Tesla kicks off a solar roof to open its home market

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【Summary】Tesla revealed a solar tile roof as its new product to the public on Oct 28th, and claims it to be more "beautiful, efficient and price-worthy" than traditional roof

Original Claire    Nov 02, 2016 11:32 PM PT
Tesla kicks off a solar roof to open its home market

Tesla seems to be one step ahead of other car manufacturers. As a high-end electric car maker, its innoventions are endless. 

On October 28, 2016, while surrounded by a large house, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk revealed a completely unexpected new product to the public, a solar roof. And it's made of glass. 

Although the tile is made of different material, the look is quite similar to a common tile, except being more beautiful, smooth and neatly put together. Elon Musk claimed that the tile not only excels in its look, but is also efficient and worthy of its price.

The solar roofing comes in four distinct styles which Tesla presented at the event.They include "Textured Glass Tile," "Slate Glass Tile," "Tuscan Glass Tile, and "Smooth Glass Tile." Each of these achieves a different aesthetic look and is transparent for solar, but appears opaque when viewed from an angle. What's more, the tiles claim to be able to power a standard home, and even provide spare power via its new Powerwall 2 battery for home owners to use. In this feature their is extra power for inclement weather as well as the ability to charge your Tesla car and other electronic devices.

Musk added that the overall cost of installing the solar tiles will be less than installing a regular roof and paying the electricity bills for future years. As the tiles are made from quartz glass, they should last longer than an asphalt tile — at least two or three times the longevity.  Yet Musk later said "they should last longer than the house." That means if you own the solar roof you don't need to pay power bills, and you'll simply renew your roof every 15 to 20 years. 

In a promotional video from Tesla's company website, Tesla's glass tiles were hit by a falling kettlebell and remain intact, while the other common tile materials such as terracotta, clay and slate all broke in a second. According to Musk, Tesla's tiles will be more resilient than traditional roofing materials, as the glass is tough enough to resist hail or falling debris.

Although currently the tiles only achieve 98% of the efficiency compared with regular solar panels, Musk mentioned that the company is working on coatings to help capture more sunlight and transform that into consumable power. 

How much does it cost? For upper-class families, money won't be a problem, but for the general public, or at least the middle class, what price does it cost to attract a larger group? Consumer Reports has calculated that, with the installation fee, no more than $73,500. Can that compete with a traditional roof? Suppose there's $60,000 in added value from 30 years free of electric bills ($2,000 a year is a typical electric bill in states where solar power is big, like California, Texas, and North Carolina), and installing traditional roof to cover a 3000 sqft house, the estimate arrives at $73,500 in total. 

There is also the issue of building costs, contractors, electricians and roofers in regard to the labor cost. 

Tesla further announced that it won't begin installing the roof for customer's homes until next year, and plans to start with one or two of its four tile options, then gradually expand the options over time.  


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