roof. The lifespan of a standard roof depends quite a bit on the material of its tiles:

Tesla’s Warranty Indicates a Strong Belief in the durability of the Solar roof

It has been said that Tesla promised an infinite warranty, or lifetime warranty on its solar roof tiles. Actually, Tesla offers a 25-year warranty, and claims it should last longer than standard roofs. This is true, if and only if Tesla assumes shingled roofs are the standard. A 25-year warranty provides coverage for longer than you could expect a shingled roof to last, albeit no longer than you could expect a tile roof to last.

Regardless, the durability of a standard tile roof over a roof made of fiber cement or asphalt shingles speaks to the durability of the tesla tile roof. Ideally, the quality of Tesla’s tempered glass tiles means you have the durability of a premium roof. You are not sacrificing durability for solar energy. Tile means you should remain in the highest category for durable roofing material.

And, should your roof not outlast the lifespan of a shingled roof, the 25-year warranty has you covered. So, while it would be untrue to say a Tesla Solar Roof is likely to outlive a standard tile roof, there is still some legitimacy to Tesla’s claim about premium roof durability. And, though it isn’t true that the warranty is infinite, it is true that the warranty spans the standard timeline of a shingled roof. The warranty extends to:

  • Tile
  • Power
  • Weatherization

The Value of the Design

Typically, the selling point of solar panels is that they will eventually pay for themselves through their cost-free energy production and tax-breaks. Tesla points out that only a solar roof could ever pay for its own implementation through its energy production. The obvious comparison becomes that while a solar panel might promise to pay for itself, a solar roof promises to pay for your roof.

Here are some ways in which solar energy helps pay for itself:

Ultimately, the solar energy produced should help pay for itself as you see your electricity bill lower month by month, just as you would with solar panels. The difference, once again, is the advantage of the integration of the Tesla Solar Roof. You achieve the aesthetic advantages as well as premium durability for your roof. 

The Specs of the Design

The Tesla Solar Roof specs show all-weather durability, standing up to other premium roof styles in Hail Rating.

The Tesla Solar Roof has a Class 3 Hail Rating

There is a national standard for hail resistant roofs that include 4 classes. The class that indicates the toughest impact resistance is 4. Impact is tested with steel balls ranging from 1.25 – 2 in. that are dropped from 12-20 feet distances.

Tesla’s roof has the second-best rating for resistance to hail, placing it among premium roofing standards. Classes 3 and 4 roof materials mean less repair and lower insurance rates.

The Tesla Solar Roof Pitch Ranges from 2/12 to 20/12

Since Tesla’s implementation of the solar roof is very much a customized project, they offer a wide range for roof pitch. Most roof pitches fall between 4/12 and 9/12. Tile is a premium roofing material that does well for lower pitches as well as high ones.

The Tesla Solar Roof has a Class F Wind Rating

When it comes to wind, the Tesla Solar Roof could not be more highly rated. The standard measure for wind rating is the ASTM D3161, which subjects materials to high wind velocities a minimum of two times.

As a Class F, Tesla’s solar roof resists up to a 110-mph wind velocity.

Classes range from A to F, with F being the highest measure for velocity resistance.  Class A means the resistance stands up to 60 mph, whereas Class F stands up to 110 mph, and classes B-E fall within their range accordingly.

The Tesla Solar Roof has a Class A UL 790 Fire Rating

The UL 790 fire classification means roofs had to pass a series of tests. A Class A classification means the roof stood up to stronger, more extreme tests than that of the lower classifications.

So, Tesla’s solar roof obtained the highest classification for fire resistance.

The Installation of the Design

Tesla has now installed solar energy across more than 400,000 roofs. Tesla promises to “take care of everything.” This means they’ll do everything from removal to installation, and of course, everything covered under the 25-year warranty after that. Installation involves:

The cost of installation is included in your final price. After you complete your order, a site visit is scheduled. The site visit is necessary for developing the design and considering whether your home requires any improvements. Once everything is confirmed from there, an installation can be scheduled.

The time it takes to install a solar roof depends upon the complexity of the home, but typical installations are done within a single week.

Solar Energy Optimization and Roof Design

Tesla takes optimization into consideration with regard to each individual roof. There are certain aspects of a roof’s design that can lead to more or less solar energy production. For example, it is important to place solar panels where there is the least amount of roof obstruction.

Any kind of obstruction on your roof can lead to poor solar power generation. The roof design must involve placing each solar tile where it will receive the most sunlight. This is why it comes in handy that the solar roof has some solar tiles and some non-solar titles. The design team can determine how to place the solar tiles in avoidance of obstruction.

