It was announced last year that Tesla has finally begun production of its Solar Roof tiles. The burning question for most homeowners is: Are the Tesla Solar Roof tiles worth it?
We've watched the development closely for the last year or two, and here's what we've determined about it: it does not compare favorably to either mainstream or other cutting edge PV technology.
The advantages of the Tesla Solar Roof tiles:
Some Solar Production
The disadvantages of the Tesla Roof tiles:
Very Expensive (More than double the cost of a new roof + a solar array).
Product hasn't entered mass production. As of Q3 2018, only 18 systems had been installed in California (which is the roll-out market). The vast majority of customers that have pre-ordered are still waiting on fulfillment.
On The Numbers
Tesla's website has a cost calculator that explores the project a bit for each specific property. The value of energy is their estimate of the value of 30 years of production.
An example available from central Houston:
The calculator requires selecting 2 Powerwall batteries. Without the batteries, the system (with tax credit) is expected to pay for itself near the end of its warranted 30 year lifespan.
With batteries, the system will not pay for itself within 30 years, even disregarding battery replacements every 10 years.
In contrast, PV panel systems generally pay for themselves between 10-12 years in our area.
The Tesla Solar Roof tiles is a product aimed solely at the high end residential market, where the aesthetic and brand value carries the most value. It cannot compete with even the most expensive PV panel systems for financial viability. It is also not widely installed or available for projects this year.
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