What is the Real Cost of a Tesla Solar Roof?

Written by Leigh Matthews, BA Hons, H.Dip. NT

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Leigh Matthews, BA Hons, H.Dip. NT

Sustainability Expert

Leigh Matthews is a sustainability expert and long time vegan. Her work on solar policy has been published in Canada's National Observer.

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If you’re keen to go solar but don’t like the look of standard solar panels, you might be considering a Tesla solar roof. Launched in 2016, this solar shingle roof aims to be both roof and solar energy array, offering a seamless appearance. How much does a Tesla solar roof cost, though, and is it worth it?

Tesla is notoriously tight-lipped about the cost of its solar roof. It also avoids releasing figures for how many roofs it has installed and where. The good news is that nerdy researchers like me have our own ways of finding out the cost of a Tesla solar roof.

The quick summary before we get into the weeds about Tesla solar shingles:

  • A Tesla roof cost an estimated $60,605 in the first half of 2023
  • The average cost after the federal solar tax credit works out to $42,423
  • The cost per Watt installed was $5.99, with costs higher for the newer SR72T series solar shingles

Other quick takeaways from the data for 2022 and 2023 (to July):

  • The overall cost of Tesla solar roofs increased by around 7.22%
  • The average cost per watt increased by more than 13%
  • System size decreased by 9.19% on average

The data suggests some significant differences in how costs and system sizes have changed since 2021. What we saw in 2021 was an average increase in system size and a decrease in cost per watt..

What’s driving these changes? In addition to good old inflation, I suspect that a big part of the increase in costs and the decrease in system size is due to wider use of the SR72T solar shingles versus the older style, less efficient, SR60T1 which were cheaper.

I break down the cost according to shingle type below.

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Calculating the cost

The first step to calculating the likely cost of a Tesla solar roof involves figuring out the model numbers for Tesla solar shingles. Next, I looked for installations using these shingles in the massive datasets available on solar installations across the U.S. These include the Tracking the Sun report courtesy of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and data on installations from California Distributed Generation Statistics.

Once we have all that information to hand, it’s not a huge leap to work out the average size and cost of a Tesla roof installation, and the size and cost range.

A note on data and calculations

Typically, I would use data for the whole of the U.S. to calculate the average cost of a Tesla roof. Unfortunately, there’s no publicly available U.S.-wide data for 2023. What we do have is granular data from California Tesla solar roof installations.

My approach this year, then, is to use the percentage changes in costs and system size for California and extrapolate probable costs for the whole of U.S. from the figures for 2022. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than nothing, and I’ll update this page when new America-wide data becomes available.

The latest prices

Here’s our breakdown of how much folks paid on average for a Tesla roof in the U.S. in the first half of 2023, versus 2021 and 2022:

cost per Watt $Average system size kW (DC)Average total cost $Net cost with Federal tax incentive $
20235.999.9160,60542,423
20225.2910.9156,52439,566
20216.118.8751,30135,911

The California statistics suggest that after decreasing by more than 8% from 2021 to 2022, the cost per watt for a Tesla solar roof increased by more than 13% from 2022 in the first half of 2023 (to July). The total cost of an average installation only increased by 7.22%, however, as the average system size decreased by 9.19%.

Overall, the average cost for a Tesla solar roof installation in the first half of 2023 in California was $68,168. The average cost per watt was $6.35, and the average system size 10.74 kW DC.

Part of the reason for the increase in costs and the decrease in system size may be the increasing adoption of the SR72T solar shingles versus the older style, less efficient, SR60T1 which were cheaper.

Extrapolating those shifting sizes and costs in California gives us the estimates in the table above. As was the case in 2021 and 2022, California costs tend to be a bit higher than the costs nationwide, thanks in part to larger systems.

Changes in Tesla roof costs from 2021 to 2022

The average cost of a Tesla roof in per Watt terms decreased by around 13 percent from 2021 to 2022. However, the average size of a Tesla roof installation also increased by nearly 19 percent over that time period. Typically, there is a significant economy of scale at work with solar installations, meaning larger installations usually work out costing less per Watt than smaller installations.

Overall, the average total cost of a Tesla solar roof increased by about $5,000 from 2021 to 2022, reaching just over $56,500. With the 30 percent federal solar tax credit at work, this meant that many homeowners paid just under $40,000 for a new roof and solar array all in one.

