Everything we know about Tesla’s Solar Roof tiles coming to Canada

Elon Musk’s much-hyped Tesla solar panels are slated to arrive in Canada later this year, but many specifications are still elusive.

With this in mind, you will find everything we know about solar modules so far below.

Tesla Solar used to be a company called Solar City, run by Elon Musk’s cousins. Telsa bought the solar company in 2016 and turned it into the Tesla Solar division that you see today.

The main product of the company’s solar division is the solar roof tiles. These look like regular shingles when on your roof, but in reality they are a bunch of tiny solar panels. The company also sells regular solar modules.

Although Tesla bought Solar City in 2016, it didn’t start ramping up solar roof production until late 2019 and 2020. In early 2021, Musk said on Twitter that the futuristic solar technology will be available in Canada sometime this year. This year the company also significantly increased the cost of the panels, suggesting they won’t come cheap when they arrive in Canada.

Tesla solar tiles are more robust than traditional ceramic or shingle roof materials. The company also sells them with a 25-year warranty, which suggests they will last longer than some more traditional roofing materials.

The company’s rating says it can withstand hail up to 1.75 inches in diameter, so the majority of Canadians should be sure to place these on their rooftops. While they have yet to be tested in a real Canadian winter, a video showing how they withstand light snowfall in the United States demonstrates the tiles’ ability to heat up and melt snow on sunny days.

Each solar roof tile is 15 “by 45”, which makes it much wider than a traditional roof tile or clapboard, but still gives it a much cleaner appearance than regular solar panels. Tesla says its solar panels can be installed on roofs with pitches of 2:21 to 8:12, so they will work with most traditional roof designs.

If you’d like to learn more about living with the bricks, two solar roof owners shared videos on YouTube from their first year with the product. The only caveat is that both owners live in Southern California so comparing how they would work in Canada isn’t perfect.

The pros and cons

Similar to conventional solar modules, the advantages and disadvantages vary depending on your willingness to pay and whether you need to replace your existing roof.

In the USA, the cost of a solar roof for a 3,947 square meter roof with a 12.3 kW solar roof tile system is between 79,938 USD (approx. 100,412 CAD) and 100,621 USD (approx. 2019, according to Electrek.

The cost of re-shingling a comparatively inexpensive roof and getting 12 kW solar panels is around $ 40,000 in Canada. This will likely vary widely depending on where you are, but the above estimate is based on quotes from Nailed It Roofing and EnergyHub.ca.

This makes the price of a solar roof a gamble. In the two videos above, solar rooftop owners are saving between $ 3,000 (about $ 3,768) and $ 2,000 (about $ 2,512) a year on their utility bills and paying $ 33,000 (about $ 41,459) or that price variance is likely due to the size of the houses and the complexity of the roof lines.

The first homeowner would pay off their roof in about 16 to 17 years. With a minimum of seven years warranty remaining to ensure they save $ 2,000 (approximately CAD 2,515) each year for a total of approximately US $ 14,000 (approximately CAD 16,588).

The other homeowner saved about $ 3,000 annually in electricity but paid a significantly higher price to get their tiles installed. However, they have two power walls to save electricity and the first homeowner does not. Even so, it will take them around 28 years to pay off their roof, which is three years longer than the warranty.

There are no tests to see how long Tesla solar roofs actually last, but at current prices, many people will likely need them to survive long to cover the initial cost of the modules.

A separate report from Inverse portrays another Solar Roof owner who mentions that they need to get power from their local grid for their electric and hybrid cars. This can be fixed with more panels and battery storage, but EV owners should probably keep this in mind if they plan to run their home on solar power alone. As it is now with the cost of electric vehicles and solar panels, going green isn’t cheap.

The last thing I recently learned about solar panels and the solar roof is that they need to be cleaned. So while you might save electricity, you might have to pay for a few cleanings a year to keep your roof soaking in as much sunlight as possible.

Overall, there is still a lot to learn about Solar Roof and how well it works in a climate that has been under snow for six months, but hopefully that sheds a little light on the futuristic roof concept.

Source: Tesla, Inverse, Neumann family, Austin Flack, Electrek

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