Tesla’s Solar Roof Pricing Is Cheap Enough to Catch Fire

Tesla Inc. has begun taking orders for its remarkable solar roof tiles to be delivered by summer at a price point that could be transformative for the U.S. solar market. 

Tesla will begin with production of two of the four styles of solar tile unveiled in October: a smooth glass and a textured glass version. The Tuscan and French slate tiles will be available by the end of this year. Roofing a 2,000 square-foot home in New York state—with 40 percent coverage of active solar tiles and battery backup for night-time use—would cost about $50,000 after federal tax credits and generate $64,000 in energy over 30 years, according to Tesla.

The warranty is for the lifetime of your house.

“The pricing is better than I expected, better than everyone expected,”

said Hugh Bromley, a solar analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance who had been skeptical about the potential market impact of the new product.

Production will begin at Tesla’s Fremont solar plant in California and then shift to its new factory in Buffalo, New York, with additional investments from Tesla’s partner, Panasonic.

The rooftop shingles are virtually indistinguishable from traditional high-end roofing products, with discreet solar cells embedded beneath a glass surface. From most viewing angles, they look just like ordinary shingles, but they allow light to pass through from above onto a standard flat solar cell.

After Tesla acquired SolarCity in November, Musk said Tesla’s new solar roof product may actually cost less to manufacture and install than a traditional roof—even before savings from the power bill. “Electricity,” Musk said, “is just a bonus.”