Last May Elon Musk announced that auto and battery juggernaut Tesla would be making solar roof tiles, touted as a better solution for homes than putting up solar panels and the necessary supporting racks.
Interested customers could put down a $1,000 deposit (all figures $US) with an unspecified delivery time.
In the ensuing months the tiles, manufactured at Tesla’s Buffalo, NY facility, were tested on Musk’s home as well as other company executives. Other testing was done on houses on the backlot of Universal Studios, where they have been recreating suburban dreams for decades.
Today the company announced that the testing was complete (and obviously successful) and they are ready to begin surveying the homes of those initial customers with the first installations planned for this summer.
The tiles are nothing if not elegant, with four finishes. One is a smoked glass finish that provides an overall sleek look due in part to the fact that they do not overlap like regular asphalt tiles. Another is the same texture but with a slight overlap, and there are designs in the works that mimic terracotta and slate tiles.
Not all of the tiles on a roof are active. Part of the surveying of the customers’ homes will focus on optimizing the mixture of active and identical-looking inactive tiles, based on factors such as the amount of solar radiation the roof receives, roof direction and pitch.
As for price, Bloomberg’s New Energy Finance analyst Hugh Bromley is quoted as saying the shingles will be pricier than other roof and panel combinations ‘but not wickedly so’.
He estimates a Tesla roof would cost about $57,000 for a 2,000-square-foot house. A terracotta tiled roof with 5kW solar system would cost about $41,000 and an asphalt roof with similar system would be about half that price: $22,000.
Like the Tesla automobiles, the tiles seem to be aimed at the early-adopter affluent families who are happy to pay a premium for a stylish and distinctive demonstration of their concern about and commitment to addressing fossil fuel emissions and climate change.
The tiles have a 30 year warranty.