Tesla Solar Roof Tiles Cost, Benefits and Reviews
When the concept of the Tesla solar roof was first announced, it was hailed by some as the future of environmentally conscious construction and home design. Why add solar panels to a roof retroactively when the roof itself could include the solar PV technology to generate electricity? Unfortunately, it seems that the challenge is more complex than even an engineering giant like Tesla can handle.
As a result, Tesla solar roof tiles aren’t yet available to buy. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to rule out generating your own renewable energy as solar panels are an efficient and accessible alternative.
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What are solar roof tiles?
The traditional solar energy system requires solar panels to be installed on your roof where they can soak up the sunlight. The energy from the sun is then converted into usable electricity for your home. It's better for the environment as it reduces our reliance on fossil fuels and better for your energy bills, but not necessarily for the aesthetics of your home.
There's a limited range of panel designs and, as they sit on top of the roof tiles, they tend to protrude out. Finding panels that blend in with your roof can be a challenge.
Rather than installing solar panels on top of your existing roof, solar roof tiles could replace your entire roof so the structure of the roof has solar technology built in. They are designed to 'complement your home's architecture' rather than detract from it.
While the concept of integrating solar technology into the structure of the roof itself has been developing for some time, it appeared (for some time) that it was Tesla Energy which had forged ahead with what they refer to as 'beautiful solar' for your home.
What would Tesla solar roof tiles be like?
According to the Tesla website, there are 4 styles of tile available to pre-order: Textured, Smooth, Tuscan or Slate. They are made from tempered glass which Tesla claims to be three times stronger than the average roof tile. They're so confident about this that they've included a lifetime guarantee with the tiles; this means that your roof will last for as long as your house stands. There's also a 30 year guarantee on both the power technology and against weather damage.
A solar roof from Tesla would consist of a combination of solar tiles and non-solar tiles which both look the same from street level, the ratio of which will vary depending on your home's energy needs. According to the Tesla website, each solar tile includes invisible solar cells that have been developed in partnership with Panasonic.
What would be the benefits of any solar roof tiles?
The key advantage that solar tiles have over solar panels is their attractive finish and seamless integration with your home's architecture.
Many listed properties aren't allowed to have solar panels installed but solar tiles may be a viable alternative.
In theory, the Tesla solar tiles have been designed to work in partnership with Tesla's Powerwall 2.0 Solar Battery which, although optional, would enable you to store the energy produced by the tiles for use during the night or in the event of a power cut, bringing the ambition of energy independence a little closer to reality.
Potential problems with solar roof tiles
Many companies have tried to make solar roof tiles work on a wide scale, but none have managed to crack it as yet. Traditional solar panel design has been evolving and developing over several years to the point where they are now cheaper and easier to produce at scale than ever. Solar roof tile technology is in its infancy by comparison.
Solar roof tiles are also less efficient at producing electricity than solar panels, which means homeowners and businesses would be paying more for a less effective product simply because they look nicer.
In addition, solar roof tiles can only be fitted if the entire roof is replaced. This means that only homeowners who are looking to replace their roof anyway are likely to consider buying them. Alternatively, a person would need to be ready to face the cost and inconvenience of replacing a roof which is perfectly functional. Solar roof tiles are also a far more complex technology to install as the installer must be both a professional roofer and an accredited solar PV installer.
All of these issues have meant that many solar companies have tried and failed to make the solar roof tile work, and while it seemed for a while that Tesla may have the answer, the continued delays leave room for doubt.
How much are Tesla solar roof tiles?
See below table for a cost breakdown of Tesla’s new solar slates:
|Home Square Footage
|Cost of Roof
|Value of Energy Generated Over 30 Years
|$34,300 or £26,380
|$49,100 or £37,760
|$42,100 or £32,380
|$60,300 or £46,370
|$49,800 or £38,300
|$71,300 or £54,830
Tesla themselves acknowledge that the upfront cost of a solar roof is likely to be more expensive than a standard roof replacement, but they argue that the return on your investment over time in terms of energy savings can offset this. And, they add, you get a 'beautiful new roof that also increases the value of your home'.
In May 2017, the Tesla Solar Roof Tile became available to preorder in the UK for a deposit. However, nearly over three years later, Tesla continues to delay an official launch and is evasive about committing to dates. Many in the industry and media remain highly skeptical of whether or not the Tesla solar roof will ever become a reality.
Could a solar roof be right for your home?
If you are planning a roof replacement or a new build then there is a definite argument for considering a solar roof, but the difficulty may be in finding a UK company able to supply and fit solar tiles. Fortunately, there are many alternatives to solar roof tiles which allow you to generate your own renewable electricity.
Solar PV panels
Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are the most popular system in the UK. While they take up more space than a solar roof tile they’re more widely available and there’s an ever-growing number of solar PV panel manufacturers to compare – find out which we named as the Best Solar Panels.
Some solar panels can be installed within the roof itself, rather than on top. This is similar to how solar roof tiles would be installed and may be the best alternative option for anyone considering them. Read more in Integrated Solar Panels: Pros, Cons & Costs.
Bifacial solar panels
Solar panels are typically one-sided (they only absorb sunlight from the front. Bifacial solar panels, however, also capture sunlight at the back to increase output. To maximise generation, bifacial solar panels have a reflective backsheet to bouce the sunlight to the back of the panel where it’s captured before being converted into electricity.
In addition to solar PV panels, there are also solar thermal systems which take heat from the sun to provide a property with free hot water. A solar PV-T system combines the electricity and hot water generation into an all-in-one system so there’s no need to choose between the two.
Using Solar Guide, you can get free solar quotes from installers in your area for the type of solar system you’re interested in. Simply complete our online form and you’ll get free quotes from up to 4 installers for you to compare. And by comparing quotes you can be confident that you’re getting the most competitive installation price possible.
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