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Tesla’s Solar Roof: Like Its Cars, Innovative And Expensive

It’s pretty hard to ignore a Tesla when you see one on the road or in a parking lot; it’s sleek, modern, and often has a smug-looking driver behind the wheel.


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Tesla’s newest innovation, though, is designed not to be noticed. The company has unveiled its latest product, a solar roof – and unless you knew that the shingles had solar cells mounted underneath them, you’d never guess that you were looking at a groundbreaking method of capturing solar power.

What Makes Tesla’s Solar Roof So Different?

The primary reason you wouldn’t guess that the Tesla roof is indeed a solar roof is that those ugly collectors we all associate with solar aren’t necessary; the roof is designed to hide in plain sight. In fact, it replaces your current roof with tiles which are made from strong tempered glass and will be available in options that look like slate, clay or textured shingles.

However, since they’re made from glass, light from the sun can pass right through them to be captured by the six-inch solar cells (manufactured by Panasonic) integrated into each tile. The energy that is produced can then be used to power the home, or stored in a Tesla high-capacity Powerwall 2 battery (also a new product, a major improvement over the original Powerwall) for later use.

Tesla roof anatomy

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Tesla founder and clean energy guru Elon Musk says there’s nothing to fear when you install these glass roof shingles on your house. Musk claims that the quartz used to manufacture the shingles can stand up to a lifetime’s worth of abuse from the weather because it is “as tough as steel.”

The Powerwall 2 will be available shortly at prices well below that of its predecessor, while we may see Tesla solar roofs on the market in less than a year.

How Expensive Will The Tesla Solar Roof Be?

It’s almost impossible to calculate the eventual price of the Tesla roof, because it’s still being fine-tuned and the company hasn’t released much information about it. Musk says only that in the long run, it will be cheaper than the combination of a traditional roof and purchased electricity and may eventually be more efficient than regular solar panels.

However, you can expect it to be expensive. One industry authority, Green Tech Media, estimates that a Tesla roof that produces 9,000 kilowatt-hours each year could cost around $15,000 while cutting about $2,250 per year from the typical electric bill. That would make the payback term about 8 years on a new production home, and 11 years on a custom-built one.

Musk has an idea for existing homeowners who may find that price too high, suggesting that a retrofit of just one portion of their home’s roof would be possible. That would reduce the amount of electricity generated, but would make the overall cost lower and allow “aesthetic preferences” to be considered as well.


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It would be easy (and catchy) to guess that the Tesla solar roof will end up being “the Tesla of solar roofs.” Just like the company’s cars, it will be energy efficient, attractive and priced beyond the means of a large number of customers. It promises to be a great product for those who can afford it, though.

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