Roof Tech Review: Is Tesla’s “Solar Roof” Worth It?

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Roof Tech Review: Is Tesla’s “Solar Roof” Worth It?

In 2016, Elon Musk unveiled the Solar Roof: Tesla’s take on the solar panel. In typical Hollywood fashion, he repurposed the set of Desperate Housewives to showcase the new product, re-roofing four houses on Wisteria Lane with the prototype panels. At the time, Musk was a chairman of SolarCity, which manufactured solar panels. The goal, he stated, was to “make solar look good,” replacing the traditional, oversized panels with high-end roof tiles.

Despite Musk’s optimism and a declaration that 2019 would be “the year of the Solar Roof,” the company had only installed about one dozen solar roofs by 2018. Now, three years later, the project is still struggling to fully take off. According to a recent article, Musk admitted that the prototype needed work and that Tesla significantly underestimated the costs associated with installing the panels on more complex roof structures.

Many customers have already had deposits refunded due to unexpected cost increases. However, he stated that he still intends to expand product installations this year.

 A home featuring the Tesla Solar Roof, which uses an interlocking grid of panels to appear more like a shingled roof. Photo courtesy of

What Makes Tesla Solar Different?

Tesla uses an interlocking system of active and inactive panels to mimic the appearance of traditional tiles. Tesla claims the Solar Roof tiles are not only more aesthetically pleasing than traditional solar panels, they are also three times more durable than standard roof tiles and will “pay for themselves over time.”

In addition to these attractive features, Tesla has also added its famous technological spin to appeal to potential buyers. The Solar Roof is integrated with Tesla’s Solar Inverter system, which uses the typical DC/AC conversion method to generate electricity from light energy. The system also includes several tech-savvy attributes:

  • It is compatible with traditional solar systems, not just Tesla’s Solar Roof.
  • It comes with the Tesla App, a sleek and user-friendly software that enables users to control energy use and monitor the home’s energy consumption and availability.
  • The system is bundled with, a rechargeable home battery system. While this is another expense unique to Tesla, the system does have its benefits. For example, it allows homeowners to store energy for future use and gain precise insights into home energy usage with live updates.

Is It Worth It?

Tesla Solar Roof is still significantly more expensive than traditional solar panels. The only appreciable difference at this point lies in the design, which does have a more stylish appearance than the traditional panels.

Tesla has also had low ratings overall in its Energy programs. Unforeseen costs combined with significant delays have resulted in cancellations and price hikes for many customers who made deposits on the tiles years ago.

Generally speaking, however, solar panels are an eco-friendly option that can even generate income over time. Colorado offers great incentives for homeowners to install solar panels, including rebates, state and federal tax credits, and net metering programs. Combine these incentives with our state’s ample sunshine, and solar panels can actually be an excellent investment.

The Take-Away

Tesla may have a good product with all the tech bells and whistles we have come to expect from it, but it seems Solar Roof needs more time to reach its full potential. However, the sleek design and technological advantages may be enough to offset the increase in cost for some buyers.

Whether you choose Tesla or a more traditional route, you will want to find a local roofer and receive a thorough inspection before undertaking a solar installation. Solar panels are an investment and can be expensive to remove if they are placed over areas in need of repair. J&K Roofing services the Northern Colorado, Denver Metro, Front Range, and Colorado Springs areas.

We work with all solar manufacturers and are certified in each material we use. Our roofers have the knowledge and skill to help you with your solar project. Contact us today for your free inspection and to discuss your solar installation project.

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The Science of Solar: How Do Solar Panels Work and Are They Right For My Home?

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The Science of Solar: How Do Solar Panels Work and Are They Right For My Home?

Solar panels have increased significantly in popularity over the last five years, with an estimated two million American homes going solar as of 2019. They are an Earth-friendly option that can even earn income in the long term for the homeowner. But how, exactly, do these panels work?

The Science of Solar Panels

It may seem like magic: the sun shines on them and is transformed into electricity to power the building. But it is actually a fairly simple process that utilizes decades-old scientific knowledge about light and electric currents. In a few steps, sunlight is converted at the atomic level into an electrical current. Technology does the rest.

Basic steps in the conversion of sunlight to electricity. The general construction of a solar panel is on the right. Image courtesy of

Step One: Convert Light Energy to Electric Energy

Solar panels are made up of rows of photovoltaic cells. (The word “photovoltaic” simply means converting light into energy.) The cells themselves are made of silicon, a semiconductor. A semiconductor is useful because it is a material that can be “doped” to create an electric field, which is necessary to allow electricity to flow. When light photons hit the silicon cells, electrons are freed and directed in a circuit to form a current of electricity.

Step Two: Create an Electric Field

In order to maintain a flow of electric energy, an electric field is necessary. This is similar to a magnetic field, which relies on a negative pole and a positive pole. As mentioned above, silicon can be doped or treated, create a negative charge on one side and a positive charge on the other. In this case, phosphorus is used to create a negative charge, and boron is used to create a positive charge.

When an electron is knocked loose from the silicon semiconductor, it is then free to travel along the electric field, being attracted to the opposite charge in a direct current (DC) of electricity.

Illustration of the electric field. Particles move from positive charge to negative charge. Image courtesy of

Step Three: Convert From DC to AC

At the end of each solar panel is a conductive wire. This wire brings the DC electricity to an inverter, where it is converted to Alternating Current (AC) electricity. This is the form of electricity that is most commonly used to power buildings and devices.

The reason for this has to do with the fact that, unlike DC electricity, AC voltage can be adjusted from high to low. It is also capable of traveling much farther distances. As the name suggests, this form of electricity periodically reverses direction in the energy circuit.

By contrast, electrons in DC electricity always flow in the same direction. DC electricity is found in another type of voltaic cell, also known as the alkaline battery.

There you have it! The process of converting sunlight into an alternating current of usable electricity for your home.

Is Solar Power Right for Me?

The benefits of solar power are beginning to be difficult to ignore. Aside from the obvious environmental advantages, there are a couple other reasons why you may want to consider installing these panels on your roof.

Energy Savings

After the initial cost of installation*, you will be generating your own electricity. You will notice in the diagram above which illustrates the steps of energy conversion that any extra energy generated in the process is credited to the electrical grid. There will be days when you generate more energy than you consume. This extra energy is a potential source of income for you and your family when traded with the utilities company.

*Costs of installation can be significantly reduced by local state rebates and Solar Renewable Energy Certificates. You will also earn an income tax credit.

Added Value to Your Home

Like most energy-efficient upgrades, solar panels can add to the overall value of your home. While factors like location, system size, and market rates can impact the amount, a study by Lawrence Berkley found that the addition of solar panels increased home value by an average of $15,000.

Solar Panels Work Everywhere

While solar panels will produce more energy on sunny days, they still work when it is cloudy or raining. In the case of somewhere like Colorado, any extra energy consumed on overcast days will be more than canceled out by the high number of sunny days per year, with an average of 4.82 hours daily of direct sunlight. Colorado also offers additional incentives to homeowners with a solar panel system.

J&K Roofing Offers Roof Inspections, Repairs, and Installation

Solar panels are an increasingly popular addition to American homes. They are an incredible piece of technology that is eco-friendly, cost-effective, and efficient.

Before installing this new feature, it is wise to have your roof inspected by a professional. Solar panels are designed to last for many years, and it can be expensive and inconvenient to have to remove and reinstall them if your roof is in need of repairs.

J &K Roofing offers free roof inspections in the Denver Metro, Front Range, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins regions. We work with all solar manufacturers and are certified in each material we use. Our roofers have the knowledge and skill to help you with your solar project. Call us today so we can help you get started!


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