Like Model S, Tesla Solar Roof Is Expensive, But Stylish

Tesla Model X and Solar Roof


Tesla Solar Roof

Tesla Solar Roof – Available To Order Now, Installed In The US This Summer (Textured Glass shown/available now)

The Tesla solar roof is actually less expensive than we had originally expected, and in the long run, there’s no question that a solar roof is a worthy investment, but are you still paying a premium for the Tesla name?

A Tesla solar roof will cost you about $21.85 per square foot. This is really pretty remarkable since it’s not not terribly more expensive than a premium traditional roof, and it will save you substantially on your energy use over time.

Keep in mind of course, that this number is an average, and there are many factors that will affect the actual cost. Depending on the climate in your location, the orientation of your roof,  and shading, the number of “active” versus “passive” tiles will vary. Obviously, these factors will also assure that your energy savings vary as well. Still, Tesla beats Consumer Reports’ initial cost estimation by seven percent.

Tesla Solar

Tesla Powerwall 2.0

Tesla provides on online calculator to help you get a better grasp on your individualized costs and savings. It requires your address, square footage, and number of stories. It factors in the size of your roof and energy costs in your area, to come up with a figure. The calculator leaves out shading, as well as roof orientation.

EnergySage also provides the same type of calculator, but it is more thorough. It uses LIDAR data and 3D modeling tools to determine shading. It also has stored data from over 40 million U.S. properties. provided the same information to both calculators to get a comparison, and the results are compelling.

EnergySage will hook you up with a local company that can handle your solar roof needs, whereas Tesla’s calculator deals with only Tesla roofs. The EnergySage calculator gives you a detailed report including information like of the amount of time it will take you to reap a full return on your investment, and estimated savings if you lease a system. Tesla’s calculator just provides bottom line pricing and return on investment.

The following information was based on an estimate for a 2,000 square-foot roof, with the front and back facing east and west (via

Tesla shows a net ROI of $3900 over 30 years, but remember that the Tesla roof is intended for new constructions or houses that are being re-shingled, and the Tesla estimate includes the cost of a Powerwall battery, which is not included in the EnergySage report.

EnergySage estimates $22,000 over 20 years, so if we extrapolate that out to 30 years we get $33,000. To compare apples to apples, let’s factor in $7,000 for the cost of a battery, and $12,000 for the cost of a standard shingle job. That leaves a net return on investment of $14,000 over 30 years – more than three times the ROI of the Tesla roof.

The takeaway from this is that – much like Tesla’s vehicles – you will likely pay more for a Tesla solar roof than you would for the competition. Tesla products tend to be more extravagant and stylish (bells and whistles … “whiz bang” as Elon Musk puts it). You will be hard-pressed to find a solar roof with the look and style of the Tesla product.

Added to this, by choosing Tesla, you are investing in the future. It’s a lifestyle brand, and those that support it are generally willing to go above and beyond. The company banks on this premise. Yes, you can get a solar roof system for less money, but it’s not a Tesla solar roof. Who knows if it’s made in America, who are we paying to install it, what other ventures are these companies involved in, is the company reputable and here for the long haul, where do the batteries come from, are they included or separate, is it visually appealing, and so on. The most important part is that you do your homework.


Category: Tesla

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25 responses to "Like Model S, Tesla Solar Roof Is Expensive, But Stylish"
  1. Eco says:

    Tesla has become a ‘trusted’ brand and I’m willing to pay a (small) premium for a fully integrated product from a reputable manufacturer.

  2. unlucky says:

    The online calculator used doesn’t know anything about energy storage and I’d love to know how it would take one into account. Putting in storage in my area is rather complex, due to time of use rates and net metering. In addition the peak periods will be shifting around over the next couple years.

    Between these things it’s very hard to calculate how much storage would save you. Or actually very likely how much it would cost you versus just use net metering. And I rather suspect Tesla doesn’t have a good way of calculating it either.

    1. Tom says:

      Agreed. Most of the country does not have any kind of peak pricing on power for a standard residential unit. I think that the powerwall economics are strongest in a market where power is priced on a variable basis throughout the day and (perhaps ironically) where there is no net metering. In a non-net metering environment (most markets), sending your power back to the grid is pretty foolish. Better to store it and use it yourself thus realizing retail rates as your benefit.

