The Average Cost Per Square Foot of a Tesla Solar Roof (The REAL Cost)


The Average Cost Per Square Foot of a Tesla Solar Roof (The REAL Cost)

Tesla’s Solar Roof is a great way to get solar power to your home. Upgrading to any type of solar energy-producing system in your home can be a costly endeavor. Before deciding on the Tesla Solar Roof, it would be helpful to understand things like the upfront costs, solar tax credits, and breakeven period for the Tesla Solar Roof.

The Tesla Solar Roof has an average cost of around $19 per square foot for an average home in the US and $15 after federal tax credits. This estimate varies based on roof complexity and labor rates in your area.

The price of the Tesla Solar Roof per square foot varies depending on where you live in the US. In areas with lower labor and installation costs, the total might be less than areas with high labor and installation costs. Solar tax credits also vary by region and state. Read on to learn about the real cost of a Tesla Solar Roof and what impacts it.

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Cost of the Tesla Solar Roof Product

The cost of a Tesla Solar Roof is, on average, around $25,000 for a 2000 square foot home in the US. If you access Tesla’s Solar Roof webpage, you can plug in your address, square footage of your home, average monthly power bill, and the number of stories, and Tesla will instantly provide you with a quote that includes installation.

If you want to determine the cost of the Tesla Solar Roof per square foot, you will have to know the square footage of your roof.

If you have the construction plan of your house, you should be able to find that in the plans. If not, do not fret, as Tesla will estimate the roof square footage based on the square footage of your house and the number of stories along with their quote estimate.

To determine the price of the Tesla Solar Roof per square feet, you can use the quotes from Tesla to work backward. You can take the full price of the Solar Roof and divide that number by the square footage of the roof, and voila! You now have the price per square foot for your quote.

Analyzing Tesla Roof Costs Per US State

Of course, the price of the solar roof may differ depending on where you live. Let us look at the top 10 populous US states, and 2 honorably mentioned states. You will notice that the quoted price is the same for all states listed.

All states pay the same price for materials, what makes things tricky is the state tax credits and other incentives they offer.

Based on Tesla’s online quote tool, it is easy to see that they are estimating the exact same price in all of the US states. However, with labor differences in various states- this could change when you get a detailed quote later on in the process of getting a solar roof installed.

The major difference in costs between states ties into the state tax credits they provide.

StateTesla Roof Price (2000 sq ft house)Price per sq ft of RoofTotal Tax Credits (Federal + State)Price per sq ft After Tax Credits
California$25,000$19$5,000$15
Texas$25,000$19$5,000$15
Florida$25,000$19$5,000$15
New York$25,000$19$10,000$12
Pennsylvania$25,000$19$5,000$15
Illinois$25,000$19$5,000$15
Ohio$25,000$19$5,000$15
Georgia$25,000$19$5,000$15
North Carolina$25,000$19$5,000$15
Michigan$25,000$19$5,000$15
Rhode Island$25,000$19$12,000$10
New Mexico$25,000$19$11,000$11

In the above table a 2000 square foot, 2-story house was used in Tesla’s solar roof price estimator. The Tesla website estimates that a 2-story, 2000 square foot home has roughly a 1,300 square foot roof. This pricing includes the cost of the solar inverter, which converts the DC solar power from the sun to AC power for your home.

The solar inverter is a necessary device that is included in the cost and installation of your solar roof. It converts the energy collected from the solar panels to power that can be used by your home. It has a few neat functions:

  • Provides energy from your home to the power grid
  • Provides energy from the power grid to your home (if extra energy is needed on a cloudy day or at night)
  • Charges your Powerwall (if you have one)
  • Connects to the Tesla application and allows you to monitor energy production and charge levels of the Tesla Powerwall

New York state provides the highest solar tax credits amongst the top 10 most populous US states. They provide an additional $5,000 in solar tax credits. If you live in New York- luck you! The New York tax credit, combined with the federal tax credit, brings the cost of the solar roof to just $12 per square foot.

Although they are not part of the top 10 populous US states, Rhode Island and New Mexico get an honorable mention in the table for providing these humongous state tax credits:

  • Rhode Island: $7,000 state tax credit
  • New Mexico: $6,000 state tax credit

These two states provide the biggest credit of all 50 states and are larger than the federal credit! Rhode Island scores with the lowest cost of the Tesla Solar Roof per square foot of only $10!

