Consumer Reports Crunches The Numbers On Tesla’s Solar Roof

NOV 20 2016 BY MARK KANE 135

Tesla Solar Roof

Tesla Solar Roof

Consumer Reports is sceptical about the ‘dollars and cents’ viability of the new Tesla solar roof offer.

Tesla Solar Roof

Tesla Solar Roof

Tesla CEO Elon Musk notes that the total costs of installation of the solar roof, further decreased by lessened electricity bills, makes his roof as cheap as a regular roof, and even more recently stated that the starting costs of the roof may in fact be less in some applications (perhaps referring against slate roof installs).

Because Tesla has yet to release pricing of its solar tiles, Consumer Reports did some estimated math for a 30 year period, including an assumed savings of $2,000 a year in electricity bills, a ~$6,500 cost for Powerwall 2.0 ($5,500 for energy storage and inverter and $1,000 installation), and three regular roof types:

  • Clay Tile: $16,000
  • Asphalt: $20,000
  • Slate: $45,000

In theory, 30 years translates up to $60,000 in savings on electricity, so over the period the total costs in case of regular roofs would be a simple analysis:

  • alternative to Clay Tile: $76,000
  • alternative to Asphalt: $80,000
  • alternative to Slate: $105,000
Tesla Solar Roof Glass Tile Options

Tesla Solar Roof Glass Tile Options

But because we need to subtract $6,500 Powerwall 2.0, the installation cost of roof can’t exceed certain minimum amounts to be comparable:

  • alternative to Clay Tile: $69,500
  • alternative to Asphalt: $73,500
  • alternative to Slate: $98,500
Tesla Solar Roof In "Slate Glass"

Tesla Solar Roof In “Slate Glass”

In fact there could be the need to use two or three Powerwalls over the 30 year period so those are optimistic values. We feel that most likely if Musk is amortizing the cost over 30 years, one should account for at least 2 Powerwalls at the same time.

Tuscan Tile (Tesla’s equivalant of clay tile) would need to cost less than $69,500, installed (or about $2,300 per 100 square feet), to beat its traditional counterpart;
Smooth and Textured Tile (Tesla’s equivalent to asphalt tile) would need to cost less than $73,500, installed (or about $2,450 per 100 square feet);
Slate Tile would need to cost less than $98,500 (or about $3,300 per 100 square feet).”

Whether consumers are willing to pay higher upfront costs and what will be the price of Tesla solar roof is for now an open question.

And to be fair, this is clearly just an educated guess by Consumer Reports, at the end of the day, it could really be any number given Elon Musk’s longevity quote for his company’s solar roof.

“We expect this to have two or three times the longevity of asphalt. It’s really never going to wear out. It’s got a quasi-infinite lifetime. It’s made of quartz.”

Tesla "Smooth Glass Tile" Solar Roof

Tesla “Smooth Glass Tile” Solar Roof

End of the day, there is definitely some hybrid/long term math going on here, something that was not all that popular when Tesla used it to prominently promote the “effective cost” of  its cars taking into account the savings on electricity and maintenance vs gas.

And we have no doubt that Tesla’s long term bottom line cost numbers are accurate on the solar roof vs a traditional roof replacement (that is after all the *- asterisk terms and conditions that surely exist), but there is also likely no consideration for the ‘value of money’ sunk long-term into a depreciating asset – and that is a real thing (historical returns on the S&P is around ~10%).

If it takes 15 years, 30 years or 50 years to break even against say, an asphalt roof, and one borrows that money – or otherwise would have invested the difference between the two roof types, parity will never actually be achieved.

But there is no doubt the roof looks great, allows for electricity generation/independence, and is exceptionally cool…so for us, those are the metrics we would primarily choose to market the tech, keeping the breakeven math as backstory.
source: Consumer Reports

Categories: Tesla

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135 Comments on "Consumer Reports Crunches The Numbers On Tesla’s Solar Roof"

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$20,000 for asphalt roofing sounds high to me, so i question the consumer reports estimate. does anyone have in information on the rating of the powerwall in terms of number of cycles? i read figures in the 1,000-1,500 range, but that seems low to me because the powerwall has a 10 year warranty. in any event, if the powerwall has a 1,000 cycle lifetime, it has a much higher $/kWh cost compared to the mercedes-benz ESS (which i have read has an 8,000 cycle life at 80% DoD). in any event, people should not be surprised that the tesla solar shingle is almost certainly going to be targeted for high end residential applications. the fact that the cost of the solar shingles was being compared to the cost of a slate roof would tell you that. the other thing to keep in mind is that the tesla solar shingle will not install like conventional roofing material. the tiles will have to be customized to the roof on which they will be installed. there is no option of cutting tiles to size in the field as you could do with conventional roofing material. so the dimensions of your roof would have… Read more »

“No Comment” wrote that field customization of solar tiles is not feasible. In another blog a person wrote that Solar City has blank tiles that look just like the solar tiles and that they can be cut or modified onsite. Solar roofs can be customized by the installers. This will greatly reduce cost and improve appearance.

Perhaps we are getting too caught up in details of the solar movement. Solar City is more than capable of selling their products.

from what i read, the solar shingles are made from tempered glass. once glass is tempered, you can’t cut it, it will shatter. that’s why i stated that the shingles cannot be cut in the field.

Well someone is certainly high if they say an asphalt roof cost 20k.
Also true, to my knowledge, that you can’t cut tempered glass after it’s been formed and tempered, though it can be beveled in a shop.

There are 1000 sq foot homes, 2000 sq foot homes and 3000 sq foot homes.

We need real numbers.

insideevs does include links to the original source. in the consumer reports article the stated that they were assuming a 3,000 s.f. roof.