      The other point I’d like to make that commenters here keep leaving out is that Elon Musk uses his cost comparisons to premium roofing not ‘standard’ as stated in this article. i.e. he isn’t saying at all that it is cheapter than shingles plus solar panels. He’s saying compare this to slate or clay tile roofing which is significantly more expensive than standard shingling. So just like people buy granite countertops on a new home even though there’s no practical difference, this is granite countertops. There will always be a market for better things and people are willing to pay for those better things. By being supremely durable, this roof will add to resale value of the home just like those counter tops.

  3. Four Electrics says:

    I doubt a residential solar roof will have any ROI in sunny climates, as the cost of grid electricity tanks over the years due to renewables. Look at Tuscon’s 0.045/kWh grid solar project for a glimpse of the future.

    Do it to support the environment, and to have emergency backup power in case of a major disaster. Don’t do it for ROI. The roof will be obsolete in a few years.

    1. DJ says:

      If you think the power company is going to graciously lower your rates think again.

      My rates for example are cost of power 4 cents per kWh. Now if I’m on a tiered rate it’s 20 cents per kWh for the 1st tier and like 48 cents for Tier 2. TOU rates are 20 cents per kWh for off peak and 48 cents on peak.

      Where exactly are these huge savings going to come from if power is all of a sudden cheaper to produce?

      My PV system on the other hand cost $24k before rebates, $17k after rebates and generates 10,000 kWh a year which has fully offset (and even left me with a credit) my yearly electricity bill of $3k. So my roof top solar will pay for itself in 5.5 years.

      Now, the economics may not be as favorable for everyone but if you think for one minute that the power company is gonna reduce your rates because the cost to produce electricity goes down by a tiny bit then you’ve got another thing coming. The cost of electricity generation isn’t the expensive part of the bill as my scenario clearly illustrates. It’s all the other crap so until they can figure out how to make the other stuff cheaper it’s not gonna go down much, if any.

    2. Get Real says:

      More ridiculous and ignorant FUD by 4E.

      Solar (of any type) Has the BEST ROI in sunny climates and for consumers who use more electricity (like us PEV drivers)!!!

      1. Tom says:

        Best might still be negative. Best compared to other climates…but it could still be negative. I’m not agreeing with his comment but your comment does not refute his statement.

    3. says:

      “grid electricity tanks over the years due to renewables”

      How you come up with stupid stuff like this is beyond me. What part of the “they won’t pass the cost savings to customers” you don’t understand? They never do! And if you count the inflation cost then you would probably have a ROI on the roof.

    4. says:

      A study on future prices in Cali…they are predicting an anual increase of at least 1.9%….but Four electrics knows better!

      1. says:

        ….and this is for Cali which is the leader in such green cheap energy. As i said many times, you have to be a fool to expect the electric cos to pass on the cost savings to you especially if they are publicly listed.

  4. Ron M says:

    Well the solar roof is sold out until the end if 2018 so there’s a lot of demand. I wonder how many orders were placed for new home construction.

    1. DJ says:

      In all seriousness I doubt many. New home building companies don’t want to spend the $ on their track homes. Individual home owners may want it but most large’ish home builders don’t even bother putting cheaper solar on to the house because they’re afraid the increased cost will put people off. Installing an even more expensive solar roof will put them off even more!

      1. Nix says:

        I’m not sure how many of the orders are from new home builders, but from your comment I’m going to assume you haven’t looked at buying a new home in any of the housing boom states. States where there is a market for more than just corner-cutting cookie-cutter track homes. States where features like high-end steel or tile or slate roofs help distinguish high dollar construction. Those are the prime markets for the Solar Roof at this point.

        For lower dollar installs, or installs where a lower quality roof is desired, Tesla energy has an entirely different product they sell. Low-profile more traditional 22% efficient solar panels they build in partnership with Panasonic.

  5. Get Real says:

    As a premium product, this Tesla Solar Roof will follow the same adoption pattern of all premium products–wealthy early adopters first followed by a gradual lowering of prices to reach other income levels.

  6. Murrysville EV says:

    “…it’s not not terribly more expensive than a premium traditional roof”

    I don’t know what’s meant by ‘premium traditional roof’, but in 2004 I paid about $5/sq-ft to have my roof re-shingled with 30-year shingles. That would be ~$15k difference in cash outlay for me.

    So I’d say that a 3-4X jump in first cost is quite a bit more expensive.

