Tesla Solar Roof (the price is not the price)

Back on December 9, 2020, I signed what I thought was a contract with Tesla for them to install a solar roof within 180 days (by June 9, 2021) and two Powerwalls for a total of $71,533. Somewhat more than a regular roof, of course, but we’d have bragging rights, would be saving the planet, would have backup power in the event of a grid failure (a regular event here due to trees plus an apparent unwillingness to put the powerlines underground), and would have the joy of maintaining yet another household system (not like those dumb people who rent and let the landlord take care of everything that breaks!).

After months of silence, on April 23, I received an email:

We have increased the price of Solar Roof and have added adjustments for individual roof complexity. Learn more

We’d like to offer you one Powerwall at no additional charge when you proceed with your Solar Roof installation. You will receive an email when your new agreement is ready for your review and acceptance before moving forward. Please make sure to keep at least one Powerwall on your order to take advantage of this offer. If you have not already done so, please complete any outstanding items in your Tesla Account.

On May 5, 2021, I received a text message telling me to check the web site, which shows that the price has gone up to $84,137. Battery prices are supposed to be on a downward trend, but it looks as though Powerwalls have gone from $7,000 each to $10,500 each?

One interesting aspect of this design is that there are power-generating tiles on both the north and sides of the house:

(the legend is a little confusing, but I think the tiles surrounded by white are the solar tiles; the top of the drawing above is the north-facing side of the house)

Update email received December 16, 2021: “Thank you for your interest in Solar Roof. In April 2021, Tesla increased pricing for some Solar Roof customers. Since then, we have updated our policy for customers who signed agreements before March 27, 2021. We’re now offering you the chance to proceed with Solar Roof under your pricing and terms that were in place before the April price change.” (i.e., contrary to the title of this post, the price is the price!) This was covered in “Tesla agrees to finally honor solar roof prices on signed contracts” (Electrek, 9/20/2021): “Unsurprisingly, this resulted in several legal actions, which were consolidated into a class action. However, in a new filing, Tesla’s lawyers informed the plaintiffs in the consolidated case that the company started ‘a program for customers who signed Solar Roof contracts before the April 2021 price changes to return those customers to their original pricing.’ Honestly, I’m not sure what Tesla thought would happen here. They had signed contracts; they were going to have to honor those prices.”

13 thoughts on “Tesla Solar Roof (the price is not the price)

  1. I think the simplest solution is just to cancel the contract that the TS apparently breached unless there is a clause letting them increase the price up to 20% to accommodate “unforeseen” circumstances. I saw (but not signed) agreements like that.

  2. In Florida solar roof panels would actually make sense, at least until first hurricane.

  3. While an integrated 15KW solar roof sounds nice (and certainly state of the art), I simply went with 18 highly regarded LG panels and a single 5KW inverter for $18K installed. Instead of a backup battery (which I did consider), I got a 10KW gasoline powered generator for $1K. If I had regular power failures, maybe I’d be more interested in an automatic battery backup, but it wasn’t clear those systems could last much more than a day. Backup generator will run for as I care to fill it (8 gal/day). Generator is not quiet, but works fine. Since December, panels have generated 2.71MWH (as I have a nice South facing roof), despite this month being lackluster so far solar-wise. I’d say so long Tesla.

  4. Still remember when $80,000 was the cost of an entire house. Maybe skip the solar panels & just retire. In Gainesville, you can buy 5 acres & put solar panels on the ground instead of bothering with roof tiles. Solar panels are now under $1/watt, so $73,000 should buy at least 73kw, enough to turn the house into a solar powered helicopter.

    Even in the 80’s, $10,000 of panels was considered enough, back when that was a huge chunk of the mortgage.

  5. In 2018, I put a new metal roof on my 2-story 2000 sf home and 2-car detached garage for $18,000. It’s probably double that now. I rely on a $1500 7KW Chinese-built tri-fuel portable generator for back-up power. It runs simultaneously my 3-head 2-ton ductless split AC system and everything in the house. Connected to my natural gas service it’ll run forever but will surely annoy my neighbors. I haven’t had a power outage since the 7-day failure after Hurricane Irma, Sep. 2017.

  6. You’re lucky, some people are seeing ~100% price increases. It sounds like these only make sense as the replacement for a normal roof. If your regular roof doesn’t need replacement and your HOA isn’t being difficult, standard panels should be far more economical.

  7. You haven’t even got to the fun part of Tesla Solar–just wait until the design and permit delays begin. Tesla’s incompetence meets bureaucracy plus abysmal customer service. Tesla is 2 for 2 in fiascos with people I know who are solar customers. Good luck!

  8. How long until Tesla roofs become the giant satellite dishes of yore? First one to post their Tesla roof in the ‘free if you come get it’ section of Craigslist should get a prize.

  9. Phil – probably a tough call for you. Spend $84k on a solar roof or pay for your next 84 landings.

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