20k for a asphalt 3k sqft roof isn’t that bad an estimate. I was just quoted 13k for my 1800 sqft roof (AL)

Our roofs, on both the house and garage, didn’t cost $20k. So yeah, Consumer Reports continues it’s trend of negative bias reporting. Great.

As for modifying glass tiles on site, there are a lot of tools for scoring, cutting, grinding and polishing that are easily transportable. These are not much different than someone laying tile for a bathroom.

maybe some guys are advertising that they can bevel glass that has already been tempered but when i bought some glass made by interpane, they specify that edge finishing has to be done *before* the tempering cycle.

Then the blanks won’t be tempered; they don’t even need to be glass. On-site cutting is an obvious necessity and I’m sure it will be accounted for.

if the blanks aren’t glass, they aren’t going to look like the rest of the roof. it’s not enough to match the color, if the index of light refraction is different, people are going to notice the difference. if the blanks are float glass instead of tempered glass they won’t last as long and will be more likely to crack. tempered glass isn’t used just for the heck of it, it is used because it has physical properties that are better suited for this application.

Yeah. It would become immediately obvious which glass roof tiles were not tempered the first time the roof got hit by a hailstorm.

But I question the claim that it’s impossible to cut tempered glass. Apparently it does need special equipment, but the website linked below claims it can be cut with a laser, altho the max thickness mentioned there is 1.3 mm, which would certainly be thinner than a roof tile:

i suspect that the glass didn’t shatter when cut has more to do with the thinness of the glass than it is special equipment. a laser would certainly allow you to cut more accurately. glass used in window applications is typically a minimum of 3mm in thickness.

Never heard of a laser that cuts glass, I’ve heard of a laser that passes through glass. I have heard of high pressure water cutting, but that’s more of a factory operation than field assembly. Roofing is priced by 100 square foot units, or squares as they call them. Dim name. I have two things to point out: Elon / Solar City have analyzed the inefficiencies of existing roofing, and there’s a lot of shipping, breakage and middlemen. I don’t think Tesla Energy can hit $800 / square, but I do think they can hit $1600 / square on the low end of their products. As is typical with Tesla, you can expect the more expensive products to come out first, but they said within 3-month intervals for the subsequent ones. Elon said in the quarterly meeting in the last week or so that the price was /before/ the electricity, and that would be a bonus. I think Consumer Reports got it right that the PowerWall wasn’t attainable in that price quote, since a PowerWall is not required for solar panels, but the fact that Consumer Reports is including that in the calculations and that their roofing prices are way… Read more »

The filler tiles may not be made of the same material but rather be a similar material that looks the same but can be cut.

@no comment:

Elon was quoted in the article above saying that they are going to be made of quartz. Are tempered glass and quartz the same thing? I thought they were different, but I have absolutely no expertise with regards to the different types of glass.

“Glass provides good insulation against electricity. On the other hand, quartz conducts electricity easily.” Hmmm. . .

Glass cookware such as Pyrex is made from tempered glass. So are glass shower doors.

There is also a material called “fused quartz” which, according to Wikipedia, is a special type of glass used “in situations such as semiconductor fabrication and laboratory equipment.”

Googling a bit, I see that fused quartz is used in making some types of solar cells, while tempered glass is use in making solar panels.

But either way, we’re talking about certain types of glass. Is it possible Tesla solar roof tiles use some of both materials?

All “glasses” are essentially based on SiO2. Quartz is a pure form that is crystalline, it has a very high melting point so is sometimes “fused” rather than melted. Borosilicates are the Pyrex family of glasses and are particularly good at resisting thermal shock. Neither are suitable for a roof tile. There are literally thousands of different glasses and toughend glasses available. some can be cut, some can’t. The word tempered is fairly meaningless as it just means “annealed” which tells you nothing. I suspect that what tesla are going to make will look somewhat similar to the laminate clip together flooring you can get. That would be light weight, tough, durable and come in a wide range colours and finishes. I assume it will be possible to cut the tiles that don’t contain a solar cell, those tiles would probably be at the edge with the solar cells in the middle. If I wanted to make a solar roof cheaper than a regular roof I would make some really high quality and expensive solar tiles that make up 25% of the roof area and then some dirt cheap but still attractive dummy tiles. Tesla are king of the cleaver… Read more »

“annealed glass” is not the same as “tempered glass”. annealed glass was made by an old process that is equivalent to what is now called “float glass”. i don’t know that anyone is still using the annealed glass process since the float glass process is what makes the large format lites, that you often see today, possible.

when you order glazing, there has to be a language that allows you to communicate to the glass manufacturer (or more likely, the glass fabricator or distributor) what it is that you want to buy. the term “tempered glass” does meaning. it is a term that distinguishes “tempered glass” (also called “heat strengthened glass”) from “heat strengthened glass” and “float glass”. each class is made to a set of specifications as specified by the glass manufacturer.

the term “tempered glass” does have meaning.

“tempered glass” is also called “heat toughened glass”. the term “heat strengthened glass” refers to a different category.

