Tesla Solar Roof Vs Tesla Solar Panels: What's The Difference?

Tesla was one of the first major players in the electric vehicle market, it was also one of the first automakers to start selling home energy equipment. Recently General Motors made its way into the game with the Ulitum-based GM Energy which seeks to streamline the installation of EV-centric equipment and attempt to make the lives easier for consumers trying to transition to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. 

Tesla's total home energy solutions mainly consist of two main options that despite having very similar names, are quite different from each other. Those two options are Tesla Solar Panels and Tesla Solar Roof. Both systems are made to work with Tesla's Powerwall home battery system and aim to give power to a homeowner when the electricity grid experiences a disruption or can assist in making a huge dent in a consumer's electricity bill, depending on how much surface area of your roof they are willing to use, and how much they are willing to spend. 

Tesla Solar Panels

Tesla Solar Panels are a lot like traditional solar panels in both appearance, installation, and general functionality. The solar array is affixed to the house (typically on the roof) where it collects energy from the Sun. That energy is then run through the Tesla Solar Inverter where the DC power from the solar panels themselves is converted to AC power that your house actually uses. It can also work in unison with the aforementioned Powerwall to store electricity when your house isn't using it to either keep the lights on when the power goes out or to lessen the burden on the power grid during peak times (via Tesla).

According to Tesla, the panels themselves are the "Lowest Cost Solar Panels in America" and have a money-back guarantee. The panels measure 74.4 inches wide by 41.2 inches long and sit 1.57 inches off the roof. In typical Tesla design language, the panels are framed in sleek and angular black anodized aluminum. 

Tesla Solar Roof

While the solar panels from Tesla act much like regular panels, albeit with a Tesla aesthetic flair, the Tesla Solar Roof is another animal entirely. While conventional panels sit on top of the roof, the Tesla Solar Roof is the roof itself. From a distance, a Tesla Roof panel looks a lot like a regular petroleum-based shingle that most houses use for roofing material. Each panel measures 45 inches wide by 15 inches long (via Tesla). These tiles are then laid out over the entire surface area of the roof, acting as one large solar array. Because it consists of the actual surface of the roof, the installation process is significantly more involved. That also means the price is likely much higher. 

Each panel is made out of steel and glass, and according to Tesla, is much stronger than a lot of commonly used roofing materials. The Tesla Roof carries a 25-year warranty which is right in line with the warranty provided by more conventional roofing material companies like GAF (via Home Depot). The Tesla Roof has a distinct advantage over traditional solar panels in that it allows for more coverage over more complicated angles on a roof and caters to a wider variety of pitches. 

Like Tesla's solar panels, the Tesla Solar Roof works with a solar inverter and can be configured to work with the Tesla Powerwall.