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Tesla Solar Roof cost vs. solar panels

You’ve probably heard of the Tesla Solar Roof before – and you may even be considering it over standard solar panels. The Solar Roof integrates traditional roof shingles with solar panel technology to create a sleek solar system that’s both aesthetically pleasing and a generator of clean energy. But Tesla Solar Roofs come at a premium cost and aren’t the best option for everyone. In this article, we’ll help you decide if a Tesla Solar Roof or solar panels are right for you.

Key takeaways

  1. Tesla’s solar roof tiles are likely about 20 to 30 percent less efficient than normal solar panels.

  2. Tesla Solar Roofs are becoming less widely available across the country – even if you live in an area where it’s available, you may see long delays in the installation process or even have your project canceled.

  3. A Tesla Solar Roof usually costs more than traditional solar panels and may be as much as 75 percent more expensive.

  4. Tesla’s Solar Roof may be worth exploring if you have a simple, small roof that needs replacing, want to install a battery, or are set on its aesthetics.

  5. Explore your home solar options on the EnergySage Marketplace.

What’s in this article?

What to know about the Tesla Solar Roof

The Tesla Solar Roof is a building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) product that combines the functionality of solar panels with roof shingles. While Tesla is primarily known for their electric vehicles (EVs), the company entered the solar space when CEO Elon Musk led an acquisition of SolarCity in 2016. The glass solar and steel roofing tiles offer what Tesla notes as an unmatched aesthetic design to provide you with another option when considering solar energy to power your home.

Tesla initially announced the Solar Roof in 2017 – in October 2022, Tesla reported a 13 percent year-over-year increase in solar installations. However, in November 2022, Electrek reported that Tesla is canceling solar projects across the country, likely in an effort to focus on larger-scale solar projects rather than individual home solar installations. Tesla currently offers both their Solar Roof and solar panels through their website, and you’ll see the availability of a Solar Roof option indicated based on your location.

For example, we checked the Tesla website in December 2022 – Boston, Massachusetts, shows no availability, whereas Atlanta, Georgia and Orange County, California show Tesla Roof as an option.

Image credit: Tesla’s website. The top image shows no Tesla Solar Roof availability, while the bottom image includes a Tesla Solar Roof shown as available through certified local installers.

Comparing Tesla Solar Roof cost with other options

Tesla isn’t the only company to offer solar roof tiles. Other solar shingle companies include Certainteed Solar, GAF Energy, Hanergy, SunTegra, and LUMA Solar (check out the EnergySage Solar Shingles Buyer’s Guide to learn more). A Tesla Solar Roof installation is a premium option and will cost as much as 75 percent above the price of a typical solar panel system. Here’s how it ranks in terms of production, efficiency, and cost compared to regular solar panels and other shingle options. Production (Watts per shingle/cell)EfficiencyAverage Cost (Before Incentives)AVERAGE TOTAL COST (FOR A 10 KW SYSTEM) Traditional solar system170-350 W19-23% $2.86/W$28,600 Tesla Solar Roof71.67 W~17-20%$6.40/W$64,000 SunTegra Solar Shingles 105-114 W15.9-17.2%$4.90/W$49,000 Certainteed Apollo Tile II73 W17.8%<$6.40/W (approximately)$64,000 (approximately) GAF solar shingles45 WNo published efficiency~$4.80W~$48,000 Hantiles~105 WNo published efficiencyNo published priceNo published price LUMA80 W22.1%No published priceNo published price

Note: this pricing was confirmed in early 2022 and the total cost listed may vary based on your location. Pre-incentive pricing is shown above, but a 30 percent federal tax credit is available, and you may also qualify for additional local or state tax incentives or rebates.

When considering various solar equipment, you’ll also want to consider product warranty, durability, ratings and reviews, and the solar company’s reputation and track record. It’s also important to remember that, like with other solar panel installations, you’ll qualify for a federal tax credit called the solar investment tax credit (ITC) when installing Tesla solar shingles. So you can claim 30 percent of your Tesla Solar Roof installation costs on your taxes.

How efficient is a Tesla Solar Roof?

One important factor is efficiency when comparing installing new solar panels and a new Tesla Solar Roof. Tesla has not released data on the efficiency of its solar shingles. Based on our research, EnergySage estimates typical solar shingle brands range from 15 to 22 percent efficiency, whereas most premium solar panels offer 20 to 23 percent efficiency. It’s important to keep this in mind when deciding if the Tesla Solar Roof is worth it because your overall return on investment (ROI) will likely be lower with a Tesla Solar Roof than if you install new solar panels.

