Raising The Roof: Telsa Roof Suddenly Soars In Cost

Via Inverse, a report on why Tesla’s solar-harvesting tiles have seen a price increase:

Tesla has hiked the price of its Solar Roof, and it’s left customers confused.

Earlier this month, it emerged that Tesla was raising the price on its solar energy roof tiles even for customers that had already signed a contract for installation. Electrek reported that prices had risen by around 30 percent. The New York Times spoke to one customer who received an initial estimate of $60,000 for their roof, but then received a final quote of $112,000.


Tesla is perhaps best known as an electric car manufacturer, but its website describes its mission as much broader: “Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”

In October 2016, Musk demonstrated its vision of a “house of the future” on the set of Desperate Housewives. It showed a Tesla Model 3 electric sedan in the garage. The home’s roof was covered in Solar Roof tiles, a roof with a mix of solar and non-solar “dummy tiles.” The two tiles are designed to look identical, meaning it looks like a regular roof to the untrained eye.

The house was completed with a Powerwall battery, which stored energy from the tiles so the house could run from clean energy even when the sun’s not shining.

The Solar Roof was relatively rare after its unveiling, bar a smattering of installs in early 2018. That changed in October 2019, when the company unveiled its third-generation tiles designed for faster installation times.


Musk claimed that, in 80 percent of cases, the new tiles would offer “a price point that is less than what the average roof costs plus solar panels.”

Research from Electrek after the announcement found a 9.45-kilowatt roof of 1,862 square feet cost $38,266. Once the Powerwall and repairs were factored in, it cost $54,866.

LinkedIn engineer Robby Valles shared on Twitter in August 2020 that his 1,737-square-foot 7.37-kilowatt solar roof cost $34,067 before tax credits. 

here’s the cost breakdown at $34k,  but tesla recently lowered the prices for the v3 solar roof so it’s very affordable now
Tweet reading “here’s the cost breakdown at $34k, but tesla recently lowered the prices for the v3 solar roof so it’s very affordable now”Twitter / Robby Valles

For comparison, HomeGuide lists the cost to replace a 2,000-square-foot asphalt roof as $10,460 at the high end. EnergySage lists the average cost of a seven-kilowatt solar system as $19,670 before tax credits.

This suggests Valles’s roof may have cost slightly more than buying the two separately, although it’s hard to say as the price would vary depending on the house.

Tony Cho, who ordered a giant Tesla Solar Roof for his Florida retreat, told Inverse in January 2021 that it cost around 35 percent more than the price of panels and a new roof. Jason Lassen, who bought a Solar Roof for his Wisconsin home, told Inverse in March 2021 the price was “almost the exact same” as the cost of a good shingle roof plus solar.


In April 2021, Tesla made a number of changes to its solar offerings.

  • It is no longer possible to purchase the Solar Roof or the retrofit roof panels without also purchasing the Powerwall battery. Musk claims this will simplify installations.
  • The Powerwall 2 will unlock more peak power capability through a software update in May 2021. Newer batteries produced since around November 2020 offer more power than advertised. Energy remains the same, but peak power and steady-state power are around double in these newer units.
  • The Solar Roof is now more expensive.

Electrek obtained an email that went out to Solar Roof buyers. It included a line that explains “we have increased the price of Solar Roof and have added adjustments for individual roof complexity.”

On the firm’s new Roof Complexity web page, it explains:

Your roof’s complexity will determine your Solar Roof installation’s level of difficulty, which is factored into your final purchase price. Roofs fall into three tiers of complexity — simple, intermediate and complex. Roof complexity is determined by the number and severity of roof obstructions such as the pitch, number of joints, chimneys and other features on your roof that add to the difficulty of the installation.


Buyers have seen their prices increase massively since the change.

One buyer that spoke to Electrek ordered a 3,395-square-foot Solar Roof capable of 18.2 kilowatts. Including two Powerwalls, and before tax credits, the total price was $77,019.92. Under the new system, their price has soared to $118,870.33, a more than 50 percent increase.

The New York Times spoke to Ana Bianchi. Her roof was initially going to cost $63,000, but two weeks before installation the price increased to $85,000. Bianchi, who canceled the order, described the situation as “outrageous.”

Another, Peter Quint, told the publication that he was quoted $75,000 for a roof on his 4,000-square-foot house. When the price soared to $112,000, he called Tesla and was put on hold for over three hours. He ultimately canceled and used regular shingles plus panels, saving nearly $70,000.


Musk further explained the company’s rationale during the first-quarter 2021 earnings call:

“First of all, I should say the demand for the solar roof remains strong. So despite raising the price, the demand is still significantly in excess of our ability to meet the demand to install the solar roofs. So production is going fine, but we are choked at the installation point.”

“We did find that we basically made some significant mistakes in assessing the difficulty of certain roofs, but the complexity of roofs varies dramatically. Some roofs are literally two or three times easier than other roofs. So you just can’t have a one size fits all situation. If a roof has letter protuberances or if the core structure of the roof is rotted out or is not strong enough to hold the solar roof, then the cost can be double, sometimes three times what our initial quotes were.”

“So in those cases, what we obviously offer to do is to refund customers their deposit. What we cannot do is go and just lose a massive amount of money. We just got to provide a refund of the deposit.”

This entry was posted on Friday, April 30th, 2021 at 4:02 pm and is filed under Uncategorized.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

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About This Blog And Its Author
As potential uses for building and parking lot roofspace continue to grow, unique opportunities to understand and profit from this trend will emerge. Roof Options is committed to tracking the evolving uses of roof estate – spanning solar power, rainwater harvesting, wind power, gardens & farms, “cooling” sites, advertising, apiculture, and telecom transmission platforms – to help unlock the nascent, complex, and expanding roofspace asset class.

Educated at Yale University (Bachelor of Arts - History) and Harvard (Master in Public Policy - International Development), Monty Simus has held a lifelong interest in environmental and conservation issues, primarily as they relate to freshwater scarcity, renewable energy, and national park policy. Working from a water-scarce base in Las Vegas with his wife and son, he is the founder of Water Politics, an organization dedicated to the identification and analysis of geopolitical water issues arising from the world’s growing and vast water deficits, and is also a co-founder of SmartMarkets, an eco-preneurial venture that applies web 2.0 technology and online social networking innovations to motivate energy & water conservation. He previously worked for an independent power producer in Central Asia; co-authored an article appearing in the Summer 2010 issue of the Tulane Environmental Law Journal, titled: “The Water Ethic: The Inexorable Birth Of A Certain Alienable Right”; and authored an article appearing in the inaugural issue of Johns Hopkins University's Global Water Magazine in July 2010 titled: “H2Own: The Water Ethic and an Equitable Market for the Exchange of Individual Water Efficiency Credits.”