Will the Tesla Solar Roof Be Worth It?

Posted on Tesla Solar Roofing (Source: Tesla)

Elon Musk’s name has become near synonymous with market disruption lately. Whether you love or hate Elon Musk and the companies he is, or has been, involved with (PayPal, Tesla, SolarCity, and SpaceX), it’s hard to deny his success. Recently, Telsa announced they would be releasing a line of solar roofing tiles in 2017. As Salem roofers who have made a name for themselves by installing primarily energy efficient roofing systems, we are ecstatic that a new wave of green innovation is hitting the roofing industry, however, we do have some concerns about what this means for home and business owners.

Solar roofing tiles are a game changer, there’s no doubt about it.

In theory, having a solar roof installed would allow homeowners to harness the natural energy of the sun during the day and store that energy to help support the residence’s energy needs, primarily during peak hours. In doing this, you’d be able to save money on energy bills, and generally reduce your carbon footprint by reducing dependency on fossil fuels. Musk’s engineers are great, and they’ve put a ton of thought into the design of their solar roofing tiles. They address many of the concerns homeowners have voiced as it comes to rooftop mounted solar technology, including impact resistance, efficiency concerns during high temperature days, and a general aesthetic (yes, the pictures we’ve been shown of these roofs have been beautiful).

What’s the catch?

Unfortunately, there is still a catch. Even with some of their innovative solutions, Tesla will face many of the same issues that competitors in the residential solar industry have faced. Musk remains optimistic, saying his roofs, “look better than a normal roof, generate electricity, last longer, have better insulation, and actually have an installed cost that is less than a normal roof plus the cost of electricity.” We are cautiously optimistic, but we have some concerns with these claims, and we are not alone.

Solar components have historically been expensive to install and maintain. The costs of solar manufacturing have gone down, and thanks to Tesla’s tight relationship with SolarCity, they may be able to leverage vertical integrations to keep manufacturing costs lower than competitors. However, even if this is the case, these roofs are not likely to be cheap. They come bundled with Tesla’s Powerwall 2, which itself costs a minimum of $6,500 installed, and they will still need to utilize a solar power inverter, as any existing rooftop solar system does. These can run anywhere from $3,000 to $20,000. Tesla claims its solar roofs will last 30 years, but the Powerwall and inverters are generally rated for only 10 years.

A final factor to consider, as it relates to cost, is that it has been a closely guarded secret as to who will install these roofing systems. Solar configurations often require the expertise of an electrician, but electricians certainly aren’t roofers. Will these installations require hiring both an electrician, roofer and siding company , or has this already been considered, and will roofers be able to install these systems on their own? Currently, all we can do is speculate, and hope that we are pleasantly surprised. We would love to install Tesla solar roofing tiles in Salem, and we certainly hope we are given the chance. We will be keeping a close eye on Tesla’s new roofing system during its launch year, and we hope we will be able to install them for our customers soon.

Will it be worth it?

Tesla claims their roofing tiles will eliminate the need to use non-renewable energy entirely, so depending on your energy bills and the final cost of the roof, it might be worth it. Unfortunately, it’s too early to be much more specific than that. We have to see how Tesla’s claims hold up to reality in terms of roof durability and longevity, pricing, and of course energy savings. As with any early solar adopters, if you’re considering a solar roof, you’re probably concerned about more than just cost– you likely have environmental concerns too. From a subjective standpoint alone, if you have the discretionary income to justify a solar roof, it may be worth it. As more data becomes available, we will re-analyze these roofs and run the numbers to provide a more objective decision.

If you’re looking for a more traditional high-efficiency roofing solution from a top Salem roofing company, give us a call today for a quote at (503) 585-2338 and learn how we can help you save money on your energy bills while protecting our planet.

Image source: Tesla
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Written by
Joshua Anderson Slate
Josh is the Director of Technology for Slate & Slate Roofing, and has been involved with the company since he roofed as a summer job while he was in high school.