The Tesla roof: when will it be available and should you wait for it?

should I wait for tesla solar roof

For those asking themselves, “should I wait for the Tesla solar roof?”, you are not alone. Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO of Tesla Motors, has a well-earned reputation for creating innovative 21st-century products that combine attractive designs with exceptional performance – and generate high levels of consumer interest as a result. The latest Musk technology to make a splash is the Tesla solar roof, which he revealed to great fanfare in October 2016. Here’s everything you should consider before making your decision, including what Tesla roof rivals you should consider.

What’s the latest news on the Tesla roof? (updated January, 2018)

Tesla began taking orders for their Tesla solar tiles as of May, 2017. The pre-order requires a $1,000 deposit that can be paid online with a credit card. Timeline information offered on Tesla’s website suggested that installations would begin in June on the west coast starting in California. In January 2018, the company announced that they are ramping up production of the roof product at their Buffalo Gigafactory. They also stated that they are beginning installations for customers at the top of their wait list in early 2018, approximately six months after their initial estimate.

Elon Musk revealed this past August that he and another Tesla executive have already had the roof installed on their respective properties. While the company has stated that they have begun installations for their wait list, it’s unclear when Tesla will be installing the roof at a national, mass market scale. Some estimates suggest large-scale installation won’t start until mid-2018 or later.

Tesla has also revealed a standard solar panel product that it will begin producing in 2017 in addition to its solar roof – a black Panasonic solar panel without a mounting apparatus. Tesla has launched a calculator that provides estimates for its solar roof and has released the pricing information of $21.85 per square foot.  To compare the cost of the Tesla solar roof to a traditional solar system, check out our price comparison or checkout the pricing analysis done by Consumer Reports.

Should you wait for the Tesla solar roof? It depends on your priorities

Standard solar panel technologies are typically evaluated based on their performance, durability, and warranties. However, there are relatively few technical details available for Tesla’s solar roof shingles. Tesla has not revealed how efficiently the panels will generate power, what kind of warranty the company will offer, or how they will be installed.

The company has also claimed that their tiles are significantly stronger than a traditional roof tile, and even shared video footage during the launch to demonstrate their durability. That being said, Tesla hasn’t provided any information about durability or stress tests – standard information that is publicly available from most solar panel manufacturers.

One thing is for certain: Tesla solar roof shingles look great. The shingles, which are made of glass, come in four different patterns that have the look of a standard roof, with one key difference – they generate electricity for your home. The solar cell embedded in Tesla roof tiles isn’t visible from the street, unlike a traditional solar panel.

tesla solar roof tiles

What are Tesla’s solar roof rivals?

Though the buzz around Tesla’s illustrious roof product has made it appear like its a new concept, it is merely the continued repackaging brilliance that some call the “Musk effect”. Just as Tesla motors did not invent the electric car or the lithium ion battery, the concept of integrated solar roof tiles is nothing new – Tesla has just brought it to the world’s attention thanks to the company’s mastery of product design. Here are some of the former competitors and now rivals of Tesla’s solar roof:

  • Dow powerhouse – this solar manufacturer was one of the first to ever offer an integrated solar roof product. Unfortunately, the company declared bankruptcy in 2016 and no longer offers their solar shingle product
  • Suntegra – this Northeast solar manufacturer is on the forefront of the solar roof product line. The company hails from New York and began offering its two solar roof products just a few months before the announcement of Tesla’s shingles
  • CertainTeed – originally a roofing company, this contractor now offers solar shingle installation as well. This product cannot compete with Tesla in terms of aesthetics or subtlety and should not be considered a true “solar roof” but the thin apparatus offers quasi-integration nonetheless.

Tesla solar roof pricing is unclear, but experts expect it will be expensive

Tesla has stated on their company blog that their solar glass roof will be priced at $21.85 – the explanation that they give is that their roof product will be slightly below the figure Consumer Reports provided in an article in which they estimated what the roof would need to cost to be price-competitive with a typical new roof installation.

Multiple journalists have attempted to come up with price estimates based on Tesla’s guidance, and they’ve all come to the same conclusion: the Tesla solar roof, like most of Tesla’s other products, will be a high-end purchase that comes with a premium price tag.

