For lovers of Tesla, the much anticipated Solar Roof has been an arduous wait. But as more homes are equipped with Tesla’s solar power solution, the wait might be coming to an end. If you are like the many other clean energy Tesla enthusiasts, you might be wondering when this feature will be available in your area.
The fact is, there is no clear list of areas where the Tesla Roof is or will soon be available. What can be said is that the Solar Roof is piggybacking on demand. Those in larger metropolitan areas can expect a Tesla Roof faster.
Even if Tesla does not share details with the public, eagle-eyed fans still have some resources to gather information. Read on to empower yourself when shopping for a Solar Roof by understanding the details and options included with this significant home investment.
Wondering When Tesla Roof Will Be Available to You?
No amount of rigorous internet searching will provide a clear cut list of Tesla Solar Roof availability. Tesla simply does not provide it. Logically, the Solar Roof is following demand, so areas exhibiting higher demand will have access to a Tesla Roof faster.
However, for those seeking immediate answers as to the availability of the Tesla Solar Roof, there is only one reliable answer but a few secondary options. Those include:
- Initiate an order on Tesla’s site to immediately learn about availability in your area. Doing this provides the most reliable and fastest information.
- Cruise an internet board or the Tesla Forum for user-level news about installations.
But outside of official Tesla resources, what information is there to discover more news about availability in your area?
Options for Seeking Answers
As mentioned previously, the two most reliable options involve the Tesla website and knowledge from existing customers.
- “Order” Tesla’s Solar Roof: The easiest and most reliable answer to the question of availability is Tesla’s online Solar Roof order form. Using the form, Tesla will immediately tell you if there is availability in your area. However, if the answer is no, it is possible to ask to be notified when the service does come to your locale.
- Existing Customers: However, Tesla forums are abuzz with current Solar Roof clientele. Diligent searchers may be able to piece together their own map of current installations. It is expected, though, that most of them will be based on the West Coast.
However, even using these methods, it can be difficult to find out about the current installations of the Tesla Solar Roof.
Similar to keeping the availability list on lockdown, it is also not easily known where current installations are happening. Though, it is obvious that they are happening. According to reports from 2019, Musk confirmed installing Solar Roofs in eight states. Which states those are, however, is not clear.
In many instances, reports about the Solar Roof are conflicting or confusing, making it difficult to find anything concrete.
The Fallacy of Internet Searches
It is common to start any quest for new information through a casual search on the internet. Doing this is sure to provide some answers, but it may offer a list of roofers one would assume work with Tesla, which may be misleading.
Tesla is the only company that can tell you if they offer their products in your area. And when they do, they also provide installation recommendations. Do your due diligence to avoid being misled if a Tesla Solar Roof is your ultimate goal. However, roofers that appear in searches very well might offer solar roofing alternatives.
Why Is There a Delay?
Considering Musk released the Solar Roof in 2016 and began taking deposits in 2017, it is reasonable to wonder about the delay. Unfortunately, as usual, Tesla does not give many answers.
What is known is that the solar tiles that make up the Solar Roof are manufactured at Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, New York. Tesla proudly shares that using Gigafactory 2 they have created new jobs in the area with more planned in the future.
However, reports suggest that the Gigafactory is not being as productive as advertised. Bloomberg reports that the production rates at the time would only have been enough to build three to five homes a week. This, along with other lukewarm press, suggests production may not be going smoothly.
It should not go without being mentioned that 2020, and the resulting COVID lockdowns, wreaked havoc on Tesla production, significantly slowing production.
After Tesla started taking deposits for Solar Roofs in the future, they continued to improve upon the technology. As of this writing, the Solar Roof is in its third generation. While the technological improvements are, obviously, improvements, they do seem to be slowing production.
Reasonably, as the technology improves, so too would the solar panel construction. This process would involve reworking the production, which means slowing rollout. Would you want a first-generation Solar Roof if the third was available?
Bloomberg also reports Musk’s remarks about his concerns about the durability of the solar tiles.
In general, the shelf life of an average roof is greatly dependent on the material used in the roof construction. The Tesla Solar Roof comes with a 25-year warranty, suggesting their roofs are likely to exceed traditional roofs.
Aside from the invigorating and inventive energy Tesla embodies, Musk has also made it clear one of Tesla’s goals is to make sustainable energy cost-effective. The large expense of a new roof can be lessened with tax incentives. Though, these incentives are decreasing by the year and will be gone within the next few years.