You are right Tempered glass does have a meaning, the problem is it has many meanings depending on who you talk to. It can be a chemical process (which I hadn’t realized, tempering to my mind should always involve heat but what do I know) or a thermal process but there is a big variation in what that means. Essentially it normally refers to a glass that has had its surface treated to put it into compression. This stops cracks being able to form in the surface of the glass making it more resilient to fracture. Essentially the annealing process WRT float glass goes 50% of the way compared to tempering. Poorly controlled cooling of float glass results in a stress gradient developing in the material caused by the top surface cooling faster than the middle or bottom surface of the glass. That stress gradient can significantly “weaken” the glass by reducing the critical crack length required for fracture. By heating the glass for a prolonged period and then allowing it to cool slowly you even out the stresses in the material and thus “strengthen” the glass. Thermal tempering IMO is advanced annealing as you are essentially just controlling a… Read more »

quartz is a type of stone. if you look at the previous insideevs article, there is a figure that shows the anatomy of a solar shingle. the outer layer is tempered glass. if they are using quartz, it would be as a substrate for the solar cell element. if they are using quartz, it is a bit more expensive than silicon but it holds up to thermal stress a bit better.

the performance of solar cells decreases with increasing temperature, so maybe the quartz substrate results in less performance degradation as the temperature rises.

that $75,000-$100,000 estimate for a 3,000 s.f. roof from consumer reports might prove to be pretty accurate. it looks like tesla took a “cost no object” approach to this undertaking.

My 1200 sq ft ranch was asphalt shingled with 30 year architectural Owens Corning shingles at a cost of around $3500 including flashing, vents, felt, and ice dam underlayment. And I overpaid.

Where does CR pull this $20,000 figure from? Are we talking about 6,000+ sq ft homes?

My thoughts exactly. Home depot is selling shingles for about $100 a square (100 square feet) So $3500 for shingles and $25,000 for a solar system is a fraction of the numbers being thrown around in the above article.

I agree … my 1500 sq feet house was shingled for $6000 in 2014 … their estimates are overpriced for the roof materials and labor… I think, it is the marketing trick to make us think that anyone can afford a roof for $70-100K. They suggest, it willlast 30 years… hmmm …who lives in a house for 30 years any longer to actually see a payoff? And, since it is a new product, they can’t guarantee it. I know my insurance did not insure the house w/ the roof that was 17 years old … imagine that! My $6000 roof did not last for 30 years as they are estimating an average roof lasts … besides, they are giving over the top estimate for the electricity consumption of an average person in order to justify spending so much on the roof … it won’t make you any money, it will be expensive to maintain

Everyone seems to assume individual shingles. I suspect the reality will be modular, maybe even a single large “panel” in certain instances… Assembled at the factory/store/warehouse with final mount on location.

Yes. If you read up on the tiles Tesla is offering, they are installed in a frame before being mounted on the roof. Whether the frames are custom fit to size and the tiles inserted in the factory, or assembled in the field, isn’t clear.

Are Tesla roofs the same power per square meter as regular silicon panels or about half?

As installed, they will be 20-24% efficient, possibly due to the angle of the roof and the microlouvers.

the highest efficiency solar panels for residential use are the x-series by sunpower and they come in at around 21%. based on your comments, the tesla solar shingles will be the most efficient solar panels in the market, which is just not credible.

i can’t help but suspect that you’re a tesla shareholder who is looking to pump up his position.

Tessa could simply design “dummy” tiles for areas that need to be cut.

I’m waiting to hear back from Tesla on the Solar roof with regards to energy generation per sq mtr and cost, I will be astonished if they can come even close to the cost of replacing my roof and putting the x21 black panels on,

The concrete roof tiles inc labour is only £3 ($4k approx) and the panels for a 7kw installed system are £12k ($15-16K approx).

The roof total sq mtrs on both sides is 80 sq mtrs approx (2×40 sq mtrs).

Can’t believe they can do this for £15-16k ($20k) matching the same generation even allowing a premium for better aesthetics ?


i would not expect high efficiency from the tesla solar shingles. it seems to me that the design of the solar shingles involved making trade offs between efficiency and aesthetics.

first, the glass is polarized so that the solar cell element is visible at the sun angle but not visible at the street level. the problem with polarized glass is that there is reduced light transmission compared to clear glass.

second, the solar shingles are going to be resting on the roof deck, so they will probably get hotter than solar panels, which can be placed with a spacing above the roof surface, thereby allowing for an air channel behind the panels to help evacuate excess heat. the performance of solar cells decreases when the temperature of the cell rises.

It isn’t polarized! They are using microlouvers. I had a conversation with the 3M engineer (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing) who developed the film Tesla is evaluating and “demonstrated” at the unveiling. Polarization is a parallel diffusion at and below the width of a photon. Microlouvers are many times the width of a photon, but probably invisible without the use of magnification. I also suspect they are stacked and look like louvered window blinds. Polarization needs only be thick enough to be opaque to the angle/rotation of the photon. (physicists, please elaborate here).

setting aside the pedantic point, whether its a polarizer or “microlouvers”, it reduces the amount of incident light on the solar cell, which means that the cell is less efficient. that’s ultimately what counts, not whether the directional light means has dimensions that are greater than or less than a wavelength.

There’s nothing pedantic here; it’s all elementary optics. 3M is an amazing company and they produce amazing products you use and rely on every day. I asked the question you stated as something you assumed. Simple fact according to the 3M product manager/ designer is that the coating is not polarizing, it is very advanced, and it is also directionally reflective. The main concern is the thickness of the film, not anything else. The solar panels lose more passing through a few millimeters of glass/quartz than the microns of the microlouver coating. Next time you drive your car at night and notice that the street signs really pop visibly, that’s a 3M coating. I’ve seen them under a microscope at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Their reflective products are simply amazing, microscopic half-cubes of metal arranged in a perfect lattice. I’ll reach out to my friend and see if the Science Museum of Minnesota will add the microlouver to their exploratory exhibit. There’s no reason any of us need to speculate on how this technology works, we should all be able to see and understand it ourselves. If you do go to the museum, there’s free EV charging in the… Read more »

Did they take into account the 30% tax credit for solar? In either case, I would just prefer regular panels. I did a 6.2kWh system for $6500 after the 30% tax credit.

that’s an excellent point, i forgot about the federal tax credit (and some states also offer rebates). that said, i don’t expect that incentives will make the solar shingles “affordable” any more than do incentives make the tesla model S “affordable”. so it’s still going to be a high-end product, but it will make the solar shingles more palatable in that segment.

the other aspect is regulation. the california building codes will require new residential construction to meet net-zero requirements in the next 5 years. so i think that there is a definite market for this product in high end construction where owners will find the tesla solar shingles to be more aesthetically appealing when compared to conventional solar tiles and to roof mounted solar panels.

