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What to Know When Considering a Solar Roof

Photo: Tesla

As innovations advance and climate-friendly and efficient technologies become more common and accessible, the solar roof is something that homeowners are considering more often. A solar roof system isn’t the same as installing solar panels on top of a traditional roof.

What are the Benefits of a Solar Roof?
Lately, there has been more interest in solar energy and you may be thinking solar panels for your roof are the way to go. However, these energy-producing sustainable solutions aren’t always aesthetically pleasing. A relatively new product is a solar roof system made up of individual solar shingles or tiles that look similar to the size and shape of regular shingles. There are a few manufacturers that provide them.
One such product is the Tesla solar roof, which is comprised of glass-faced tiles. When installed, the solar tiles are interspersed with painted metal tiles so that the roof looks uniform. The expensive solar tiles are strategically placed to produce 100% of the home’s average electricity, without excess. If you are replacing your roof or are building a new home, this may be the most cost-effective option for you.
Solar-electric roof systems have photovoltaic cells built directly into the shingles or tiles, versus the current standard method of constructing solar panels on top of an existing asphalt roof. The intention is that by replacing regular roof shingles with photovoltaic tiles, the surface area could capture more of the sun’s energy than solar panels alone. Many people also feel it has a more appealing look.
What is the Cost of a Solar Roof?
Tesla introduced the first solar roof product developed for the mass market in 2016. Since then, the concept has gained popularity, with other companies launching similar solar roof products. The general market rollout has been slower than initially predicted, but it has picked up momentum in the past few years. Prices vary by manufacturer but fall somewhere between the cost of an asphalt roof with added solar panels and a high-end tile or metal roof.
Looking at calculations in a previous case study, a Tesla Solar Roof could potentially come out less expensive than completely replacing your roof and installing solar panels or a new traditional roof when adding in the cost of purchasing electricity to power the home for 25 years. It depends on your electric rates, the age of your home, the complexity of the roof design, and how well it is insulated. But Tesla recently raised its pricing for the product in 2021. Your decision rests on how important it is to you to “go green” or buy an innovative product.
The Tesla roof comes with a 25-year warranty on the solar cells and an unlimited warranty on the glass itself. These durable tiles can withstand hail to 1.75 inches and winds of 166 miles per hour – more than the traditional shingle.
Alternatives to Tesla Roofs

Other product choices include a company called CertainTeed. Solar tiles integrates with a standard roof using a proprietary racking system. It fits closely to your asphalt roof, so the profile is not as noticeable as solar panels. However, the cost is significantly more expensive than a Tesla roof. And SunTegra tiles are yet another product with a low-profile tile that sits on top of your shingled roof, and pricing estimates can vary greatly.
The Luma Solar Roof, a roof replacement similar to Tesla, gives a uniform look to the entire roof, though the cost is a lot higher and has a shorter warranty. Solar shingle alternatives haven’t yet created a competitively priced alternative combined to act as a roof system and solar panels simultaneously.
What are the Downsides to a Solar Roof?

1. Proprietary technology: If you’re buying something from a company that may or may not be around in the future and you need replacement tiles, you may not be able to substitute products from another manufacturer.

2. Cost: It is not easy to estimate your final expenses for a solar shingle roof as it involves the design of your new roof and the condition of your home’s electrical panel. However, you can count on it costing at least twice as much as a solar panel on a per-watt basis.

3. Independence: Tesla’s technology will not allow you to go off the power grid. In a power outage, you will need battery backup until energy services are back online.

When you choose a professional roofer, they will be able to advise you more specifically on the feasibility of installing a solar roof on your home, including factors such as costs, time, and warranty. Rose Roofing is intrigued by the potential for these products and is happy to offer some resources and information if a solar roof is something you might be considering.

The Solar Nerd,