Tesla's solar roof solution hides in plain sight
Tesla CEO, SolarCity chairman and general billionaire tycoon Elon Musk wants to see every rooftop go solar, but in a way that you don't see where the roof ends and the solar panels start. At an event in California on Friday evening, Musk unveiled a handful of new types of roofing tiles that also double as solar panels.
Standing outside surrounded by newly roofed houses of different styles, Musk showed off glass tiles that mimic textured tiles, French slate, flat modern and even Tuscan style curved roof tiles. Each individual tile looks opaque from most ground level vantage points, hiding the solar cells that become more visible from above where they perform their critical energy transaction with the sun.
"The goal is... to have solar roofs that look better than a normal roof, generate electricity, last longer, have better insulation and actually have an installed cost that is less than a normal roof plus the cost of electricity," Musk told a small crowd gathered at the faux block party. "Why would you buy anything else?"
Musk demonstrated the durability of the solar glass tiles with a video showing a Tesla roof tile taking a hit from a weight dropped from above. The tile cracks but does not shatter into shards like other conventional roofing tiles. No mention was made of the price, electricity generation capability of each tile or insulation value.
Musk also introduced the second generation of both a battery power solution aimed at electric utilities and Tesla's Powerwall. The US$5,500 Powerwall 2 is essentially a battery pack that can provide 14 kWh of storage or twice as much power as the first generation model. That's enough per charge to power everything in a four-bedroom house for a full day, according to Tesla. If it's hooked up to a solar system on the roof, it could theoretically power a home indefinitely.
Tesla says that taking orders for the new solar tiles and Powerwall 2 will begin soon. The initiative is being billed as a joint effort of Tesla and SolarCity. The two companies could be set to merge if a shareholder vote next month approves of the deal.