Consumer shorts

Historic returns on the S&P 500 would be around 6.5.
Stock holders may have WISHED them up to 10%, but that’s not reality. That’s just a good decade.

Your stock broker will tell you the “historic” returns are 10%. That’s a sales pitch.

Normally, I would be inclined to agree with you…and kinda do, but not totally. The inflated adjusted return on the S&P is indeed just under 7%, its over 10% gross as mentioned. That said, we aren’t comparing long term assets either. The value of the solar roof at end of life is zero, and has a depreciation/upkeep value probably close to the same level of inflation. Also when doing comparative math, the expected efficiency will decrease over time, and you have to add in costs on maintenance/hardware replacement. Whereas $30,000 saving on a asphalt roof over the solar roof would result in an expected ~523,000 in 30 years time. Obviously those 2046 dollars are worth much less than today, but in the same way, the writing off of the original cost sunk into solar roof, the loss of expected efficiency of the system, and additional costs of upkeep/hardware replacement on the solar roof over time (and vs increase in energy costs of course) would need to be counted and also cost adjusted up for inflation over time. So, just off the cuff, using the historical gross returns is not the purest comparative analytics of the situation available to be sure,… Read more »

The cost of electricity is expected to rise over the lifespan of the roof, too. Quite possibly faster than inflation once we start pricing in the social cost of carbon.

Definitely agree, I did touch on it a but – but didn’t want to get “too” too bogged down in it.

“…Obviously those 2046 dollars are worth much less than today, but in the same way, the writing off of the original cost sunk into solar roof, the loss of expected efficiency of the system, and additional costs of upkeep/hardware replacement on the solar roof over time (and vs increase in energy costs of course) would need to be counted and also cost adjusted up for inflation over time.”

There is a lot of persnickety (and truly unknown) minutiae in there to consider when trying to suss out the actual costs/return of the system over time…at least in relation to it being an investment/compared to a standard roof replacement, which is kinda what I was trying to get at.

Really, the whole thing is a (fairly engaging) thought bubble process to work out.

What is wrong with CR these days? It used to be very pro Tesla and now it’s all about fud it appears. Musk goes on record that the roof will be no more expensive than a regular roof *before energy production* and CR comes up with an article that weasels in the suggestion that the very high prices that would mean a zero long term return will be more or less what the roofs will end up costing.

Does sound like it is helping shorters these days, maybe like it was helping Tesla investors in the past.

Maybe they want people to know the truth??

If they did, they would report that according to Elon Musk the solar roofs will be about the price of the regular roof equivalents and therefore suggest the prices they calculated for these regular roofs as the solar roof prices.

Instead they calculate the value of a solar roof based on the price of a regular roof equivalent plus the value of all the energy it will ever generate and go on to suggest the price is likely going to be close to that very high number.

It’s borderline fake news really.

maybe consumer reports is just a bit less inclined than you to uncritically listen to remarks made by elon musk.


Nope this is actually a misunderstanding from my part. I didn’t notice the date on the CR article and assumed that insideEVs would be reporting on current news instead of old news that has since been overtaken by new facts (I know…). Fact is Tesla did initially make cost suggestions based on regular roof cost plus energy benefits -which was what CR correctly reported on- but since Elon Musk has suggested cost could be equal to regular roof cost before any benefits of power generation.

My apologies to CR and readers should disregard this article as old, now irrelevant news:

The condescension was fairly uncalled for Chris. Now allow me to retort: If you would have read the first paragraph you would have noted this statement reflecting recent comments by Musk last week: “Tesla CEO Elon Musk notes that the total costs of installation of the solar roof, further decreased by lessened electricity bills, makes his roof as cheap as a regular roof, and even more recently stated that the starting costs of the roof may in fact be less in some applications (perhaps referring against slate roof installs).” And despite the optimistic inference in Electrek’s article you quoted, Musk wasn’t speaking of Tesla’s solar roof cost to a basic/inexpensive asphalt roof – obvious maths/realities applies, but against more sophisticated/complex products to install. Asphalt shingle roofs are inexpensive, and cheap contractors are all over…slate – not so much. That is of course, unless you believe that most installed solar roofs with Powerwalls will cost ~$10,000 …in which case if Tesla was also turning a profit on that roof, the company’s market cap is about ~$10 trillion dollars undervalued at close on Friday. So, in our opinion (and with those obvious realities in mind) the article and math estimates still stand… Read more »

Zing! Pow!

Good rebuttal, Jay.

Except that Jay is wrong and I am right (pedantic much….;)).

Problem with this story is that it’s based on an older CR analysis that has since been overtaken by Elon Musk’s assertion that there likely won’t be any upfront premium compared to regular roofs. So this story has the wrong angle on the subject, it should have delved into Elon Musk’s newest statement and Jay is no doubt right that it won’t hold up in the case of low cost, low weight roof solutions like asphalt shingles but it’s too early to dismiss it completely. Soon we’ll know the prices and what is what.

