Sunny Days Ahead

Giant Tesla solar roof owner reveals how much it actually costs

Tony Cho is the owner of Florida's largest Tesla Solar Roof, a giant 44-kilowatt installation.

Tesla has installed its largest Solar Roof in Florida, and owner Tony Cho is ecstatic.

The 44-kilowatt roof, which covers the ChoZen Retreat, measures a staggering 7,300 square feet. It supplies far more energy than standard home installs, which tend to harvest around 10 kilowatts.

A video of the roof shared by Cho via Twitter on December 30 went viral, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk wrote on January 9 that it was "one of the best Tesla Solar Roof installations."

Cho tells Inverse the cost was also pretty reasonable, in his opinion: around 35 percent more than the price of solar panels plus a new roof. It's also led to big savings on his energy bills.

“For the operations that I have here, the retreats that I host, and the size of the property, I think [the savings are] phenomenal,” Cho says.

Want to know more about how Cho ordered his roof from Tesla, how long it took to install, and how it has changed his energy bills? Read the full interview, only in MUSK READS+.

The roof is one of Tesla's most iconic products — solar-harvesting tiles designed to look like ordinary roof tiles to the untrained eye. First unveiled in October 2016, the tiles were pitched as part of a house of the future: A Tesla Model 3 electric car in the garage, the roof tiles, and a Tesla Powerwall battery to store the solar energy for 24-hour use.

For Cho's roof, one Powerwall wasn't enough. His installation uses three Powerwalls, and Cho is considering adding three more to cover his house's entire energy needs.

The roof remained a rather elusive product until recently. It was only when Musk unveiled the third-generation roof tiles in October 2019, designed for faster installations, that more roofs started cropping up.

Another beneficiary of the new tiles is LinkedIn engineer Robby Valles. While Cho's roof was particularly large, Valles' was notably small, at just 7.37 kilowatts over 1,737 square feet. He shared in August 2020 his new roof cost $34,067, before federal tax credit. After the 26 percent credit is factored in, the effective cost could drop as low as $26,000.

Tax credits are helping to keep Solar Roof costs down. The rate currently stands at 26 percent, expected to drop to 22 percent in 2023 and phase out entirely in 2024. Campaigners like the Solar Energy Industries Association are pushing president Biden to extend the full 30 percent rate for five extra years.

Little or large, it seems the Solar Roof may be an attractive option for buyers considering a new roof and solar panels.

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