On October 28, Tesla unveiled its latest product, solar roof tiles. The tiles are actual functioning solar panels that are designed to look like roof tiles, with several different looks. This may be one of the biggest advantages when buying solar panels, the fact that they won’t change the way consumers homes look.
Elon Musk took the stage to show the houses and the technology at Hollywood. He started with climate change, keep in mind people were expecting solar panels not roof tiles, then dropped the bombshell “The interesting thing is that the houses you see around you are all solar houses,” Musk said. “Did you notice?” Not a lot of people noticed.
The tiles are very aesthetic and Tesla has generally been very high end when it comes to designing their products. The tiles are made of textured glass and allow light to pass through the tiles to a flat solar cell. They come in four different models: Textured Glass, Slate Glass, Tuscan Glass, and Smooth Glass.
Currently the plan is to have Tesla provide the glass tiles and Panasonic to provide the solar cells. Tesla says the tempered glass is “tough as steel” and Musk says “It’s never going to wear out, it’s made of quartz. It has a quasi-infinite lifetime.”
The current versions of the tiles have a two percent efficiency loss from traditional solar panels, according to Elon Musk. The company is working with 3M to improve coatings to increase efficiency. Musk also went on to say that Tesla’s roofs cost less than traditional roofs. The tiles will essentially, in time, bring back money to owners, and with the new powerwall battery, homeowners can store energy for later use.
Tesla plans to start selling with one or two of the four tiles and installations should begin by summer of next year.