/bans Chris O, (=

As a sidenote: I don’t think anyone believes the context Musk was speaking of was based in reality when talking about a standard roof replacement, it just isn’t a reasonable assumption. I mean cost to produce an asphalt tile vs cost to produce a solar glass tile, Powerwall, accessories and then install it all. This is straight forward math.

That said, it (Musk’s quote) may indeed deserve an article and another thought bubble, but inside Mark’s article here it only serves as a fanciful distraction (other than to note Musk’s statement exists – as Mark did prominently) in my opinion …which is important in regard to IEV because I control the flow of stories, lol

We are really early at this point when it comes to costing, efficiency, actual savings on Tesla’s solar roof; this is really just a amusing distraction to get our thoughts out, and discuss early opinions on the tech. Nothing is in stone here, or too get too series about, (=

You may be right that Elon Musk was only referring more upmarket roof variants as equal in price to Solar Roof but Elon Musk was quoted as saying:

“It’s looking quite promising that a solar roof actually cost less than normal roof before you even take the value of electricity into account. So the basic proposition would be ‘Would you like a roof that looks better than a normal roof, last twice as long, cost less and by the way generates electricity’ why would you get anything else.”

No mention of “some applications”but even if that were taken into account the old CR report that suggesting prices between $70K and $100K for solar roof to be competitive isn’t all that relevant anymore as according to this new info prices for the example roof would not exceed $45K tops.

That’s not something that is taken into account in this article.

Click Bate is Everywhere!
Maybe it raises their subscription rate.

Tesla is known for fuzzy math. His “cheaper” roof is probably amortized over 40-60 yrs vs 20 yrs for standard roof, up front cash price likely being at least twice as much.

Don’t forget that asphalt shingle roofs last far less than the 30-50 year claims. Reality is that dry climates, the sun bakes and cracks the asphalt, and stormy and cold climates destroy the roof sooner with ice or hail. I’ve read that a 30-year asphalt roof is good for about ten.

I went with a steel roof. It isn’t perfect, but it sure will last longer than asphalt. That, and I love it when I can hear the squirrels scramble and fall all the way down on the slick surface. Serves them right for eating my tomatoes!

i can comment from personal experience. i replaced my roof with “designer” grade asphalt shingles about 10 years ago (in other words, i didn’t go for “luxury” shingles). judging from the condition of the roof at present, i would expect that it should be good for at least another 10 years and probably more. so my personal experience suggests that if a manufacturer states that a roof is good for 30 years, it is probably actually good for 30 years. even low-end 3-tab shingles can hold up for 20 years because that was what was previously on my roof.

I live in the south and most 20 year roofs only last about 10 years.

Does anyone on here have the installed cost of Sunpower x21 signature black panels BTW, I am planning a 7kw system (21 panels) ?

I would guess $27-28k based on my 6kw non signature black panel system.

Thanks for that DJ,

You guys must have higher install costs which would account for the difference although you might get tax breaks to help.

Ya. That was before the 30%. It was actually notably less than others.

I didn’t necessarily want SunPower but had very limited roof space to put them on. 6kW was the max our south facing roof could hold. When comparing to other options they were cheaper on paper but when they realized 1/3 wouldn’t fit and have to be put on a northern facing roof all of a sudden they had to add a few more panels to compensate which made the cost basically the same.

Good luck with your system 🙂

I believe Elon was talking about a high end slate roof compared to his solar roof. If you were going asphalt they could not compete on price. Use normal solar panels. Also, Elon didn’t say solar roof + powerwall. He said solar roof compared with a high end roof. Consumer Reports continues to go down hill. Many people don’t even look at their reports because internal bias of employees. They need to drain the pond and fire and re-hire everyone.

So when Elon said that his solar roof would be cheaper than a regular roof with conventional panels on it he was lying? Who woulda thunk…

I am sure it is cheaper than say a roof with gold plates tiles…

from what i heard elon musk say, there was enough disclaimer language that it would be very difficult to pin a lie on that statement.

You mean what he said at the reveal??? I actually watched it And immediately thought no way in hell based off what he said.

Unless he somehow fit in all the fine print during the reveal it is pretty clear he was lying. Perhaps that is partially why they have not released prices yet?

I believe Trump Tower has gold plated roof tiles on The Donald’s penthouse apartment. They nicely match the apartment’s gold plated toilets. 😉

Why do people think that clean renewable energy should be cheaper than dirty poisonous fossil fuels? And complain about the price, but when it comes to paying 100% more for bottled water over tap water no one complains and buys ridiculously expensive bottled water. WTF?

You have given me a great idea to make a fortune,

Bottled stupidity !

You joke, but it got Trump elected.

Yes lol

True, but to be fair Elon said it would cost the same or less, and there’s the rub.

Since when is Elon an Oracle? Give him a break…stop being a ball buster.

Why should he/we? Maybe when Elon stops spouting stuff that isn’t true he won’t need to be called out so often…

I give the guy credit don’t get me wrong but enough with the over promising.

Because, in order to change the behavior of most consumers, the ones that care about price over anything else, it has to be cheaper and better than current roof systems. Many will pay a premium for this, but most will not.

For me it is actually. That isn’t the issue though now is it so let’s try and stay on topic. A normal roof plus a normal PV system is going to be cheaper than Teslas solar roof. That is where many people are taking issue. If people want to buy it I am all for it but there is no need to lie to the public.

Rare earth minerals are poison as they have LD50 that are quite low. Its all about compromises. I know when you are young the entire world is black and white. However if you look at the progress we made in my life time you will simply ignore the clickbait.

Trust me, you all forget the days of the bitching about removing lead from gasoline haha

I remember my 1979 Ford LTD.. mmmm smells so good

What do you mean? The LD50 of cerium oxide (to pick a common rare earth) is over 5g per kg. I think they just gave up when the rats wouldn’t die.

