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Tesla Solar Roof: Is The Sleekest Solar Option Your Best One?


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0x0-solarroof-09Tesla's Solar Roof generates solar electricity while looking mostly like a regular roof.

Homeowners are adding solar panels to their rooftops at an increasing rate. As solar installation prices continue to fall, analysts expect adoption to speed up, especially as long as the federal solar tax credit sticks around.

Tesla made its biggest inroads into this market when it purchased SolarCity back in 2016 and boosted its solar installation capacity. It's now one of the largest solar installers in the United States. But beyond , which are some of the cheapest in the industry, PTS Terabaik ASEAN Tesla offers Solar Roof, which replaces a traditional roof with shingles that generate electricity.

The company's hope is that customers will pay a bit of a premium to generate solar power without looking like it. If you're bothered by the look of solar panels and are replacing your roof already, Solar Roof might be an option to consider. If the look of solar panels doesn't bother you and you're looking for the most energy for your money, Tesla's Solar Roof might be more money than it's worth.

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Tesla no longer runs a press office, so the information below is limited to what's publicly available online. Tesla did not respond to requests for comment sent to its still-listed press email.

What do I get from the Tesla Solar Roof?

Tesla is pitching Solar Roof as a breakthrough of technology and design. And while it's not the first time someone has incorporated solar power into a building's design — the practice is called building- integrated photovoltaics, or BIPV — Solar Roof is certainly the highest-profile instance.

When you order a Tesla Solar Roof, you aren't getting solar panels to cover your roof, you're getting a new roof made up of regular and photovoltaic shingles. The result is a covering that powers your house and keeps you dry all while looking like a normal roof to the average passerby.

This means scrapping your current roof. While Tesla has recently said it will install Solar Roofs on top of newer, single-layer roofs of some designs, roofs made of metal, clay, wood or architectural shingles will have to be replaced. Flat roofs aren't eligible for Solar Roof, though regular solar panels could work.

Unlike Tesla's solar panel offering, Solar Roof comes in more than four sizes. Tesla's solar shingle has a maximum output of 71.67 watts, according to Electrek, which received the shingle's specs. This means the Solar Roof can be more specifically tailored to your energy needs.

Tesla Solar Roof comes with a 25-year warranty against defects in the shingles and a 25-year warranty against your Solar Roof leaking. It's also protected by a production warranty: Your Solar Roof will produce at 95% of its rated power after five years and 85% after 25 years. This compares favorably with many manufacturer warranties on solar panels.

0x0-solarroof-070x0-solarroof-07Tesla Solar Roof offers an unobtrusive solar-generating solution.

Tesla offers its own Powerwall battery, which is installed widely by other installers as well. Powerwall can hold 13.5 kilowatt-hours of energy and can power most appliances, though more batteries might be needed for 240-volt appliances like air conditioners. How long 13.5 kilowatt-hours lasts depends on how much energy you use. (The Solar Roof will provide power during the day and possibly recharge your Powerwall.) 

You can install Powerwall batteries indoors or outdoors. They're 6 inches deep, 2.5 feet wide and almost 4 feet tall.

Tesla's solar inverter, which converts the direct current electricity your panels generate into alternating current that your house can use, operates at 97.5% efficiency, according to the company. That puts it near the top end of what's typical. Tesla also makes Powerwall Plus, which combines the inverter and battery into one unit and can push out more power.

Powerwall and Powerwall Plus have the same capacity, but a Powerwall can discharge energy at a continuous rate of 5.8 kilowatts or a peak of 10 kilowatts, while a Powerwall Plus can discharge 9.6 kilowatts continuously or a peak of 22 kilowatts when off grid. If the sun isn't shining, the numbers are lower (seven kilowatts continuous and a peak of 10), but still higher than Powerwall.