Solar Tax Credits

Solar tax credits are credits that the federal government and some state governments provide for the cost of installation and components for a solar system- which includes the Tesla solar roof. The tax credit incentivizes consumers to get the purchase solar, wind, and geothermal energy systems by providing them with a tax rebate.

Solar tax credits are the best method to lower the cost of your Tesla Solar Roof. As you have read, some incentives provide a tremendous cost reduction.

Federal Solar Tax Credit for Tesla Solar Roof

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides energy incentives for consumers purchasing residential material and systems to make their homes more energy-efficient. The IRS refers to this as the residential energy-efficient property credit.

The federal tax credit is 22% through 2022 and ends in 2024. The federal government may extend the energy-efficient credit beyond 2024, but there is no way to know for certain. If you want to make sure you get a 22% cost reduction on your Tesla solar roof and are weighing the decision to buy soon, you should act fast.

Qualifying materials for the tax credit include the cost of the materials for the Tesla solar roof. The credit can be used on other energy-efficient materials as well such as:

  • Windmills
  • Geothermal heat pumps
  • Solar panels
  • Solar water heaters

Only the materials that produce the energy qualify for the credit. The cost of materials like framing wood for the roof does not apply to the credit. Under this definition usually, tiles/shingles would not get the credit, but the IRS makes an exception- since the Tesla solar tiles incorporate the solar cell, the cost of them can be applied to the tax credit.

The full price of what you pay for the solar roof can be used towards the 22% tax credit- so if you pay $25,000, you will get a $5,500 tax credit when you file your taxes.

State and Local Tax Credits for Tesla Solar Roof

About 20 US states provide some sort of additional energy-efficient tax credit that lowers your actual cost of the Tesla Solar Roof. Here is the list of all 20 states that provide some sort of tax credit or incentive for the Tesla Solar Roof:

States with solar tax incentives, rebates, or excess energy buyback programs

  • New York
  • Arizona
  • New Hampshire
  • California
  • New Jersey
  • Colorado
  • New Mexico
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Pennsylvania
  • Hawaii
  • Rhode Island
  • Illinois
  • South Carolina
  • Massachusetts
  • Texas
  • Maryland
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin
  • Nevada

Keep in mind, all 20 of these states receive the federal tax credit still (all 50 states get the federal tax credit, no exceptions). Many of the 20 states listed in the above table provide additional incentives beyond a state tax incentive, they include:

  • Full or partial sales tax exemption
  • Full or partial property tax exemption (on the increased value the Solar Roof adds to your home)
  • Rebates from local utility companies (a few include a Powerwall rebate)
  • Excess energy buyback

Your home must be within the state to qualify for the state tax credit and other incentives. It does not apply to properties you own outside the state even if you are a resident of the state.

For example, if you live in New York and own a home in Tennessee as well- you can only get a NY solar tax credit for the installation of a solar roof on your New York property.

Rhode Island, New Mexico, and New York residents have the lowest real cost for the Tesla Solar Roof in the US! Because of the states’ amazing tax incentives, they have the absolute lowest cost per square foot:

  • Road Island: $10 per square foot cost
  • New Mexico: $11 per square foot cost
  • New York: $12 per square foot cost

Only $10-$12 per square foot is a fantastic cost to pay for such a useful system that will provide you with years of additional cost savings.

Tesla Roof Cost in the Other US States

If your state is not on this list, do not fret!  This just means your state does not offer any additional incentives beyond the federal solar tax credit. However, if you check with your utility company- you might get lucky and find out about a rebate they offer to make your overall cost of the Tesla Solar Roof lower!

Similar to the federal government, your state government could change, adapt, or modify its solar tax rebate and incentives programs. Always check their tax webpages to stay up to date. If solar energy continues to be more promising and accepted as an alternative energy source, additional tax incentives may be created.

What Effect Does the Tesla Roof Have on Your Monthly Costs?

The solar roof can also reduce your costs in the future! Energy from the sun is free as long as you already have the means to collect it. Once you have the Tesla solar roof installed and paid the upfront cost, nothing is stopping you from bringing free solar energy into your home!

