Following its initial announcement back in October last year, Tesla has today opened up preorders for its Solar Roof. The discreet rooftop solar solution is part of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's efforts to drive mainstream adoption of renewable energy, and today we've gotten our first idea of how much it will cost to give your roof a green makeover and take part in that vision.
In simple terms, Tesla's Solar Roof panels are regular-looking roof tiles that come in two forms, ones that house hidden solar cells inside and ones that don't. Homeowners can choose how many of the solar versions they need for their abode, and select from textured, smooth, French Slate and Tuscan finishes.
These glass tiles look unremarkable (though pretty) from street level, but perform the role of capturing the sun's energy for storage in Tesla's Powerwall 2. This home battery pack, which was also announced in October, offers 14 kWh of storage.
And the tiles are tough, too. As part of their original unveiling, Musk showed a video demonstrating a weight falling onto and smashing regular terra cotta, clay and slate tiles, while bouncing off the Tesla tile and seemingly causing it no damage. The way Musk sees it, for this little venture to work, the Solar Roof has to look better than a regular roof, last longer than a regular roof and cost less than a regular roof to install.
It is on that last point that we've been left in the dark, however. In its announcement today, Tesla points to a Consumer Reports estimate that bills US$24.50 per square foot as the key price point, meaning that the Solar Roof would need to cost less than this to compete with a regular roof. It says that typical homeowners can expect to pay $21.85 per square foot for the Solar Roof.
While this gives an indication, the prices will vary a lot depending on things like local tax breaks and if you need work done like structural upgrades or gutter replacements. For more personalized estimates, Tesla has made a calculator that integrates Google's Project Sunroof to give customers a better idea of the costs they're likely to have to deal with.
Project Sunroof uses aerial images taken from Google Maps and combines it with 3D modeling of your roof, along with data on sun position, weather patterns and shade from nearby trees and buildings. It then calculates how many hours of usable sunlight hit the roof and spits out an estimate of energy production. It now covers every US state, and is available in parts of Germany.
The Solar Roof can be ordered today from "almost any country," Musk tweeted today. The company will begin installations in California in June and the remainder of the US this year, followed by overseas installments next year. To start, the smooth and textured tiles will be available, with the Tuscan and French Slate styles available in six months. You can check out Tesla's cost calculator here.