From Tesla's slick-looking app, you can monitor your energy production and usage. If you have a Powerwall, you can also customize how it operates. You can schedule when you draw energy from your Powerwall, set how much back up energy it stores and fill it up before a storm. It's also where you'll request and schedule service, should you need it. I did not test the app. It has a 4-star rating on Google Play and a 3.8 on Apple's App Store. 

Is a Tesla Solar Roof a good deal?

Compared to other solar panel installations, a Solar Roof will be a bit pricier. The price may be more or less justifiable depending on the condition of your current roof. If you're due for a new roof, you'll be writing a large check for that anyway.

If your goal is to generate solar for the least amount of money possible, a Solar Roof isn't for you. Tesla's online estimate for a house in Oregon offered 5.49 kilowatts of solar generation for $20,200 to $23,400. Tesla estimates 9.6 kilowatts of solar panel installation will still be cheaper at $19,294.

That Solar Roof estimate breaks down to a base price of $8,100 to $11,300; $9,900 for the solar part of the roof; and $2,200 for tearing off your old roof. Optional Powerwalls are $10,500 each. Without batteries, the system costs $4.26 per watt. That's higher than the 2020 national median price of $3.80 and some state median prices, according to the National Renewable Energy Lab [PDF]. EnergySage reports average installation costs by state ranged from $2.33 per watt in Arizona to $3.41 in Washington, DC. If you don't need to tear your roof off, Tesla's estimated cost is closer to $3.86 per watt.

Another factor that could alter the price of your system is the complexity of your roof. Steep pitches, multiple levels and a lot of obstructions could drive up the cost.

Tesla recommends regular maintenance by a professional, though the details of that recommendation aren't clear.

In December 2021, it was reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating in its efforts to replace solar panels at risk of catching fire. While it did replace them, it didn't offer to shut off at-risk systems or provide upfront reasoning to shareholders or customers, the complaint said.

Does Tesla operate in my state? How do I order?

The best way to find out if you're in Tesla's service area is to go to the company's site to enter your address for an estimate. Tesla reportedly has expanded its service area for Solar Roof to the entire United States, though some addresses still say unavailable when you request an estimate. In other areas, Tesla will refer you to the website or contact information of a certified, third-party installer that services your area.

To order through Tesla, create an account online. Tesla then uses satellite imagery of your roof to design a system and price estimate, which will be finalized when an Tesla agent visits your home to confirm the roof complexity, size and a few other details.

0x0-solarroof-220x0-solarroof-22Obstructions in your roof can raise the cost of a Solar Roof.

After you and Tesla agree on a design, it will pull permits and put you on the schedule to install. Tesla uses certified third-party installers, though it also has some in-house teams.

Is Tesla's Solar Roof a good deal?

As with every major purchase, it's important to shop around. This is especially true of solar, where a local provider might beat national companies, which often have higher overhead costs. Tesla has made considerable efforts to make its equipment cheaper, though the Solar Roof is a hard comparison to make.

Tesla's Solar Roof is the least visibly obvious among the widely available solar options. In pictures the roofs look sleek and a bit shiny, so while they look mostly like any old roof, there are differences. Other companies have rolled out their own solar shingle products, notably GAF Energy earlier this year. While GAF prices aren't public, in January a spokesperson said the cost would be about half of Tesla's Solar Roof. Their solar shingles look less like a regular roof than Tesla's.

If you really hate the look of solar panels or love the look of the Solar Roof, it might be the right choice for you. No other solar product has the look of Tesla's Solar Roof. You will be paying a bit of a premium for that look, though how much depends on the condition and shape of your roof.

Tesla also runs a referral program. If someone orders a Solar Roof through your referral link, you can get $500 when their system is operational.

Tesla's Powerwall batteries are some of the best and most widely used, but you can get them installed by other companies. 

It's important to note that while I researched Tesla's Solar Roof to the best of my ability, I did not test it in any hands-on or empirical way. Solar products are difficult to review in the traditional sense. Whenever possible, get multiple quotes from multiple installers, including those local to your area.


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