It is waste of time to try to infer costs on something that even SCity does not know. But inputs costs should be less than current roofs, but installation/labor/electrical, permits, inspections, and battery would be more.

Musk needs to sell this to home-builders and forget about renovations, at least until it is well known. That could be 100k new homes a year in perpetuity.

Home builders will jack up the price on solar roof systems because it is new.

Exactly, thats why i installed my 9.5KW system myself for my 2012 Chevrolet Volt and my DIY PHEV convert for my 06 prius.

Did the entire thing for 1.5K using made-in-texas panels and a bunch of “used” deep cycles from the recycling center (where I work).

People, stop relying on corporations, you can easily do it yourself!~

I’m going to be 79 years old this year. If I can do it, anyone can.

+1 Great job!

I’m currently investigating putting panels on my home as well. The pricing on panels in bulk is pretty attractive. A stack of new panels and a Sunny Boy inverter will probably run around $6000 or so.

i think that the consumer reports guesstimate looks pretty reasonable. a slate tile roof would cost about $50,000, and the solar shingle roof involves both roofing and electrical work, so a $75,000-$100,000 figure does not seem out of hand.

Why would anyone install an asphalt roof when it’s ugly, last a lot shorter time and costs more than clay tiles?

And also remember that an upfront cost needs to be very low to be able to be payed for by a saving that far into the future.

$60k extra would result in $4 200 cost in alternative investment cost assuming 7% return.
Who even has an electricity bill at $4 200 for their house?

$2000 a year seems a lot in savings too.

So if taking 7% interest rate and $1500 in savings we are looking at a maximum addition of $18k extra to be able to break even in 30 years. Not including replacing the power pack.
So anything above $30k in total cost will be a hard sell if you’re looking at a clay roof.

The $69 500 number makes me question that they had anyone on staff that graduated primary school.

obviously “ugly” is an “eye of the beholder” kind of thing but i’ve got to suspect that you live in a place where people don’t use asphalt shingles. in the united states, they are widely used and i think that few people would describe them as being categorically “ugly”.

Of course it’s in the eye of the beholder. But I’ve seen Brazilian favela sheds that look better than that. 😛

Ya. Go up on your roof to clean or do some repairs and then tell me how great clay tile roofs are 🙂

“Why would anyone install an asphalt roof when it’s ugly, last a lot shorter time and costs more than clay tiles?”

I assume you mean asphalt costs more over the long term. The decision is simple with a limited budget. When I built my first house the choice was asphalt=buy a house and clay=no house and stay renting.

We don’t have asphalt roofs on our houses so I did not know the price of it. But according to comments here it seems like the asphalt roof should be cheaper. That $20k is not the right amount.

How much does it really cost? Half of a clay tile roof?

If it’s a lot cheaper then I could understand why some would choose it.

definitely a lot less.

I just replaced my roof this month and it cost $13,500 for 4000 SF of high quality 30 Yr warranty architectural asphalt shingles. This included removing the old shingles, new protective barrier and installing the new shingles.

Thank you. 🙂

I don’t think it’ll be easy to clean the dirt and leaves off the tiles.

Consumer Reports also told me I couldn’t inflate my tires at 44PSI (max sidewall) on my 06 Prius… 10 years later @ 61mpg… incident free…

So CR can suck my …..

secondly, I bought a 1996 Chevy k1500 that CR told me was a terrible buy (still going strong). CR told me the F-150 was the truck of the year in 1999. Worst vehicle I ever owned. So there ya go.

Consumer Reports can suck my…

So many variables involved and you’re only offering antidotal evidence.

Did you get a degree in geology?

From his post, apparently he’s trying for a degree in scatology. /snark

Note, Tesla’s roof might last twice the life of some roofs, so you have to factor in the second re-roofing cost. Especially against the cheapest option of asphalt.

Or you may have golf ball sized hail and have to replace it meanwhile asphalt is all good 😉

Since we are talking about may haves…

It isn’t as though car windows aren’t ever broken by hail…

At the solar roof introduction, they showed a video of dropping an orange size solid steel ball on one of the tiles, and it never cracked. No hail storm is going to damage these tiles!

Clay tile roofs are cheaper than asphalt shingles? Seriously? But is anyone really surprised that Tesla made some rather optimistic assumptions when it claimed that its solar roof would be cheaper, in the long run, than a regular house roof? I’m shocked. SHOCKED, I say! 😉 The reality is that when it comes to a home solar power installation, one size never fits all. Whether or not it makes economic sense depends on several factors, such as which direction the roof faces, roof geometry and square footage, amount of shade from trees and nearby buildings, latitude, and the average daily cloud cover the home gets. It also depends on local cost of electricity, availability of “net metering” and/or night-time differential in electricity rates, and whether or not the home owner plans to regularly charge one or more PEVs (Plug-in EVs). Anyone who is even vaguely aware of how many significant factors there are affecting the affordability of home solar power systems should realize that for any given system, it will make economic sense for some but not for others. And anyone who knows that Tesla primarily appeals to an upscale market should not be surprised if the economics for installing… Read more »

Correction: I see, after reading comments above, that Consumer Reports was assuming the asphalt shingles would have to be replaced, possibly multiple times, over the 30 year period of their cost estimation. So apparently that explains why they rate a tile roof as cheaper than asphalt shingles.

that would not be a good assumption. there are 30 year (and longer) asphalt tiles on the market. 20 years is pretty much what you can expect as a minimum from an asphalt roof.

I continue to be amazed when people simply assume that their own experience must apply to everyone, everywhere.

