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Tesla solar roof vs solar panels: which is better? And why?

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This article is for those who want to install a solar energy system and who are hesitating between installing conventional solar panels and installing a Tesla solar roof. The average price of each of these systems will first be presented and then compared to each other.

This article will cover the following points:

  • The average price of a solar energy system composed of solar panels
  • The average price of a Tesla solar roof
  • In which case is one system more advantageous than the other?

The average price of a solar energy system made up of solar panels

Including the labor, materials, permits and equipment required to connect your system to the Hydro-Québec network, the costs are generally:

  • $ 13 500 for a 5 kW system (approximately 14 solar panels)
  • $ 22 500 for a 10 kW system (approximately 27 solar panels)
  • $ 30 500 for a 15 kW system (approximately 40 solar panels)
  • $ 38 500 for a 20 kW system (approximately 53 solar panels)

The cost therefore varies from $ 1.92/watt to $ 2.70/watt, depending on the power of the system. The cost per watt decreases the more you increase the size of the system since there are several basic costs that apply to all systems, even the smallest ones. The more powerful the solar energy systems, the more profitable they are.

It is however important to mention that prices are subject to variation depending on the choice of equipment (good or very good quality), the type of installation (roof mounted or ground mounted) as well as the level of access to the site and roof (easy or difficult).

The average price of a Tesla solar roof

As of today, the theoretical cost of a Tesla solar roof is CAN $ 30.77 per square foot (before taxes). This cost is the official cost announced by Tesla Energy in April 2017. For a standard roof of 1,800 square feet (the average size of a roof in Quebec), the total cost would be $ 55 386 CAD (before taxes). This cost is based on a roof with 35% solar shingles, which means that 65% of your roof’s shingles would not produce energy.

Since the Tesla solar roof acts both as a shingle and a solar panel, a Tesla solar roof cannot be installed on an already existing roof. This therefore implies that the existing roof will have to be removed (at your expense) before the new solar roof can be installed.

That said, in an interview with Energysage in June 2019, a northern California customer who had Tesla installed a solar roof gave some details regarding the price of the installation. According to the customer, the entire installation cost CAN $ 98,000, which included the complete replacement of its 1 000 square foot roof and the installation of the new 10 kW solar roof. The cost per square foot is therefore CAN $ 98. The major difference between the theoretical and the real price is supposedly explained by the fact that the customer’s roof had several obstructions (chimney, ventilation hatches, satellite antenna, etc.) and that it had a high slope. It should not be forgotten that the theoretical price does not consider the replacement of the old roof.

Based on the testimony of the customer from northern California, the cost of $ 98 000 for a 10 kW system is the equivalent of $ 9.8/kW (including the replacement of the old roof, which would not necessarily be necessary in the case of an installation of a solar energy system composed of conventional solar panels). The price is therefore 3 to 5 times higher than that of a solar energy system composed of solar panels.

In which case is one system more advantageous than the other?

Obviously, explained by the price much higher than that of conventional solar panels, the installation of a Tesla solar roof is never advantageous. In fact, in the event that you do not need to change your roof, there is not really any benefit in installing a Tesla solar roof since conventional solar panels would offer you the same comfort at a largely lower price. Some would argue that a Tesla solar roof is more aesthetic than a solar panel system, but it’s up to you to decide if the extra cost is really worth it.

However, if you plan to change your roof very soon, installing a Tesla solar roof may be a little more justified since it could serve two functions at the same time. The cost will still remain higher than that of a solar energy system composed of solar panels and its return on investment will be much longer, not to say almost zero.

That said, there are certainly owners who simply want the latest technology possible, no matter the price. For buyers in this category, the Tesla solar roof might be a good choice. Be aware, however, that this type of product has always been difficult to install and has had mixed performance results in the past years. Even though Tesla is known to correct quality problems over time, the reliability of such a system may be debatable in some cases.

In addition, being a Californian product, the energy data provided by the manufacturer does not apply to the Quebec climate. Indeed, knowing that the average duration of sunshine and that the average intensity of solar irradiation are less, the quantity of energy produced would be probably lower than that promised by the manufacturer, which is not desirable for nobody (especially at such a high price).

Conclusion

Explained by its exorbitant additional cost, the purchase of a Tesla solar roof is not advantageous compared to a solar energy system composed of conventional solar panels. Even if you plan to replace your roof anyway soon, installing a Tesla solar roof could most likely produce less energy than solar panels and at a much higher cost. Thus, in the current Quebec context, installing solar panels is the best option.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information, we will be happy to assist you. Our affordable, reliable, and turnkey solar energy systems will fully satisfy you. Give us a chance to impress you.