Solar Roof or Solar Panels?

Elon Musk is a showman; his antics are undoubtedly one of the reasons Tesla products remain in the public consciousness at all times of year. Another reason is no doubt innovation; their electric cars have captured our imaginations. The diverse projects of Musk, from sending cars into space to proposing vacuum tube travel, are exciting and bold. As futuristic as these projects sound, they’re not necessarily altogether practical. Another innovation of Tesla’s that’s being talked about is their Solar Roof, where the very tiles for the roof are made up of solar panel tiles (solar tiles). A Consumer Reports article details how these solar panels might compare to the cost of a roof – but how do they compare to the cost of solar panels?

The main problem with the Consumer Reports article is that it assumes the purchaser is looking to replace a roof, and wondering at whether or not solar tiles are a good investment. A more deeper understanding might reveal that the consumer isn’t actually comparing the price of traditional tiles with solar tiles; rather they’re comparing the cost of traditional tiles, solar tiles, and traditional tiles with solar panels on top. The article details how money can be saved on energy once solar tiles are installed; these savings are subtracted from the cost of the Solar Roof, and that cost is compared to the cost of a new roof. The same logic could be applied with the cost of a new roof with and without new solar panels.

A more accurate comparison, then, might look like this. While installations costs vary from home to home, the Tesla Solar Roof is purported to cost on average $21.85 per square foot. Solar panel costs vary wildly, but the average won’t generally cost more than $3.50/watt. A home can usually be fully powered for 5-7.5 kW; that means that at the highest range, you’d be looking at $25725 for solar panels. A high end asphalt roof in Canada is about $11000, while an average metal roof costs about the same.  That means the total cost of a new roof and new solar panels might be, on average, $36725, while a Tesla Solar Roof will cost $43700 for a 2000 square foot home. The costing for the roof and solar panel is in Canadian dollars, while the Tesla Solar Roof is USD; that means you might be looking at $57000 Canadian for a Solar Roof by today’s exchange rate.

One of the most important things to know about solar technology is that it’s constantly in flux. The exposure of your house to the sun, the type of roof you have, where you live, how much power you consume, the exchange rate; all of these things can affect how much it might cost to get any solar system installed. At this particular point, though, there are high-quality solar panels available in Canada that you can probably get for cheaper with a new roof instead of a Solar Roof. For those who don’t need a new roof, solar panels are definitely the way to go.