Consumer Reports‘ article says, in part:

To get there, we pulled together ballpark pricing for the various roofing materials Tesla’s solar shingles mimic, from sources like the Slate Roofing Contractors Association, the Tile Roofing Institute, and the Remodeling 2016 Cost vs. Value Report.
[end quote]

So if we must choose between CR’s informed, researched estimate for the costs (presumably including replacement costs) for a 3000 sq. ft. asphalt shingle roof for 30 years, vs. your guess about how long you think your shingles will last, based on nothing but the manufacturer’s guarantee… I’m gonna go with CR.

several people have commented here on how much it cost to roof their houses with asphalt shingles. nobody has come anywhere near a rate that would substantiate $20,000 for asphalt shingles on a 3,000 s.f. roof. just because someone puts up a post on this forum about how much they paid to roof their house doesn’t mean that they actually paid what they said. however, the figures that i have seen posted here are consistent with the amount that i paid to do my roof.

I think you all miss the main point, ie a solar roof save CO2 and pollution. So even if it costs the same or even more that a regular roof it is quite valuable and not just for the owner of the house since we all live on the same planet… Off course if you do not believe in global warming and/or you do not mind polluting, I understand you find no interest in a solar root (or a electric car).

Exactly. This is a good example right now for both best explaining why one should purchase a solar system, or an electric car. There are other/better reasons to justify the purchase. Personally, I almost never speak about the economics of driving an electric car or solar, the “payback over time” and/or the “incentive maths” feels too much like a rich man’s game…or at the very least, a weak after-purchase justification, regardless as to whether it is or not. At some point in the future costs may be a strong talking point, but not right now (imo). More sensible (and easier) talking points are: better for the environment, less pollution, energy independence, climate change sustainability reasoning, etc. Using myself as an example when talking plug-ins, I never used comparative costs as a talking point, its mostly: “EVs are great to drive, they are silent/smoother than petrol, they are not only crazy fast…but also easy to drive that way – without putting on a grandiose show of noise/exhaust and just generally looking like a punk to do it. And once I buy one, I generally don’t see my dealer again until I trade it back in for a new one – zip… Read more »

that covers it pretty well, IMO

the mistake that you are making is that you apparently believe that the only way to implement solar is to buy tesla solar shingles. it isn’t. in fact, is suspect that when compared to other alternatives (such as conventional solar panels), i doubt that the tesla solar shingles are even particularly efficient.

if efficiency is most important to you, the telsa solar shingles is probably not the way to go. the solar shingles involve trade offs between efficiency and aesthetics. there is nothing wrong with that, of course, when it’s your house, you ultimately have to live there so there is nothing wrong with caring about how stuff looks.

Um, I think one should also not forget (seems to happen around here a lot I have noticed) that these new solar tiles will be introduced at a certain price.

Over time that price could go down and/or solar capabilities could go up. Essentially that is exactly what has happened with the Powerwall 2 compared to the Powerwall 1.

Nothing here is static except some people’s minds whereas progress is constant.

What is important is that there is no reason that a solar roof that replaces a conventional roof plus the grid energy cannot be cheaper in time compared to a conventional roof plus grid electricity over the lifetime of the Tesla roof.

Especially when ALL the variables (longevity, shipping, breakage, and of course electricity generated over the lifetime of the roof are taken into consideration.

It will undoubtedly start off on mainly early adopters/expensive homes and over time start to go downmarket.

Found this from

“Tile Roofing Prices. On average, tile roofs cost $700 to $800 per square to install, though they can cost anywhere between $400 and $1,000 per square. Tiles come in clay or concrete but can be shaped in many different ways even to the point of looking like wood shake.”

(a square is a 10-foot by 10-foot area. The pitched roof of a 2,400-square foot home has about 35 squares).

So even at the highest average price or $1,000 per square, the 2400 square foot home roof would cost $35k.

$2,000 a year in energy savings over 30 years at $60k covers the roof and two Powerwalls in less than 30 years.

Now if this is an initial build and instead of a conventional roof, we may just be talking about the two Powerwalls at $12k, that get paid for in 6 years with energy savings.

Then there is this from Solarcity…

“The federal government allows you to deduct 30% of your solar power system costs off your federal taxes through an investment tax credit (ITC). If you do not expect to owe taxes this year, you can roll over your federal solar tax credit to the following year.”

So I see where Tesla is coming from, especially as an initial install on a new house.

The Tesla Solar Roof + Powerwall will become a big selling point for home builders very quickly.

Since Tesla owns both the solar roofs, Powerwall and the manufacturing of both, Tesla could offer the package with the roof at break even cost, while profits come from the Powerwalls initially. To help with adoption. Either way, Tesla is in a great position to really make it work.

You forgot to add the car in the package.

The numbers just don’t add up for me… Saving $2000/year works out to around 1515 kwh per month for me (11 cents / kwh including taxes and fees – not including the meter reading charge which I’d pay anyway).and 18000 kwh per year, which is exactly double what I get out of my 9.12 kw system. Even if I drive heavily and leave all the lights on (cfls), I still make all that I can use (barely) so that would mean in my case I’d save $1000 a year.

Ignored here is the ‘Present Value of Money’.

I fully expected SVEN would produce a White Paper on the subject.

Another thing is I have not seen is how efficient these ‘Decorator Roofs’ are. I’m assuming they are not quite as good as the plain solar panels otherwise used.

In any event, to save $2000 / year I would need to use ALL my roof area for a 18 kw system, and I suspect THAT would cost a fortune for a 18 kw Tesla decorator roof.

Perhaps he means San Diego or Brownsville, Texas or Tucson, Arizona – I only get as much Sun as Germany or Alaska.