Alternatively, production costs can be reduced and therefore passed to the customer. However, as production, technology, and durability are tested, the price of a Solar Roof is still a hefty investment.
Are Tesla Solar Panels Cheaper?
A September 2020 article cites that the average rooftop solar powering system costs over two dollars per watt. However, Tesla offers its panels for less than $1.50. These prices, of course, are after-tax incentives.
Tesla has been able to reduce costs by asking customers to provide images of the necessary components. In this way, Tesla reduces required site visits and other costs.
What Is the Timing of the Tesla Solar Roof?
Once the installers are on the ground, the time period of mounting a Solar Roof should take as little as one week, weather permitting. However, the wait for a Solar Roof is likely to exceed that.
After ordering, though, how long will it take to get your new roof? Unfortunately, that varies due to many factors, such as:
Tesla gives themselves a buffer zone of up to six months before installation will begin. On the plus side, however, it may take as little as one week.
The cost to acquire a Tesla Solar Roof is dependent upon several factors. The size of the home, coupled with the average electric bill, will give Tesla a rough idea of how many active and inactive solar panels will be needed in the roof construction. The active panels, obviously, are the more expensive panels.
One site states that Tesla lists the price of a Solar Roof intended for a 2000 square foot home and using 10kW of power at $42,000. When factoring in federal tax incentives, the price dropped to around $33,900, reflecting a savings of over $8,500.
For comparison, the average cost to add solar panels to an existing roof would run around $14,500. Needless to say, this is a significant reduction from the Solar Roof.
However, the Solar Roof is a roof replacement. To that end, the price of an average non-solar roof replacement at around $11,000.
When Does It Make Sense to Invest in the Solar Roof?
The promises of the Solar Roof are tempting. Clean energy coupled with a reduction in carbon footprint and fueled in no short part by the accompanying tax incentives are all good reasons to invest in a Solar Roof. But is it always the best idea?
The fact is that a Solar Roof may be the newest thing, but when comparing the cost of a roof replacement, with an accompanying technology upgrade, the cost could be prohibitive. In many situations, solar panels might be the most cost-effective solution.
Overwhelmingly, unless money is truly no object, a solar roof is only a worthwhile investment as long as the roof is already going to be replaced. Even in the aforementioned situation, alternative solar solutions will be cheaper. However, the savings of a solar roof, which will also continue to grow over time, are considerable.
Financing the Solar Roof
Tesla offers two traditional options when considering investing in a Solar Roof. Both offer immediate savings and long-term reductions in bills. Tesla does, charmingly, advertise an easy process and suggest the customer will not be overwhelmed with paperwork.
- Pay with Cash: The option to pay with cash means immediate, outright ownership of the Tesla Solar Roof, and whatever accompanying costs.
- Pay with Loan: To invest in the Solar Roof without choking down the hefty price tag, financing is available. In this situation, the owner pays a monthly fee until the purchased system is paid off. Tesla is eager to point out that even in this situation, the monthly payments are likely to be less than the existing electric bill.
Going the extra mile, Tesla affirms no penalty for early payment when using the loan option.
The Savings of the Solar Roof
Because the energy produced by the active solar panels will be used to power the home, the electric usage in the home will inevitably be reduced. But those are not the only savings! Saving electricity equates to a reduced carbon footprint.
Using a Solar Roof, homeowners create their own energy using solar panels. In turn, this results in using less electricity from the power grid. Using a Powerwall, however, off-the-grid enthusiasts could potentially live independent of the power grid altogether.
Power plants generate toxic fumes into the atmosphere to provide power to the grid. Doing this harms the environment and humans by extension. Less reliance on power plants results in reduced carbon emissions, thereby helping the planet.
Every home is connected to the power grid. Each month, the entities that supply the power would like to be paid for the service. Therefore, they track how much energy each home produces, and charge accordingly. Using less power means smaller bills.
Additionally, homes enabled with solar power have a higher resale value. A popular study estimates home values gain an additional $20 for every dollar saved in electric costs.
The Tax Incentives
However one buys their Tesla Solar Roof, federal and state tax incentives are likely to add to the savings.
Federal savings are available both toward the cost of a Solar Roof and the Powerwall as well. The savings, however, equate to the energy saved. To take advantage of tax credits, the equipment must be installed by December 31 of that year. Set savings per year are included below:
It is also advisable to seek additional state tax incentives. Statewide tax credits are likely to vary. After 22%, the incentives will cease to exist, so act quickly if you are interested.
