Elon Musk says the third version of the Tesla solar roof will be cheaper and better than previous designs. Speaking at Tesla’s annual shareholders meeting Musk explained the challenges that caused the production of the product to be delayed.
“We are about to complete version 3 of the solar roof. This is actually quite a hard technology problem, to have an integrated solar cell with a roof tile, have it look good, and last for 30 years,” Musk said.
Long delay caused by product development
Tesla’s Solar Roof tile was launched in 2017 with production expected to start in 2018. This timeline was extended after production delays. So far only homes of some Tesla executives have had the tiles installed.
Musk says the third iteration of the tile is going to be better.
“I am very excited about version 3 of solar roof. We have a shot at being equal to a comparable shingle roof plus someone’s utility cost being lower than that. That’s one of the cheapest roofs available. So you can have a great roof with better economies than a normal fairly cheap roof and your utility bill,” he said during the meeting.
Real costs hard to say
Tesla didn’t provide any figures about the total cost of the roof, but shingle roofs can cost as little as $4/square foot. A non-solar tile roof costs around 10-$20USD/square foot.
Tesla price estimates include the savings in utility bills a solar roof may provide, but home energy prices range massively across the world, and even from state to state. Without calculating every individual homes's energy consumption, it is difficult to really do the math if a Tesla solar roof will really save you money.
Cheap solar hard to compete with
Tesla is also faced with the competition of rapidly dropping solar panel prices. For many people, a cheap roof in combination with a high-quality solar system, will still be cheaper than the total cost of the Tesla system.
Obviously your location, climate and local market affects how you can assess this kind of investment. But if Tesla can guarantee their product for 30 years, they will and can deliver the product within a reasonable time frame, after ordering.
They will no doubt make an impact on the home building industry.
Last year, California mandated that all new houses must have solar power starting in 2020. The new code is designed to slash energy use in new homes by more than 50 percent.
Tesla is likely to have a decent market in California but they will still be competing against solar panels made cheaply in China as well as developers who are obviously keen to build houses for the lowest price possible.