For a hypothetical example, let us say you live in the Midwest and own a 2000 square foot home with an average monthly electric bill of $150. For this scenario, Tesla estimates their solar roof would provide cost savings of around $100 per month, reducing the monthly bill by a whopping 67%!

The Tesla solar roof not only reduces your monthly costs directly through savings on your energy bill but also through a few other methods:

  • Maintenance costs – the Tesla roof has better durability than standard roofs.
  • Future cost savings on roof replacements- the solar roof has a much longer life than regular roofs.
  • Excess energy buyback- many utility companies will pay you a credit for the excess energy you provide back to the power grid.
  • Tesla Powerwall- stores energy for future use to keep your power on to protect your valuable assets and reduces costs associated with losing the assets

Even though you have a substantial upfront cost for the purchase and installation of the Tesla Solar Roof, it is clear that there or other costs you should consider. Since the Solar Roof significantly lowers your future costs, you can work your future cost savings back to your initial upfront expense and find that your real cost is actually pretty low!

Financial Breakeven Period for Tesla Solar Roof

The breakeven period is the time it will take for the Tesla solar roof to pay for itself. How long will it take for the investment to pay for itself? Sure, you save money on your electrical bill every month, but is that savings enough to make the upfront cost of the solar roof easier to digest?

How does the breakeven period affect the real cost of your Tesla Solar Roof? Well, it does through a concept called “the time value of money”. This concept just means that the money you have now will be worth less than the same numerical amount in X amount of years.

By paying a lower cost now and having a quick break-even period, your cost savings in the future is more! You should consider your break-even period and the time value of money when you are considering the real cost of the Tesla Solar Roof.

Across the US as a whole, the average breakeven period for the Tesla roof is estimated at 10-15 years. If you pay less for the solar roof and installation, your breakeven period will be shorter. Therefore, residents of the states below that receive higher tax breaks will experience a faster breakeven period.

  • Rhode Island
  • New Mexico
  • New York

For example, let’s say you live in Rhode Island, and your cost to install the Tesla solar roof was $13,000 after tax credits, and the solar roof lowers your energy bill by $100 each month.

To find your breakeven period you divide the total cost ($13,000) by your monthly savings ($100). Once you do the math, you get a break-even period of 130 months or 10 years and 10 months.

This break-even example does not take into account other savings the Tesla roof provides, such as being credited for extra energy your roof provides to the power grid. Here is a summary of how the breakeven period works: 

  • The breakeven period is the amount of time it takes for you to make back your investment through cost savings
  • To determine your break-even period- divide the total cost of your solar roof by your monthly or yearly savings.

To make things easier for you, Tesla’s website will automatically provide the breakeven period when you first get a quote from them. You can also add in one to ten Tesla Powerwall and view the combined break-even estimate too.

Solar Efficiency of the Tesla Roof and How it Affects Costs

The efficiency of the Tesla Solar Roof is up to par with current solar panel technologies. The solar tiles, which make up the solar roof, are estimated to have around an 18% efficiency. This may not sound like a lot but it is actually near the highest solar efficiency possible with the currently available technology.

High solar efficiency helps reduce your net costs but generating more sunlight into more energy and in doing so, reducing your monthly costs! Consider if you had an inefficient solar system with 10% efficiency- it certainly would have less of an impact on your costs than an 18% efficient system:

  • Tesla Roof with 18% efficiency- Provides great cost reductions
  • Other solar energy systems with 15% efficiency- Provides fewer cost reductions

Do not take future cost savings provided by great efficiency for granted. The efficiency cost savings should be considered when you are looking at the real cost of the Tesla Solar Roof.

Solar efficiency is determined by dividing the power input by the power output of the device. For a solar panel or solar tile, the power input is the power from the sun and can be estimated at 1,000 watts per meter squared on a sunny day. The power output is the amount of power the solar tile outputs to your Tesla inverter, or its rated output of 24W can be used.

The last thing you would need to know is the area of the solar tile, specifically the solar cell since this is the part collecting the sunlight. This would need to be measured. To calculate efficiency, multiple the power output by the solar cell area, then divide the estimated power input from the sun by your result.

