Tesla Glass Roof VS Sunroof Explained

Tesla Glass Roof VS Sunroof Explained

Since 2016, Tesla has offered a Glass Roof option for some of its models as to alternative to the more traditional sunroof.  The Glass Roof has since become a popular option among many Tesla buyers. Tesla’s Glass Roof option provides the driver and passengers with a 360-degree view of their surroundings and the sky above.

Tesla glass roofs are made out of special glass panels fitted seamlessly around the upper half of the vehicle to allow for a full view of the outdoors and the sky above. This is different than Tesla panoramic sunroof that Teslas previously had for a few reasons, including the fact that glass roofs are more energy-efficient.

Models equipped with the Glass Roof give up some of the features that came with the panoramic sunroof option. Now those cool nighttime drives can double as a drive-through trip to the planetarium. If you’re interested in how Tesla’s glass roof and sunroof are different, just keep reading.

Tesla Glass Roof vs. Sunroof

Though to some, they may seem interchangeable, and the Glass Roof has some features that are unique to it. As with many new car features, the Glass Roof has a balance of pros and cons to be carefully weighed before deciding on a vehicle.

Here are some major ways these two types of vehicle roof differ:

Roof OptionNatural LightInterior ComfortUtilityMisc.
Panoramic sunroofThe panoramic sunroof allows more natural light into the car’s interior than traditional sunroofs.Opens up to allow fresh air into the car, keeping you cool on hot summer drives.Having the sunroof open cools a car off more efficiently than running the AC, without the noise that comes with opening a window.Doesn’t obstruct roof rack connectors for kayaks, bicycles, etc. Some are prone to leaking, among other defects.
Tesla Glass RoofThe seamless Glass Roof allows in more natural light than a panoramic sunroof.Greater headspace on the sides creates a less claustrophobic driving experience.The special glass it’s made from reflects UV and other wavelengths of light, which can overheat your car and cause nasty sunburns on the tops of heads.Teslas 2020 Models with the Glass Roof can be outfitted with roof rack connectors

The Glass Roof comes out on top in most respects. Unless you’re considering an older model Tesla, or you love the feel of the wind in your hair, the Glass Roof appears the superior option.

Are Glass Roofs Safe?

Feeling nervous at the prospect of nothing more than a thin layer of glass standing between you and the dangers of the road? Sweating the thought of your new car becoming an unbearable hotbox in direct sunlight? Not to worry!

Tesla Glass Roofs are made from special glass that is surprisingly durable.

Anecdotal reports indicate that Tesla Glass Roofs can resist very strong blows. In late September 2019, a Tesla driver struck a street-side pole, which then fell directly onto the car’s glass roof.

The Glass Roof didn’t collapse into the car’s interior, and both the driver and passenger- the driver’s two-year-old son- left the scene unharmed. Safety tests have also shown the durability of the Glass roof, withstanding up to 20,000 pounds of force.

Improvements Over Older Roof Options

The Glass Roof marked many improvements over the panoramic sunroof previously available in Tesla vehicles.

These improvements were all due to the seamless glass construction of the roof:

  • More headroom: The Glass Roof opens up the interior, allowing for more side-to-side headroom for the driver and front passenger and a generally more spacious ride.
  • More natural light: The Glass Roof allows in far more natural light than even a panoramic sunroof does. It provides a clear view all around and above the vehicle, making it a popular choice among sightseers and road-trippers.
  • Reflection of harmful wavelengths of light: By reflecting UV rays and other harmful types of light, the Glass Roof keeps the interior cool. Additionally, the special glass will keep you and any passengers from getting a nasty sunburn, unlike some cheap glass which can concentrate light rays.

The Glass Roof does not open up, so it does sacrifice the fresh air that a sunroof can provide. This can be a dealbreaker for some buyers. Still, it is more efficient to cool since it reflects much of the heat-creating light.

Do All Teslas Come with the Glass Roof?

While the Glass Roof is quickly becoming a very popular option, some models still feature a panoramic windshield, a solid glass panel.

Tesla currently offers four models, all of which can be outfitted with the Tesla Glass Roof or already come equipped with it as a standard feature.

  • Model S:  With the longest range of any all-electric vehicle, it has remained popular since its advent in 2012. Listed as a 5-door lift-back sedan, the Model S seats five people. As of 2018, the panoramic sunroof is no longer available on the Model S, which now has the Glass Roof as a standard feature.
  • Model 3: The Model 3 is a 4-door fastback sedan that sits atop the all-time electric car best-seller list. Overtaking the Nissan Leaf in early 2020, the 2020 model comes standard with the Glass Roof. It seats five people comfortably.
  • Model X: The Model X is a crossover SUV that seats a maximum of 7 people and has 88 cubic feet of storage, putting it ahead of many traditional SUVs in carrying capacity. Its doors are articulating or “falcon wing” doors. The Model X’s base model has a panoramic windshield, with the Glass Roof option available.
  • Model Y: The Model Y is a more compact crossover SUV. While it has less storage space than its larger counterpart, it also has a 7-passenger max capacity. The fold-down seating it boasts adds to its utility. The Model Y comes with the Glass Roof as a standard feature.

Since it’s available on all models, it’s not a deciding factor when picking between Tesla vehicles. No matter which fits someone better, they can still get that sleek look and 360-degree view.

What Is a Panoramic Sunroof?

A panoramic sunroof consists of two glass panels that run the length of the roof of the car, one of which slides open to allow fresh air and sunshine into the interior.

Can You Get a Tesla with a Panoramic Sunroof?

What about the panoramic sunroof I mentioned earlier? Can you get a Tesla with one? Unfortunately, no. It’s an older Tesla option that has been discontinued since the introduction of the Glass Roof.

The sunroof provided a cheaper, more efficient method of cooling than running the AC while driving. They also didn’t block roof rack connectors, like older versions of the Glass Roof did.

Despite the extra utility, the panoramic sunroofs in many Teslas were found to have multiple technical problems.

  • Worn out or defective seals: When the seal on a panoramic sunroof got worn out, as they were prone to do rather quickly, a couple of different issues could crop up. Most often, it was either a high-pitched whistling caused by wind hitting an imperfect seal as the car drove or leaks that let in rainwater.
  • Broken plastic shackles and/or cable pull: These regulate the amount of resistance put on the cables that open and close the sunroof. They were found to often break, causing serious issues with the functionality of many panoramic sunroofs.

While other high-end vehicles still offer panoramic sunroof options, Tesla has phased them out entirely.

In 2016, there was a general recall of Teslas with panoramic sunroofs due to these issues. Tesla continued to equip some of their cars with sunroofs until 2018, when they discontinued them across their entire product line.

Final Thoughts

There’s no doubt that Tesla is always on the cutting edge of technology, including the roofing options. The above information should help identify the differences between Tesla’s glass roof and sunroof.

Tesla Discounts:


The articles here on ThatTeslaChannel.com are created by Greg, a Tesla vehicle and Tesla solar expert with nearly half a decade of hands-on experience. The information on this site is fact-checked and tested in-person to ensure the best possible level of accuracy.

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