Tesla solar: How do Solar Roof and Powerwall work?

Tesla Powerwall

While Elon Musk’s electric vehicle company Tesla is known for its cars and Cybertrucks, the company is also a player in the household energy game. Tesla offers a solar panel and battery system, which in keeping with the company’s style are sleek and efficient in design and performance.

The Tesla Solar Roof is a fully integrated solar panel system, offering tiles that the company touts as being three-times stronger than traditional roof tiles, while the Tesla Powerwall provides a backup system to power homes with solar systems. 

While one can operate without the other, Tesla of course designed the products to work in collaboration. We’ve broken down how both the Tesla Solar Roof and Powerwall work so you can decide if either, or perhaps both, could suit your household energy needs. 

Tesla Solar Roof: Panels with style

The Tesla Solar Roof introduced a new way to bring solar power into the home when it was launched back in 2016. Rather than installing a number of solar panels onto the roof of a home, Tesla decided to turn each individual roof shingle into a solar panel.

Made with tempered glass that the company says is three times stronger than traditional roof panels, each panel acts as a solar array while in turn replacing the roof of your home. 

Due to the fact Tesla is, in essence, replacing the entire roof of your home with their solar panels, the Solar Roof can be an expensive investment. Although the product has experienced a difficult launch so far, Tesla earlier this year announced a renewed focus on delivering the product to customers. 

In a new strategy, the company is currently only offering the Solar Roof to customers in the US who order the system in conjunction with a Powerwall battery.

Tesla Powerwall, power storage

Solar panels reach their maximum efficiency when you are able to store the energy they generate and use it at all hours of the day. While there are a number of battery systems available, Tesla’s own Powerwall is a modern and compact option to store your solar power for later usage.

The Powerwall provides a versatile option for battery storage, with the ability to mount on a wall or floor, both indoor and outdoor. Multiple Powerwalls can be installed to work in conjunction or you can rely on just one of the units, which feature a 13.5kWh capacity. 

Earlier this year, Tesla announced an upgrade to the Powerwall battery, and thus the names Powerwall 2 or Powerwall Plus have been more frequently used to describe newer iterations of the product. While the newer Powerwall systems still feature the same capacity, they are able to charge and discharge more effectively. 

Customers are able to pair the Powerwall with the Tesla app to view and manage the storage and operation of their battery at any time of the day, with the ability to control the system from within the app.

Tesla solar can be an expensive option

To put it simply, choosing Tesla for your solar system is likely to increase the cost of bringing renewable energy into your home as opposed to more traditional solar and battery systems. 

The Tesla Solar Roof has been reported to cost anywhere from close to an upper-tier solar system to almost four times as much as traditional solar panels, although it’s worth noting that going with Tesla will provide better value in terms of the per watt price. 

The installation price is also likely to be quite a bit more expensive than for a traditional solar system, due to the fact that it requires replacing your entire roof rather than just fitting panels atop it. Due to the complexity of the job, there are also much fewer approved installers than there is for traditional solar systems. 

The Powerwall system has seen a few increases in price in the last year, although it has more recently seen a drop in cost to around $12,750 before installation costs. 

Most solar battery systems in Australia retail at around $1,000 per kWh with installation costs included, so the Tesla Powerwall sits slightly above the standard price point for what it offers. 

Customers again will need to find an approved installer to get their system up and running, which will add a bit more to the cost. Keep in mind that a number of government rebates exist for those looking to add solar to their households, and these may be worth investigating. 

After installation, you will still need to find an energy provider that offers a suitable feed-in tariff for their solar system. Once that is set up, you can take more control of your energy.

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