Tesla Solar Roof Review – Legitimate Hype? Or Overpriced Ripoff?

tesla solar roof review

What Is a Tesla Solar Roof?

Tesla’s Solar Roof has taken solar panels, the popular alternative energy provider, and specially crafted them to work as an effective roofing material. To better understand, we start with the solar-energy aspect.

Solar panel systems are often referred to as Photovoltaic (PV) systems. The technology utilizes sunlight, but not heat, that comes into contact with the panels and converts it into a direct current (DC).

Tesla’s Building-integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) system adds to the acronym by combining non-energy-producing (inactive) pieces with energy-producing (active) pieces. The two glass tile types are identical in appearance and work together to draw energy from the sun, protect the home, and provide a pleasing aesthetic.

While Tesla’s BIPV system is not a pioneer in terms of combining solar panels with one’s roof, it’s not new to the game either. The current design has come a long way since the system’s inception in 2016.

Read More: Tesla Solar Panels Review – Legitimate Hype? Or Overpriced Rip Off?

Tesla Solar Roof Features

The Tesla Solar Roof stands apart from other PV systems because of its unique features. However, what makes it impressive is not just a cost and energy-efficient solar panel system but a thorough consideration for investing in one’s home.

Curb appeal, quality roofing materials, expert construction, and social awareness all come into play like no other PV system on the market.

Design

In terms of appearance, Tesla offers a number of glass formats that resemble different shingle styles, including:

  • Textured
  • Slate
  • Smooth
  • Tuscan

Depending on energy needs, different sizes, number of panels, and ratio of active to inactive panels may be chosen. The table below, taken from Tesla’s website at the time of this writing, will provide prospective customers with a starting idea of what their home may require in terms of active panels needed.

SIZEPOWER RATING# OF PANELSROOF AREA COVERED
Small4.8 Kilowatts12260 square feet
Medium9 Kilowatts24520 square feet
Large14.4 Kilowatts36780 square feet
X-Large19.2 Kilowatts481,040 square feet

If you’re interested in keeping your existing roof and adding solar power capability, a completely new Tesla Solar Roof may not need to be installed. For more information, you can review Tesla’s Roof Eligibility section of its website.

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Tesla Powerwall

The Tesla Powerwall is a solar home battery that stores solar energy. Using stored solar energy when the BIPV system is not drawing power from available sunlight, the Powerwall helps reduce monthly energy costs from utility companies. Without this feature, homes with a Tesla Solar Roof are still reliant on the grid and are subject to power outages. 

So, the Tesla Powerwall is necessary for off-grid capabilities for any Tesla Solar Roof.

Because the Powerall stores solar energy, it qualifies for battery storage incentives in the US. The most prominent is the federal solar tax credit that can be read about on the Internal Revenue Service’s website.

Tesla Powerwalls are not sold individually, which means it has to be part of the installation package for an entirely new Tesla Solar Roof.

Read More: Tesla Powerwall Review

Durability

The Tesla Solar Roof exhibits promising durability. The shingles are built to withstand 1.75-inch diameter hail exceeding the more standard roof hail rating of 1-inch diameter.

It’s rated for up to 166 miles per hour wind, which means it’s ready for a category four hurricane.

The Tesla Solar Roof offers the highest possible fire rating, a class A UL 790.

Overall, according to company claims and standardized testing, Tesla’s roof material is considered to be more than twice as strong as conventional tiles.

Installation Process

Keeping things user-friendly is an attitude that Tesla takes very seriously. The company does an excellent job of making the order and installation process as painless as possible.

The easiest way for interested parties to get started is to visit Tesla’s Solar Roof page on their website and click “ORDER NOW.”

Be ready to provide various information, such as your monthly electricity costs. Ascertaining your home’s energy needs, square footage, etc., are all essential parts of the process to equip you with ideal energy efficiency and financial savings. A more in-depth step-by-step is provided below.

1. Place Order and Pay a Deposit

Placing an order and receiving a calculated recommendation based on the information provided is straightforward.

However, deposits reported vary from $100 to $1000 depending on factors such as having one or more Tesla Powerwalls installed along with your BIPV system.