Consumer Reports crunched the numbers and determined that a Tesla solar roof would cost somewhere between $70,000 and $100,000, based on Tesla’s own pricing guidance. This is much more expensive than a standard asphalt roof replacement, which should cost homeowners between $8,000 and $16,000 depending on their roof size and property location. Labor and installation costs could add an additional premium to the price of the Tesla solar roof, although the lack of information about its technical design makes this price premium difficult to estimate. But think of it this way: roofers aren’t trained as electricians and vice versa, so it’s likely that more highly-specialized contractors will be needed to install the Tesla roof shingles, increasing costs further.

tesla solar panels graphic

Timeline and release date: when will the Tesla solar roof come to market? 

Tesla solar roof technology isn’t available on the market yet. Though Tesla has released its waiting list for the roof shingle product and is currently making the product (similar to its Model S car), it’s unclear exactly when it will be ready for consumers.

Tesla has begun manufacturing the tiles in partnership with Panasonic at the company’s factory in New York. However, the auto manufacturer is known for production delays across its line of luxury electric vehicles, most famously on the Tesla Model X crossover SUV. Whether Tesla solar shingles will face the same production delays as Tesla cars remains to be seen. Our own estimate is that homeowners shouldn’t expect the Tesla solar roof to be available nationwide until mid to late 2018.

Not every home is a good candidate for the Tesla solar roof

Price is a serious consideration if you’re deciding whether to wait for the Tesla solar roof. However, an equally important factor to keep in mind is whether your home is a good candidate for solar roof tiles.

Most existing solar shingle technologies are also known as building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) because they are integrated with your existing roof, and are a similar size and shape to standard roof tiles. Tesla has created something different.

In August 2016, Musk first explained the difference between solar shingles and Tesla’s solar roof: “It’s not a thing on the roof. It is the roof.” Unlike other solar shingles, Tesla’s roof tiles are designed to completely replace your existing roof. As a result, the most cost-effective way to install them is when your home is being built, which means that they are best suited for homebuyers who have a say in the design and materials of their newly constructed home.

While this doesn’t mean that they can’t be used on existing homes, retrofitting your roof with Tesla solar tiles will come at an additional expense, because you’ll need to pay contractors to remove your old roof first. As a result, retrofitting your roof with Tesla solar tiles is only practical when your roof is already due to be replaced.

Learn how much solar can save you today before you make your decision

Just as Tesla Motors doesn’t make electric vehicles for the masses, Tesla Energy isn’t developing a solar roof that belongs on every home. In many ways, the company’s solar roof product is similar to its first electric car. If you are an early adopter of new technologies, don’t care about price, and are prepared to wait for a product with an uncertain manufacturing timeline, then waiting for Tesla solar roof tiles could be the right decision for your home.

However, there are always risks associated with installing a brand-new, untested technology. Unlike Tesla’s solar roof tiles, many of the premium solar panels currently available on the market today are produced by well-known consumer electronics manufacturers (such as Hyundai, Panasonic, Kyocera and LG) that have been producing solar panels for a decade or more.

Additionally, waiting to go solar has its risks, even if you’re interested in a brand-new technology. The cost of going solar is falling every year, and there are premium solar panels already available today that come with high efficiency ratings and a sleek black design. If you wait years for the Tesla solar roof, you will lose out on years of savings on your electricity bill. You also run the risk of missing out on financial incentives for solar – many state tax credits have already expired, and the federal investment tax credit for solar will be phased out starting in 2020.

Before you make the decision to wait for the Tesla solar roof, use a solar calculator to learn how much you can save today by going solar. If you’re ready to explore the solar options for your home, join the EnergySage Solar Marketplace and get custom quotes from solar installers in your area. You might be surprised by just how much you can save now by installing traditional solar panels on your roof today.

tesla solar panels graphic

31 thoughts on “The Tesla roof: when will it be available and should you wait for it?

  1. Harold Campos

    Hi! I’m a service manager at Dwights roofing in Edmonton, AB Canada. We were wondering how can we learn more about solar shingles and maybe start offering to our customers.

  2. Linda

    I am very interested i your solar roof. Will be looking for a roofing contractor. would love to be a test roof in the midwest if you are ;looking for some one. One story 3000 square foot home with gabled roof.

  3. James Wade

    I am intrigued by these solar panels, they will be useable in an historic district such as mine and would not look at all out of place on my 1850 townhouse

  4. leo

    Roofing contractors are not trained to install solar and Solar contractors cant install shingles properly without making the roof leak. Biggest problem between solar and roofers. I’m hoping the contactors that install these shingles will be the roofing contractors. I guess I’m also hoping if tesla will teach roofers how to install them or what the requirements will be for this work.

