Tesla Solar Roof Review: How Does the Cost and Power Measure Up? - EmPower Solar

Tesla Solar Roof Review: How Does the Cost and Power Measure Up?


The solar roof announced by Tesla and Elon Musk is a very exciting product. The EmPower Solar team has been a big fan of Tesla for many years. Since 2007 we’ve been driving Tesla’s cars, and were front row at the 2009 Model S launch. Elon Musk is an incredibly inspiring figure for us and for many, helping to accelerate the shift to renewable energy.

While Tesla’s primary expertise has been in the automotive industry, their parlay into renewable energy technologies is an exciting move. The new solar roof is a welcome solution to conventional panels as it overcomes a large barrier to consumer solar adoption; aesthetics. Although other solar roofing shingle combo products have not caught on in the past, we are hopeful that Tesla, a long-term partner of ours, will be successful in launching the new solar roof.

As a SunPower Master dealer and Tesla certified partner and authorized installer of the Tesla Powerwall, we know firsthand consumer demand for high quality products. Educated consumers want a product that looks great, saves them money, and will increase the value of their home. While the Tesla Solar Roof isn’t ready for installation today, there are other products available that meet these criteria.

Currently the solar roof product is only for new construction and is only available in California. Until solar roof products is ready for mass-market adoption a few years down the road, other high-efficiency and aesthetic-friendly options exist within the SunPower suite of product offerings. Many of our clients choose to install the SunPower 335 all-black panel to keep the roof design consistent.

While the Tesla Solar roof is a wonderful product that serves an important segment of the marketplace, there are a few things that we believe prevent it from being widely adopted tomorrow. First, it will only be available in California and only for new construction and major renovation. The second key factor is that it may not provide enough power to offset 100% of homeowner’s electric bills in some parts of the country. According to Energy Gang podcast, on a per-square foot basis, the power density rating is half as powerful as a high-efficiency SunPower panel. This means you need 2x the coverage area for the same amount of power. Third factor is cost. While one of Tesla’s selling point is that the Solar Roof costs less than a similar style roof, it is important to note that they are comparing it to a high quality of a slate or clay tile roof; historically much more expensive than an asphalt roof which is used on a majority of homes today.

According to Consumer Reports, the cost of the Tesla Solar Roof is roughly $21.85 for a roof that is 35% solar tiles. (The cost comes from a combination of $11/sq. foot for non-solar tiles and $42/sq. foot for solar tiles.) According to the Tesla Solar Roof calculator tool, typical Long Island roofs are recommending 70% solar tiles and 30% non-solar tiles. The calculator shows that a system for a typical) roof of a Long Island home (2,000 square foot of roof space and $200 monthly bill would cost somewhere between $60,000 and $70,000.

The cost in 2017 for an average SunPower high efficiency home solar system (9kW) is under $4 per watt a gross system cost of $35,000 before the federal, state tax credits and local incentives.

Asphalt roofs can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 – putting the whole system cost of a brand new system at under $50,000. Today, with a $0 down financing or lease option, homeowners can start saving right away with a significant amount of long term savings.

We are excited about this product and look forward to watching the solar roof technology evolve over time. However for now, we believe that for 90% of homeowners, SunPower is the superior solution to achieve maximum energy production with the best available warranty.

Contact us to learn more about how you can make the switch to solar without compromising the aesthetics of your home

A SunPower Solar system using all-black panels for great aesthetics.

EmPower Yourself
with Our Solar Solutions

Get a Solar Estimate Make Appointment