$2000/month is high for some but it is not ridiculously high. 1100 kWh/month is the average, at least in my area. you can’t expect precision out of the consumer reports numbers, they are guesstimates, at best. as guesstimates go, the numbers don’t generally look outrageous except for the pricing of asphalt shingles.

The “solar roofs” concept looks dangerously close to the “solar roadways” scam.

Well, that’s one of the silliest things I’ve ever seen posted to InsideEVs comments.

Most people don’t try to drive on the roof of their house. But if you do, then putting glass roof tiles there probably isn’t the best idea. 🙄

So says a serial anti-Tesla troll.

As always, the market will decide and in that respect Tesla has a very good record with their products.

I’ve read the comments here and I struggle to understand why people think cost will be an issue. CR have made up some numbers that are essentially just some numbers. If I said I can make a plastic roof for the same price or less as a regular roof people would have no issues. That is essentially what this will be, a plastic roof with a thin scratch resistant coating. I don’t know what % of the tiles will be “solar” but it could be less than 25% if you only get 50% of your south facing roof as a “solar” roof. Plastic tiles could take much less time to install and, as mentioned, above the solar section could be pre fabricated and installed in one lump. What will be amazing is tesla and Elon will somehow how make a plastic roof sexy and desirable. They’ll also market it in such a way that people will pay extra for their new sexy, plastic roof. I hope they do it and that solar roof s become all the rage and we have people paying extra for a must have solar roof just like they pay extra for the must have granite… Read more »

i think glass costs a bit more than you apparently think it does. from quotes that i’ve seen, doing a roof with glass (let alone quartz solar cells) would be a fairly expensive undertaking.

it would make absolutely no sense for tesla to jack up prices – they are currently a small volume manufacturer that needs to scale volume. the kinds of pricing games that you are suggesting are typically done by companies that create a “premium” grade product to complement higher volume “standard” grade products.

If you want a Quartz roof you are bonkers, quartz is not a great material for construction even before you think about the cost. I never suggested that quartz would be a good material for roofing. I really don’t think that the Tesla roof will be “glass” in the sense you are thinking of. I could imaging the roofing tiles being similar to this type of flooring in construction: Clearly the design and construction of a floor tile is different to a roof tile but with minor modification to the construction methods and materials choice I could imagine a similar tiling system being developed for a roof. In terms of cost, this would lead to the “tiles” for a 3000 SF non-solar roof costing about $3500 USD (retail including VAT – 20% tax) if they were comparable in terms of cost to the flooring version. That is a lot cheaper than real slate tiling and would be significantly quicker to install as it is lighter and can be easily cut with high speed power tools. In terms of how much a “solar” version of the tile would cost I am not sure but regular solar panels cost around $200-400… Read more »

I have not done the research that most of the people in this discussion have done but all of the photographs of the new solar roofs from Solar City that I have seen must be desert homes because they have no gutters. For those of us in the snow belt such as Solar City’s factory in Buffalo, NY. the thought of ice dams building up on the edge of the roof is daunting. Can these tiles function while totally submerged for days?

In the 1980’s when solar panels were first being used on residential roofs some companies came up with heaters for the panels to melt snow and ice to prevent ice dams. They also included insulation underneath to increase the roof’s R value. The solar panels at that time were totally enclosed in a glass and aluminum box.

Would home insurance premiums go up if you have a Tesla roof? If a larger tree branch falls on your house, that could be an expensive roof repair.

if a large branch falls on your house that hits with that much impact, the shingles may be the least of your concerns.

It wouldn’t take much to damage the roof, yet not much else. And this roof will be much more expensive to repair.

one of the reasons why the use of tempered glass is important in this application is because tempered glass has 3 times the tensile strength as float glass. if a branch falls on the shingles, the roof deck will limit deflection of the glass, so it will likely take a really hard impact to shatter the glass. if that happens, you can’t ignore the possibility of structural damage to the house.

More important question…If you desire to have solar on your roof, why would you allow a huge tree branch to block some sunlight to the panel? Every tree is different yet often if its a threat to falling over onto your roof/home, it probably blocking some sunlight…Solar installers often recommend an arborer and some companies even sub-contract them as part of the install…

Musk said he anticipates a lot of the saving due to the reduced weight, “as little as one fifth”…Should also note that Solar City currently only services 20 states plus DC (West Coast, Southwest and north east mainly) which is generally in the states with favorable net metering rates and/or state/local incentives…

Just like with EVs, people shy away from up-front costs that are higher than any alternative, regardless of what the long-term costs or TCO actually is.

“$10,000 buys a lot of gas/electricity” as I’ve heard said over and over again.

However, for people who intend to go solar anyway, this is awesome. These roofs look so much better than the old solar panels. Especially the clay tile.

Will somebody let me know when Elon Musk announces any cost or schedule claim that is Accurate? He hasn’t ever done that before, so I am dubious about these Tesla Roofing Company claims as well. As for Consumer Reports, they are forced to take a shot in the dark with their attempt at a cost comparison because Musk keeps the numbers from his taxpayer supported/subsidized ventures secret.

on the off chance that the spaces aren’t glass, they wouldn’t resemble whatever remains of the rooftop. it’s insufficient to coordinate the shading, if the file of light refraction is unique, individuals will see the distinction. in the event that the spaces are glide glass rather than treated glass, they won’t keep going as long and will be bound to split. safety glass isn’t utilized only for its hell, it is utilized in light of the fact that it has physical properties that are more qualified for this application.

i got the same And to be fair, this is clearly just an educated guess by Consumer Reports, at the end of the day, it could really be any number given Elon Musk’s longevity quote for his company’s solar roof.