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Tesla's new solar shingles could be the spark needed to ignite the industry

Lucas Mearian | Nov. 1, 2016
Four solar tiles will tie tightly into Tesla's manufacturing and sales of household and commercial battery systems

Tesla has announced four different solar roof tiles that the company plans to tie tightly into its manufacturing and sales of household and commercial battery systems, that will be able to store the energy while at the time making it available to charge Tesla electric cars.

Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk held a press conference Friday to announce the new rooftop solar tiles at Universal Studios Hollywood's old "Desperate Housewives" set, where the houses surrounding him all had recently had the new solar tiles installed on their roofs.

"Electric cars originally didn't look good. They had low range; they didn't have good performance; they were like a golf cart. So people had a real hard time buying electric cars," Musk said. "Something similar has to happen to solar. We need to make solar panels as appealing as electric cars have become."

Tesla solar shingle tiles
A home with Tesla's Tuscan-style solar tile installed.

The solar tiles will be produced by SolarCity at a Buffalo, N.Y. factory due to open in 2017. Tesla is currently in the process of acquiring SolarCity, of which Musk is the chairman. Tesla Energy, a subsidiary of Tesla, will sell the solar roofing products, along with home and business lithium-ion battery storage systems.

"The goal is the have solar roofs that look better than a normal roof, generate electricity, last longer, have better insulation and actually have an installed cost that is less than a normal roof plus the cost of electricity," Musk said.

Musk did not disclose what, if any, price premium the tiles would have over standard rooftop solar panels, which it will continue to sell with soon-to-be acquired solar rooftop installer SolarCity. Solar Panels will be targeted at homes with new or serviceable roofs, while the tiles will be targeted at new construction or replacement roofs.

Telsa Energy's solar roofs will come in four types: Textured Glass Tile, Slate Glass Tile, Tuscan Glass Tile, and Smooth Glass Tile, and each is more durable than conventional roof tile, Musk said.

Tesla solar roof shingle
Tesla CEO Elon Musk holds up the Tuscan Glass Solar Tile, which looks opaque when viewed from the street, but when viewed straight on reveals the photovoltaic cells that generate electricity.

Because they're made with glass, Musk said they can last "quasi-indefinitely," even in harsh northern regions, and that a 50-year lifespan can be expected.

More importantly, Musk said the tiles have 98% of the efficiency of traditional rooftop solar panels, and they'll be able to produce nearly the same amount of energy per square foot.


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