When considering a new roof for your home, there are many options. However, one of those options is the Tesla Solar Roof, a roof that not only serves the same purpose as a traditional roof but has the added benefit of producing solar energy for your home. The question is, which type of roof is better for you?
The Tesla Solar Roof is more expensive than a traditional roof, but it offers more benefits. The most important difference between a Solar Roof and a normal roof is the fact that a Solar Roof would produce solar energy for your home and lower your electric bill but cost you more upfront. However, there are significant solar tax incentives to installing a Solar Roof.
A Tesla Solar Roof costs about $40k with federal incentives. Traditional roofs can cost between $7,500 and $30k, depending on the design, materials, and location. Although the Tesla Solar Roof is more expensive, there are several reasons you might still consider it as an option. Read on to learn the differences between the two roof styles.
The Tesla Solar Roof
The Tesla Solar Roof is unique in the way that the solar energy system is designed. Solar cells are integrated into a tough glass panel installed on your roof, much like traditional shingles. These solar cells integrate seamlessly with non-solar shingles to make up an entire roof.
The Tesla solar roof is a one-of-a-kind solar power system unlike anything else on the market. Unlike other solar panels that sit noticeably on top of your roof, the Solar Roof acts as your roof, protecting your home from the elements while producing solar energy.
The obvious question you should ask is what kind of advantages and disadvantages the Solar Roof can offer you.
Pros of Choosing Tesla’s Solar Roof
The pros of Tesla’s Solar Roof are plentiful:
- Reduced energy costs
- Make money by selling electricity to the electric company
- Power continuity
- Sleek design
- Environmental friendliness
Reduced Energy Costs
Every solar company that is on the market now will tell potential customers that they will see a reduced electricity bill. However, depending on which type of solar system you install, the reduction in your overall power bill will vary greatly.
Some solar companies and systems can reduce the cost of powering your home significantly. In some cases, the cost for powering your home could drop to as low as $20 a month, even creating a surplus that you can sell back to the electric company.
Make Money by Selling Electricity
As mentioned above, your solar power system may generate more electricity than is needed. In these circumstances, most power companies allow you to sell that power back to them. In cases where your extra power is more than your bill, you will receive a credit or payment from the electric company each month, making you money.
Power companies that allow you to sell your excess energy back to them will install a net meter at your residence. What the net meter does, among other things, is monitor the amount of energy that is coming and going from your residence. It tracks how much energy your solar power system returns to the grid.
If this is something that interests you, make sure that you speak to your power company to get the details on what they require to participate in their program. This benefit might very well make the difference between you choosing the Solar Roof over a normal roof.
The Tesla Solar Roof is designed not only to power your home on good weather days but to keep it powered in all sorts of situations, such as:
- In heavy rain and snow
- During power outages
- On cloudy days with low or no sun
The system is designed to take in solar energy and convert it into electricity, potentially delivering it into a battery attached to your home. Over time, the energy that is not used will either be stored in the battery for future use or sold directly to the electric company.
Of course, the electricity will only be sold if you do not buy a battery, and you will have no backup power in this case. The batteries sold by Tesla, called Powerwall batteries, will run around $12k per battery, though this includes installation and a gateway.
Tesla touts that the battery stored in your home can last several days during an outage, but this largely depends on the amount of power you use and how many batteries are connected. Tesla leads the way when it comes to solar power and backup batteries, so it will serve you well during a power outage.
Tesla Powerwall batteries can be installed in your home to store electricity generated by the Solar Roof. The price of each battery, or Powerwall, is $12k each, as mentioned above. It is worth mentioning, though, that the more Powerwall batteries you buy, the more money you can save.
If you need several batteries, you will get a slight discount of around $500 per battery. Some things will already be done and paid for on the previous batteries, such as the installation of the gateway.
When getting an estimation for your home, you should remember that no Powerwall batteries are included in the installation costs. Plus, if you plan on getting a Powerwall for backup energy, the larger your home, the more Powerwall batteries, you will need for your system to run efficiently.
How many Powerwall batteries Tesla recommends will depend on the amount of power required to keep your house running. However, the more important factor is how long you wish to have backup power in case of an emergency. Tesla will help you calculate the number of Powerwall batteries you should get should you decide to purchase them.