Explaining Tesla’s Solar Roof
Rooftop solar technology has evolved from the large cumbersome panels precariously perched on your neighbor’s house. Solar panels are, in a sense, the traditional solar powering system. Tesla’s Solar Roof, however, is the elegant reinvention of that idea.
The Solar Tiles
Tesla’s Solar Roof replaces the existing roof’s shingles with solar panels, in effect replacing the entire roof. (Hence, the name.) Used together to form a roof, or able to be purchased individually, the solar tiles are the most essential part of a Solar Roof.
A Blend of Solar and Non-Solar Tiles
Tesla uses two tiles when installing a Tesla Roof. The blend of both solar and non-solar panels assures that the roof will look uniform from the street level. Furthermore, by mixing the two, Tesla is able to curate the power to match how much energy your home needs based on its size.
Made from tempered glass, and available in a variety of finishes and designs, the solar tiles are designed to be three times stronger than traditional roofing tiles. However, they are half the weight. Additionally, the glass in the tiles comes with a lifetime warranty to the house.
Clearly, the tiles turn solar heat into power, but how do the panels power a home, and what options exist when the sun, or the traditional power grid, are not available? The Powerwall, another Tesla product, acts as the battery. It stores the energy from the solar panels. In the event of a blackout, the Powerwall would be able to maintain the house.
Routing Tesla Roof Power
After the sunlight hits the active panels, a solar inverter turns that power into clean energy to power a home. Homes will still be connected to the power grid, however, meaning traditional utilities will be in use at night. The Tesla Solar Inverter turns the solar power into AC power for the home.
Storing Tesla Roof Power
Alternatively, Tesla customers may consider a Powerwall. The Powerwall acts as a battery to store energy. Unlike a generator, with the Powerwall, there is little upkeep or maintenance required to keep the lights on in the event of a power outage.
Tesla’s Alternative To Solar Roofs
For those not eager to invest in a completely new roof, however, Tesla offers its solar panels without the roof replacement. Available with all the same technology and ease, the solar panels are able to be installed using traditional solar panel mounting techniques. (These techniques are explored below.)
The Ordering Process
Like all things “Tesla”, the ordering process for a Solar Roof is a sleek and intuitive experience. Above all things, however, the main takeaway is that the only place to order a Tesla Solar Roof is through Tesla’s online order form.
- The first step is to enter the address of the home on which you wish to have the Tesla Roof installed.
- Enter the average cost of the home’s monthly electric bill.
- At this point, a recommendation is created by Tesla detailing the calculated power supply and cost estimate. Additional recommendations for storage systems using a Powerwall are also included.
- Going a step further, and making the investment more palatable, Tesla includes the starting price and the adjusted price with possible tax incentives.
Service Availability Notification
It is at this point in the process that users will discover whether or not Tesla services their area. A polite message will explain service is unavailable, but by creating and/or entering an account, Tesla will be in contact when the option exists.
What Happens After Ordering A Tesla Solar Roof?
Tesla recognized that replacing a roof, or any large cosmetic or foundational adjustment to a home was a stressful and challenging experience. They wanted to make it easier. Responding to customer needs, Tesla coordinates all the pesky details of roof replacement. According to Tesla, they take care of all of the following tasks:
- Designing the roof
- Handling the permits
- Managing existing roof removal
- Managing new roof installation
- Inspecting the new roof
- Obtaining approval from utilities
In addition, customers ordering new roofs will be put in contact with a Project Advisor to act as their touchpoint throughout the process.
The Advantages of The Solar Roof
Cost aside, it is worth revisiting the benefits of solar energy, and why it is a worthwhile investment in your home.
- Increased Home Value: Adding a Solar Roof to your home is guaranteed to increase the home value.
- Power Outage Protection: Storing solar energy in the Powerwall works as a power outage protection.
- Reduced Carbon Footprint: Employing sustainable energy reduces reliance on toxic power plants.
- Pays For Itself: The long-term savings of the Solar Roof mean eventually, it will pay for itself.
- Avoid Rising Costs: Electric rates have steadily increased, but with a Solar Roof homeowners will slash their electric bills.
User comments on Tesla’s forum page discuss their experiences both with their new Solar Roofs as well as their experiences of going through the process of ordering.
Users as recently as January 2020 express frustration with the lack of communication with their Project Advisor. Keep in mind, however, that the demand for a Solar Roof is certainly high. A waitlist, or overwhelmed Project Advisors, might not be unreasonable.
