3 IN 1 ROOF Cost vs. Tesla Solar Roof

If you’re a solar power enthusiast, perhaps you’ve read about the solar roof system developed by a company called 3 IN 1 ROOF. It is expected to challenge the Tesla solar roof in the quest to become the market leader in building-integrated photovoltaic (BIVP) roof tiles for homes.

3 IN 1 ROOF – classic solar tile roof

via 3 IN 1 ROOF

Insulation + Hurricane Protection + Solar = 3 IN 1 ROOF

More on the head-to-head with Tesla later. First, we explore 3 IN 1 ROOF cost and what exactly this innovative roofing system is all about.


Right off the bat: A typical 3,000 sq. ft. BiPV solar roof system from 3 IN 1 ROOF is estimated to cost $71,120 installed, before tax credits and energy savings are taken into account. This translates to roughly $24-$28 per sq. ft. installed.

Once solar tax credits and energy savings are taken into account, you get the following financial breakdown:

3,000 s.f. roof: $71,120 before solar tax credit. First year cash flow: $18,142 with about $2,600 of that being from energy savings. That leaves a tax credit of about $16,540 on the solar part.

For smaller-sized roofs, 3 IN 1 ROOF supplied us with the current cost projections taking solar tax credits into account:

Installed Cost Avg. Cost Installed Total Cost 2,000 Sq.Ft. Home
$18-$24 sq.ft. $21 sq.ft. $42,850 to $68,650
The above costs are based on the current 30% federal tax credit. In this table, costs will go up by 4% in 2020.
Solar Tax Credit Schedule

The cost factors below the table will help you gauge where on the spectrum your costs will fall.

Note: This page from the US Department of Energy (US DOE) has complete information on the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit for 2018 through 2021.

Our best guess is that the tax credit will likely be extended due to the importance of promoting energy-efficient homes and buildings.

However, with the credits currently set to end in a few years, having a solar roof installed in the next couple of years rather than later could be a decision that saves you $20,000 or more.

Cost Factors

Besides the size and slope of your roof, these factors will affect your 3 IN 1 ROOF cost.

Your home’s electrical usage: This will be evaluated when estimating your roof costs, and it and the factors below will determine the kilowatt capacity of the system installed.

Your home’s location: The more sunlight your area receives, the fewer solar tiles are required to produce the needed energy, so the lower your cost.

This solar map from the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory is selectable by state to put your area’s daily sunlight totals into perspective.

Roof size & solar tile percentage: Once the required kilowatt production is known, a percentage of solar to non-solar tiles will be determined based on your roof’s configuration.

For example, a ranch home has more roof than a two-story home of the same square footage. As a result, the ranch would need more total roofing material but a lower percentage of solar tiles.

In short, the cost per square foot of roofing on a two-story home is higher, but the total roofing cost is lower.

3 IN 1 ROOF Availability

Solar 3 IN 1 ROOF products are on track to be introduced in early 2019.

President and CEO of the company, Carmen R. Bellavia, expects to complete up to 50 projects in the first quarter with a goal of doubling it each quarter through the end of the year.

The ICP adhesive requires an ambient temperature of 70F to activate. That means installations in northern climates should begin in about May of 2019.

The company is taking orders with a $500 deposit. It’s currently guaranteeing your roof will be installed in 2019, or you will receive and additional $500 off the cost of the roof.

What Is a 3 IN 1 ROOF?

If you enjoy a deep dive into materials for your home, this section is for you. We’re going to outline the entire 3 IN 1 system from the roof deck up.

Per 3 IN 1 ROOF literature, it is the first code-compliant closed cell polyurethane foam insulated roofing system for steep-slope roofs.

Layer 1: DensDeck Prime by Georgia-Pacific. This is ¼” commercial-grade substrate that offers dimensional strength and stability.

A gypsum core is faced on both sides with embedded glass mats. DensDeck acts as a thermal barrier (insulation) and is proven resistant to moisture, fire and wind. The material is primed to promote adhesion of the next layer.