Aesthetics matter, especially when it comes to solar energy. Fortunately, the look of the Tesla Solar Roof is pleasing to the eye compared to typical solar panels. In fact, they have a sleek, modern look that makes them comparable, perhaps even more appealing, to traditional roofs.
The tiles produced by Tesla are made of glass and come in four different styles, which are:
Some of the tiles on the Solar Roof have solar cells inside them. The tiles that have solar cells look identical to the tiles that do not. The great thing about this design is that it is impossible to tell that the home has any solar power system added, ensuring curb appeal. The only way to see them is to stand on the roof and look directly down.
Therefore, the Tesla Solar Roof eliminates the unsightly large solar panels attached to the top of a typical solar-producing roof setup.
Better for the Environment
Utilizing solar power instead of electricity is better for the environment, as there is little to no pollution generated. A typical power plant in 2019 emitted 0.97 million short tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. Of course, the more residences that go solar, the lower that number will be.
If you do invest in solar energy, you can do so knowing that you are helping to eliminate a portion of the pollution caused by power plants each year. And by doing so, you will reduce your carbon footprint.
Cons of Choosing Tesla’s Solar Roof
Like all other products currently on the market, the Solar Roof is not perfect. Below are the cons of the Tesla Solar Roof:
- The high cost of installation
- Length of time to receive a return on the investment
- Not ideal if you plan to move
The Cost of Installation
The downside for any solar power system is the cost of the product and installation compared to a traditional roof. However, Tesla has been able to bring the cost down drastically to the point that it is worth considering if finances are your concern.
Depending on the angle, size, grade, location, and materials, a traditional roof can run a homeowner anywhere from around $7,500 to $30k. On the other hand, investing in a Solar Roof through Tesla will set you back around $40k or so after incentives. However, the cost is highly variable depending on roof size and electricity needs.
If you are in the market for a new roof, investing in a Tesla Solar Roof might make more sense. However, if you are only looking to add solar to your home and your roof is in good shape, then spending the extra money might not be worth it.
In this same scenario, if you add in the recommended Powerwall batteries, the total cost rises significantly. While the total price increases, however, so does the amount saved with the federal tax credit.
Pricing Options for a Tesla Solar Roof
If you are in the market for solar and like the idea of a Tesla Solar Roof, there are two main options available for you. One is to pay the cost outright, and the other is to finance it with the solar company. The below cash and financing numbers are provided by Tesla for a 2,500 square foot house without batteries.
- Cash total including installation $49,387.00
- Subtract $9,466.00 federal tax credit
- Final price of $39,922.00
- Financing total including installation $49,387.00
- Subtract $9,466.00 federal tax credit
- Final price of $39,922.00
- On a twenty-year loan
- APR of 6.99%
- $0.00 down payment
Solar Tax Incentives
The federal government allows for a 26 percent tax credit to be applied toward the purchase of a solar option for residences from January 2020 through December 31, 2022. The allowable amount will decrease to 22 percent from 2022 until December 31, 2023. As of now, there is no extension of the tax credit after the end of 2023.
In addition to the federal tax credits, some states allow for additional incentives to switch to solar. The following states allow for additional tax incentives:
|California||Up to $1,000|
|Colorado||Not specified, some power companies may provide a credit|
|Connecticut||$300 per kW PTC|
|Delaware||Not specified, some power companies may provide a credit|
|Hawaii||35% of the actual system or $5,000 per 5 kW, whichever is less|
|Illinois||$1,000 per kW reduced from cash or loan price|
|Massachusetts||Up to $1,000|
|Nevada||Up to $3,000 for Powerwall (battery) only|
|New York||Max of $350 per kW and $5,000|
|Oregon||$300 per kW up to $2,400|
|Texas||Some utilities may offer up to $2,500|
|Utah||Up to $1,600|
|Vermont||$0.02 per kW for 10 years|
With anything, it is always better to pay for the Tesla Solar Roof in cash if you have that kind of money available. When you look at the breakdown provided by Tesla, the total cost for a 2,500 square-foot house can run around $50k before any federal or state tax credits.
