how to buy, install times, pricing and availability

Tesla’s third generation solar roof, sometimes known as the solar glass roof, has arrived. The latest solar energy tiles from Elon Musk, which were introduced in October 2019, offer an eye-catching design that looks like a normal roof to the untrained eye.

The tiles have a lot to offer. They are designed to fit into a roof and, in combination with a Powerwall battery, provide renewable electricity around the clock. They have a 25 year guarantee. Tesla produced a video of them surviving the highest-rated hail, a two-inch hail that moves at 100 mph. Traditional roof tiles do less well.

Looking at the numbers, the roof also seems to undercut the cost of buying a roof and panels separately. Tesla claims that a 10-kilowatt roof in California will cost around $ 33,950, which is equal to $ 5.60 per square foot or $ 2.11 per watt. Tesla claims this is cheaper than spending $ 54,647 on a premium roof ($ 34,091 at $ 11.92 per square foot) and retrofitting solar panels ($ 20,556 at $ 2.05 per watt).

The tiles were first announced in October 2016, but except for a small number of installations in Spring 2018, they never seemed to materialize in too many places. Reports of the time suggested installations measured from homes in the 10’s. Tesla has teamed up with a Chinese third-generation tile supplier, and previous supplier Panasonic terminated its agreement to manufacture the tiles this week.

When Tesla starts raising the roof, here’s how to install the roof.

Tesla solar roof nearby. Tesla

Tesla solar roof: who can buy?

The roof is currently being installed in various locations across the United States.

At the unveiling in October 2019, Kunal Girota, Senior Director of Energy Operations at Tesla, stated that Tesla will be installing retrofit solar panels in 25 states and offering the roof in all of those states. However, the aim is to expand across the country with both the company’s internal teams and third parties.

At the time of writing, Tesla’s website is taking orders for solar panel retrofits in 24 locations: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Columbia District, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusets, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey , New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

The Tesla Solar Roof section of the website accepts orders for all 50 states except Minnesota. Inverse asked Tesla for more information.

As for international buyers, there may be good news on this front. Musk said on his Twitter account in February 2020 that he was “looking forward to international expansion later this year”.

Tesla solar roof: order

Ordering the Tesla solar roof is very easy. Visit the Tesla Solar Roof Designer website and fill in the information. You can also access it at the following address:

The roof price is calculated in the first four fields: location, living space, number of floors and average electricity bill. Tesla needs to determine how big the roof will be, how much sun it is likely to receive, and how much energy the house will use. The solar roof uses a combination of fake and solar bricks, which means that the roof is not made entirely of solar panels. These numbers determine the appropriate mix of fake and solar tiles.

Tesla’s Solar Management App Bloomberg/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The website informs you that a non-refundable order fee is due today. Oddly enough, an information field also informs you that “if you feel strongly about it, we will give it back to you”. The price breakdown shows how much the roof will cost after 25 years of incentives and savings. It also offers a comparison with other options such as retrofitting solar panels.

When you’re satisfied, fill in your home address (so Tesla knows where to put the roof) and your contact information. Then enter your payment information.

As soon as you click on “Place order” to continue, you agree to the “Terms of payment for services”, the “Ordering agreement for energy products” and the “Customer privacy policy”. The ordering agreement varies by state, but here are some key details from the California agreement:

  • Half of the cost of the order is due at the start of the installation and the other half within five days of the inspection.
  • Installation begins between two weeks and six months after the contract is signed.
  • The installation will be completed seven to 21 days after starting.

On this last point, it may be interesting to note that Tesla is looking to reduce installation times to just eight hours.

Tesla Solar Roof: How the Installation Process Works

Alex Guichet, a Cupertino-based game developer, gave perhaps the most in-depth look at the installation process for a third generation solar roof. On October 23, 2019, two days before the new product was announced, Guichet signed a contract with Tesla to install the new tiles before they were announced.

Almost three weeks later, on November 11, Tesla confirmed that the installation permit had been obtained. Two days later, a subcontractor removed its original roof within two hours. Tesla delivered the materials on November 15th and the company’s roofers completed the work on November 22nd. This included delays from rain and the weekend.

On December 2nd, the team started wiring the electrics. This process was completed two days later and fully tested another three days later. On the 11th it passed local government inspections and the following month Guichet received permission from the utility company to start operations.

A solar roof on a house.Bloomberg/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Tesla Solar Roof: Is It Worth It?

It depends on the situation! While Tesla claims the third generation tiles are competitive with the cost of a roof plus solar, replacing the roof is still a huge challenge. If you don’t have to spend the money, it might be worth looking into alternatives like retrofitting. There are also a number of competitors in the market like Luma Solar that might be worth exploring before you take the plunge.

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