Layer 2: Flintlastic SA. This CertainTeed rolled roofing is a granular cap sheet with self-adhesive backing. It’s made with SBS-modified bitumen and has a textured granular surface that provides a superior grip for adhesives.

Adhesive: ICP brand Polyset AH-160 polyurethane foam. This two-component, low-pressure polyurethane is used for many roofing materials including concrete and clay tiles.

No mechanical fasteners are required, so the waterproof underlayment isn’t punctured.

Layer 3: Most 3 IN 1 ROOF installations will use two types of tile – solar and non-solar.

The solar-ready triple tiles have a recessed portion to receive ten 6”x6” photovoltaic cells. The DC wiring is molded into the tile for easy installation and connection.

The company currently offers a 2 IN 1 ROOF comprised of just non-solar tiles. The 2 IN 1 ROOF still provides the insulation, thermal barrier and weather protection.

Most homeowners putting a deposit on a roof are preferring to wait until solar is available in 2019.

Foam tiles: The roofing tiles have two components. The core is closed-cell polyurethane foam with 3lb density. Triple and single tiles are produced. Each is more than 2 inches thick and delivers an insulation value of about R13. All roof layers combined have an R16 insulation value.

3 IN 1 ROOF installation begins at the eave and works horizontally toward the peak of the roof. If a tile is damaged, it can be changed without disturbing neighboring tiles.

This is different from Tesla tiles that interlock front and back. In the rare event a Tesla tile is damaged, all the tiles in the staggered line above it must be removed to access and replace a damaged tile before reinstalling the tiles.

3 IN 1 ROOF uses a “foam and go” installation. The AH-160 adhesive is sprayed into shallow star-like pockets on the bottom of each 3 IN 1 ROOF tile, and the tile is set in place.

Self-healing concrete coating: One of the fascinating details of the tiles is the coating. The foam tiles are topped with two coats of a geopolymer material infused with Portland cement for hardness and durability. Smooth and textured finishes are available in 12 colors.

The coating contains a product that causes the concrete to be self-healing. Biodegradable crystals or tiny capsules are filled with bacteria and a food source such as calcium lactate.

When concrete is scratched, or micro-cracks develop, the crystals are exposed. When wet, the crystals break down. The wet bacteria germinate and multiply.

When bacteria consume the food source, calcite (limestone) is formed, and it fills and seals the crack.

3 IN 1 ROOF CEO Bellavia confirmed to us that his product uses this technology, though the specifics are proprietary and were not revealed.

Accessories: A full range of trim accessories is used with the field tiles. Starter tiles, rake tiles for end enclosure and hip/ridge tiles for transition runs complete the roof.

Pros and Cons of 3 IN 1 ROOF Tiles

It is easy to be enthusiastic about this roofing product.

What we like:

Energy use reduction: The tiles meet “Cool Roof” criteria. The foam creates a thermal barrier that prevents solar gain into your attic and home. As a result, your AC won’t run as often, reducing energy use and cost.

A study by the Florida Solar Energy Center called “Simulating the Energy Performance of a Foam Roof System” was developed with independent testing of 3 IN 1 ROOF.

Simulations were done for representative cities in all regions of the country. The study concluded that this material will reduce energy use in some regions by 38%. Most regions are expected to see reductions in the upper teens and 20s, remarkable energy savings.

Smaller HVAC systems and solar requirement: A mantra in the green/solar building industry is “reduce before you produce”.

With the installation of thermal roofing, a smaller HVAC system that is less costly to operate is needed.

HVAC accounts for up to 50% of a home’s energy use. Additionally, the required number of solar tiles can be reduced by 5% to 25%.

Energy production: When your home’s electrical demand is partially or fully met by solar roofing, your energy costs go down along with your home’s environmental impact.

