Tesla has now begun taking deposits for its new solar energy roof tiles, with installations to begin as early as June. While aesthetically pleasing, the question of how affordable a solar roof would be to the average homeowner, still stands. Elon Musk and his team had once claimed that the solar roof would be the same as buying a new traditional roof; he was speaking specifically about ceramic or concrete tiles. These roofing styles are the most expensive options available and are shown to make up only 13% of the United States housing market. The majority of Americans choose the less expensive asphalt tiling option. This creates an unrealistic expectation of what the solar roofs will ultimately cost. As more information about the product is released, we can see that it is actually far more expensive than a normal roof.

Breaking Down the Cost

For a standard home located in New Jersey, a solar roof of 1,864 square feet could generate $70,000 worth of energy over a 30-year time span. The cost of the roof would be $61,000, making that about $32.73 per square foot of tile while offsetting an energy bill of $163 per month. These tiles are a mixture of standard roof tiles and solar tiles. With this, the roof will earn about $20,500 in solar credits over 30 years, not including the tax credit gained of $14,000. At the end of the 30-year contract, the roof would end up costing a homeowner $29,000 out of pocket. These values are of course, dependent upon location, size, and available sunlight generated from a roof. When offsetting an electric bill of $163 a month, the system would be producing around 6kW of energy. In 2017, for the state of New Jersey, the average cost of a standard solar panel installation for a 6kW system is between $12,700-$13,400. These numbers include the federal tax credit which decreases the cost of the solar system by about 30%, but does not include the solar credit earned over the life span of a system. [1]

What do all of these numbers mean when broken down? The cost of a Tesla solar roof is significantly more expensive than a standard solar system installation. It can be argued that it is primarily made affordable for upper-class homeowners. In relation to appearance, Tesla has created an intriguing way to integrate solar energy into a home without altering the appearance in the process. The tile comes in four different variations; textured glass, smooth glass, French slate, and Tuscan styled. Tesla is not the first solar company to introduce Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV). Companies such as SunTegra, Lumeta Solar, and Luma Resources have also released their own version of solar roofing. These sleeker, more visually pleasing solar roof tiles are slowly integrating into the solar market. They still have quite a way to go until they are not just pleasant to look at, but affordable to any homeowner.

[1] https://www.tesla.com/solarroof

Emily R. Antrilli
Copywriter | Code Green Solar
a. 523 Hollywood Ave, Cherry Hill NJ 08002
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