Payment options include upfront cash payments as well as financing options. Leasing payments are made convenient and paperless through Tesla’s app or through your Tesla Account.

2. Virtual Assessment

Creating a Tesla Account on the company’s website helps to streamline the process.

Once you’ve entered your average monthly electricity consumption and home address, you’ll be presented with a recommendation. From there, you can tailor your system further to accommodate for expected greater power consumption.

Buyers who currently own or plan on owning a Tesla vehicle will likely want to upsize their initial recommendation, as charging consumes a significant amount of kilowatts.

Preferences and layout are also part of the virtual home assessment. Once you’ve finished the design, you can track the installation progress with high-resolution satellite imagery.

3. Local Permit Approvals

Tesla handles reporting and compliance with the customer’s local city. The company’s website reports that this process of filing with and gaining the necessary permits with the city takes between one to five weeks, depending on location.

4. Schedule the Installation

Once prospective customers have completed entering the necessary information, received Tesla’s recommendations, adjusted to personal preference and needs, then it’s time to schedule installation.

The company boasts that most installations are completed the same day they are started. Additionally, the buyer must be present for the first hour but is not required to be on the premises after that.

Tesla Powerwall installations are concluded with the solar battery running in “Self-Consumption Only” mode.

5. Roof Inspection to Local Municipality

Once installation is complete, Tesla collaborates with your local building department to schedule an inspection.

Self-Consumption Only mode is utilized at the end of installation because your home will still be hooked up to the power grid. This mode ensures that the energy output goes to powering your home and charging your solar battery but not giving additional power to the grid.

This decision is due to the need for Permission to Operate (PTO), which can only be granted by your utility provider. Once PTO is granted, your new BIPV system automatically adjusts to allow for total energy production to power your home and the grid.

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Inverter

The Tesla Solar Inverter brings the additional capability to rely more on your Tesla system than on the grid.

Previously, we mentioned that PV systems, including the Tesla Solar Roof, produce DC electricity. However, most homes and appliances are not designed to run on DC. Instead, they utilize Alternating Current (AC) electricity.

Inverters convert DC into AC currents, which means that your home needs an inverter if you are to power anything inside it.

The Tesla Solar Inverter stacks up nicely when compared to other inverters on the market. It’s a Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) string inverter that delivers 97.5 percent efficiency and comes with a warranty good for 12.5 years. In addition, two sizes, 7.6 Kilowatts and 3.8 Kilowatts, are offered based on the size of your BIPV system.

Read More: Best Pure Sign Wave Inverters

Efficiency

Efficiency is everything in terms of energy output, consumption, and ROI. First, let’s start with the shingles themselves.

Solar technology constantly advances in terms of how efficiently it converts sunlight into electricity. However, Tesla stands firm in the race, reporting that their solar technology’s cost per Watt is $1.80, which is much lower than the US average of $3.00 per Watt.

The Tesla Solar Roof truly shines in the category of efficiency due to its integrative design. As the company CEO, Elon Musk puts it simply, “It’s not a thing on the roof. It is the roof.”

Monitoring

The Tesla app allows homeowners to monitor different facets of their Tesla Solar Roof along with other products such as their Tesla Powerwall or Tesla Solar Inverter. The app is free to install and provides easy-to-read and understandable data points concerning energy production, efficiency, and overall performance.

Depending on installation choices, some customers will have access to full monitoring of their home’s energy consumption and power grid consumption.

Warranty

Tesla backs up the longevity of its products with an impressive array of warranties. For example, a 25-year warranty covers the tile’s themselves, power, and weatherization. Earlier, we mentioned fire, hail, and wind ratings that should be counted here as well.

Additionally, a module warranty of 95 percent extends to your solar roof’s power capacity during “Rated Peak Power” for five years after installation. For the next 20 years, that percentage may fall by 0.5 percent, but not more.

Specifications

To recap the warranty specifications, we provide the table below. Please keep in mind that these are current at the time of writing this article and are subject to change at any time at Tesla’s discretion. Please visit their website’s Solar Roof Warranty page to verify accuracy.

Tile Warranty25 years
Power Warranty25 years
Weatherization Warranty25 years
Hail RatingANSI FM 4473 Class 3
Wind RatingASTM D3161 Class F
Fire RatingClass A UL 790
Roof Pitch2:12 to 20:12

How Much Do Tesla Solar Roofs Cost?

