Decoding the Price of a Tesla Solar Roof

As a follow-up to our analysis comparing the Tesla Solar Roof to traditional solar panels, in this post, we dig deeper into understanding Tesla’s pricing for the Solar Roof. Since the Tesla Solar Roof is really two products combined in one – a roof that protects your home and an energy generation system that produces electricity, we will unpack the value that Tesla is associating with each of the products.

Tesla’s Solar Roof has two types of glass tiles in it: solar tiles & non-solar tiles. While both tiles appear the same from street level, the solar tiles have solar cells in them that produce electricity when exposed to sunshine. The solar tiles are more expensive than non-solar tiles driven by the presence of solar cells. But how much more expensive are they?

Price of a Tesla Solar Roof with 40% solar tiles

To answer this question, we ran multiple pricing scenarios of the calculator that Tesla has made available on their website. We took a typical three-bedroom California home with a 2,000 sq.ft. roof space and a $150 monthly electricity bill. Tesla recommends that solar tiles be 40% of the roof in order to produce enough electricity to offset the monthly bill, with non-solar tiles making up the remaining 60%. Tesla estimates the cost of this configuration to be $46,800 before any incentives are baked in.

From Tesla’s Calculator: Roof with 40% solar tiles

Price of a Tesla Solar Roof with 0% solar tiles

Next, we adjusted the calculator so that the roof had 0% solar tiles and therefore, entirely made of non-solar tiles. Tesla priced the 2,000 sq.ft. roof with 100% non-solar tiles at $22,000, implying that non-solar tiles are priced at $11 per sq.ft.

From Tesla’s Calculator: Roof with 0% solar tiles

Now, going back to the 40% solar tile scenario, we know that 800 sq.ft. of solar tiles & 1200 sq.ft. of non-solar tiles are priced at $46,800. This implies that solar tiles are priced at $42 per sq.ft.

Understanding the price of solar tiles in $/Watt.

Solar panel systems are typically priced in $ / Watt of system size. We deduced the price of solar tiles in $ / sq.ft. but how do they compare to the traditional $ / Watt metric ?  

The solar tiles serve two functions: act as a roof and produce electricity, while non-solar tiles serve only one function: just act as a roof. The price associated with the electricity generation function of solar tiles is $31 per sq.ft. (which is the difference between the price of solar-tiles and non-solar tiles).

For the 2,000 sq.ft. home used in the analysis above, the total cost of the energy generation function of the solar tiles, at a 40% solar tile mix would be $24,800 (800 sq.ft. * $ 31 / sq.ft.). For the same home, a 5,225 Watt traditional solar panel system would produce as much electricity as the solar tiles and offset the $150 monthly electricity bill. So, the price of the energy generation function of the solar tiles is estimated at $4.75 per Watt ($24,800 / 5,225 Watts). Traditional solar panel systems are usually priced between $3.00 and $3.50 per Watt when purchased without additional financing, with an average price of around $3.25 per Watt.

The Tesla Price Premium

To make an informed choice, it is useful to understand the premium for both functions of the Tesla Solar Roof: Roofing and Electricity Generation. Compared to $6 per sq.ft. for a traditional asphalt composite shingle roof, consumers will be paying $11 per sq.ft. for a Tesla Roof with 100% non-solar tiles, with a price premium of 83%. Consumers can weigh this premium against the additional benefits of the Solar Roof such as better aesthetics, 3X strength and longer warranty.

Similarly, for electricity generation, consumers will be paying an equivalent of $4.75 per Watt as opposed to $3.25 per Watt for standard solar panel systems, to produce similar electricity. Consumers can weigh this 46% price premium against the better aesthetics of the Solar Roof in which solar cells are invisible from the street view and blend in with the rest of the roof.

For consumers with roofs that have significant life left, a Tesla Solar Roof would not be a great fit as they would be paying for a roof they don’t need in the first place. For consumers, who require a new roof and solar electricity, a Tesla Solar Roof might be more appropriate. It is still more expensive than a traditional roof with standard solar panels, but comes with additional benefits that may be appealing for some consumers.