Written by Sarah Hancock | Last Updated October 31st, 2019Sarah Hancock is passionate about green living and sustainability. She frequently writes about renewable energy and manages the Solar blog at BestCompany.com.
Earlier this year, Tesla began accepting $1,000 deposits for its new Solar Roof, which is designed to look like a traditional roof and does away with the need for separate solar panels. Here are nine things you need to know before placing your order:
1. Tesla's Solar Roof Is Not the First of Its Kind
Although the hype surrounding Tesla's solar roof tiles may give you the impression that the company is the first to ever develop or market this technology, a number of other companies have already attempted to sell building-integrated photovoltaics. For example, Dow Powerhouse was on the forefront of integrated solar roof products but ended up declaring bankruptcy and discontinuing its solar shingles in 2016. There's also Suntegra, which is a solar manufacturer from New York that began selling solar roof products a few months before the announcement of Tesla's shingles.
2. Tesla Offers a Variety of Panel Styles
Tesla's solar tiles, which are made of sleek tempered glass, are not a one-size-fits-all option. Instead, homeowners can select the tile design that best matches the style of their house from four different options: textured, smooth, tuscan, and slate (tuscan and slate won't be available until 2018).
3. An "Infinity" Warranty Covers the Tiles
Tesla's solar shingles are incredibly durable and have best-in-class ratings for hail, wind, and fire. As a testament to its confidence in the durability of its product, Tesla is offering a tile warranty that lasts for infinity or the lifetime of the house—whichever comes first. The company is also covering its solar roof systems with a 30-year power warranty and a 30-year weatherization warranty.
4. Not All of the Shingles Will be Solar-Powered
A Solar Roof from Tesla will include both solar and non-solar tiles. According to the company, the two look identical from the street. The ratio of solar to non-solar shingles will ultimately depend on preferred energy offset and desired price.
5. A Tesla Powerwall Battery Is Recommended with the System
Tesla advises that its Solar Roof technology be integrated with its Powerwall home battery, which allows homeowners to use solar energy whenever they choose and receive uninterrupted electricity during grid outages. A Powerwall battery, when bundled with a Solar Roof, will run customers $7,000.
6. Not Every Home Will Qualify
The Solar Roof is similar to a traditional solar panel system in that it's not the best option for every home. Sun exposure, electricity price, and roof condition are all important factors to consider. For example, if a house is located in a cloudy area or receives a significant amount of shade, a Solar Roof typically won't be the best investment because it will not produce enough energy to earn a profit.
Additionally, if local electricity prices are low, the energy savings that a Solar Roof will provide may not be enough to justify the cost. Furthermore, if a roof is in good condition and isn't due for a replacement in the near future, installing a Solar Roof is not the most cost-effective option because contractors must be hired to remove the current roof first.
7. The Solar Roof Will Cost More than Traditional Solar Panels (for Now, at Least)
The actual price of a Solar Roof will vary depending on roof size and energy coverage needs. Tesla has reported that solar tiles will be priced at $42 per square foot and non-solar tiles will cost $11 per square foot, making a Solar Roof about 30 percent more expensive than a traditional roof and solar panel system. Homeowners can generate a Solar Roof price estimate specific to their house on Tesla's website.
8. Tesla Plans to Offer Financing Later This Year
According to a statement released by Tesla, the company aims to offer Solar Roof financing in the United States in late 2017. For now, Tesla suggests that individuals interested in financing look into a personal loan, home improvement loan, home equity line of credit, or other second mortgage product.
9. California Installations Have Already Begun
Tesla has stated on its website that Solar Roof installations will start in California in June and roll out to additional markets over time. SolarCity, which is owned by Tesla, will perform the company's Solar Roof installations. Once Solar Roof is rolled out to a particular market, installations will be based on order placement.
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