Tesla Solar Shingles
Tesla’s announcement to start selling its long-awaited solar roofing system was met with mixed reviews last week when the automaker published a cost comparison blog on its website.
The news of the announcement follows the 2016 merger between Tesla and SolarCity — one of the largest solar energy companies in the United States — and further implements Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s vision of a future defined by carbon-free energy.
In the blog post, Tesla said the new solar roofing system will cost $21.85 per square foot for an average American home — roughly 2,500 square feet.
While the product might be pricier than a traditional roof ($4.00-$7.00 per square feet,) it will ultimately pay for itself in reduced electric bills — a process Tesla says will take about 30 years to realize.
And if that isn’t enough, in reality, the price might nearly be twice that amount.
The Real Costs
The true cost, according to the blog, will be about $42 per square feet for solar tiles and $11 per square feet for non-solar tiles. Although Tesla recommends at least 50 percent of solar coverage to meet your home’s energy needs, the automaker factored in only 35 percent of the roof being covered with solar tiles when determining the average price.
Tesla even published a cost calculator for customers to price out their own roof with coverage of up to 70 percent of solar tiles.
Regardless of the percent of coverage, costs will vary significantly depending on customer choice and the size of the roof. But one thing is for sure, the installation before factoring in the cost of energy will be much higher than a conventional roof.
Fifty years ago, the idea of building eco-friendly modular homes, using energy-efficient products, renewable materials and solar panels was impractical. Today, the momentum is with renewable energy, and because of proven tax benefits, more developers are opting to build energy-efficient homes and facilities.
For example, this assisted living facility in Carriere, Miss. will be developed as a “Green” building, which will significantly reduce its monthly utility costs.
This is all part of the global shift designed to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, eliminate pollution and promote green energy alternatives. So, even though solar roofing isn’t cheaper than other current options, it may be a practical alternative for some energy conscious consumers.
The Bottom Line
But here’s the bottom line: although the installation includes materials and the removal of your old roof, taxes, fees and additional construction costs such as skylight replacements and structural upgrades are not included.
Even if someone decides to purchase Tesla’s Solar Roofing, most Americans live in their homes for less than a decade before selling. This means the majority of homeowners who purchase the new product will have relocated long before the investment pays for itself.
It’ll be interesting to see how much success the automaker has selling to different markets, with a price tag that can range from $30,000 to upwards of a $100,000 per installation.
I guess the market niche for Tesla’s solar roof product is that it turns sunlight into electricity, while maintaining the appearance of a traditional shingled roof. Nowadays, some solar panels cost less than $3 per watt for installation, and can pay-off in more than half the time (7-10 years) than the projection for a Tesla solar shingles roof.
Made with tempered glass, this product, unfortunately, will likely be limited to the more affluent suburb market.
So far, other companies have had little success incorporating solar technology into roofing tiles or shingles. As for the bigger picture, it remains questionable if the automaker’s newest gimmick will appeal to consumers as much as its vehicles do.