Tesla Solar Roof pros and cons

We’ll break down more of the details below, but here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of a Tesla Solar Roof compared to traditional solar panel systems: Pros of a Tesla Solar RoofCons of a Tesla Solar Roof Most homeowners find them more aesthetically pleasingPremium cost without added efficiency or production If you’re replacing your roof already and this roof is a 3-tab asphalt or composition shingle roof, this roof product combines roof shingles and solar cells in oneReported issues of solar project cancellations, scaling back of Tesla solar division, and large price increases after initial estimates Average longer installation process (5-7 days for a Solar Roof compared to 1-3 days for a traditional solar panel system)

How Tesla Solar Roof pricing is determined

The pricing of the Tesla Solar Roof is based on two key factors: the equipment that makes up a Tesla Solar Roof project and the complexity of the installation based on your roof.

Tesla Solar Roof equipment costs

There are four main components of a Tesla Solar Roof:

  1. Energy producing tiles

  2. Non-energy producing tiles

  3. Tesla solar inverter

  4. Tesla Powerwall battery

Solar Roof systems use a mix of energy-producing and non-energy-producing roofing tiles – this means the total installation cost varies widely depending on the size and complexity of your roof. For example, as of 2022, the cost of a tesla solar roof installation on a 1,500-square-foot roof is estimated to be at least $22,950* for inactive shingles alone. However, having a multiple-storied roof or crowded mounting planes could cost more.

Energy-producing tiles

Energy-producing tiles are strengthened glass tiles that collect solar energy like a solar panel. Visually, they are indistinguishable from inactive shingles, but they cost a lot more to install (about $1.80 per Watt*).

Non-energy-producing tiles

The other type of shingles that make up a Tesla Solar Roof is non-solar steel tiles. These are virtually indistinguishable in color and trim from the active solar shingles and cost between $15.30 and $21.27* per square foot to install.

Tesla Solar Inverter

Every solar system, including a Tesla Solar Roof, needs at least one solar inverter to convert generated direct current electricity into usable alternating current electricity. A Tesla Solar Inverter has two size options: 3.8 kilowatts (kW) and 7.6 kW. It includes safety features such as integrated rapid shutdown, arc fault protection, ground fault protection, and no neutral wires.

Tesla Powerwall

As of December 2022, a single Tesla Powerwall home battery costs about $10,600 to $12,850 (plus about $4,000 more for the installation). While not specifically required, a Tesla Powerwall is bundled with all Tesla Energy systems, including a Solar Roof. Tesla Powerwalls are energy storage systems that enable you to store the renewable energy generated by your solar energy system for use when the sun isn’t shining or during a power outage.

How your roof impacts Tesla Solar Roof costs

As with any solar system, installation costs for a Tesla Solar Roof vary significantly depending on your home’s design. Tesla notes a few complexity factors on their website, including:

  1. Mounting planes – the more planes on your roof, the higher the complexity of a Solar Roof design

  2. Pitch

  3. Obstructions – chimneys, skylights, vents, or fans increase the complexity

Additionally, your utility costs may help estimate your Solar Roof design, so Tesla requests you upload a recent copy of your electric bill.

However, Tesla customers have repeatedly raised concerns with the estimation process. As early as June 2020, Tesla started canceling Solar Roof orders after some customers were on the waiting list for a couple of years. Then, in April 2021, Tesla confused and frustrated many of their customers when they sent emails with increased prices to customers that had already signed contracts based on their initial quotes.

While the company blamed these price hikes on underestimated roof complexity, Tesla has yet to explain where their calculations faltered (though in September 2021, they announced that they’ll be honoring the prices for the signed contracts). In 2022, Tesla announced they would not schedule more installations in new markets, adding a roof complexity disclaimer to their online Solar Roof calculator. As previously described, beginning in November 2022, Eletrek reported that Tesla began canceling additional solar projects, including Solar Roofs and solar panel projects that included some already permitted systems.

The Tesla Solar Roof warranty

Like most high-quality solar panels, Tesla Solar Roofs have a 25-year warranty, including material defects and wind or rain damage. Separately, the shingles’ have an impressive power output warranty that guarantees you maintain at least 95 percent of the “Rated Peak Power” specified on the Solar Roof data sheet. For comparison, the best solar panel warranties typically only guarantee 92 percent of initial output by year 25.

Tesla Solar Roof cost: is it worth the premium?

To understand Tesla Solar Roof costs compared to other solar power solutions and upgrades, we will break down some common scenarios:

Scenario 1: you’re interested in solar but don’t need a roof replacement 

This is a common scenario for many U.S. homeowners: you may have heard the buzz around new solar roofs, solar shingles, or the Tesla Solar Roof but aren’t sure how the details and costs compare. However, don’t need to replace your existing roof in the next three to five years. In this scenario, the Tesla Solar Roof likely isn’t a fit.

Tesla’s Solar Roof probably won’t make financial sense for your home because it involves installing a new roof plus solar. If you don’t need a new roof, you may be getting upsold on a product that you weren’t even shopping for in the first place. And the price tag of this upsell is considerable.

Scenario 2: you’re interested in solar and need to replace your roof

If you’re looking to go solar and need a new roof, there may be a better case for a Tesla Solar Roof since you need to pay for new roofing material anyways. In this case, the Tesla Solar Roof could be a fit.