After the federal tax credit is taken into account, the total price for the Solar Roof drops, but the price does not factor in the cost of any Powerwall batteries. It is quite expensive.
If you are like most people, you probably do not have around $40k laying around, so financing might be your best option. If you are looking to finance, consider that the total cost for the solar power system will be increased due to interest payments.
Whenever you finance something, you are paying more overall than if you purchased the item with cash. The Solar Roof is no different. You will end up paying far more if you finance the purchase. The increase in cost is because of the 6.99 percent APR (interest) on top of the loan amount.
Now, if you have fantastic credit, you might be able to slightly lower the APR, but it will not be a significant drop. That is because the longer the loan, the higher the interest rate, regardless of how stellar your credit might be.
Another thing to note is that most lenders want to see you put money down before agreeing to finance a long-term loan. That most likely means you will have to put down about 10 percent to get the loan funded.
Additional Costs Involved with a Solar Roof
Tesla lets you know up front that there may be additional costs that are not considered with their initial quote. Tesla warns that the company may have to upgrade the main panel in the home or add additional conduits for the system to function. Some of the additional costs can include:
- Gutter replacement
- Repairs to any part of the house before the roofing begins
- Electrical wiring or system upgrades outside of what is already included
If there are any modifications that Tesla must make to get the system operational, they will let you know that once they do a site inspection. That way, you can make an informed decision knowing what the total cost will be before you move forward with the deal.
Takes Time to Pay for Itself
Every solar company will tell you that utilizing solar energy will eventually pay for itself through the decreases in your energy bill. While that is true, they never tell the consumer how long that process could take.
An example provided by Tesla showed that a power bill that typically runs $185 a month for a 2,500 square foot house would fall to $18 a month with their solar power system. With those figures, the homeowner would see roughly $167 in savings each month.
Considering the cost of the Tesla Solar Roof, it would take approximately 15 years for the energy savings to equal the cost of the system. That length of time could vary based on the amount of energy your roof generates and whether you can sell back electricity to the power company.
It is important to note that each residence is different, and your production of solar energy may be greater or lesser than the example noted above.
Not Ideal If You Are Planning to Move
As stated above, it might take 10 or 15 years for you to see a full return on your solar power investment. It is wise to buy a Solar Roof if you plan on staying put for a while.
If you are considering selling your home and suspect the roof needs to be replaced, doing so with Tesla’s Solar Roof might not be the best move to make. As explained above, switching to any form of solar electricity is a large investment in the home.
Although there are plenty of arguments that switching to solar in the home will increase its value, it will most likely not be significant enough of an increase to justify the money spent. If you intend to spend the least amount of money and sell the house, switching to solar is not the best move.
While Tesla has been around for a while, the Solar Roof has only been around since 2016, and the company just started roof installations in 2018. As businesses go, the Tesla Solar Roof portion of the company is still in its infancy.
Perhaps that is why the company started with such poor reviews on solar websites. A quick look around will show that the company’s installation practices received overwhelmingly bad reviews.
On one review site, out of 406 reviews of the system and installation process, 378 customers rated the company with one star out of five. Most complaints were over a lack of the product working as promised and a severe lack of customer service.
However, some recent reviews are more than favorable of Tesla and the installation process. One consumer noted on YouTube that he was very thrilled with the job that Tesla did and believed that the energy provided by the roof is more than sufficient to power his house and charge his electric vehicles. Perhaps the company is improving.
Switching to solar in any form is a long-term investment into your home. It is more expensive than simply replacing the existing roof with something traditional. Of course, with anything, there are some pros and cons of moving forward with a traditional roof.
Pros of Choosing a Traditional Roof
Some of the pros of a traditional roof include:
- Reasonable cost
- Multiple design options
The cost of a traditional roof will likely be significantly cheaper than the cost of going solar in any form. Typically, an average roof can cost anywhere from around $7,500 to $30k ($1.50 to $3.50 per square foot), depending on several factors.
The factors that determine the price of a traditional roof are the size of the home, the design of the roof, materials used, and location.
The materials for a traditional roof are also readily available in most areas, making the price for them much cheaper. Materials for a Tesla Roof or other solar power system are not as widely available, which raises the prices significantly.