  5. Lianne Loving

    I am very interested in the solar roofing and I live in the midwest. I am due for a new roof and I would like to get solar ti help with bills for my retirement. I have a small house with a large detached garage with both having gable roofs and facing the right direction for maximum benefit. I am interested in price, contractors and distributors. What are the possibilities of a test home ?

  6. Brian Lafferty

    i am a retired disabled Military Veteran residing with my wife who also is a US Veteran in North Texas. We have a very big interest in the Tesla Solar Shingle Technology and would love to be a test home. My wife and I invested in a Tesla this past October and have found this electric car to be an absolute great investment. While it does have a hefty price tag; we are coming out about the same on the car/gas/upkeep that we traded it for. So inconclusion we can see how the Tesla solar shingles could be advantageous!

  7. Marilyn Burkart

    I am most interested in Tesla’s sleek and low profile solar panels by Panasonic. I, too, would be most eager to be a “test house” in “killer-hot summers” in Texas. Would need federal, state, local, & utility sponsored aid to help defray costs…but so love the architecturally attratctive appearance. Can’t wait for Tesla/Panasonic to get a solar panel product ready for installation!!

  8. Janet

    I plan to build a new (retirement) home in Fallbrook, CA (San Diego area) in the next 1-2 years. I just began the design phase, and will not be building for a few months yet. But I would LOVE to install Tesla solar shingles and PowerWall. If there is any possibility that this product might be an available within the next year or so, an affordable to an average Jane like me, that would be awesome! I work in the technology sector and would love to be involved in testing such an innovative product……

  9. Roddray Walker

    I will be building a new home in Texas between this summer (2017 and 2018) I would like to have the solar roof, even if they have to install the roof and come back later to connect.

  10. JPaul

    My husband and I are extremely interested in the Tesla Solar Roof. We have been keeping an eye on the product for quite some time, following up with a few representatives from Solar City, and are patiently awaiting to hear when it will be available in Arizona. We are building a new home in Arizona (mid 2017) and we are looking for an effective way to cut down our electric bills and not have to rely on the electric companies. The sun is out nearly 365 days a year in Arizona, so we feel that this type of roof would be a great option. Any new information that becomes available would be great to receive! We look forward to information to come soon!

  11. Craig F Permenter

    I am a roofing contractor with offices in Houston and San Antonio.

    We are very interested in training for sales and installation for Telsa’s solar shingles.

    Please contact me.

  12. Lonnie Gordon

    I am representing Zuma Bay Villas, a 90 unit condo complex in Pt. Dume, Malibu. Malibu is a worldwide brand and ZBV is the premiere townhouse complex on the entire coast of California, never to be duplicated under the current Coastal Commission guidelines. We are currently planning on removing and replacing our current tile roofs which are over 40 years old. The new Musk solar tile is of interest to us and I would like to find out more information.

    We present an ideal opportunity for to this tile to be tested in a salt air environment, with many different roof levels. In addition to the above, we are unique in that we are an all electric complex; not too many of those around. If the solar tiles are installed here and the project is successful. it will not only garner international attention, but attention from countless other HOA’s.

    I look forward to hearing back from a principal officer of the company to discuss this plan.

    Lonnie Gordon

  13. Ryan

    I am interested in talking to a representative of some kind. The solar tile looks great and have interest in it for a home in Texas.

  14. rosemary longpre

    I’m very interested in the Tesla solar roof. I will be renovating my home in Delaware within the next few months, and would love to make it completely electric. Please let me know if this is possible.

  15. Juan

    Our Company is very excited about this product especially in light of the sharp rise in electricity cost in a developing country like South Africa.
    We are also trying to get in touch with representatives from Solar City and Tesla to obtain more information and how to implement these products in our properties development projects – one which consists of 244 high end seaside residential properties where such a product will work great. Construction is envisioned to start in 2018/2019. There is no alternative product which offers similar benefits as the Solar Roof tiles.

    Kindly get in contact with us.

  16. Robert Bryant

    I am a retired Civil Engineer Corp, US Naval Warrant Officer retired and disabled, I live in Charleston, SC. I have a interest in the Tesla Solar Shingle Technology and my wife and I would love to be a test home. I’m also a Construction Project Manager Building Schools in Charleston and although I’m on a fixed budget, I would appreciate consideration to be a test home for our community and region.

