What’s up with the Tesla Solar Roof?

It is one of the most common questions customers ask.

As a certified Tesla EV charging station dealer, we are excited about the prospect of the Tesla Solar Roof’s potential. But like you, we have more questions than answers.

Below we have addressed some common questions surrounding the Tesla Solar Roof and its place in Washington State.

What is the Tesla Solar Roof?

Instead of solar panels that sit atop an existing roof, the Tesla Solar Roof is a roof made of “invisible” solar cells, meaning its tiles look like conventional roof panels, tiles and shingles.
It is installed with the Tesla Powerwall 2 battery, so the system will power the home during power outages.

Can I buy the Tesla Solar Roof right now?

Tesla is accepting $1,000 deposits from potential customers, but is not providing specific install dates. In January 2018, Tesla began manufacturing the Solar Roof for the public, and select installations will begin sometime this year. In Washington state, Powerwall 2 battery systems and the solar roof tiles are not yet available, and may not be for at least a few more years.

Who will install the Tesla Solar Roof?

Tesla has not specified the kind of crew needed to install its Solar Roof. Will roofers or electricians install it? We are guessing that it will require a roofer/electrician hybrid crew- and it is something that contractors will need to explain to their customers. Contractors may need to entirely restructure and train their crews specifically for this industry.

Will the Tesla Solar Roof be more efficient than traditional solar panels?

It depends on roof space and exposure. While the traditional Tesla solar panels’ efficiency is comparable to other brands, it is not yet clear what the tiles themselves will produce, as it will vary from roof to roof.

Will the Tesla Solar Roof be less expensive than conventional solar panels?

Comparing the cost of the Solar Roof to conventional panels can get messy fast, as there are many factors to consider including system size, add-ons, and applicable incentives. Consumer Reports notes if Tesla’s math is correct, the roof may pay for itself in electricity savings over the 30-year life of the warranty. That is certainly not within the acceptable ROI for most consumers, but paired with the cost of the roof, perhaps it is a better value proposition.

System Size

The size of a conventional solar panel system is based on your energy goals- not the size of your roof, whereas the Tesla Solar Roof’s system size is based entirely on roof square footage. But if portions of your roof do not have adequate exposure, an identical, non-solar roof tile will be installed instead. This means a seamless appearance, but roof size will not automatically translate to production amount. Calculate your roof tile needs.

Conventional solar panels start at $3.96/watt and decrease in price as the system size increases.

Green Tech Media calculated that the solar-only portion of the Solar Roof will cost roughly $6.30/watt. And as far as we know, this is a rate you are locked into regardless of system size.


A Tesla Solar Roof requires a Tesla Powerwall 2, which could cost $8,000 to $16,000 before incentives. The return on investment depends on your region and how much use you might get out of back-up storage.

You can also expect an additional cost of removing your existing roof.

Applicable Incentives

While the Solar Roof will likely qualify for the federal tax credit, it is unclear whether the non-solar roof tiles will also qualify for the credit.

The Solar Roof may also qualify for the Washington state production incentive, but because the tiles are made in New York, they will not qualify for the “Made in Washington” bonus production incentive.

Remember that these incentives will decrease in the coming years. Waiting too long may cost you.

Will the Tesla Solar Roof work for any roof pitch?

According to Tesla, the Solar Roof pitch range is 3:12 to vertical. If you own an A-Frame, you are in luck! But if your roof pitch is anything below 3:12, this may not be an efficient option for you.

Is the Tesla Solar Roof right for me?

At this point, the ideal Solar Roof customer is not worried about price or completely offsetting energy usage, and strongly prefers the look of a conventional roof or lives in a neighborhood with strict aesthetic guidelines. This customer likely has a roof with high square footage and may even be considering reroofing entirely. And if this customer is in Washington state, they are fine with waiting a few years to go solar, forgoing a percentage of the incentives.
If this customer sounds like you, visit Tesla’s website to make your deposit.
If it does not, conventional solar panels are your best bet. Get more information about our highly efficient, cost-effective, solar power products.

Last Modified: February 19, 2018

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