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Tesla Solar Roof vs. Solar Panels: How Do They Compare in 2024?

Tesla Solar Roof vs. Solar Panels

There was a time when solar power was not for everybody. When solar power really hit the market with new and promising technology, it was way out of the average homeowner’s price range to install. However, pricing has come down over the years, and many states and provinces have some attractive rebates for going green.

There are several big-name brands in the solar power world. You likely know Tesla for their electric vehicles, but in recent years they’ve also begun to delve into solar power for homes. Below we will compare the Tesla Solar Roof to traditional solar panels and see how they stack up.

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Overview of Tesla Solar Roof

Solar PV Rooftop Grounding Clamp Close up View
Image Credit: Wichien Tepsuttinun, Shutterstock

In 2016, Tesla purchased SolarCity and started down the road of providing solar energy options. But they weren’t satisfied with just being among the top solar installers in the States. So, they designed the Solar Roof.

Unlike a traditional solar power system that is mounted in your yard or on the roof to catch the sunlight, the Tesla Solar Roof is designed to replace your existing roof completely. One major downside to this roof replacement is that it’s permanent. If you move, the solar roof stays.

However, if you live in the home long enough to see some returns, the plus is that a solar roof will increase the value of your house with its 25-year warranty.

Average Cost

If you’re thinking this all sounds expensive. It is. Based on various news sources and consumer reports, a Tesla Solar Roof starts at around $30,000 and can reach prices of $100,000. The size and style of the roof are two of the main contributing factors to price.

Tesla admits that the emphasis was not on affordability. They were giving their customers an opportunity to pay a premium in exchange for a total roof replacement that is durable and provides solar energy without looking like it’s providing solar energy.

RV Installing Solar Panel Wiring
Image Credit: Voyagerix, Shutterstock


For the price, you should expect that not only will the Solar Roof produce reliable power, but it will be durable. These roof tiles do not disappoint in either way. For example, Tesla claims that the Solar Roof will have at least 95% capacity after 5 years and will lose no more than 0.5% each year for the next 20 years.

As far as durability is concerned, the Solar Roof is designed to withstand just about anything that mother nature can throw at it. They are supposed to be three times as strong as other roof tiles. Plus, they have the highest fire ratings in the industry and are rated class F and class 3 for wind and hail, respectively.


  • Attractive design
  • Durable roof replacement
  • Can withstand extreme weather
  • Reliable power for at least 25 years
  • Expensive
  • Cannot be taken with you
  • Can be less efficient compared to leading solar panels

Consult a Roofing expert

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Overview of Solar Panels

solar panel on the garden
Image Credit: Piqsels

You can get solar panels in many different forms. Whether you want a portable panel for camping, multiple panels to get your home off the electrical grid, or anything in between, you have options.

You can save a lot of money on solar panels by getting a DIY panel kit. Most homeowners with a reasonable amount of DIY experience will be able to do it easily other than the final hookups. Most places will have rules in place where only a licensed electrician can do the final hookups and turn everything on.

If you’re not tying your solar panels into the grid, you can likely even avoid hiring an electrician. That, coupled with some generous rebates and subsidies available, makes solar panels an affordable option for many people these days.

Average Cost

Solar panels have a pretty big pricing gap—like Tesla’s Solar Roof. However, pricing on a solar panel starts at a much more reasonable level. Depending on what particular panel you go with, you can get started for as low as $3,500.

On average, $16,000 seems to be the going rate for the typical American home. But prices can still go as high as $35,000 or more.

A major cost-saving attribute of solar panels is that they don’t replace the roof. They are usually installed on an existing roof or a frame in the yard.

a row of solar panels installed in the field
Image Credit: Chelsea, Unsplash


Because of where they are designed to be, solar panels are meant to withstand many environmental hazards. Small falling debris isn’t too much of a problem if the panel doesn’t get scratched.

Solar panels are designed to be waterproof. However, as they age, seals can wear out, and they lose their ability to keep water out. Then, like anything electrical, you’re going to have serious issues. That’s why proper maintenance is important as the solar panel ages.


  • Affordable options available
  • Can be taken with you to a new home
  • Highly efficient options available
  • Can be placed anywhere for optimal efficiency
  • Less aesthetically pleasing compared to Tesla’s Solar Roof
  • Can be prone to damage depending on the panel

Tesla Solar Roof vs. Solar Panel

There are some significant differences between these two types of solar power generators. Below, we’ve compiled a small table to give you situations where each would be an ideal candidate.

When to Go for a Solar Roof

  • Long-term plans for staying
  • Large budget
  • Concerned about aesthetics
  • Less concerned about the efficiency
  • Looking for a durable option for extreme weather

When to Use Solar Panels

  • Limited budget
  • Want greater control over efficiency
  • Potentially need to move
  • If your roof was recently replaced
  • Aren’t concerned with looks
Tesla Solar Roof vs Solar Panels
Image Credit: (L) | (R) schropferoval, Pixabay

Advantages of Solar Power

Even if you opt for solar panels versus the Solar Roof, you are still spending several thousand dollars at a minimum—even with rebates. So, is there any real advantage to solar power over simply paying a utility bill every month and not thinking about where the power is coming from? Here are several advantages of solar power:

  • Solar power is not going anywhere because you can’t use up all the sun’s energy.
  • There are no emissions released through the production of solar power.
  • While there will always be a purpose for fossil fuels, solar power reduces our reliance on said fuels.
  • Creates some independence from the local electrical grid, which is a huge plus if the grid goes down for any reason.

Disadvantages of Solar Power

Solar power is not without its disadvantages, regardless of the system you opt for. Here are a few of the disadvantages that must be weighed before diving into solar energy:

  • High initial cost—even the “cheap” panels will cost you several thousand dollars.
  • Limited by how much sun your area gets for the panel’s efficiency.
  • Depending on the hours of sun, the energy production is intermittent. There are storage solutions available for solar energy, but it’s still not a constant energy source.
aerial view of houses with solar panels
Image Credit: Jeremy Bezanger, Unsplash

Buying Solar Panels or a Solar Roof

When it comes to the Tesla Solar Roof, you purchase that directly from Tesla and hire a qualified installer to tear off your roof and install the Solar Roof. Installation of the roof tiles is one of the big contributors to the high price tag of Tesla’s option.

If you’re going the solar panel route, you have several different options for purchasing and installation

Hire an Installer

If you hire a qualified installer for your solar panels, they will often have better buying power. So, they can provide you with a better deal on the panels and bundle that with the installation.

On the other hand, if you can get a better price on the panels, you can purchase them and hire the installer for the installation only.


Suppose you’d prefer to save as much money as possible. Then purchasing panels directly from the manufacturer and installing them yourself is also an option. This route is not ideal for the inexperienced DIYer, but it will ultimately save you the most money.

The available DIY kits have great instructions. So, even if you are inexperienced, you can still safely proceed. It’ll take you a lot longer than it should, though.

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As you can see, Tesla’s Solar Roof and a traditional solar panel are very different beasts. If you’re not planning to leave your home anytime soon or have to replace your roof anyway, the Solar Roof is an expensive but great option.

On the other hand, a traditional solar panel gives you more control over the panel’s efficiency, and the costs are much lower than a Solar Roof. Either way, both options are good if you’re looking for a way to positively affect the environment by reducing your energy footprint.

See also: Solar Shingles vs Solar Panels: How Do They Compare?

Featured Image Credit: (L) | (R) NxTide, Pixabay

Solar PV Rooftop Grounding Clamp Close up View
Image Credit: Wichien Tepsuttinun, Shutterstock


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