Tesla Roofs Rich on Hype, Light on Details

Tesla, the car manufacturer, is now making roofs but they are light on details.  Consumers should approach this with cautious optimism and make sure they ask questions.  Here are a few that should be on everyones list:

Who will install and service the Tesla roofs?

We know that Tesla plans to have their own techs install the roofs, and to a certain extent, that makes sense.  But what about damage?  We know the Tesla solar tiles are strong, but they’re still make of glass and tree branches sometimes fall on houses.  Glass can break.

What will the wait time be for service for damaged roofs?

With a 2 year wait to get a Tesla roof, will the service be 2 years as well?  In the mean time, what is a homeowner supposed to do?  With asphalt based shingles, a tarp can be nailed down to a roof through the shingles and into the wood.  With a glass roof, you can’t nail through glass without shattering it and damaging the roof even more.  How can a roof that is damaged be temporarily protected?  How will a temporary patch or tarp be anchored since it can’t be anchored to glass.

Are the price, energy and tax credit assumptions correct?

The thing is, we don’t know.  We know that you can get a virtual instantaneous price estimate on a roof on the Tesla website.  We know you can put $1000 down to buy a roof that will cost upwards of $50,000, but the costs saying the roof will pay for itself relies on some questionable data.  It assumes what your energy costs will be.  It assumes there will be a federal tax credit for clean energy.  While clean energy is a good thing, what if a fickle politician decides to end those tax credits because he wants to use the money for some thing else?

How will these new roofs handle flashings, chimneys and perforations?

If you look at your roof you may see vents, soil pipes, bathroom vents, kitchen fan vents, skylights, sun tubes, chimneys and other perforations.  How does the Tesla roof handle all of those things?

What about valleys?

When two piece of roof come together to channel water toward a gutter, that is called a valley.  These areas carry a high volume of water.  What will valleys be made from?  Will the flashings also be made out of glass?

If the warranty is truly “infinity”, does that include the flashings?

While tempered or annealed glass is super strong, a roof is only as strong as its weakest part.  Flashings can be made out of rubber, aluminum, galvanized steel, lead or plastic.  The chances of these parts truly lasting for “infinity” are zero.  And when those flashings fail, will the roof be strong enough for a tech to walk on or will it crack under his or her weight?  Will a cherry picker or crane be needed to service this type of roof?

What about satellite dishes that are mounted on a roof?

Many people have Satellite based television services and internet services.  How will a satellite dish mount onto glass?

How will this type of roof be ventilated?

This is an important issue that relates to cooling costs and longevity of the underlayments.  We don’t even know what kind of underlayments, if any, would be used on a Tesla roof.

Is there room for optimism?

There is certainly room for optimism due to the potential energy savings and durability of glass versus asphalt, but Tesla is focusing their energies on the marketing and it is fair to ask the questions that should be obvious to qualified roofers.  When Tesla can provide those answers in a comprehensive way that will solve problems and improve the quality of peoples lives, we will be more optimistic.  Until then, a healthy dose of skepticism is required.

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