Tesla roof cost per square foot

Let’s look at the cost of a Tesla solar roof a slightly different way. On average, homeowners are looking at the following likely costs for a Tesla roof in 2023 based on square footage of their home:

Home size (in square feet)System size (in kW DC)Energy storageTotal cost
1,000 (one-story)6.51 Powerwall$38,935
2,000 (two-story)132 Powerwalls$77,870
3,000 (three-story)19.53 Powerwalls$116,805

For homeowners with an especially energy efficient home who use less electricity than average, the cost of a Tesla roof may be lower. This is because the installation design won’t need to generate (or store) as much electricity and can, therefore, include fewer solar shingles (more expensive) and more non-solar shingles (less expensive) and fewer Powerwalls.

As always, then, the best approach to take before going solar is to improve the energy efficiency of your home. That might mean increasing insulation, updating older windows and doors, upgrading old energy-hungry appliances, installing a heat pump and heat pump hot water system, and taking advantage of any passive heating and cooling opportunities.

What’s in a (Tesla) tile?

Tesla’s SR72T1 solar tile, released in 2021, remains one of the most popular for Tesla roof installations This tile offers a maximum power output of 71.67 Watts. The earlier incarnation of the Tesla solar roofing tile is the SR60T1, which offers 58.5 Watts. Very few solar roof installations include the SR60T1 for 2023, compared to it being the most common type in the LBNL and CDGS data sets for 2021 and early 2022.

As I predicted in mid-2022, most Tesla solar roofs installed in later 2022 and early 2023 used the SR72T1 and the SR72T2. This isn’t surprising as these tiles generate more electricity on the same amount of roof real estate.

There are two newcomers for 2023, though: the SR72T3R and the SR75T3R. These boast a nameplate capacity of 72 watts and 75 watts respectively.

It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that the nameplate maximum power output in Watts doesn’t always reflect actual output. The PTC (W) figure is usually truer to life, as this describes the power output under more realistic PVUSA (Photovoltaics for Utility Scale Applications) Test Conditions.

Tesla solar shingle output

Here’s the breakdown of power outputs for the most popular Tesla roof shingles currently in use, courtesy of the California government solar equipment list:

Model NumberDescriptionNameplate Pmax (W)PTC (W)
SR24S3-223.75W Polycrystalline Smooth Solar Roof Module23.7520.5
SR24T3-223.75W Polycrystalline Textured Solar Roof Module23.7520.5
SR25S325W Smooth Solar Roof Module2522.3
SR25T325 W Textured Solar Roof Module2521.9
SR60T158.47 W, 42 cell polycrystalline Solar Roof module, 600V max system Vdc58.4752.1
SR72T172 W Monocrystalline Solar Roof Module7265.4
SR72T272 W Monocrystalline Solar Roof Module7265.4
SR72T3R72 W Monocrystalline Solar Roof Module7265.4
SR75T3R75 W Monocrystalline Solar Roof Module7567.9

In all the data for the first half of 2023, I only found one solar roof installation that used the newer, higher capacity, SR75T3R. This solar roof clocked in at 18.46 kW DC, cost a total of $86,090.37, and works out to a cost of just $4.66 per watt.

Why is the cost per watt so low? In part because this installation achieves that high kW capacity with just 284 solar shingles. To achieve the same output with the slightly less powerful SR72Ts, you need around 300-350 solar shingles.

As for SR60T1s, you might need as many as 650 solar shingles for an overall system size of 18 kW DC.

The cost of a Tesla roof based on shingle type

We broke down the cost of a Tesla roof based on which type of solar shingles were used for the project, and looked at the changing price of a Tesla roof between 2021, 2022, and 2023. To do this, we turned to information from CDGS for installations with the three major utilities in California: Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric (PGE, SCE, and SDGE).

The cost of SR60T1 in 2023

cost per Watt $Average system size kW (DC)Average total cost $Net cost with Federal tax incentive $
SDGE6.0316.3698,70869,096
SCE5.4313.3472,38550,669
PGE6.2611.471,41049,987
Average5.9113.780,83456,584

Compared to 2022, the cost of the SR60T1s increased in 2023, as did system sizes and overall costs. Once again, there was a significant difference in cost between service areas, suggesting that it’s generally cheaper to install a solar roof and interconnect with SCE than it is with PGE or SDGE.

The cost of SR60T1 in 2022

cost per Watt $Average system size kW (DC)Average total cost $Net cost with Federal tax incentive $
SDGE6.7611.3176,51853,562
SCE3.2714.2246,42232,496
PGE7.279.1066,14046,298
Average5.7611.5463,02744,119

Note the massive difference in cost per Watt between SCE and PGE. The best explanation we have for this is that the average size system installed in these two utility regions means greater and lesser economies of scale. Again, for smaller installations, more of the unavoidable fixed costs have to be absorbed per shingle. For larger installations, these fixed costs can be absorbed across a greater number of shingles, lowering the overall cost per Watt.