Others, however, have experienced having their new roof canceled by Tesla! Since the Solar Roof was introduced years ago, and Tesla accepted deposits for roofs yet to come, a cancellation is obviously disappointing.
Overwhelmingly, however, those who have received their Tesla Roof are eager to give their glowing reviews. One meticulous owner even carefully detailed their cost breakdown – both in their energy savings and the new roof installation – for those that wish to indulge.
The Virtual Home Assessment
Whereas the ordering process uses as little information as the address of the home being considered, the next step is more intensive and impressive.
The Virtual Home Assessment uses high-resolution satellite and aerial imagery to determine the best solar layout for the home. Able to be completed in 15 minutes, the Virtual Home Assessment uses your phone! Customers can expect to:
- Confirm the address of the home
- Upload recent utility bills
- Take photos of the home’s electrical equipment guided by the assessment
For customers purchasing solar panels, rather than the entire roof, they will have the option at this point to specify panel placement and areas to avoid.
The Mobile App
Just like a Tesla vehicle, Solar Roofs come with a mobile app putting the power, quite literally, in the hands of the user. Using the app, Solar Roof customers are able to:
- Monitor their solar usage and energy offset
- View their Solar Roof system in real-time, including energy flow and system production
- Earn rewards when sending a referral link to those interested in Tesla’s solar solutions
The Powerwall Mobile App
For customers who have invested in a Powerwall system, the mobile app comes with even more options including:
- Real-time Powerwall monitoring and energy use
- Reduce reliance on grid power by tracking Powerwall energy
- Graphs to detail energy consumption and generation
- A backup history tracking power outages
The Two Powerwall Modes
Customers using a Powerwall are able to decide for themselves whether the Powerwall will run on Self-Powered or Backup Only mode.
- Self-Powered Mode means the Powerwall will store energy during the daytime and power the home at night. This is the largest carbon footprint reduction.
- Backup Only ensures the customer is conserving 100% of their Powerwall battery in anticipation of power outages.
For Solar Panels Roof Type Matters
While clean and sustainable energy may be for everyone, the fact is that Tesla’s solar panels do prefer a certain type of roof. Mainly due to mounting constraints, the solar panels are able to be mounted only on the following types of roofs:
- Composition Shingle or Asphalt
- Concrete Tiles
- Metal Standing Seam
- Rolled Asphalt
For examples of each of the types of roofs mentioned above, Tesla provides visual references. In addition, Tesla is quick to point out that roofs without workable surfaces, such as those with a wood shake, slate, or clay tile, are eligible for a Solar Roof as a solution.
A Brief Explanation of Traditional Solar Panel Mounting Systems
While replacing a roof seems like a huge investment, the fact is that any significant change to your roof, including traditional solar panel mounting, is bound to disrupt the existing structure.
- Railed: The traditional solar panel mounting system. Rails are attached to the house to support the panels. Railed mounts are secured using bolts and a watertight seal.
- Rail-less: The same idea as a Railed Mount, but without the rails. The solar panels are directly attached to the roof using similar hardware and techniques.
- Shared Rail: An effort to reduce the amount of hardware attached to the roof, the Shared Rail mount system uses the same idea, but replaces a single rail for each panel, with a longer rail covering multiple panels. In this way, adding the same panels with less hardware.
A new non-penetrating system of solar panels is slowly becoming a reality. The idea being that draping solar panels across the peak of a sloped roof would evenly distribute the weight. Using this idea, the damage to the roof is lessened. However, this is not yet reviewed or available.
The Storied Timeline of the Tesla Solar Roof
It also should not be forgotten that the Tesla Solar Roof is not necessarily a new creation.
- Rumblings of Tesla’s Solar Roof first began in late October of 2016.
- By May of 2017, Tesla was accepting $1000 deposits for future Solar Roofs. It is reiterated that customers would likely not get their roofs until next year, 2018.
- Production was ramped up in early 2018 to generate more tiles faster.
- In October 2019, two years after its release, Tesla re-released the Solar Roof, now in its third generation.
At present, the time has passed but the information is not forthcoming. Though there are clearly homeowners receiving their Solar Roofs, the numbers and locations remain notoriously fuzzy.
Areas that demand more alternative energy solutions, will have access to a Solar Roof earlier. But, sadly, while there are many satisfied customers, delays do seem likely. Production delays, rapidly changing technology, and a reliable and low-cost product take some effort and are worth waiting for.