The Tesla Solar Roof can be described as innovative new solar design technology. Therefore, it’s not cheap and should be considered as what it’s meant to be: a long-term investment.

Forbes offers a pricing estimate calculated in July of 2021. The analysis concluded approximate prices for a 1,000 square foot single-story home estimated at over $46,000, a 2,000 square foot two-story home estimated at just over $64,000, and finally, a 3,000 square foot three-story home estimated at almost $82,000. 

These prices do not factor in incentives, tax credits, or energy savings. Each was calculated as complete installation and roof replacement.

Major factors that affect the total price include your home’s roof complexity, for which Tesla has assigned three categories:

  • Simple. A single-level roof, uncrowded mounting planes, few obstructions, and low pitch.
  • Intermediate. Multi-level roof, somewhat crowded mounting plane, more obstructions, and higher pitch.
  • Complex. Multi-level roof, heavily crowded mounting plane, many obstructions, and steep pitch.

As with increased energy consumption, increased complexity means additional cost.

Read More: Why Are Solar Panels So Expensive

Price Match Guarantee

Tesla seeks to offer its customers the best solar prices on the market through their price match guarantee.

To be eligible a number of guidelines and prerequisites must be met:

  • The competing PV system must be similar to the Tesla Solar Roof by offering an inverter, a minimum warranty of 10 years, and equal or greater in physical dimensions.
  • The competing price must have been quoted within 14 days and match whatever financing is being applied for with the Tesla BIPV system. In addition, the price must include the exact compliance and installation procedures. Discounted prices are not eligible for price match.
  • The quoted price must be for the same address in question.

Instructions to request a price match are simply to email energyorder@tesla.com. Put “Price Match Guarantee” in the subject line, your reservation number in the body, and attach the competing offer. Make sure to submit a price match before installation, and Tesla will reply to inform you of eligibility.

Is a Tesla Solar Roof Cheaper Than Tesla Solar Panels?

The main draw to the Tesla Solar Roof is two-fold: the cost per Watt and the added roof durability.

Tesla’s Solar Panels offer a cost per Watt of $2.01, which is highly competitive and below the national average. However, the Tesla Solar Roof is a newer technology that beats its standard solar panels in efficiency at $1.80 per Watt. Both of these prices are calculated before incentives and tax credits.

Not only do you get more efficient solar, but you also get a brand new beautiful Tesla roof. Homeowners looking for a solarized roof should see this as a no-brainer.

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Getting a Loan With Tesla’s Solar Roof Financing

Prospective Tesla Solar Roof owners are offered a few different financing options. Whatever options are chosen may be changed at any point before installation begins. Here are some details about loan purchases from Tesla’s site at the time of writing this article:

  • System ownership
  • Investment tax credits
  • 10-year comprehensive maintenance with 25-year panel performance warranty

Purchasing through a loan allows buyers to own their system without the upfront cost. Additionally, depending on geographic location, buyers often find that their loan payment is less than their monthly electric bill, meaning that you can still achieve long-term ROI right from the start.

Tesla solar loans can be paid off at any moment in full (such as with the sale of your home) without a prepayment penalty.

Loan invoices follow about 30 days after roof installation. Interested parties can read more specifics about loans and incentives on the company’s Solar Purchase page.

Tesla’s Customer Service

Tesla offers a few different channels for customers to connect through. Questions are answered through one’s Tesla Account, or if you’re not registered, through the company’s Contact Us form.

Chat support is offered for Tesla Solar Roof owners in North America. The website also offers impressive troubleshooting ability and instruction that syncs with your Tesla Account on the Troubleshooting Your System page.

What Previous Customers Are Saying

For a more in-depth view of what people are saying about how Tesla’s customer support is holding up for solar customers, we looked at the TeslaSolar social media page on Reddit.

Certain threads report the solar roof as having good weather resistance, professional and friendly same-day installation, and good efficiency in winter weather.

However, some reports mention that installing the Tesla Powerwall and getting the entire system up and running took much longer than the one-day roof installation. From start to finish, customers report, on average, about one week, depending greatly on the magnitude of the installation.

