What is the cost of charging your Tesla using rooftop solar?

Following the announcement that Tesla has begun selling its Solar Roof tile, Model S and Model X owners, as well as Model 3 reservation holders, might be wondering how much of an investment would be required if one were to charge their Tesla through solar.

After all, Elon Musk’s grand vision for Tesla is to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy which he breaks down into a 3-pronged approach.

  • First – convert all power generation to solar power. The company’s acquisition of SolarCity last year brings this into the fold and Tesla has already started to reshape the solar strategy since then.
  • Second – store the energy. Tesla’s fundamental product is the battery pack which it has developed for vehicular, residential and commercial use. Battery storage units like the Powerwall and Powerpack store excess power generated through solar which can be used at a later time when sunlight isn’t available.
  • Third – convert all transportation to electric (with the exception of rockets). Though Tesla is arguably best known for its fleet of electric cars, Must has said in the past that vehicles will represent a small portion of the overall business in the long run.

To determine the cost of solar for his home, Ben Sullins of Teslanomics uses his 5.12kW solar system that is comprised of 16 solar panels as a benchmark. It’s worth nothing that the solar system being referred to isn’t Tesla’s Solar Roof tile which isn’t available until later this year, but a traditional rooftop solar system using solar panels.

Because of the abundance of sunshine where Sullins lives, the system was designed to offset his total annual consumption of electricity. Looking at it from an month-to-month perspective, the system over produces electricity in the summer and under produces in the winter.

Those living in an area where their utility has a less than favorable net-metering agreement in place like Nevada, residential energy storage systems like the Powerall can store the power generated during the day for use at night.

The solar system Sullins mapped out in his video costs roughly $20,000 before factoring in a $6,000 federal tax credit. This takes the total out-of-pocket cost down to $14,000 for a system that will offset all of his electricity usage. Spreading this cost over the estimated 25-year life of the solar system and he’s paying approximately $47 a month for the system over its entire life.

Sullins notes that his annual cost of electricity was $2,300 before the solar installation which dropped to $10 a month which is a mandated connection fee for staying connected to the grid.

To better understand the portion of his utility bill that reflects energy used by his Tesla Model S, Sullins isolated the “super off-peak” usage (late night to early morning hours) as a percentage of the total cost which came out to 45%.

The total cost of his solar system is $10 for the monthly utility connection charge and $47 for the solar system, totaling $57 a month. Taking the percentage of the bill that represents the Tesla’s usage (45%) and he has a monthly cost of $26 for charging his Model S through solar.

There you have it. Installing a residential rooftop solar system can save Tesla owners a grip of cash by generating their own power. This effectively lets them drive on sunshine, leading to a truly zero-emissions driving experience.

What is the cost of charging your Tesla using rooftop solar?
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