Wind resistance: 3 IN 1 ROOF tiles and adhesive were tested by Intertek Laboratories and achieve a 200-mph wind rating, better than any conventional roofing. It’s expected that age won’t degrade the wind rating, as it does with other materials.

Impact and fire resistance: The material has a Class 4 impact rating. It will withstand 1” hail without denting and can be walked on without damage. It has a Class A fire rating.

Quick and easy installation: 3 IN 1 ROOF tiles install more quickly than most other roofing materials because they are lightweight with simple design. Each triple tile covers 4.5 square feet.

Lightweight design: A 3 IN 1 ROOF is lighter than asphalt shingles (150-400lbs) and clay and concrete tiles (700-1,700lbs).

The total roof system weight including all layers is about 3.4lbs per square foot with non-solar tiles and 4lbs per square foot with solar cells. This reduces shipping cost and makes the material easier to get onto the roof and to install.

Backup battery installation in the attic: One of the challenges the solar industry faces is the fact that DC power voltage is lost running from the solar panels to the battery.

A reduction of as much as 50% can occur in about 80 feet of wiring.

Because the 3 IN 1 ROOF’s foam roof tiles are a thermal barrier, the attic beneath doesn’t heat to the point battery efficiency is reduced. This means the Lithium Supremacy 1000 battery can be installed there, a short distance from the panels with little loss of DC power.

Color and style options: Classic and modern tiles, cedar shake and slate styles are produced in 12 colors. Tile finish can be textured or smooth.

50-year tile warranty: The 3 IN 1 ROOF tiles are backed by a 50-year prorated warranty. That’s similar to warranties on metal roofing, clay and concrete tile roofing and better than asphalt shingles.

Meets or exceeds sustainability requirements: These include California Title 24, Miami-Dade and Florida high-velocity roofing and SCAQMD Rule 1168. The materials are certified low-VOC. Energy Star criteria has been met, and certification is pending.

Tax credit: The cost of the portion of the roof fitted with solar tiles meets the criteria for the tax credit. This means you’ll get a federal tax credit on up to 30% of the cost in the first year.

PACE and Ygrene funding: PACE is the Property Assessed Clean Energy Program of the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.

The program, “allows homeowners to finance energy efficiency, renewable energy and other eligible improvements on their homes using private sources of capital”. This means your 3 IN 1 ROOF might be financed with no initial cost to you.

Through 2017, more than 150,000 homeowners have made $4 billion in energy-efficient upgrades with PACE financing. Ygrene offers similar funding.

Here are some potential downsides to 3 IN 1 ROOF:

High cost: Even with a PACE loan and no upfront cost, you’ll be on the hook for a roof that costs between $18 and $24 per square foot installed after the current 30% federal tax credit. Offsetting this figure, however, is the instant reduction in energy costs you’ll enjoy every year.

Current cost estimates show that a 3 IN 1 ROOF is expected to pay for itself in about 18 years.

Required maintenance: The self-healing material in the geopolymer topcoat is activated by water.

Homeowners in arid climates will need to hose down their roof periodically when rain or dew doesn’t do the job for them.

For maintenance, 3 IN 1 ROOF recommends applying Acrylux glaze every five years to refresh the topcoat color and durability.

The greatest energy savings can be achieved with a sealed attic: The largest reductions in HVAC use are realized in homes with sealed attic spaces, where no cold or warm air can escape from living space into the attic space and vice-versa.

A sealed attic eliminates air gaps and leaks that would otherwise contribute to heat gain and loss. A sealed attic can be achieved with spray foam and other airtight materials.

We have two concerns; First one is the cost to properly seal, vent, and insulate the attic space, although this would be a desirable improvement for achieving better durability, longevity and energy efficiency in your home.

The second is moisture. Humidity in a completely sealed-off attic will cause mold and eventual rotting of wood deck and framing. To prevent that, the airspace in the attic must be treated – heating and air conditioned along with the rest of the home. This will dehumidify attic air, as it does the air in the rest of the home.

