Editorial Feature

Tesla's Solar Roof vs. Traditional Solar Technology

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Although several different rackless solar systems are currently available, Tesla’s Solar Roof has generated a considerable amount of attention due to the company’s reputation for innovative technology solutions. As the production of Tesla’s third-generation solar roof begins to proceed, it is important to consider what sets this solar system apart from the others.

Current Solar Roof Technology

As compared to solar panels that are installed directly onto rooftops, rackless solar systems like solar roofs, solar shingles and solar tiles will replace the material of the roof where it is being placed. Solar shingles, for example, will be used to replace traditional asphalt shingles during their installation.

There are several advantages associated with choosing to install rackless solar systems as compared to placing solar panels directly on top of a building’s roof. Of these advantages include a quicker installation time as compared to solar panels, more aesthetically appealing appearance as a result of its reduced bulkiness and improved energy conversion efficiency. Some of the manufacturing companies within the United States that have emerged as leaders in the production of rackless solar systems include CertainTeed, SunTegra, GAH, Luma Solar, DeSol, Hanergy, and Forward.

How Tesla’s Solar Roof Compares

Since the first installations of Tesla’s solar roof went live in California in January 2018, eight states across the United States have now welcomed this solar technology into their local buildings. Like many of the aforementioned rackless solar systems, Tesla’s solar roof is a building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) product that can be used to replace traditional roofing material.

When considering the cost of Tesla’s solar roof, it is important to consider the two distinct solar tiles that are incorporated into this product. The first tile, which costs approximately $35-42 USD per square foot, is used for solar energy conversion, whereas the second tile used in Tesla’s solar roof is a dummy tile, which costs approximately $11 USD per square foot, and is used for size adjustment during installation procedures. The latest and third-generation of Tesla’s solar roof is currently offered in four different designs of Tuscan glass tile, slate glass tile, textured glass tile, and smooth glass tile. The quartz material that comprises each type of glass tile has been noted for its exceptional strength capabilities and “quasi-infinite lifetime,” according to Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk.

As the production of Tesla’s solar roof shingles continues in response to the growing demand for this product, the company anticipates the cost of their solar tiles to eventually reach as little as $21.85 USD per square foot. To this end, a complete Tesla solar roof can cost up to $64,000, depending upon the size of the roof. It is also important to note that each Tesla solar roof comes with a lifetime of the house warranty, as well as a 30-year power generation guarantee. While the cost of Tesla’s solar roof is much more as compared to other rackless solar systems, its guaranteed long-term net benefit makes this solar technology option highly competitive against other less expensive options.


The decision for a homeowner to choose the Tesla solar roof as compared to other rackless solar systems largely depends on whether the homeowner is more interested in maintaining an aesthetically appealing roof that is highly durable rather than dwelling on higher up-front costs as compared to solar systems provided by other companies. Overall, the Tesla solar roof is a reliable option that will further normalize the incorporation of this useful green technology into the mainstream.

Sources and Further Reading

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Benedette Cuffari

Written by

Benedette Cuffari

After completing her Bachelor of Science in Toxicology with two minors in Spanish and Chemistry in 2016, Benedette continued her studies to complete her Master of Science in Toxicology in May of 2018. During graduate school, Benedette investigated the dermatotoxicity of mechlorethamine and bendamustine; two nitrogen mustard alkylating agents that are used in anticancer therapy.


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