Tesla: Go or No Go?

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The solar roof is the latest innovation from the joint efforts of Tesla and their recently acquired company, SolarCity.

Tesla announced hat in certain states within the U.S, Tesla Solar Roofs will be available in 2017. Canada however, is waiting for 2018 to break into this amazing market.

Tesla released four different solar roof shingles – Textured, Smooth, Tuscan and Slate. The textured and smooth solar roof tiles are the initial products being released, with the tuscan and slate being released in January 2018.

The primary difference between the four solar roof tiles is aesthetic. Each one replaces a traditional roofing material with one that is photovoltaic. A standard solar roof installation will require two different tiles – one that is photovoltaic for placement on roof faces which are optimized for solar energy generation, and one that is non-photovoltaic for faces/locations that are not ideal for solar energy generation.

In Tesla’s baseline analysis, they predicted 35% of the tiles on a standard roof will be photovoltaic. How much of your roof needs to be solar tiles, is still unknown as the full product specs are not yet released. Similarly, how much energy you consume will also play a major factor in determining how many solar roof tiles you need. The average home in Alberta consumes 6,900kWh of energy per year (as of 2015).

The Facts…

Power Warranty: 30 years

Weatherization Warranty: 30 years

Roof Pitches: 14 to 90 degrees

On top of this, the solar roof tiles also have best available hail, wind, fire and glass coating ratings. Made from tempered glass, the tesla solar roof tiles are 3x stronger than standard roof tiles. This will protect you and your home from the most severe Canadian hail storms.

We know from Tesla’s analysis that their solar shingles stack up in the US markets of Texas, California and North Carolina but those are vastly different markets than what we have here in Alberta and Canada. We have different electricity rate structures and solar irradiance up here.

Will the Tesla solar roof shingles be more affordable than a standard roof in Alberta/Canada?

Naturally, the answer to this will depend on how much energy you need, how big your roof is and what the energy prices are in your area. It is estimated through Consumer Reports, that the break-even point of solar roof shingles which was found to be $24.50/sq.ft (USD).

This is nice to look at, but what does it mean for solar roofs in Alberta?

At a conversion of $1.33 CAD = $1.00 USD, we get an average installation cost of $29.06/sq ft (CAD). This may be subject to additional tax and duties, but it is a good starting point.

One key element that is missing when comparing the solar roof to an asphalt roof is longevity. The solar roof comes with an infinite warranty (or one equal to that of your home), and is performance warrantied for 30 years. In this same time frame, a standard asphalt roof will need to be replaced at least once, making the Tesla solar roof shingle more affordable than its counterparts over a 30 to 50 year time frame.



A metal roof will last as long as a solar roof, so longevity is not an accurate comparison between those materials.

The value of the solar roof’s aesthetic appeal will differ for everyone. Beauty is subjective.

What’s not subjective is improving the look of your home adds value. Adding solar power to your home adds value. Doing both at the same time will also likely add value to your most prized asset.

In Conclusion

Overall the solar roof appears to have fair financial highlights over a 30 to 50-year time frame. It won’t likely be adopted on a mass scale (yet) due to its initial investment, but if you have the extra cash to invest up-front, then it is certainly a viable alternative to asphalt roofs or metal roofs.

As new solar technology develops, efficiencies increase and prices decrease. This has been the trend since the 1950’s and there is no reason to think it will stop with Tesla. Their latest product is not meant to turn you into a millionaire. It is meant to be a viable replacement for a product that has saturated the market.

The solar roof is certainly expensive, there is no denying that. But over a 30 to 50 year span it makes sense to invest in a long-term energy generating product. The Roof Hospital Exteriors is one of the only contractors in Calgary to offer this service. Call us today: 403-457-3330.

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