Tesla Taking Orders for Rooftop Solar Tiles
Seven months after electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors announced its plan to enter the home solar market, the Palo Alto, California-based firm on Wednesday (May 10) opened online pre-ordering for its rooftop solar photovoltaic system.
The system, which uses a mix of regular and solar shingles, will feature solar-collecting tiles--not panels—and will be available in two tile styles. Black smooth glass and textured glass tiles are available now; French and Tuscan slate tiles are slated to be released in six months.
Tesla has begun taking $1,000 deposits for the tiles, which the company said will cost roughly $21.85 per square foot. The solar roof system will debut in the United States this year and expand to other countries in 2018. The tiles will be made by Panasonic at Tesla’s Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, New York, and will be used on residential projects produced SolarCity, its installation business unit of which Tesla CEO Elon Musk is chairman.
For the U.S. market, the 14-inch-by-8.65-inch tiles are Class-A fire, Class-4 hail and Class F wind-rated; they can be used on 3:12 to vertical roof pitches. The tiles have a 30-year warranty on power and weatherization. Bloomberg reported in November that the tiles will look like rooftop shingles but feature a glass layer that light can pass through to reach an embedded photovoltaic cell.
The tiles are used in conjunction with Tesla’s Powerwall 2, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery back that mounts on a home’s wall. Powerwall 2 supplies power when solar panels are not converting energy. When used together, Tesla said the products can enable a home to run entirely on renewable energy.
With its solar system, Tesla aims to replace standard roofing panels with tiles that feature embedded solar-gathering tech. An entire roof can’t be covered in solar shingles; obstructions such as chimneys and skylights, and adherence to local housing codes make that unfeasible.
The system will use active and regular tiles, with data gleaned from Google's Project Sunroof. Energy generation potential, product cost, available tax credits and other variables for a given address will be calculated.
Praise the Roof
Musk announced plans for the solar rooftop system in November, and lauded its economic advantages.
“It’s looking quite promising that a solar roof actually costs less than normal roof before you even take the value of electricity into account,” he said. “So the basic proposition would be, ‘Would you like a roof that looks better than a normal roof, lasts twice as long, costs less and by the way generates electricity?’ Why would you get anything else?”