    Add in the Powerwall and switchgear costs, and I’d never get my money back.

    1. Tom says:

      Again. Premium != shingles. I’ll keep saying this until people drive around their city and look at what nice houses have on their roofs. Clay tile, slate, wood. Stuff that’s waaayyyy more than asphalt shingles. It’s the granite counter tops of roofs.

      Do you even look at what others do? If ‘cheapest’ drove the economy let’s just say BMW wouldn’t exist.

      1. Murrysville EV says:

        Your points are well-taken.

        But with the purchase of a BMW, the owner presumably gets some pleasure out of driving it, providing some non-monetary value.

        With solar panels, it’s really all about the money. Most of us don’t live in areas that reward fancy roof expenses with increased home value.

        In most cases, I see the Tesla roof as a new construction decision for a very committed buyer.

        1. Eric W. says:

          Your still missing Tom’s point Tesla Solar roof is the granite counter top (BMW) to formica counter tops (Honda). Some people style, beauty and the all the “Jones” have it; so it MUST be granite counter top (BMW), others say cost is most important formica counter tops (Honda). People who cross shop BMW, Usually do it with Mercedes, Lexus, etc. NOT Honda. There are 6+ million, millionaires+ in US and probably 2 to 3 times that world wide. Plus in many Europe countries high end Stone roofs is the Norm for All houses, unlike asphalt USA. Looking at the world from the Rich top down perspective, there is a lot of room for premium Tesla Solar Roof in the marketplace, maybe not for you and me. I just did cheap asphalt 2 years ago and cheap solar panels coming this July. Maybe the grand-kids will do the Tesla solar roof. I have a CPO Tesla S85 and Model 3 coming for wife, no problem spreading wealth to various companies.

          1. Tom says:

            The wiki says there are 15 million in the US.
            And it has grown since then. 7% of all adult households in the US has a net worth over $1 million. That’s fairly obviously true even though people don’t want to admit it. Despite all the outrage of ‘the middle class is declining’ the reason that is true is because the upper middle class is increasing. The total of upper middle and middle has increased steadily and dramatically over the last 40 years. People who decry the growth of McMansion suburbs while at the same time claim the middle class is shrinking must suffer from an especially accute case of cognitive dissonance. Meanwhile the percentage of poor continues to decrease and the standard of living for those poor continues to increase to continually record high levels. I’m always willing to provide references but typically people are terrible at arithmetic and instead just form their own baseless conclusions on anecdotal information. They find ‘a know a guy’ type stories and therefore say the rule is invalid. Rules are built on the rule not the exception. Exceptions don’t invalidate the rule.

            1. Tom says:

              Which is a complicated way to say you are right.

      2. unlucky says:

        Actually, a lot of that “clay tile” is metal shaped to look like clay tile.

        Because tile is really expensive. It’s heavy, you have to reinforce the roof structure. This may only be useful for new construction, not just getting a new roof.

        Tesla dug their own hole here. They did their payback calculations over 45 years, not just 30. They know this stuff is expensive as hell.

        And if you think it’s going to add a lot of value to your house, you may find yourself wrong if prices fall on solar roofs. If you put a $75K roof on and then that roof can be acquired for $30K later is the next person going to give you $75K (or say 80% of $75K) for the roof you installed?

        Maybe it’s a little bit too much like granite countertops. People frequently overestimate how much an expensive kitchen really adds to the value of their house.

  7. Get Real says:

    Um, composition roofs are the lowest end roofing material–period.

    1. DJ says:

      And in certain regions when combined with a typical PV system the most economically viable! 😀

      Just based on Tesla’s calculator it’s cheaper to put on a comp roof out here and a PV system and pocket the difference and use the interest alone to replace the roof in 20-30+ years. I understand that may not be the case whatsoever in some climates but in a temperate and dry climate it really seems to be the case.

  8. JoeP says:

    I am not educated in this area, but it seems to me that one could replace all your shingles with normal solar panels and caulk, etc. between them to get a solar roof that looks pretty good, will make lots of energy and will last a very long time.

    Is there a reason this is a bad idea?

    To make it more equivalent to the Tesla panels, maybe solar companies could make dummy panels so if you don’t want so much power, the rest of the roof would still have a similar appearance.

  9. arne-nl says:

    “A Tesla solar roof will cost you about $21.85 per square foot.”

    What counts is the price per watt. How much is it?