Science

Published on January 30th, 2018 | by Sunit Nandi

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What is Real and What is Pure PR About the Tesla Solar Roof?

Last year, Tesla shocked the solar world when company head Elon Musk unveiled the Tesla Solar Roof, a series of aesthetically pleasing roof tiles with solar units built into them. This latest innovation by Tesla has the entire solar industry abuzz.

With the first two out of four designs available for purchase in the United States, it’s important to look at the facts regarding this new product and not simply believe the hype. While there is much to be excited about with this unique solar system, there is a lot of misinformation out there as well.

Given the massive cost of such an upgrade, it’s important to remain informed as to the true facts, determining what is real and what is pure PR spin.

The Facts

The Tesla Solar Roof is Aesthetically Pleasing

The Tesla Solar Roof solves one of the most common complaints regarding solar panel installation.

“They’re so ugly.”

While that’s a subjective statement, the Tesla Solar Roof looks to ease those fears by providing solar panels that appear to be nothing more than regular roof tiles.

The Solar Roof comes in four variations. They are:

  • Textured Glass
  • Smooth Glass
  • Tuscan Tile
  • French Slate Tile

The only styles currently available are textured and smooth glass, with a rollout of Tuscan and French Slate tiles due sometime in 2018.

Tesla Solar Roof’s Panels are More Durable Than a Standard Roof

The panels of a Tesla Solar Roof are extremely strong and can withstand weather related impacts with far greater durability than a standard roof. Tesla touted the strength of its new products in a video test, which saw the new tiles stand up to two-inch balls of hail, traveling at 100 mph.

The test also showcased the effect that same hail would have against standard roof tiles, which shattered on impact.

The Tesla Solar Roof Comes With a Lifetime Warranty

Tesla offers what it calls an “Infinite Tile Warranty”, guaranteeing that your tiles will last “the lifetime of your house, or infinity – whichever comes first.”

With the average lifespan of a roof being anywhere from 10 to 50 years and the average cost of a roof replacement being up to $25,000, this is a bold and beneficial warranty that Tesla has vowed to stand behind.

The Myths

The Tesla Solar Roof Saves You More Money Than Solar Panels

Many mistakenly believe that the Solar Roof, with its new camouflaged technology, will save consumers more on their utility bills than standard solar panels. This is not true, especially when you compare the much higher installation costs.

PowerScout reports that for a home with a roof that does not need to be replaced, it is almost 70% cheaper to install a solar panel system and 35% cheaper to replace your existing roof and install a solar system (more about solar panel costs at PowerScout). When you break that down into the time it takes to pay back your installation investment, solar panels begin generating profit far more quickly than its flashy alternative.

The Solar Roof is More Durable Than Solar Panels

When Tesla released their hail test video, they were pitting the solar roof against regular home tiles. Solar panels are extremely durable when it comes to weather related hazards, such as a hail storm.

One added benefit to solar panels is that they can actually shield your roof tiles from such danger. So, while the Tesla Solar Roof is infinitely more durable than your standard roof, it is not much stronger than a typical solar panel.

The Solar Roof Produces More Energy Than Standard Solar Panels

Many people mistakenly believe that because the Tesla Solar Roof is newer, that it must be more efficient than a standard solar panel system. According to the Solar Action Alliance, the Tesla Solar Roof generates only about 70% of the power created by an equivalent solar system.

They go on to estimate that a solar system valued at $26,000 would operate at a rate of 8.5 kW, while the solar roof would only produce 6.25 kW, for an installation price of $50,900.

Energy Production Will Last Forever

According to a recent study performed by Forbes, while Tesla’s tiles might last forever, their solar generation capability will be obsolete within 30 years.

This means that even though the tiles have retained their integrity, a homeowner would still need to replace the roof to continue reaping the benefits of increased solar output.

A Subjective Investment

In conclusion, when you separate facts from PR, it really depends on your point of view as to whether the Tesla Solar Roof is the right investment.

If you are more concerned with aesthetic appearance, then it makes perfect sense to sign on with Tesla. But, if you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to power generation, the standard solar panel system is still the best bet on the market.

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About the Author

I'm the leader of Techno FAQ. Also an engineering college student with immense interest in science and technology. Other interests include literature, coin collecting, gardening and photography. Always wish to live life like there's no tomorrow.



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