Tesla Solar Roof: Everything you need to know

We take a close look at the Tesla Solar Roof price, installation cost, tile models, and other things you should know before taking the plunge. This post will be updated regularly.

When Elon Musk unveiled the Solar Roof, the missing link finally slotted into place. Finally we had a complete electric ecosystem where we could make and store all the power we’d ever need for our house and car.

This is the dream. It’s every house suddenly going carbon-neutral and energy neutral. These are solar panels that look like a normal roof and will power your life in the near future.

Of course, it isn’t cheap, but then this is new technology and we hope the price will come down and the efficiency will increase as Tesla ploughs money into Tesla Glass and more general solar research.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Tesla Solar Roof.


Not long before the Tesla Roof was displayed on the set of Desperate Housewives, the Palo Alto company didn’t officially have any plans for the solar industry.

Elon Musk’s cousin Lyndon Rive founded Solar City in 2006 and Musk stuck religiously to the mantra that his Powerwall would not link up to his solar panels. Nobody really believed it and it surprised literally nobody when Tesla announced the buyout of Solar City last year and started talking about complete energy solutions.

The solar roof really is the missing piece in the puzzle for a 100% electric and potentially carbon neutral lifestyle. It’s expensive right now, but a simple financing deal could turn this into a world beating idea.

It has the potential to make an electric car company look like chump change.

Tesla Solar Roof price

The basic guideline price for a solar roof is that the average 2,467 square foot home will cost $51,200 to fit with a 70% solar roof covering. To make full use of the solar power, of course, Tesla recommends fitting at least one Powerwall battery.

That turns this into a Tesla solar roof price of $58,200 in its most basic form, but it could still be the best investment you make for your home.

It could, potentially, cut your power bills to zero and virtually force you into an electric car as you sit on a surfeit of power. You can also sell this power back to the city in some states. But that’s rare.

For the moment, the roof should provide all the energy a family needs and enough to run an electric car, too.

You can use less solar tiles, too, and opt for a 40% coverage that could still cover your basic household electricity requirements. That could reduce the Tesla solar roof installation cost to approximately $43,700, including the Powerwall, on the average home.

To get an accurate quote for your home, or to see more varied options, have a look at Tesla’s Solar Roof Calculator.

Is there a government incentive?

Yes, right now you’ll get 30% off with the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit and there are a vast number of local incentives schemes too. California has more than 100 separate schemes and it’s best to enquire at the local town hall.

Read: Electric car subsidies explained

Residents of Glendale, California, received a $1.61/Watt grant. The average solar installation costs $4/Watt and this came in addition to the Federal tax break. This is a heavy subsidy and it isn’t mirrored everywhere, but half-price installations really are happening and you should look how much of a helping hand you can get with a solar install.

Tesla Solar Roof tile design options

Tesla launched four Solar Roof tile designs, but we already know that the company will bring us more and will simply experiment to find the best sellers.

You can have a passable impression of polished slate, a rough finish, traditional slate, or Tuscan-style solar roof tiles. That should be enough to blend in with almost any building project and the solar technology really is invisible.

The textured and smooth glass Tesla solar tile models are available right now, while the Tuscan and slate tiles will be available from 2018.

Tesla doesn’t seem to have any pressing technical issues turning out a vast array of designs that look like everything from ancient Roman marble to polished granite. Cladding could also then become an option for houses or commercial buildings  that  need to produce more power and have the batteries to store it.

Tesla Solar Roof warranty

The Tesla Glass is three times stronger than a normal roof tile and yet it weighs approximately a third as much. That means structures that simply couldn’t take a tiled roof before can now consider a solar roof as an option.

Each shingle contains a six-inch solar panel that generates approximately 6 watts. The connectors are apparently bulletproof and Tesla has effectively provided a lifetime guarantee on the roof structure and a 30-year warranty on the solar production aspect. As warranties go, that’s impressive.

Tesla Solar Roof rivals

Tesla isn’t the only one with a working solar roof concept. Solar shingles are already in use elsewhere and Suntegra, Atlantis, and CertainTeed are all vying for market position.

The truth is, though, that Tesla is the designer label in this space. The cars have fueled the home batteries and now the roof. Tesla is an established brand and it’s also the only one offering a total solution for your car and home. That counts for a lot.