In terms of orientation, Tesla explains that, “In the northern hemisphere, it’s best to have your panels on a south mounting plane. If a south mounting plane is not available, east and west are also good. Roof planes must be able to accommodate a minimum of two panels to be considered in your final design.” Therefore, orientation is an important consideration for Tesla’s solar roof installation as well.

Another important aspect for the solar roof design is roof pitch, because the slope of a roof can affect solar power production. Optimal pitch for solar energy is a 15-45-degree slope. Tesla’s design teams can add pitch to flat roofs. However, roofs with more than a 45-degree pitch presents a serious limitation.

The Tesla Powerwall for Energy Storing and Back-Up Protection

At an additional cost, you can combine the Tesla Solar Roof with the Tesla Powerwall. The Tesla Powerwall is like a huge battery in your home that works with the solar roof to:

  • Store energy
  • Back-up protection from outages
  • Efficient energy for your home

The Powerwall stores energy for you to use throughout your home at any time, even during an outage at night. With the mobile app, you can monitor the Powerwall’s energy alongside your home’s energy consumption.

The Mobile App Advantage

With the Tesla mobile app, you can monitor your energy consumption and the efficiency of your solar system.

By monitoring your energy flow in real time via the mobile app, you can optimize the pay return of your solar roof.

And if you already have a Tesla vehicle, the app is one and the same.

The Cost Up-Front and the Payoff Later

As Tesla has demonstrated with their cars, new versions can mean lower prices. Right now, the Tesla Solar Roof is in its early stages, but there has been some assurance that new versions will cost less.

In the meantime, a complete installation of the Tesla solar roof costs no less than $64,000.00 before installation, and without the Powerwall. The more likely price is around $85,000.00. The Powerwall is an additional cost at $10,050.

Installation and site repairs are also likely to cost over $10,000.00. The up-front cost is certainly worth considering if you’re hoping to save money with your off-grid energy. However, it might take a significant amount of time to make up for something that costly.

Ps. Ordering a Tesla Powerwall or Solar? Save $100 instantly by using our Tesla referral link.

Is the Cost of the Tesla Solar Roof Worth It

The cost of a new roof factors into the equation. However, you might be hard-pressed to find a roof replacement that costs anything near the price of a solar roof, even with premium materials.

According to one owner, significant results from the Tesla Solar Roof present themselves within 3 months. The Neumann family spent $83,000.00 on their Tesla Solar Roof—not including reductions from government incentives. It may take them some time to get that back, but they determined that the roof saved them $400.00 within the first 3 months of operation.

Their app showed a steady increase in her home’s self-powered electricity, which essentially means they got closer and closer to their energy coming from off the grid. Of course, the monitoring of the app itself contributed to the family’s energy habits. So, part of the process toward energy efficiency included self-optimization as they monitored their energy consumption via the Tesla mobile app.

The Neuman family did experience a power outage that they hardly noticed because the Powerwall kicked in. In fact, they only noticed because of the app.

Tesla Solar Panels vs. Solar Roof

Tesla also does solar panels to place upon standard roofs, in addition to their integrated solar roof. Depending on your roof type, one or the other might be the best option. In fact, the roof types are ineligible for Tesla solar panels, but eligible for a solar roof; and on the other hand, some roof types are perfectly eligible for both. See below:

Roof TypeEligible for Solar RoofEligible for Solar Panels
Corrugated MetalYesNo
SlateYesNo
Wood ShakeYesNo
Clay TileYesNo
Metal ShinglesYesNo
Asphalt/Composite ShinglesYesYes
Metal Standing SeamYesYes
Rolled AsphaltYesYes
Concrete TileYesYes

Solar Panel Sizing

There are multiple sizes for solar panels. The standard four sizes for solar panels:

  • Small: 240 square feet of roof, 12 panels, and a 4.08 kW rating
  • Medium: 480 square feet of roof, 25 panels, and an 8.16 kW rating
  • Large: 720 square feet of roof, 36 panels, and a 12.24 kW rating
  • X-Large: 960 square feet of roof, 48 panels, and a 16.32 kW rating

The right solar size option depends on several things, such as your home’s size and location. Other considerations include your energy consumption. Ultimately, you’ll want to get the size that helps you save the money you put into the panels.

Conclusion

The Tesla Solar Roof presents a new kind of renewable resource within the home. The solar roof is an integrated system that offers a custom, premium roof that happens to also provide solar energy, which can even be stored within the Powerwall. And you can monitor it all with the Tesla mobile app. Beyond that, the solar roof is custom architecture with tempered glass tiles that reach the highest standards of beauty and durability.

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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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