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Tesla's Solar Roof in Alberta: What You Need to Know

The latest product, pricing, and installation timelines for Tesla’s new solar roof shingles in Alberta and Canada.

Tesla's Solar Roof in Alberta: What You Need to Know

The solar roof is the latest innovation from the joint efforts of Tesla and their newly acquired company, SolarCity.

Tesla recently announced it will be accepting pre-orders for their new solar roof, which are expected to begin installations in “June 2017 in certain regions of the U.S. “

For those of us wanting to install the Tesla solar roof in Alberta or Canada, we will have to wait until sometime in 2018 before the product becomes available internationally.  However, you can pre-order your Tesla solar roof immediately with a $1,330 (CAD) deposit. 

The Products

Tesla released four different solar roof shingles – Textured, Smooth, Tuscan and Slate.  The textured and smooth solar roof tiles are the initial products being released, with the tuscan and slate being released in “early 2018.”

The primary difference between the four solar roof tiles is aesthetic.  Each one replaces a traditional roofing material with one that is photovoltaic.   A standard solar roof installation will require two different tiles – one that is photovoltaic for placement on roof faces which are optimized for solar energy generation, and one that is non-photovoltaic for faces/locations that are not ideal for solar energy generation. 

Tesla Smooth Glass Solar Roof Shingle Alberta
Tesla Smooth Glass Solar Roof Tile
Tesla Textured Glass Solar Roof Shingle Alberta
Tesla Textured Glass Solar Roof Shingle

Using two different types of shingles (solar and non-solar) reduces the cost of the installation since photovoltaic shingles cost more than their non-photovoltaic counterparts.  South, and possibly East and West faces may receive photovoltaic solar roof shingles, whereas North faces and areas obstructed from sunlight will likely receive non-photovoltaic shingles. 

In Tesla’s baseline analysis, they predicted 35% of the tiles on a standard roof will be photovoltaic.  How much of your roof needs to be solar tiles, is still unknown as the full product specs are not yet released.  Similarly, how much energy you consume will also play a major factor in determining how many solar roof tiles you need.  The average home in Alberta consumes 6,900kWh of energy per year (as of 2015). 

Tesla Tuscan Solar Roof Tile Alberta
Tesla Tuscan Solar Roof Tile - Available in 2018
Tesla Solar Roof Shingle Slate
Tesla Slate Solar Roof Shingle - Available in 2018

Tile Warranty: The earlier of Infinity, or the lifetime of your house.

Power Warranty: 30 years

Weatherization Warranty: 30 years

Roof Pitches: 14 to 90 degrees

On top of this, the solar roof tiles also have best available hail, wind, fire and glass coating ratings.  Made from tempered glass, the tesla solar roof tiles are 3x stronger than standard roof tiles.  This will protect you and your home from the most severe Canadian hail storms.

The Numbers

Now comes the fun part. 

We know from Tesla’s analysis that their solar shingles stack up in the US markets of Texas, California and North Carolina but those are vastly different markets than what we have here in Alberta and Canada.  We have different electricity rate structures and solar irradiance up here.

Will the Tesla solar roof shingles be more affordable than a standard roof in Alberta/Canada?

Naturally, the answer to this will depend on how much energy you need, how big your roof is and what the energy prices are in your area.  For simplicity sake, we shall make a few basic assumptions regarding the system to accurately compare apples to apples.

The graph below shows Tesla’s factored costs for solar roofs in the US market. 

Tesla Solar Roof Price in USA
Tesla Solar Roof Prices - US Market

Tesla predicts the “typical homeowner can expect to pay $21.85/sq. ft.” (USD).  This value is less than the Consumer Reports estimation for the break-even point of solar roof shingles which was found to be $24.50/sq.ft (USD). 

This is nice to look at, but what does it mean for solar roofs in Alberta?

At a conversion of $1.33 CAD = $1.00 USD, we get an average installation cost of $29.06/sq ft (CAD).  This may be subject to additional tax and duties, but it is a good starting point.

Using identical assumptions as Tesla (via Home Advisor) and taking the median value of their estimate range, we get Slate = $22.61/sq ft, Clay Tile = $15.83/sq. ft., Metal = $20.62/sq. ft., and Asphalt = $8.71/sq. ft. [All prices are in CAD]

At a glance, Tesla’s solar roof is significantly higher, but these are just the costs of installation and do not consider the energy generation from the roof tiles. 

The average homeowner in Canada can expect to pay approximately $29.06/sq. ft (fully installed) for a solar roof.