Read: Tesla Model 3 price – what to expect

Solar Roof installation

A solar roof should, in theory, be suitable for almost any residential home. Not all of the roof can be made from solar tiles and there are certain regulations regarding the perimeter tiles in particular. But, essentially, any modern roof can be converted into a solar roof.

With new properties, it will be much easier to factor a solar roof into the build costs. Now, it is an opportunity for those with a failing roof to switch to a whole new power generating system.

Others will have to swallow the cost of replacing a perfectly functional roof and recouping that money might take much longer. So, individual homeowners have a complex choice to make and may simply choose to upgrade when the roof on their building needs major repairs.

Tesla targeted the mythical cost of $24.80/square foot, which it needed to be competitive. The Solar Roof should cost $21.85/square foot, well within that initial target. So, it’s actually cheaper to install than a regular roof, although you have to factor in the Powerwall and then start running the numbers.

Simple asphalt shingles can be had for $5/square foot too, so it isn’t the most straightforward calculation if you’re looking at a solar roof purely from a financial standpoint.

Time really isn’t a factor. It takes 5-7 days to install a Solar Roof, just like a traditional offering.

Is the first generation really a beta development?

This is a big concern facing the solar roof and the truth, almost certainly, is yes. This is technology that will be grafted on to your home and expected to last 30 years. In that time, both solar panels and batteries should improve beyond measure.

Read: The best alternatives to lithium-ion batteries

Solar panels are not particularly efficient right now and we’ve been waiting for a significant breakthrough in photovoltaic panels for a good long time. It hasn’t really come.

Commercial graphene production will change the game and potentially turn every house into a sub-station. New batteries, too, could mean that a single Powerwall could power a street in five years. So, betting so big on the technology, for so long, is a concern.

Tesla’s best solution would be to create modular systems with a clear upgrade path. Because it is a cast iron guarantee that the tech will be seriously outdated before too long.

The future

The technology and materials science, together with the likes of 3D printing, mean we’re likely to make serious strides with batteries and solar panels in the years ahead. The demand is there, the supply is there with electric cars and now the technological arms race is geared almost exclusively towards better generation and storage of electric power.

Read: The best electric motorcycles

So, before long, we should have next-gen solar panels that are 10 times as efficient as the ones we have now. A thin sliver down the side of the building, or a statue in the garden that doubles as a design feature, could harness the sun’s rays and charge a single battery that could run your house for a week.

This has to be the future, and that could be a stumbling block for Tesla Solar Roof right now. It’s tempting to wait for the second-generation tech that will definitely be an improvement. What we have right now is pioneering stuff, but it will get substantially better.

Next gen solar panels will inevitably be smarter, too, and will link up with other systems in the house to ensure power is distributed efficiently. Just like the Autopilot system, this will really come into effect several generations down the line, but by then some people will be locked into an antiquated first gen system.

A budget line?

Tesla has already done it the automotive line-up. Elon Musk produced a high-end Roadster, the Model S and only then did he focus on the mass market. The solar roof could be the first, bespoke, premium product.

Innovation runs rampant at Tesla, though, and there’s no reason why we can’t have a Model 3 solar roof in the coming years that slashes the production costs. That can come through 3D printing, pre-fabrication and smaller, more efficient solar panels.

Read: Tesla Gigafactory facts and figures that will blow your mind

An off-the-peg roof produced from plastics, incorporating the solar panels, could change the construction game entirely and the pricing structure for the Tesla solar roof. But we’re not there yet.

Should I sign up for Tesla Solar Roof?

At the moment, Tesla is making the finance your problem and suggests getting it on your mortgage. That’s fine, but if Elon Musk wants massive uptake then he has to make the monthly bill less than the power company’s polite letter asking for money.

It really is that simple. Musk has to underwrite the installation, through an external finance house if possible, and spread the payments out for forever and a day.

If that happens, normal people will sign up and commit to a zero emissions future. Tesla will need to give some assurances about upgrades, too, but that’s all it will take to turn a utopian dream into a stone cold reality.

There you have it – our Tesla Roof cost, tiles, and installation details rundown. Are you tempted to put a Solar Roof on your home? Let us know in the comments.

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