If you haven't heard of Tesla and its eccentric product architect Elon Musk by now, we might wonder if you've been living under a rock.
Best known for being the elite of the electric car world, Tesla also manufactures a power generating Solar Roof. This more-extensive-than-your-average roof is a durable structure that features a lifetime warranty and comes in either a textured, smooth, slate and even "Tuscan" tiled finish...fancy that. To the untrained eye, the Solar Roof looks, well, like a roof! It features two types of glass tile, solar tile and non-solar tile, which despite its extraordinary properties, look entirely ordinary from street level.
The Solar Roof product was announced in 2016 covering everything from energy production, with its solar products, to energy storage, with its Powerwall.
The panels hidden within the tiles allow homeowners to get the full benefits of switching to roof solar power, without having to place large and unsightly solar panels on or around the home. Certain homes and structures cannot accommodate traditional solar panels due to their shape or size, so this new technology opens up the market for new consumers of the sun's natural charging powers. In this day and age of electricity dependence and environmental awareness, it is indeed exciting to see so much attention brought to solar technology.
What is the latest news on the Tesla solar roof?
In August 2017, Elon Musk revealed that both he and Tesla company CTO, JB Straubel, have installed the solar power roofs on their respective homes. Meanwhile, the company also announced that they had begun installations for their waiting list. In January 2018 production at Buffalo Gigafactory ramped up, and they have completed some of the first initial installations for customers as of mid-March.
How much does it cost?
Tesla launched a calculator that gives estimates for its Solar Roof to provide prospective solar roof customers more details since the cost is based on the estimated roof square footage for your home. An entirely reasonable $1,000 deposit is required when ordering for Tesla solar roof online. According to Tesla's calculator, the average US customer can expect to pay $21.85 per square foot of solar panels. Tesla also includes 14kWh Powerwall 2 in all quotes. You can opt to remove it, but Tesla thinks that most customers will want to have the home battery pack for backup energy. Customers can select how many solar tiles they need based on their home's electricity consumption.
Tesla powerwall battery
Solar Roof turns sunlight into electricity using an integrated Tesla Powerwall 2 battery. The energy gathered during the day is stored and made accessible any time you need it. As a result, this effectively turns your home into a personal utility. Tesla's Solar Roof only works with Powerwall 2, the second-generation home battery. At the same time, it's capable of saving 14kWh of energy, with a 5kW constant power draw, and 7kW peak. To put that into perspective, the average US household consumes approximately 29.9kWh per day. So, Powerwall has the power to store about half of one's daily electricity needs.
Types of Tesla's solar roof tiles
So let's take a look at the four styles of the Tesla solar roof. Those are Tuscan, French Slate, Smooth Glass and Textured Glass.
Tesla has said smooth and textured tiles are going into production because they received the highest number of inquiries after the announcement last autumn and the French and Tuscan tiles are to be expected later in 2018. The roofs will be a collaboration between sister companies Tesla and SolarCity.
French slate glass tiles
Slate tiling has been around for some time and is one of the most sought roof types. Slate tile roofs are reminiscent of a handcrafted look - one might say it is quite a savvy mixture of old-world craftsmanship with modern day technology. Afterall, some homeowners want the 21st Century amenities while keeping in line with the aesthetics of their traditional home.
Tuscan glass tiles
You might have seen this type of roof on European-style homes. The Tuscan roof tile type dates back to Roman and Greek times. Why compromise on style when replacing a roof if you can't keep close to your home's original features? Hats off to Mr Musk for creating a tile reminiscent of ancient Rome that can charge your iPhone, but then again if you can launch a David Bowie blasting car into space, the Tuscan tile seems like a trifling achievement in comparison.
Smooth glass tiles
The Tesla Solar designed the smooth glass tile with the modern home in mind. It is very straightforward and fits the contemporary home design. This tile fits with higher-end dwellings built within the last few years.
Textured glass tiles
This roofing tile was popular until the introduction of the smooth and glazed tiles. Textured tile can be dated thousands of years back. Therefore, if any historic structures make a move for solar, then this type will be the best choice- unless you're lucky enough to live in a Tuscan villa or French chateau of course.
Solar roofs versus solar panel shingles
The development of solar shingles and solar roof tiles has been evolving for years, and some companies have taken a stab at designing a versatile rooftop solar medium, which could be considered an authentic roofing material rather than a module add-on. Tesla's real innovation is the production of a solar system. The Solar Roof and the sleek glass appear to be the answer Musk was seeking. The simple context is that the roof will be costly when compared to other roofing installations but could be competitive concerning long-term net benefit.
Benefits of a solar roof
Tesla claims that their Solar Roofs are built to last for life, so you don't have to worry about replacing your roof again. Tesla roof tiles also help reduce the amount of oil and coal energy companies burn to provide power to their customers. This is indeed an attractive prospect for environmentally conscious homeowners.
Who might be interested in the Tesla solar roof?
The best people for a Tesla solar roof are homeowners who prioritise roof aesthetics and durability than up-front cost and want maximum long-term electricity savings. If you were to go ahead and get a new roof installed along with a new solar panel array, then Tesla's Solar Roof can seem much more reasonable. Tesla's Solar Roof is more of a complete roof product, which will make it better for new home construction.
Thinking of sprucing up your place this summer? Check out solar path lights. Article by Ross Spark, edited by Hannah Webb.