Not only does Tesla want to save the planet, they want to do it in style.

One of the world’s premiere electric car and energy storage companies is now accepting $1,000 deposits for its latest innovation, the Solar Roof. Unlike traditional panels, Tesla’s solar cells look like typical roofing materials.

Made of tempered glass, the company claims its tiles are more than three times stronger than standard shingles and come with a warranty that lasts, “the lifetime of your house, or infinity, whichever comes first.”

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Not every tile has a solar cell, though the two are indistinguishable from street level. The company’s website allows potential customers to estimate the total cost of a Solar Roof and their long-term savings based on their home’s square footage, and the ratio of solar and non-solar tiles.

Musk estimates most homes would require 40% solar coverage,  CNN reports, though the website recommends 70%. Households charging one or more electric cars would require more.    

A home’s square footage and number of stories are two variables affecting installation costs and the value of the energy that is produced. For example, the more stories a home has, the lower the installation cost, but the the value of the energy produced is also less. This also affects the Solar Investment Tax Credit the homeowner will receive. 

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Like other photovoltaics, the Solar Roof aims to save customers money in the long term, though there’s no guarantee it will happen.

In the short term, installing a Solar Roof costs ten-of-thousands of dollars. For a two-story, 2,467 square foot home (the median size of a new, single family home in the US) in Raleigh, NC, the immediate cost will superpass the value of the energy produced over 30 years, incurring a net loss of $1,400, NPR reports.

However, depending on the local energy market, the value of the energy produced could turn a profit. The same home in New York state, for instance, would produce a net gain of around $20,000 in the same time span, according to the calculator.

Costs include materials, installation, and removing the previous roof.

The price is about 30% higher than a typical rooftop solar panel, but less than original estimates, Bloomberg reports. Musk expects initial sales to be slow. Still, Bloomberg says the aesthetic value, along with the warranty could be worth the added price – not to mention they help the Earth, which is priceless.

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Tesla announced the product last October and will begin installation in California in June, NPR reports. The company will limit 2017 installations to the US, and then open them up to international customers.

Tesla currently offers tiles in two models: textured and smooth dark gray. Terracotta (“Tuscan”) and slate will be available in 2018.

The Solar Tiles are part of a future that Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk envisions, in which people can store energy from the sun through their house and reuse it for their vehicles.

“These are really the three legs of the stool for a sustainable energy future,” Musk said. “Solar power going to a stationary battery pack so you have power at night, and then charging an electric vehicle… you can scale that to all the world’s demand.”


Defend the Planet

Tesla’s Unveiled Solar Roofs That Look Like Standard Shingles

By James O'Hare