While solar energy is not new, there are still fewer companies that are knowledgeable and available to install the systems. This is especially true if you are in more of a rural area and farther away from a big city.
Most bigger cities have several roofing companies that are either within city limits or nearby. A quick internet search in your local area will most likely turn up several that are advertising locally to gain your business. The same is not true for solar energy installers.
The lack of solar installers is especially prevalent if you are considering the Tesla Solar Roof. The contractors that install them either:
- Work for Tesla
- Need to be trained by Tesla
You are far more likely to find a roof installer available near you than an installer who either works for Tesla or is trained on the Tesla Solar Roof.
While the design for the Tesla Roof is pleasant to the eye, the company only provides a few different types of colors and styles at this time. However, when it comes to a traditional shingle roof, there are several different shapes and colors that you can have installed on your home.
Traditional roofs have different shingles that can be installed, which can add a unique quality to your home. If customizing how your home looks is important to you, then a traditional roof may be the better choice.
Cons of Choosing a Traditional Roof
The downsides to going with a traditional roof are as follows:
- Electricity use
- Environmental impact
Electricity Use and Environmental Impact
With a traditional roof, you will be using about the same amount of electricity as you were before you purchased a new roof. While you may have an idea as to how much you will spend on average with an electricity bill, keep in mind that companies do increase their rates from time to time.
Additionally, if you are concerned about the environment, you are making no difference in your carbon footprint, at least not in terms of energy usage. If decreasing your energy bill or carbon footprint is a concern for you, going solar should be on your list of considerations.
Also, there is no way to potentially make money off your electricity use if you stick to a traditional roof. If making money off your energy bill is a concern, going solar in some form is the only way to accomplish this.
The lifespan of a traditional shingle roof typically ranges from 15 to 18 years. This lifespan varies greatly depending on:
- Maintenance performed
When you make a large investment, you want it to last as long as possible. If longevity is your top priority, then perhaps getting a Tesla system or another more durable style of roof would be the better choice.
You might be interested in going solar, but you do not need a new roof, or you might want a new roof, but you are not ready for the Tesla Solar Roof. There are solar options available for those with traditional roofs. Several different companies, Tesla included, sell and install solar panels that go on top of your roof at home.
The benefit of adding solar panels to your home is the same as if you install a Tesla Solar Roof, providing more energy in most cases. The energy from the sun is harvested in the solar panels and is used to supplement the electricity used in the home. However, there are some differences between the two options.
The plus side of having solar panels will be much the same as installing a Tesla Solar Roof. However, you can do this without replacing your roof, and the cost of a roof plus solar panels is comparable to that of a Solar Roof.
Tesla Solar Roof vs. Solar Panels
Based on the pitch of your roof, you may be limited on where you can have the panels installed. If your installation options are limited, the number of panels you can install will also be limited. The Tesla Solar Roof also needs sunlight to hit it, but the entire roof can potentially contain solar cells giving it more of an opportunity to gain the sun’s energy.
Installation of panels also presents a minimal risk that water could intrude inside of the roof. Unlike the Solar Roof system, panels are bolted onto the exterior of your roof and secured by nuts and bolts, meaning that whatever is used to prevent water from entering the roof will erode over time.
With the Tesla Solar Roof system, your entire roof will be replaced, so there is no need to drill into the surface. That means that any likelihood of water intrusion is eliminated.
Cost of Tesla Roof vs. Solar Panels
When evaluating the costs between getting solar panels or a Tesla Solar Roof system, it would seem, at first glance, to be more cost-effective to settle for solar panels. While this may be true upfront, the Solar Roof provides you with solar panels and a new roof.
If your roof is still in good shape and you are only looking to invest in solar energy, only getting solar panels makes sense. However, if you are working on replacing your roof, paying the extra money to get a new roof and solar power system at the same time would make more sense.
If you are in the market for a new roof and you also want to add a solar energy system to your home at the same time, you have a few options at your disposal. You can either add solar panels in addition to the new roof or go with the Tesla Solar Roof, which provides you with a new roof and energy-efficient solar panels.
If you do not plan on replacing your roof any time soon, you can opt for a traditional roof. However, consider going solar if that option is available to you. The positive impacts you can have on the environment and on your electricity bill can be well worth it.