Another way to avoid moisture issues in the attic, is to ensure the soffit vents remain open and functional during the attic insulation and sealing process, provided there will also be an accompanying ridge ventilation put in place or there will be an alternative venting system performing a similar function as the ridge vent to allow the air from outside the home circulate through and exit the attic space.

Hire an experienced contractor for the work of sealing and venting your attic space.

3 IN 1 ROOF vs. Tesla Solar Roof and Other PV Solar Options

Here’s a table comparing costs for 3 IN 1 ROOF vs. Tesla Solar Tiles vs. conventional PV solar panels:

Roof Type: 3 IN 1 ROOF Tesla Solar Roof PV Solar Panels
Cost $18-$24 per s.f. $22-$28 per s.f. $2.80 to $3.50 per watt
Total Installed cost $42,850 to $68.650 $52,360 to $80,100 $19,600 to $27,370, Plus the cost of a new conventional roof.
2,000 s.f. home for an 8.5kW system* for a 10kW system for a 10kW system
*The reason the 3 in 1 system is an 8.5kW system rather than the 10kW systems
for the other two, is because a 3 in 1 roof system reduces the energy requirements
All costs are based on final price after the current federal tax credit is applied.
3 in 1 roof vs Tesla Solar Roof cost

It appears that 3 IN 1 ROOF solar roofs have notable advantages over Tesla solar roofs. They cost less. Even if it is a few dollars per square foot, these relative reductions in cost add up.

Secondly, the insulation and thermal barrier in the foam roofing reduces your home’s energy use and its requirement. Tesla doesn’t offer this benefit. Finally, 3 IN 1 offers superior wind protection.

Early Tesla roof projects are taking up to 3 weeks to install, according to many sources including Insideevs.com.

The website Teslarati reported that one early installation required a crew of 20 people, and it took two weeks. If these trends continues, Tesla roof costs might rise dramatically.

The other option will be to use the cheapest labor available. Neither option is good for homeowners.

By contrast, it is expected that 3 IN 1 ROOF projects will be installed in less than the time it takes to install a traditional clay tile roof.

With 3 IN 1 ROOF being on track for an early 2019 launch and Tesla solar roofs being installed now, this is a very interesting time to consider a solar roof. We will stay on top of the BIPV solar roof developments and bring you updates as the story continues to develop.

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2 thoughts on “3 IN 1 ROOF Cost vs. Tesla Solar Roof”

  1. I want to install Tesla solar roof, but it won’t be available in my area for another 18-24 months.

    I am building an addition, so I want to find out what would be my best and most economical roof coverage that would be comparable with Firestone Clad Guard SA-FR underlayment that Tesla recommends under their tiles and something that will last at least 24 months of exposure to elements (Clad Guard has 120 days UV protection only).

    I am willing to spend extra on PVC membrane. I just don’t want to put new shingles and then take them off in two years.

    The roof pitch will be 5:12.

    • Hi Wally,

      One of the best underlayments for solar exposure is Deck Armour by GAF = 180 days of solar exposure.

      It does not sound like you can afford to reapply the underlayment four times to accommodate for the Tesla Solar Roof waiting period.

      While a PVC roofing membrane is a great option, it’s quite costly, given that it’s a complete roofing system. At an average price of $7.00 to $10.00 per square foot installed, it probably would not make sense to install PVC as a temporary roof.

      Not only that, but right now there is no sure way to tell whether Tesla will be able to scale their solar roofing and power wall battery product offerings.

      There are ongoing concerns about financial viability of Tesla solar roof as a product, which is one of the most likely explanations for the delay after all the hype.

      The company itself is facing ongoing scrutiny and it’s widely believed that its survival and continuous operation will likely require another secondary round of public funding.

      There are also ongoing SEC investigations into Tesla, which may make the secondary offering impossible until the SEC investigations are completed.

      For the reasons outlined above, we recommend exploring the following solar shingle roofing options: https://www.roofingcalc.com/bipv-solar-shingles-cost/


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