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Tesla Unveils Solar Roof Tile Plans

Friday, November 11, 2016

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Electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors is diving into the home solar market with a splash, announcing a new initiative to bring to market solar roof tiles that look like traditional roofing materials and boast insulating qualities.

Tuscan Glass style roof tile
Images: Tesla

The photovoltaic cells in the tiles are hidden, so, according to the companies, there is no indication by appearance that the roof is converting solar energy.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk made the announcement Oct. 28; the company is working with SolarCity, a solar technology company of which Musk is chairman. Tesla is in the process of acquiring SolarCity, in a $2.6 billion merger that is not yet final.

Four Styles

According to Tesla and SolarCity, the solar tiles will come in four styles to mimic traditional roofing materials: Textured Glass Tile, Slate Glass Tile, Tuscan Glass Tile, and Smooth Glass Tile.

The photovoltaic cells in the tiles are hidden, so, according to the companies, there is no indication by appearance that the roof is converting solar energy.

Four styles of roof tiles

The solar tiles will come in four styles to mimic traditional roofing materials: Textured Glass Tile, Slate Glass Tile, Tuscan Glass Tile, and Smooth Glass Tile.

The new solar tile roofing product was announced in conjunction with Tesla’s new Powerwall 2, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery back that mounts on a home’s wall and supplies power when solar panels are not converting energy. When used in conjunction, Tesla says the two products can enable a home to run entirely on renewable energy.

Photovoltaic shingles have been available from other sources for more than a decade, but Tesla claims its new model will be more attractive, more durable and more affordable than past iterations.

Durability, Insulation

Musk said the roof tiles could be expected to last 50 years, even in harsh climates, and provide “better insulation” than traditional roofing materials.

He said that the installation of the solar tiles would be less than the cost of a new roof plus the cost of energy that would need to be purchased via the grid in a home with traditional roofing materials.

The company has not put a specific price on the materials, sparking some questions.

A representative of SolarCity told Durability + Design News that specifics about the insulative properties of the roof tiles, and about installation processes and materials, would not be available until 2017.

The tiles are reportedly going to be produced at a factory in Buffalo, NY, which will open in 2017.

   

Tagged categories: Building Envelope; Energy efficiency; North America; Roof coatings; Roof insulation; Roofing materials; Solar energy

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