Tesla's Solar Roof hit the news last year on the heels of their Powerwall home battery, both of which brought a lot of great attention to home solar power generation. When we first reported on it during that exciting news cycle, there was very little said about what it would cost, just that it would be cheaper than traditional roofs.
Information on pricing was released in early May, and it is said to be available in Canada this summer, though there may be a waiting list at first. As for cost, the claim about it being cheaper than standard roof coverings is a little dubious to say the least. Factually, that depends on what you compare it against, and a slew of other unknowns that go unmentioned.
Cheaper than a 'conventional roof' could perhaps be true in sunny California if you compare it to a high-end roofing material like terra cotta or slate tiles (two looks their shingles mimic), but it's not going to be cheaper than asphalt shingles, which is the image most people conjure up when they think about a roof.
There is no question as to the value of home-produced renewable energy, but how that will play out for you financially requires inputting a lot more variables into the equation than the headlines lead you to believe.
Since offsetting installation costs with energy production is figured into their numbers, it should be noted that solar panels in a sunny region compared to a cloudier region will have a much better return on investment, as will homes with a south-facing roof orientation and ideal angle for solar collection. If you have a steep roof pitch facing east or west, don't even think about it as you'd probably need to outlive Yoda to see a payback. And the further north you go the less available sun hours you will have to recoup your investment, so Canadians have a disadvantage from the onset.
If that's not enough to overheat your calculator, remember that you haven't even included your local electricity rates in the mix yet, which can more than double from one province to another. Sorry for sounding like a Debbie Downer, but it's not so cut and dried as to be able to say a Tesla Rolar Roof is cheaper than a conventional roof, in fact it may be many times more expensive.
As reported by Forbes, an average-sized roof with a battery system may cost close to 60K in U.S. dollars; converted into Canadian funds that's a steep price even for the best roofing products you can find.
The only issue we have with this is Tesla's fairly liberal use of the term 'cheap'. The Solar Roof is great news for the future of home power generation, but at $42 USD per square foot it's not cheaper than the $5 Canadian per square foot you would pay for asphalt, even when you factor in lower electricity bills in the future. This is not to sing the praises of asphalt shingles (which will be heading for a landfill while a Tesla roof is still powering that sweet ride in your laneway), but math is not open to interpretation.
In Elon Musk's words - "It will be very difficult and it will take a long time, and there will be some stumbles along the way. But it's the only sensible vision of the future".
Yes, and yes. Musk is a titan of solar power and we are thrilled such an innovator exists; hopefully his vision of roofs powering our homes and our vehicles will come true in the future, and someday, maybe it will be cheaper than what we do now.