Last week, Solar City announced more detailed information of its Solar Roof project. Solar City and Elon Musk both claim their Solar Roof is just or if not more affordable and durable as compared to a traditional roof. Customers can pre-order their own titles that will ship later this summer. The move works towards completing Elon Musk’s Master Plan.
Solar Roof works by using normal looking roofing tiles, that have solar panels built in, to turn sunlight into energy. That energy is then stored in a Tesla Powerwall and can be accessed by the house at any time during the day. Because the Powerwall stores energy on site, it can be used as a solar-powered generator. This makes Solar Roof a great option for areas that are run off grid, or if city power is unreliable.
Solar Roof becomes more affordable than a traditional roof because the power it generates typically negates a home’s electricity bill. Now, installing a functional Solar Roof will cost around ~$70,000. Several factors will change this number, including location, style of tilling, and whether or not a Powerwall will need to be purchased. Solar Roof, on average will save customers ~$2,000 dollars per year on electricity, and Musk says the roof should last at least 30 years. If a Powerwall is needed, a $6,500 cost, the Solar Roof should save customers ~$53,500 over the life of the roof, making it at least $5,000 cheaper than traditional roofs. Again, the numbers will vary by location and exact installation choices. Because Solar Roof combines both tiles with and without solar panels in them, some installations with cost more than others, obviously. Solar City does this because electricity consumption will vary between households. Some customers that have electric vehicles or need more electricity will want to install more panels whereas small consumers will want few panels to cut costs. Customers should be able to add more panels in the future, but this has not been confirmed by either Musk or Solar City themselves.
Solar City is offering a number of tile designs including Smooth and Textured (available for pre-order now) and Tuscan and Slate (available early next year). Solar City claims the tiles are, “more than three times stronger than standard roofing tiles, yet half the weight.” Because the tiles are not made out of asphalt or concrete, they do not degrade or fade over time, and the glass itself comes with a warranty for the lifetime of the house, or infinity, whichever comes first.
Customers that are interested can place an order for Solar Roof on Tesla’s Website. Installations will begin later this summer, and installations outside of the U.S. will start sometime in 2018. These new tiles are just another step in working to complete Elon’s master plan, and provide a tempting choice for customers that live in sunny environments that would benefit from solar panels. However, the upfront cost is going to turn many people away, but over time that cost should come down as technology will advance and become more cost effective. Nonetheless, we are looking at the future, and if we want to save our planet, we need to increase use of renewable energy sources, not decrease use.