Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk is at it again. On Friday, he revealed the company’s new “solar roof” line to a stunned audience and proved that, once again, Tesla is leading the charge on renewable energy concepts for the home.
Upon hearing the term “solar roof,” one might immediately wonder what the big deal is, since solar panel rooftops have been prevalent in the industry for years now. What makes Tesla’s approach different is a unique blend of aesthetics and technology. This concoction is so well-crafted that attendees of Musk’s presentation were not even aware they were surrounded by solar-efficient homes until the entrepreneur revealed the big secret.
All of the homes on display looked like normal homes with normal rooftops–a mixture of Tuscan Glass Tile, Smooth Glass Tile, Textured Glass Tile and Slate Glass Tile. Quite simply, all of Tesla’s solar roofs are tiled with glass material that appear to be ordinary shingles from most angles.
However, due to their material, these tiles allow sunlight to pass through and onto a standard flat solar cell underneath.
Panasonic would produce the solar cells required for Tesla to create these glass tile rooftops. Of course, this is all dependent on shareholders approving Tesla’s proposed $2.2 billion acquisition of SolarCity on November 17.
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Speaking with reporters at the event, Tesla stated that the tempered glass tiles can survive a lifetime of abuse from weather-related elements. They can also be equipped with heating elements to melt snow in colder climates. Musk says the tiles have “a quasi-infinite lifetime.”
Additionally, Musk revealed to reporters, afterwards, that the tiles are being designed to compete with high-efficiency solar panels. The current prototype reduces efficiency by about two percent, but Musk believes that with further refinement the tiles will eventually increase this level of efficiency.
Time will tell how this product shapes the solar industry, as well as how it competes with existing products like Dow Solar shingles that re-imagine the rooftop concept.
This is an industry shift to watch, especially for builders experimenting with solar. Clients always desire aesthetically-pleasing homes in addition to efficient ones. So, the ability to increase energy efficiency and lower bills, all while constructing an attractive product that’s pleasing to the eye, is something that will boost builder bottom lines nationwide.
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