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Difference Between Tesla’s Solar Roof and Traditional Solar Panels

When we think of solar panels, the first thing that probably comes to mind is those flat blue or black slabs that are installed on rooftops. But Tesla gave the solar system a fresh new look with its state-of-the-art Solar Roof system. Since its launch in 2016, Tesla’s Solar Roof system has taken the photovoltaic (PV) world by storm. It represents the future of sustainable energy solutions and Tesla’s commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of residential and commercial buildings.

So, if you’re interested in solar energy, that begs the question: should you go for the new Tesla Solar Roof or stick with the good-old solar panels? Here’s a quick rundown of the difference between the Tesla Solar Roof and traditional solar panels.

Tesla Solar Roof

In 2016, the electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla unveiled roof tiles with solar PV technology, although they didn’t become widely available until several years later. The first installations of the Solar Roof began in 2018, and it has since evolved with various updates and improvements.

The Tesla Solar Roof is a groundbreaking solar energy solution that integrates solar cells into roof tiles. It’s a combination of active solar shingles and non-active solar shingles. It was designed to provide a seamless and aesthetically pleasing alternative to traditional solar panels. Each tile is a solar module that looks like a conventional roof tile but is equipped with solar cells to capture sunlight and convert it into electricity.

Solar Panels

Traditional solar panels, also known as photovoltaic (PV) panels, are the most common way to capture solar energy and convert it into electricity. When sunlight hits these cells, it excites electrons, generating direct current (DC). An inverter then converts this into the alternating current (AC) used in homes and the grid. Excess power can be sent back to the grid, and some systems include battery storage.

Solar panels reduce reliance on grid electricity, offering long-term cost savings while harnessing clean energy. They are typically mounted on rooftops or ground-mounted arrays. The electricity generated by solar panels can power your home’s lights, appliances, and other electrical devices.

Difference between Tesla Solar Roof and Solar Panels


– Traditional solar panels can be mounted on your roof or set up on the ground, depending on your property’s layout. In contrast, the Tesla Solar Roof is a more specialized solution, exclusively designed for rooftop installation. This choice essentially means replacing your existing roof with the Solar Roof. However, it comes with a drawback: finding contractors familiar with the Tesla Solar Roof may be more challenging.

Solar Power Capabilities

– Both traditional solar panels and the Tesla Solar Roof can effectively generate the electricity you need. However, when it comes to scalability, traditional panels certainly have the edge. If your electricity requirements grow over time, expanding a setup with traditional panels is typically more straightforward. They also tend to be more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity, ensuring you get the most power from your system.

Mobility and Longevity

– Tesla Solar Roof is custom-fitted to your specific requirements, which means it stays put. You can’t pack it up and take it with you if you decide to move. On the other hand, traditional solar panels offer a bit more flexibility in this regard. You have the option to relocate them to another property, although many homeowners choose to leave them behind to enhance the resale value of their current home.

Price Factor

– Traditional solar panels are a more budget-friendly option. They typically cost under $5 per watt for 5-kW systems. This translates to a total cost of around $15,000 to $20,000. On the flip side, the Tesla Solar Roof commands a premium price tag, estimated at nearly $5 per watt before adding a battery. For a 5 kW system, you’re looking at an investment of approximately $25,000. So, if you’re budget-conscious, traditional panels have the upper hand.

Tesla Solar Roof vs. Solar Panels: Comparison Chart


In a nutshell, if cost-effectiveness and flexibility are your primary concerns, traditional panels are the way to go. However, if you value aesthetics and integration with your home’s design and are willing to invest more upfront, the Tesla Solar Roof may be the perfect fit. It’s a trade-off between budget and aesthetics, with each option catering to different preferences and priorities. At the end of the day, the choice between the Tesla Solar Roof and solar panels depends on your requirements and priorities.


How are Tesla solar panels different?

Tesla solar panels are manufactured by Tesla, a well-recognized electric vehicle and clean energy company. They resemble traditional solar panels in appearance, consisting of photovoltaic cells mounted on racks. These panels are designed to capture sunlight and convert it into electricity for residential or commercial use.

What is the difference between solar panels and solar roof?

Solar panels are standalone installations placed on rooftops or the ground, separate from the roofing material. Tesla Solar Roof, on the other hand, integrates solar cells into roofing tiles.

Why Tesla solar panels are better than others?

Tesla panels can be integrated with Tesla Powerwall batteries, enhancing energy storage capabilities. Additionally, Tesla’s brand reputation for innovation and quality is a driving factor.

What are the pros of Tesla solar roof?

Tesla resembles a traditional roof while generating solar power. It can potentially increase property value and curb appeal. The Solar Roof is also durable and comes with a long lifespan, reducing the need for frequent replacements.

What is the lifespan of Tesla solar panels?

Tesla solar panels typically have a lifespan of 25 years or more.

What kind of solar panels does Tesla have?

Tesla offers two types of solar panels: 

  1. Solar Roof – made of solar tiles that look like traditional roofing materials.
  2. Solar Panels – traditional solar panels mounted on the roof.

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References :

[0]Dellinger, AJ. “Solar Panels Vs. Tesla Solar Roof: Here’s the Difference.” CNET, 5 July 2023, www.cnet.com/home/energy-and-utilities/solar-panels-versus-tesla-solar-roof/.

[1]Dodds, Felix, et al. Tomorrow's People and New Technology: Changing How We Live Our Lives. Routledge, 2021.

[2]Droege, Peter. Urban Energy Transition: Renewable Strategies for Cities and Regions. Elsevier, 2018.

[3]Mitchell, Kelly, and Matt Zakutny. Tour of Insanity: Manifesto for Better Home Design: Remodeled. AuthorHouse, 2021.

[4]Image credit: https://www.canva.com/photos/MAA8uwV4rG0-solar-panel/

[5]Image credit: https://www.canva.com/photos/MAFfQbzODlU-parked-red-tesla-model-3-at-sunset/

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