It used to be that if you opted for a solar roof for your home, it was an eco-conscious but not a particularly aesthetic choice. But all that changed in October, when Tesla CEO Elon Musk introduced a new solar roof that is as beautiful as it is green.
“If you install our solar roof on your house, you’re going to want to call your neighbors over and say ‘check out the sweet roof!’” Musk said at the October presentation.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about the look of the new roof tiles is how well they blend into a traditional roof. The four distinct styles of product are made from quartz glass, which is transparent to solar but appears opaque when viewed from an angle, and even resembling traditional materials, from slate to terra cotta. This even means that you could add solar tiles to just part of the roof.
“We need to make solar panels as appealing as electric cars have become,” Musk said. “It needs to be beautiful, affordable, and seamlessly integrated. If all of those things are true, why would you go any other direction?”
In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, the solar tiles are also quite durable, built to last about two or three times longer than asphalt tiles.
“They should last longer than the house,” said Musk.
And there’s another very good reason to opt for these panels over traditional roofing materials: these solar panels generate enough energy to fully power a household, even on a shady day; the Tesla solar roof will be sold in tandem with Tesla Powerwall battery units, developed with an essential new element of solar power – electricity storage.
Electricity storage is already common in solar-heavy regions, where the solar energy produced in the middle of the day can be stored and used at night.
“The future is going to overwhelmingly be solar plus battery,” Musk said. “They go together like peanut butter and jelly.”
By designing the solar roofs to work hand-in-hand with Powerwall, Tesla has created an all-in-one system with units that can store 15kWh of energy, enough to power a four-bedroom house for a day.
“In order to make his vision move forward, Musk is using design with a big D,” Andy Ogden, Chair of the Industrial Design Department at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, told Wired. “He’s thinking about an overall strategy, in how these things interact and support each other, so there’s some synergy.”
Tesla is partnering with SolarCity on the new products; Tesla will likely merge with the company, run by his cousins, depending on the November 17 decision of the shareholders.
While pricing information and availability remain to be addressed — Brian Cinnamon of Green Tech Media guesses that the Tesla solar roof will cost about $15,000 for a set that is capable of producing 9,000 kilowatt-hours per year — keep an eye out for these new panels in time for summer 2017, if the merger goes according to plan.
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