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Solar panel designs haven’t changed much, and we all know what they look like. But Tesla decided to give solar power a makeover and turned shingles into solar panels. Sleek appearance aside, how do Tesla solar roofs stack up against solar panels?
Solar panels are less expensive than solar roofs and more efficient. While solar panels can be mounted on your roof, Tesla requires replacing your whole roof.
I prepared this table to give you a quick comparison overview. There are a lot of factors though, that affect the performance of solar panels and solar roofs or shingles.
|Solar Panels||Tesla Solar Roof|
|Cost (5kw, no battery)||$15,000-$20,000||$25,000|
|Installation Process||Mounted on roof or ground||Replaces your roof|
|Longevity||25-30 years||25-30 years|
|Design||Black or blue rectangular units||Shingles|
Now that you have a general idea of how solar panels and solar roofs compare, let’s look into the details.
Solar panels. Most of us are familiar with solar panels: black or blue rectangular devices arranged in arrays on roofs, RVs or the ground.
Solar panels are made of various materials such as aluminum, copper, glass and plastic polymer. Each square on a solar panel is called a cell.
Tesla solar roof. Tesla is made of tempered glass panels which are meant to replace your roof. They function like a regular roof but also converts the sun’s energy into solar power.
Solar panels are becoming more common but your roof is still going to stick out no matter what. In contrast, Tesla solar roofs resemble standard roofs. Aesthetics is a matter of personal preference, though many like the Tesla look.
Solar panels. Solar panels can be installed on your roof or the ground. They can also be installed on RVs and motorhomes as well. The process is complex but it is flexible.
Requirements for solar panel installation depends on whether you are on or off the grid. But there are a lot of professional installers available that can provide assistance.
Tesla solar roof. Installation is more difficult because the shingles will replace your entire roof. This is going to require more work than compared to just mounting solar panels.
It is harder to find Tesla installers compared to solar panels and is more expensive. Taking out your roof in favor of Tesla shingles is also going to take longer than mounting a solar array.
Solar panels are easier and more affordable to install. It is easy to buy a solar panel kit for home, and there are a lot of technicians for repair and services to choose from.
In contrast, Tesla solar roof installation is more complicated and costly. If installation is a main concern, solar panels are the better option.
Winner: solar panels
Solar panels and Tesla solar roofs can meet your home’s power requirements. But which one is more efficient in converting the sun’s rays into solar energy?
Solar panels have an average efficiency rating of 19-25%, while Tesla roofs are at 17-20%. The Eco Worthy pack is one of the better ones for instance.
Solar panels and the Tesla solar roof operate using the photovoltaic effect, but Tesla shingles do not have air circulation which affects performance.
Since Tesla shingles are designed to replace your roof, its location cannot be changed. Solar panels can be oriented to face the sun to increase output and efficiency.
Solar panels and Tesla shingles can provide the power your home needs. But solar panels are more efficient which means a faster return on your investment.
Winner: solar panels
Solar panels. This is a difficult one to compare because solar panel installation costs depend on many factors.
Aside from the solar panels, you have to include the cost of the inverter, mounting rack, installation fee and other expenses.
Grid tied solar panels do receive tax credits which offsets the cost. A typical 5kw installation may cost $15,000-$20,000.
If you are off the grid, you will need a battery bank to store solar energy and keep the lights on at night. You will also need a charge controller to prevent the batteries from overcharging.
Tesla solar roof. For a 5kw system the cost will be around $25,000. This does not include Powerwall batteries which are priced at around $8,000 each.
This is the minimum cost for installation. Remember, Tesla roofs are going to replace your roof so there will likely be additional expenses.
Another factor driving up Tesla roof costs is the limited number of contractors knowledgeable about it. You have to do a lot of research to find out if such services are available in your area.
Winner: solar panels
Solar panels. If you need more solar power, it’s relatively easy to do so with solar panels. Since they are mounted on your roof (or the ground), the contractor can add more solar panels or replace the current array with higher capacity units.
Adding more solar panels is straightforward. However you have to check your inverter if it can handle the additional power. But the solar panels themselves can be installed without complications.
Tesla roof. It’s also possible to scale up with Tesla solar shingles.. But it’s more challenging because it has replaced your roof. It is a more complicated and expensive process.
It is not impossible of course. With a knowledgeable contractor it can be done. What I’m saying is that compared to solar panels, it’s going to take more effort.
Winner: solar panels
Solar panels and Tesla shingles both offer 25-30 year warranties. During this period you can expect them to run up to at least 85% of their capacity.
With proper maintenance, both systems can last longer than that. There are a lot of factors that affect solar performance though. Even if your system is well maintained, it can’t always perform at peak capacity.
Solar panels. Solar panels are versatile and mobile. You can install them on different kinds of roofs and at various angles.
Solar panels can be installed on the ground or on an RV. There are different types of mounting racks available.
Since solar panels are not attached to the roof, you can take them with you if you decide to leave. However, solar panels increase the value of homes so it’s a good idea to leave them there in case you want to sell.
Tesla roof. The shingles are custom made for each roof, so you cannot install it anywhere else. This is also one of the reasons why these systems are more expensive.
Winner: solar panels
Solar Panels vs Tesla Solar Roof: Which is For You?
If you go through the head to head comparison above, solar panels are the better option most of the time.
While Tesla solar roofs are gaining popularity, more people prefer solar panels. However, it’s still up you.
Here are the biggest factors to consider.
How important is cost?
For a lot of homeowners, cost is one of, if not the biggest factor. Solar panels are cheaper by $5,000 or more.
Not only are solar panels less expensive, but you get tax credits and can earn money by sending back extra solar power you produce to the grid. This means you’ll recover your investment more quickly.
Are aesthetics important to you?
Solar panels don’t look bad, but it does make your roof look different. It will stand out from the rest especially if you’re the only one using solar power.
Some people like the fact that their roof stands out. Others want their homes to conform with the rest.
If aesthetics is paramount, Tesla roof is the better option. You can have it custom made for your home. But if you don’t mind the look of solar panels, then it’s the better choice.
Is efficiency your main consideration?
Solar panels are more effective in converting the sun’s rays into electricity. Tesla shingles are newer and improving all the time though.
On average solar panels are 5% more efficient than Tesla shingles. That may not seem like much but it makes a huge difference in terms of energy production.
Solar panels also have higher output compared to Tesla shingles. If you compare a 5kw solar panel with a 5kw Tesla roof, solar panels often produce more power.
The reason is solar panels are aligned to capture as much of the sun’s energy as possible. You can also orient these panels to get better results.
I am an advocate of solar power. Through portablesolarexpert.com I want to share with all of you what I have learned and cotinue to learn about renewable energy.