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The 411 on Tesla’s Solar Roof

With people becoming more conscious about the environment, they’re turning to forms of energy that aren’t based on fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas. Solar power and electricity derived from solar and wind are poised to become a significant source of the nation’s energy in the future.

Solar panels for roofs have been around for a while, but Tesla is trying to make that technology better by creating solar tiles that look like traditional roofing tiles but maintain the same energy-gathering properties of unsightly solar panels.

Their main product to do this with is the Tesla Solar Roof Tiles, which are near as energy-efficient as traditional solar but look a heck of a lot better on your home.

In this article, we’re going to look at the Tesla Solar Roof, how they work, and why they might be the right choice for the homeowner.


What Are Tesla Roof Panels?

As mentioned, the Tesla solar roof panels look like most traditional roof shingles (terracotta, slate, asphalt) with one key difference: each tile contains a solar cell, which produces electricity. This is advantageous for two reasons: One, the roof looks like a traditional roof and not like most solar panels, which while functional, aren’t very attractive. And two, this system is capable of collecting up to 98 percent of the energy from the sun that is collected by traditional solar panels. This means that you get nearly all of the benefits of a solar roof without the appearance.

Although the technology behind the Tesla Solar Roof Panels is kept a secret, the principle is the same when compared to traditional solar panels. Traditional panels are constructed of a group of solar cells, which alone don’t gather much power. However, when you group these cells into what the industry calls “modules” you significantly increase the amount of energy generated from each panel.

These panels gather energy from the sun and charge batteries located in the home, which supply the electricity you need for your appliances and other systems.


How Much Do They Cost?

There’s no other way to say it: these panels are premium. They’re made out of quartz layers, which are meant to be virtually indestructible.

As with any roofing system, the cost of installation depends on many factors, but Tesla says these tiles will cost about $21.85 per square foot. By way of comparison, many traditional asphalt shingle roofing tiles cost about $5 per square foot.

Keep in mind that with the large upfront expense, you’re going to save money over time by lowering your electric bill.

Another thing to consider is that, according to Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, his solar roof panels have a “quasi-infinite lifetime.” This means that if you install a Tesla roof, you’re not likely to ever have to replace it in your lifetime and neither will the next owners of the house. This fact is a major selling point if you decide to sell your home in the future.


Are They Worth it?

Even though the Tesla roofing panels aren’t widely available for consumer purchase, they’re going to be a tough sell for the average homeowner to consider when they’re eventually released for the mass market due to the high upfront installation costs.

To alleviate the costs of solar, many homeowners can qualify for a 30 percent Solar Investment Tax Credit, which is a federal policy designed to help further and support the installation of solar energy products in the United States. This credit makes the installation of expensive solar panels and solar roofs an easier pill to swallow.


How Much do They Save You?

Actual savings vary from house to house, and overall savings depend on a variety of factors: how many hours of sunlight are available, local electric rates and your total power usage are among the factors. However, most experts agree that you will save money if you implement a solar roof or solar panels into your house.

Here’s an example of what to expect: It’s estimated that average U.S. household electric usage is 11,000-kilowatt-hours (kWh), and the average rate for electricity is $0.1301 kWh. Multiply the two, and we see the average American home spends $1,430 a year on electricity. Another thing to consider is that electric rates, in general, increase at a rate of about 2% a year.

When you generate your electricity, you bypass all of these costs and inflation. The only cost you incur is the cost of installation and any power you need should the system not supply your total electricity needs.


The Bottom Line

While Tesla demoed their solar roof tiles back in October of 2016, they’ve only been reported to be installed on 12 homes, all of which are in Northern California, and while the company is accepting $1,000 deposits for these roofing tiles, they’re not ready to begin mass production. The company also built a factory in Buffalo, NY, but that isn’t running at full capacity yet.

Still, even with the delay in Tesla’s getting up to speed with their solar roof panels, the landscape for solar energy is ripe and buyers are eager to make the jump to cleaner, more natural forms of energy.

Solar power doubled in 2016 over the previous year, and it’s estimated that 40% of new power generation applications came from solar technology in 2016, and that trend continues to go up as solar power, and solar electric generation is predicted to rise to 36% by 2050. By then, solar panels for commercial roofing may even be available!

If you’re considering adding Tesla Solar Tiles or some other form of solar to your home, think whether you’re in need of a total roof replacement, in which case the Tesla panels may be your best option, or whether you need an upgrade, and can make do with a panel array. Either way, if you can suffer through the expensive installation costs, you’ll get that back and more in what you save on electricity through the years.



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