    I appreciate your consideration

  17. Alexa Velarde

    I live in Tampa Florida and would love to be a test home for the Solar Shingles. Please contact me for any testing very interested.

  18. Jim Barr

    I live in Naples Florida and would love to be a test home for the Solar Shingles. Please contact me if you are interested in test roof in Southwest Florida.

  19. Humayun

    I am working in renewable energy since 2012, and always waiting for new technologies. As i read the article this invention is really impressive. i need its updates on regular basis so that i can justify it to my customers.

  20. Ronnie McDaniel

    We are a State license contractor and I am very interested in getting certified with the Tesla roofing materials. We are certified with many manufactures and ready to expand into the future. If anyone has information regarding contractor certification please send my way. Thanks,

  21. Karin McCarthy

    Due to hurricane Irma, we are in need of a new roof asap. We are only considering solar shingles and would love to be a flagship house for Tesla & Solar City in the FL Keys! We appreciate your consideration on this request!

  22. John Traxler

    My two-story brick home (built in 1936) has an excellent south facing sloped roof that captures solar energy throughout most of the day, and especially between 9 AM – 3 PM. (My shutters also capture solar energy.) The connected four car garage is also similarly south facing sloped.

    Will the Tesla roofs be available in Minnesota in 2018? Is extreme cold a problem with roof tiles?

  23. sandra shigeta

    When Dow Chemical made information available on the progress of their solar shingles, I was thrilled and was hoping to have it installed on my new house. Needless to say, things started off well but did not end well with Dow’s admirable efforts to provide an aesthetically integrated solar and roofing products. I was a devout follower and was surprised when Dow sent me a T-shirt with Dpw Solar printed on it. That was about 7 years ago. We retired and finally built our home without the much anticipated solar shingles. We soon will erect another building next to our home which has, as I told Dow, one section of the roof facing directly South. The south facing section of the roof will be approximately 310 sf. hope that Telsa will become available here in Hawaii soon. We are retired and hope to include solar shingles to complete the house as we had hoped with Dow solar shingles.

  24. Frank

    Im a general contractor and while we embrace all energy/building advancements, the comments here read like someone at Tesla wrote all of them.

    Wealthy or not, few and far between will be property owners willing to spend 7-10 times the normal price of a functional roof system. Proper installation and maintenance of traditional asphalt residential roof systems is not something a lot of homeowners think about and its worse on commercial property.

    That being said, I sure hope it works out.

    But one thing is odd – where are the pictures and locations of current beta roofs?

    And how does the excessive heat generated by most solar get vented away from the house?

    And, more importantly, how are those glass surfaces going to look after 15 years of UV and weathering?

    Sorry, the technology and functionality are still a ways off.

  25. Eve

    Fascinating technology! Keep up the good work Tesla! It would be so fun to work for you and be a part of such an exciting industry and help better our community and our world. Love seeing solar in the the residential home industry!

    Feel the price must drop to cost of a normal asphalt shingle or thereabouts to get the attention of the masses. I live in Utah; and I haven’t found a perfect roof! Hopefully, solar roofs will change all that! I built a house and put on a shake shingle roof. It did the job of protecting our home and family from the elements, but we had to do battle with wasps who loved to make their home under them too! I’ve lived with a bar tile roof that was supposed to last 50+ years, but continually leaked . We fought ice damming issues, leaking issues, and birds issues! They loved to hide under them, build their nests there, and scratch at the tar paper–very loud roof when birds were lodging there. I was told we had “birdhouse condominiums” under there! After two unsuccessful bar tile roof repairs and $20K later, I hired someone to yank that roof off. It was a nightmare and a very dangerous undertaking! Lesson learned–do not use bar tile in cold climates like Utah’s! We put on an asphalt shingle roof after that; which is working, but looks rather ordinary, but hey, at least it’s not leaking! Not we have dagger size icicles in the winter! Don’t walk near or under them unless you like to live on the edge! Our rain gutters fill up with the gravely asphalt, but hey at least we don’t have birds living under it! Would love to give a solar roof a try next time if the price comes down, and it’s competitive with asphalt shingles, which at this point I feel is the best roof with the least serious problems in cold climates! Call me and let me know when you’ve got the kinks worked out, and it is competitive in price and I’ll help you spread the good word! I would love to see your solar shingles in person here in Utah! Any place I can do that?


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