The newer SR72T1 and SR72T2 are more efficient than the older SR60T1 shingles, meaning an installer can use fewer shingles to generate the same amount of electricity. While the newer shingles are more expensive per shingle, the overall cost of a project could be lower because less of the roof is solar shingle and more comprises regular non-solar shingles.

Here’s the breakdown for the newer shingles.

SR72T1 and SR72T2 for 2023

Given that there was just one installation with SR72T3R for 2023 and this had a much higher than average size and cost, I chose to leave this one out of the calculations for these tile types.

SR72T1 / SR72T2cost per Watt $Average system size kW (DC)Average total cost $Net cost with Federal tax incentive $
SDGE6.559.1860,09942,069
SCE5.9810.3761,96543,375
PGE7.0210.8376,07053,249
Average6.5210.1366,04446,231

Compared to costs in 2022, SR72T series solar shingles were a little more costly per watt, while system sizes decreased and overall costs decreased too.

SR72T1 and SR72T2 for 2022

Note that there were no installations detailed for SCE with this shingle in 2022.

 cost per Watt $Average system size kW (DC)Average total cost $Net cost with Federal tax incentive $
SDGE6.6310.9772,70450,893
PGE6.1213.4682,34857,643
Average6.3712.2277,52654,268

All in all, 2022 installations with the more efficient Tesla solar shingles cost about 11 percent more per Watt and about $14,500 more overall than those using the older model SR60T1 shingles.

2021 vs 2022 vs 2023 – cost for SR60T1 shingles

Looking at installations using SR60T1 shingles in 2021 and 2022, we see that the cost per Watt decreased by around 13 percent. However, due to much larger systems being installed (57 percent bigger!), the average total cost of installation went up by nearly $18,000, or around 38 percent.

SR60T1cost per WattAverage system size kW (DC)Average total costNet cost with Federal tax incentive
2021 average6.647.344580632064
2022 average5.7611.546302744119
2023 average5.9113.780,83456,584

Between 2022 and the first half of 2023, the total cost of SR60T1 installations increased by more than 28 percent, or more than $17,000. The cost per watt increased by 2.6 percent and the average system size increased by 18.72 percent.

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My predictions for Tesla roof installations in 2023

We like to be accountable at Leaf Score, so let’s see how I did for predictions for the cost of a Tesla roof in 2023.

For 2023, I predicted that:

  • Tesla solar installations will be bigger on average than in 2022 – Wrong! System sizes decreased by around 9%
  • Tesla solar roof installations are likely to cost more overall than in 2022 – Correct! Total costs increased by more than 7%
  • More installations will use the more efficient SR72T1 shingles – Correct! Most installations used these or the SR72T2 shingles
  • Overall cost per Watt will likely stay the same as 2022 – Wrong! The average cost per watt increased by more than 13%

Given global geopolitical upheaval, rising inflation, Elon Musk’s irascible nature, and the link between system size and cost per watt, I’d give myself a passing grade for 2023 predictions.

My predictions for the cost of a Tesla solar roof in late 2023 and 2024

Because I’m a glutton for punishment, here’s what I predict for Tesla solar roof costs in 2024 and late 2023:

  • Continuing inflation will mean total costs for installations increase again
  • System sizes remain around the same, with a possible slight increase
  • The cost per watt will remain fairly steady, with a single digit increase at most.

On that last point, this prediction is based on economies of scale with larger installations, greater adoption of the more efficient shingles, and the ability to use fewer solar shingles to achieve the same operating output as with the SR60T1 and the SR72T series modules.

If you’re interested in installing a Tesla solar roof, ask your installer if there are any discounts available for using the SR60T1 shingles. These solar shingles are still very efficient and a great choice for solar roofs, but given the newer models have been around for a couple of years now, you may be able to get a cheaper installation overall and a better cost per Watt with the older shingles.

On the flip side, you may want to compare the cost of an installation using the newer, more efficient, SR75T3R solar shingles. For the same system size, you could end up using far fewer shingles at a lower cost overall.

Consider competitors

Finally, if you like the idea of solar shingles but don’t want to wait, check out other solar roof options. That’s right, Tesla isn’t the only company offering solar roofs and wasn’t even the first to hang a solar shingle! With other solar roof companies you may also get a roof installed within a few weeks or months. With Tesla, chances are you’ll be waiting a while longer to start reaping the rewards of going solar at home.

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