Tesla’s sleek solar roof tiles are cheaper than you might think

Tesla today revealed pricing and started accepting pre-orders for its fancy new solar roof tiles as part of its mission to make solar energy accessible. Best of all, it might be a bit cheaper than you expected.

The company first revealed the solar tiles back in October of 2016 as an attractive alternative to the large black rectangles of most solar installations. Tesla’s tiles could easily be mistaken for normal ceiling tiles. Of course, these are Tesla’s own marketing materials, but I certainly wouldn’t guess this is a solar installation at a glance:

Not only that, Tesla promises they’re “three times stronger” than traditional materials (you know, in addition to charging your smartphone). Tesla is so confident in their durability, that they’re are guaranteed for the lifetime of your home.

It’s worth noting though that the tiles are mix of actual sunlight-sucking units and dummy tiles to fill up the space once your power requirements are met. The more active solar tiles are installed, the more expensive the build, of course.

A quick search of my own home address in NYC shows that an installation with 70 percent solar coverage would cost $38,600 for 70 percent solar coverage on 906 sqft roof and 1 Powerwall battery. But would actually end up earning me (or rather, my landlord) $12,500 over the course of 30 years in energy savings and tax credits. The same calculator shows $32,800 earned for my parents’ home in the suburbs.

Tesla says that its solar roofs are 10 to 15 percent cheaper than installing a new normal roof plus solar panels, but those estimates vary depending on who you ask. Still, the cost is likely to go down as the roofs become more prominent over time, and more importantly, they help make solar technology more palatable for people holding out because of their clashing designs.

You can begin placing pre-orders now for two of the designs with a $1,000 deposit. The other two designs will be made available in 2018.