Tesla Solar Roof Tiles: Future of Home Energy?

Solar Roof Tiles

Have you heard about Tesla solar roof tiles?

The first Tesla solar roof tiles are set to go into production in the summer of 2017. Tesla, Inc. announced in May that both smooth and textured black glass tiles would be available to order online.

Not only that, but Tesla, Inc. claims its solar roof tiles will be cheaper and last longer than any other kind of roofing tile on the market, before the added savings generated by energy production.

Apparently, it’s looking like Tesla, Inc. is delivering on these claims. The company has reported that the average homeowner can expect to pay $21.85 per square foot for a Tesla Solar Roof.

Based in Palo Alto, California, Tesla, Inc. is an American automaker, energy storage company, and solar panel manufacturer.

Pros of Solar Roof Tiles

Of course, asphalt shingles are still the most economic roofing solution out there. It’s important to note that Tesla’s solar roof tiles will be competitive in price and longevity with other tile options, not with every roofing option out there.

However, the company has tested its tempered glass tiles against giant balls of hail at high velocity. They have performed better, in many cases, than other types of tile.

But not all tiles on a given roof would be solar tiles. Only those tiles in optimal position would be solar. The rest would be the simple tempered glass tiles. Here’s what Tesla, Inc. has to say about the durability of its tiles:

“Made with tempered glass, Solar Roof tiles are more than three times stronger than standard roofing tiles. That’s why we offer the best warranty in the industry – the lifetime of your house, or infinity, whichever comes first.”

Tesla expects the solar component in the tiles to last 30 years. That’s about the longest warranty for solar panels on the market.

In addition, Tesla will manage the “Solar Roof experience—from the removal of your existing roof through design, permitting, installation, operations, and maintenance of the new Solar Roof.” The company states installation should take the same time as a regular roof installation: 5-7 days.

So what’s the catch? Is it possible that Tesla solar tiles will make all other roofing solutions defunct, and soon?

Solar Roof Tiles Cons

According to a low-carbon innovation analyst in a question and answer series published at Forbes, the answer is, not necessarily. While Tesla, Inc.’s solar tiles are attractive and durable, there are some cons when it comes to solar roof tiles.

  • While in many places in the country, the cost of the roof plus the electricity it produces may make it cheaper than a traditional roof and getting electricity off the grid, this isn’t a one size fits all solution. Electricity costs vary from state to state, so it won’t be cheaper in all places.
  • Though the tiles may be comparable in price than other roofing tiles, the price of installing a Tesla roof will still make it necessary to have it subsidized somehow.
  • Only about 25% of households are oriented to make the most of a solar roof. In fact, only detached, ranch-style southern U.S. houses could generate enough electricity to power the home for a year.
  • Office buildings, apartment buildings, condos, and buildings like that have a smaller surface area and usually use their roofs for other things like mechanical operations for elevators and HVAC units. Only big box stores, warehouses, and casinos have the high roof surface area compared to interior volume ratios needed to generate that much power. Tesla’s predictions for 33% of power to come from solar are most likely off for most houses and businesses. It may be more like 10%.
  • Since more and more people live in urban areas and fewer in detached homes, fewer people are going to end up benefiting from this technology.
  • Tesla, Inc. also reports only a 2% degradation of solar capability due to the decorativeness of the tiles. This report is probably based on when the sun is perfectly aligned at 90 degrees to the tiles, which won’t happen the whole day, if at all. There is likely a higher degradation in usefulness than 2%, compared to regular solar panels.

Takeaway

Tesla solar roof tiles are an innovative invention. If you are interested in generating your own solar power and you want the look of an expensive tile with no ugly solar panels obstructing the aesthetics of your home, this may be a great product to look into.

However, make sure you do a cost-benefit analysis. You may find it isn’t saving you as much money or generating as much power as you had thought.

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