How Long Does a Tesla Roof Last?

The solar roof is much more durable than a standard roof. The tiles are 3 times stronger and about half as light as standard roofing tiles and shingles. They are made out of high-quality tempered glass that can easily survive direct impacts from hail and other objects.

The glass is shatter resistance, fog/frost resistant, and will not corrode and degrade over time as traditional roofing materials do. In snowy climates, the glass heats up when sunlight hits it and will melt the snow.

Because the tiles are so durable and have such a long life span, Tesla provides a gracious 25-year warranty. Elon Musk has also stated that the Tesla roof could outlast the home and at one point he considered offering an “infinity warranty.”

After reading Elon’s statement, you may be wondering what to do with a free-standing Tesla Solar Roof after the home is destroyed. If you are as innovative as he is, perhaps you will be able to think of a purpose. Maybe it could be converted into a solar gazebo?

Since the Tesla Solar Roof is extremely durable and lasts so long, it reduces future costs related to maintenance and the replacement of your roof!

All traditional roofs go bad over time. When they are repeatedly exposed to the elements. Persisting through the hot sun, pounding rain, hail, and snow is a tough job for standard tiles. They will eventually corrode, fall off your roof, and cause leaks, necessitating a repair and costing you more money!

Since the Tesla Solar Roof is made from high-strength tempered glass, it will corrode much more slowly and put off a full roof replacement for many years beyond that of a traditional roof.

When Will the Tesla Roof Need to be Replaced?

You might never need to replace your Tesla roof. Since the materials are so durable, the roof may be around longer than you and may even survive the house collapsing!

Only when there is catastrophic, unrepairable damage to the roof such as leaks, damage from impacts from a tree or meteor, or unrepairable electrical wiring will the roof need to be replaced.

If you are not so great at planning, replacing a traditional roof can sneak up on you. One day, everything could be hunky-dory, and then bam! The next day your roof is leaking like Niagara Falls. Then more bad news comes: you have wood rot, water damage, and need your entire roof replaced for the immediate expense of thousands of dollars.

Stories like this one are far too common. If you have the Tesla Solar Roof, you could avoid sudden repair expenses like a boxer dodging a glove.

Consider this: by not having to replace your roof every 15 years, you further reduce the real effective cost of the Tesla Solar Roof!

Tesla Powerwall Addition and Costs

Most Solar Roof systems are paired with Tesla’s  Powerwall. The Powerwall is a fantastic add-on to the Tesla solar roof system. The Powerwall is a large battery that stores energy collected from your solar system. The energy can be used to:

  • Power your home at night, after the sun has set
  • On cloudy/stormy days with little sunlight
  • During power outages of the electrical grid

The Tesla Powerwall will add to the cost of your system but is entirely worth it if you want to store your solar energy.

The Powerwall could be thought of like a backup generator, it essentially performs the same function of providing a power backup. It costs around the same as a traditional fossil fuel generator with the same power capacity too!

Here is the cost of the Tesla Powerwall, buy more and save more (money and more energy)! The units are not a flat price per unit, purchasing 2 units is not twice as expensive as purchasing just a single unit.

AmountBackup Capacity for Average Home with Solar RoofCost
1 Powerwall3 Days$7,700
2 Powerwalls6 Days$12,500
5 Powerwalls15 Days$28,000
7 Powerwalls21 Days$39,000
10 Powerwalls30 Days$55,000

Depending on how many Powerwalls you install with your solar roof and once they are fully charged, you can have enough stored energy reserves to last from a few days to close to a whole month!

 The length of time the stored energy will last depends greatly on the amount of energy used by your home. Would it not be wonderful to still have power if there was a mass power outage from the utility company?

Conclusion

The average cost per square foot of the Tesla solar roof is just below $20 for US residents. Factoring in tax credits, the average square foot cost is $15 with the low end being around $10 in Rhode Island because of additional state tax credits.

Through the future savings that the Tesla Solar Roof provides you can consider your effective NET cost savings much lower than the upfront cost. In fact, once you are past your break-even point, your “costs” turn into “savings”!

Just imagine all the benefits and the free solar energy you can absorb and collect, after paying for the upfront cost of the Tesla roof!

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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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