Tesla’s Solar Roof will still be a bit of a premium price, but if your roof is small, you may not see a huge price difference. That said, you’ll still likely get a better return on investment by adding a new roof and solar panels. The difference in price between a Tesla Solar Roof and a new roof plus solar panels will depend on your roof’s size and the type of roof you install. For example, asphalt shingles are much less expensive than other materials like tile. You’ll likely want to get estimates from solar installers and roofers before deciding.

Scenario 3: you’re interested in solar-plus-storage

More people are considering adding energy storage (aka a battery) to their solar installations. A battery might be helpful if you live in an area that experiences blackouts or outages frequently. Also, if you don’t have net metering, you can use a battery to store the excess energy your solar system produces during the day to use at night. If you want to install a battery with your solar energy system, the Tesla Solar Roof and a Tesla Powerwall could be a fit.

You’ll pay more in most cases by choosing a Tesla Solar Roof plus Tesla Powerwall system over a traditional solar-plus-storage system. However, the Tesla Powerwall tends to be cheaper than other batteries on the market, so depending on how much storage you want or need, you could decide that a Tesla Solar Roof makes sense for you. In fact, if you’re replacing your roof and want to install two solar batteries, you could actually save money by installing a Tesla Solar Roof and Tesla Powerwalls – assuming your roof size is 1,500 square feet, and it’s not very complex (see the case study below for more information).

Scenario 4: You love the Solar Roof aesthetics, want solar, and the cost isn’t a factor

There are certainly people who love the aesthetics of the Tesla Solar Roof and want it installed, regardless of the price tag. For these people, the Tesla Solar Roof could be a fit.

We believe that most Tesla Solar Roof buyers fit into this group. At EnergySage, we think that more solar on rooftops is always better than less, so if this is you, we support you going solar to become more energy independent while saving on your energy bill.

Detailed cost analysis: solar-plus-storage example

Let’s say you experience frequent blackouts at your home in California and want a storage system to provide backup power. While you’d probably only need one battery to back up all of your essential appliances, if you want to power more appliances or experience long blackouts, maybe you’re looking to purchase two. With your Tesla Solar Roof, you can only install a Tesla Powerwall (it’s the only one that works with Tesla Solar Roof or solar panels). A Powerwall provides 13.5 kWh of backup energy and varies in cost depending on how many you add.

We’ll use LG Chem’s RESU battery in our solar panel comparison, a frequently quoted storage option on the EnergySage Marketplace that provides 9.3 kWh of backup energy. The RESU battery ranges in price from $9,500 to $13,000, so we’ll go with $13,000 to be conservative. Using these criteria, let’s explore how a new solar panel plus storage installation would compare to a new Tesla Solar Roof plus Powerwall, based on varying roof sizes and a number of storage systems: Roof size (square feet)New solar panelsNew Tesla Solar RoofPrice premium 1,500$30,900$37,70022% 2,000$33,400$45,30036% 2,500$35,900$53,00048%

Note: Pricing was estimated in early 2022. Tesla no longer provides Tesla Solar Roof cost estimates on its website.

As shown with the cost analysis, a Tesla Solar Roof may be a good option if you want to add two batteries and a solar system. You’ll still pay a premium, but the amount of the premium decreases substantially.

Common questions about a Tesla Solar Roof

How much does a Tesla Solar Roof installation cost?

For a 1500-square-foot roof, installing a Tesla Solar Roof will cost at least $33,450.*

How long does a Tesla Solar Roof installation take?

The installation process for a Tesla Solar Roof takes five to seven business days to complete. By comparison, a typical rooftop solar panel installation usually takes between one and three days.

Are solar roofs worth it?

Solar shingles and roofs are worth it if you’re a homeowner who needs a new roof and wants to keep some of the aesthetics and functionality of a traditional roof while going solar. There are various solar roof options to consider when making your decision.

Can you walk on a solar roof?

Yes, you can walk on solar roofs the same way as a normal roof, especially when it’s time to clean.

Which is better: a solar roof or a solar panel system?

A solar panel system will generally be less expensive and more efficient than a solar roof.

What’s the difference between a solar roof and solar shingles?

Solar shingles are a relatively new invention – unlike solar panels, they mimic the appearance of traditional roofing shingles and can also generate solar energy.

Save more money by going solar

If you’re a homeowner trying to compare your solar options, we always recommend you get multiple quotes to compare the pros and cons of each offer. Try EnergySage’s free Solar Calculator to understand better the economics of putting solar panels on your roof. Once you’re ready for quotes, join the EnergySage Marketplace to receive competing solar installation offers from our network of 500+ pre-screened solar installers. Backed by the U.S. Department of Energy, our mission is to make going solar as easy as booking a flight online.

*Editor’s note: Tesla’s website no longer shows Solar Roof pricing as of December 2022. The analyses and estimates in this article were confirmed in early 2022; actual costs are likely higher due to inflation and increased material costs.

This article has been updated since its original publish date.

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