Think about this food for thought.....Getting a $30,000 solar roof would be far cheaper than anything on the market today and it could cost less than getting a new roof plus regular solar panels.
For just a comparison, Tesla's projected cost for an average-sized 1,700 square foot Solar Roof in the Bay Area is about $40,700 before solar subsidies. But Tesla's product has been known to cost much more than initial estimates, WAIT, what?!?. The company was hit with a class-action lawsuit last year after it dramatically hiked Solar Roof prices for customers who had already signed contracts- can they do that? Guess not, hence the lawsuits. (Tesla later told some customers it would reverse the price increases, according to legal filings.)
The efficiency of GAF's shingles in a real-world environment is also an open-ended question, since previous solar shingle products haven't been comparable to regular panels. Do you know the difference?
"They fundamentally operate at a lower efficiency," said Barry Cinnamon, founder of Silicon Valley-based solar installer Cinnamon Energy Systems. Oh ha-ha! "And the reason is that they're flush with the roof and the roof is hot. And so hot solar cells don't work as efficiently as cooler solar cells in conventional modules." Totally explained it right there.
GAF Energy says that it's using high-efficiency mono-PERC cells, which perform better than traditional monocrystalline PV cells at high temperatures, how do we know what is what?. Yet given the Timberline Solar shingle's dimensions and its stated 45-watt capacity, in ideal conditions it would still generate less energy per square foot than Tesla's latest 71.7-watt shingle or an average-sized 300-watt solar panel.
At the time of CNBC's interview with Cinnamon, GAF Energy's shingle had not been released. But speaking about solar shingles generally, he was doubtful that they would ever appeal to the masses.
"I really don't see anything that's going to change with any of these factors that are going to make it a widespread mainstream product. I think it's always going to be a niche product like a fancy sports car." I don't know about you, but the real estate market right now is making it hard to build, buy, or even repair anything on a house!
Yet Gabriela Bunea, Senior Vice President of Solar R&D at GAF Energy, maintains that Timberline Solar will be able to compete when it comes to cost, efficiency and reliability. Do you know they can compete with a name brand like the others? Or would you go for a cheaper cost?
"It is my hope that maybe in five, ten years when you are thinking about changing your roof, you will pick the solar roof, because it makes economic sense, because it's attractive and because you will have the same warranty as the rest of the roof." Wonder if the solar panels will warranty for life?
Watch the video to see CNBC's early look inside GAF Energy's R&D and manufacturing facility in San Jose, California, where it's assembling Timberline Solar shingles.
--Lora Kolodny contributed to this report.
--Heather Beach contributed to this report