Overall, Are Tesla Solar Roofs Worth It?

It is the opinion of this article that the Tesla Solar Roof is a good long-term investment for those interested in renewable energy, real-estate investing, social responsibility, and a sustainable home.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Multiple distinct and aesthetically pleasing tile designs to choose from
  • Tempered glass construction that grants greater durability than conventional roof material
  • Great warranty
  • Multiple loan financing options to avoid the upfront cost
  • Extreme bragging rights

Cons

  • Significant financial investment
  • Some reported supply line issues resulting in delayed installation
  • Tesla Solar Powerwall only available with new solar roof installation

FAQs

  • Does Tesla Manufacture Their Own Solar Roofs?

    Tesla acquired SolarCity in the third quarter of 2016, as reported by PCMag. SolarCity, now a subsidiary of Tesla, leases the Tesla Giga New York (a.k.a. GigaFactory 2), where the photovoltaic cells are manufactured.

    Tesla Giga New York, previously called GigaFactory, lies within the Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub in RiverBend. The site is owned by State University of New York’s Polytechnic Institute.

  • Are Tesla's Solar Roofs Made in the Usa?

    Some controversy exists as to what Elon Musk has stated about being an avid proponent of building solar panels in the factory stationed in Buffalo, New York.

    Changzhou China has been cited as a possible distributor for certain materials necessary for the construction.

    It is common practice for large American companies to source labor and materials from China. However, the final answer to this question remains unclear.

    Based on the expanding number of employees of the Tesla-run Buffalo manufacturing site, it appears that there is at least some truth to United States production.

  • How Long Do Tesla Solar Roofs Last?

    The Tesla Solar Roof is designed to be the market’s best long-term solar roof investment.

    The warranty for tiles, power, and weatherization, as mentioned previously, all cover you for 25 years (the average life of conventional roofs). However, that doesn’t mean you should expect the Tesla Solar Roof to need replacement by the stated times.

    Tesla’s BIPV system was introduced in 2017 so, not enough time has passed for accurate case studies. However, because of the aforementioned tested fire, hail, and wind ratings, we can expect Tesla tempered glass shingles to hold out significantly longer than conventional roofing.

    Alternatively, looking at the life of most solar panels, we can consult this study on photovoltaic degradation rates. The analysis concludes that top tier (which can be meant to include the Tesla Solar Roof BIPV system) panels retain more than 90% of the original output after 25 years. What’s more, is that in terms of physical durability, solar panels typically last much longer than conventional roofing material.

  • How Efficient Are Tesla's Solar Roofs?

    Tesla continues to increase the power output of its solar cells while maintaining the same dimensions. Important to note is that the number of active versus inactive solar tiles is dependent on your individual profile of needs and desired investment.

    To paint a better picture of efficiency and the tiles themselves, the shingles measure 15 by 45 inches. Each is 5 millimeters in thickness and can produce 71.67 Watts of power.

    Tesla’s warranty guarantees customers 95 percent or better during “Rated Peak Power” for fives years after installation. In addition, for the next 20 years, the guarantee ensures no more than 0.5 percent in output loss.

  • Can I Cancel My Tesla Solar Roof?

    Customers who have ordered the Tesla Solar Roof installation and paid in full, including the deposit, can cancel and request a full refund through the respective Tesla Account. However, past cancellations reported online that Tesla keeps the $100 deposit.

    Parties seeking a full refund after installation must go through a few more steps but will find the policy overall very generous. To do so, submit a formal written cancellation request to the Project Advisor within one week (7 days) of your BIPV system’s activation. Following the cancellation, Tesla’s staff will remove your Tesla Solar Roof for free.

    Additionally, they will be sure to seal and waterproof your existing roof. No additional repairs for wear and tear or aesthetics will be provided.

    Unfortunately, the Tesla Powerwall and any other prior construction done are nonrefundable.

  • Does Tesla Solar Roof Increase My Home's Value?

    Yes. The company takes great pride in increasing both the quality and value of its customer’s homes. So whether you are looking to sell your home for profit, use it as a vacation home, or hand it down to future generations, the added sustainable energy production carries on its value to all parties.