Raise the roof

Solar Roof: 5 alternatives to Tesla’s clean energy tiles

Tesla has announced a reshaping of its product lineup, leaving many would-be customers upset — but it's not the only player in solar.

Tesla has reshaped its solar roof offerings — but it’s not the only choice for clean energy tiles.

On Thursday, CEO Elon Musk announced via Twitter that the firm would only sell its solar products as an integrated setup with its Powerwall batteries. The tiles will feed exclusively to Powerwall, which Musk claims will enable simplified installations and seamless power backup during utility dropouts.

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It’s a big change for the desirable roof tiles, first unveiled in 2016 as part of a “house of the future.” The tiles, Musk explained at the unveiling, look like ordinary roof tiles to the untrained eye. Solar energy from the tiles is sent to a Powerwall battery, enabling the home to use clean energy even when the Sun’s not shining.

After a slow start to installations, Tesla unveiled a redesigned tile in 2019. These new tiles, designed for faster installations, have led to fans across the United States sharing their new roofs. The new changes, though, aren’t quite so welcome.

This week’s move follows a series of changes that have left consumers frustrated. Earlier this month, Tesla raised the price on the solar roof with a new “roof complexity” rating, which is “determined by the pitch, number of joints, chimneys, and other features on your roof.” Buyers saw their prices rise by around 30 percent, even after they had signed a contract.

Last month, Electrek also reported that Tesla had stopped taking orders for Powerwall batteries without any solar panels.

“As someone who actually grabbed solar + powerwalls, this is anything but consumer friendly,” a Reddit user called “RealPokePOP” wrote in response to this week’s news.

But while the Tesla Solar Roof is an eye-catching prospect, it’s not the only choice. Here are five alternatives that could suit buyers’ needs.

Tesla Solar Roof alternatives: Luma Solar Roof

Luma Solar Roof.Luma

The Luma Solar Roof claims to be the only upgradable solar shingle system, with a seamless design that installs like standard metal roofing. It’s rated to withstand category five hurricanes, and it has a 25-year limited power warranty.

Each 80-watt tile, which packs monocrystalline cells, measures 54 inches by 15 inches. By comparison, Tesla’s tiles measure 45 inches by 15 inches each.

Michigan-based Luma first started developing the shingles back in 2007. In 2016, after Musk unveiled Tesla’s tiles, Luma president Robert Allen told Huffington Post that “we were the first out.”

Tesla Solar Roof alternatives: CertainTeed

CertainTeed Apollo II.CertainTeed

The CertainTeed Apollo II touts 70-watt modules measuring 46 inches by just under 18 inches. Like Luma, they also feature a 25-year limited power warranty.

The cells will work as part of either a new or existing asphalt shingle roof. They’re installed directly into the roof sheathing with standard deck screws, and the fastening points are covered by subsequent solar cells.

CertainTeed also offers the Apollo Tile II, designed to blend into a new or existing concrete tile roof:

CertainTeed's Apollo Tile II.CertainTeed

Unlike Tesla and Luma, which are designed to cover an entire roof, CertainTeed’s cells benefit from blending into an existing roof. The tiles do lack the subtlety of the other two, which means there’s a slight tradeoff involved.

The tiles have received a warm reception. John Stevens, president of Colorado home builder Sopris Homes, told Solar Builder Magazine that his team used the tiles on a five-bedroom home in Longmont.

“The homeowner has gotten a lot of nice comments about the roof,” Stevens told the publication. “From a distance, it looks just like a regular concrete tile roof. People are surprised to learn that it is generating energy.”

Tesla Solar Roof alternatives: SunTegra

SunTegra solar shingles.

SunTegra’s solar roof shingles, similar to CertainTeed, blend in with a composition roof. The firm boasts 50 percent fewer parts than a standard rack-mounted solar system, and installations twice as fast. The roof offers a limited power warranty of 25 years, and the shingle measures just under 53 inches by just over 23 inches.

Solar price comparison site EnergySage noted that SunTegra’s offering is an improvement over traditional solar panels, thanks to their lower profile against the roof.

Tesla Solar Roof alternatives: Exasun

Exasun's X-Tile.Exasun

Netherlands-based Exasun told CleanTechnica that it started producing its solar roof tiles back in 2015. Its sleek X-Tile system packs monocrystalline silicon cells into shingles that measure 41 by 17 inches, with a peak power output of 65 watts. The tiles come with 30-year product workmanship and linear power warranties.

Tesla Solar Roof alternatives: GB Sol

GB Sol's PV Slate roof tiles.GB Sol

U.K.-based GB Sol produces its PV Slate tiles in Wales. The blue-grey slate tiles are designed to withstand the country’s weather. Each tile weighs six pounds, lighter than the slate tiles they replace. The largest tiles measure 23 by 12 inches and offer a power capacity of up to 35 watts. Like Tesla and Luma, GB Sol offers passive tiles to make the roof look completely seamless.

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