Tesla’s Solar Roof with Energy value, above, assumes that 35% of the roof will have solar tiles and the average electricity rate is $.137/kWh with an escalation of 2%/yr.  Since we are in Alberta, we will make a solar roof analysis for Alberta number using the following assumptions:

·         Energy price = $0.05/kWh (this will vary depending on your energy retailer) +4% escalation per year

·         Transmission & Distribution price = $0.05/kWh (this will vary depending on your location/wire service provider) +2.2% escalation per year

·         Roof Area = 1,500 sq. ft

·         Tesla Shingle Efficiency = 10% (*conservative estimate only*)

·         Module Degradation = 0.5%/yr (*conservative estimate only*)

·         Solar roof tiles % of total = 35% (as per Tesla assumptions), facing due South @ 6:12

·         Irradiance = 1660kWh/m2 (Edmonton, AB)

·         Inflation Rate = 1.5%

·         Discount Rate = 3.25%

Tesla Solar Roof Cost Comparison Alberta
Tesla Solar Roof Cost Comparison for Alberta

Based on the above assumptions, a Tesla Solar Roof will cost $43,590 (before any energy profits have been applied).  Under the same sq. ft assumptions, the cost for the other roof types are slightly more affordable, however we must account for the energy generation of the solar roof tiles based on the Alberta energy market prices, net-billing system and local irradiance.

Using the above assumptions, we calculated the solar roof tiles will output ~5,740kWh/yr which will yield a (nominal) Net Value of $11,436 over a 30-year span dropping the energy-factored Net Investment of Tesla solar roof shingles in Edmonton to $32,154.  An investment in this range would place the Tesla solar roof shingles at roughly equal to the slate and metal roofing options. 

IF the new Alberta Residential and Commercial Solar Power Grant applies to the photovoltaic portion of the roof tiles (i.e. 35% of this installation will receive a 30% rebate) then the Net Investment of solar roof shingles in Alberta drops to $27,577 or approximately twice as expensive as a standard asphalt roof.

One key element that is missing when comparing the solar roof to an asphalt roof is longevity.  The solar roof comes with an infinite warranty (or one equal to that of your home), and is performance warrantied for 30 years.  In this same time frame, a standard asphalt roof will need to be replaced at least once, making the Tesla solar roof shingle more affordable than its counterparts over a 30 to 50 year time frame.

A metal roof will last as long as a solar roof, so longevity is not an accurate comparison between those materials.

Asphalt Roof with Solar Panels vs Tesla Solar Roof Tiles

One key comparison that will be useful to note is how does the solar roof stack up to putting standard solar modules onto an asphalt roof. 

To keep things simple, we will use the exact same assumptions.  To generate the same amount of energy (~5,740kWh/yr), we will need to install ~5kW of solar energy.  A system of this size will be somewhere close to $12,500 to $14,000 (depending on the specifics of the home/array) which will be subject to a 30% solar power rebate dropping the Net Investment for the solar array to approximately $10,000.

The graph above shows the net investment for an asphalt roof + solar panels (subject to a 30% rebate) to be approximately $4,500 more affordable than the Tesla solar roof for Edmonton conditions.

For the marginal difference of $4,500 there will definitely be a fair number of homeowners electing to install the solar roof shingles in Alberta based on the added longevity of the solar roof and the final benefit we have not discussed yet - looks.

The Tesla solar roof is sexy.

Tesla Solar Roof Shingles Alberta
Tesla Solar Roof Shingles

…at least by roofing standards.

Aesthetics are hugely important when it comes to your home.  Home aesthetic decisions are one of the leading causes of relationship fights (this statistic is unverified) – they matter.  There is definitely value to having a new, eye-catching product on your roof. 

The value of the solar roof’s aesthetic appeal will differ for everyone.  Beauty is subjective.

What’s not subjective is improving the look of your home adds value.  Adding solar power to your home adds value.  Doing both at the same time will also likely add value to your most prized asset.  

Conclusion

Overall the solar roof appears to have fair financial highlights over a 30 to 50-year time frame.  It won’t likely be adopted on a mass scale (yet) due to its initial investment, but if you have the extra cash to invest up-front, then it is certainly a viable alternative to asphalt roofs or metal roofs.

As new solar technology develops, efficiencies increase and prices decrease.  This has been the trend since the 1950’s and there is no reason to think it will stop with Tesla. Their latest product is not meant to turn you into a millionaire.  It is meant to be a viable replacement for a product that has saturated the market. 

The solar roof is certainly expensive, there is no denying that.  But over a 30 to 50 year span it makes sense to invest in a long-term energy generating product.

 

 

 

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