Bringing clean energy home used to mean installing ugly panels on top of your roof. The huge slabs of blue always stand out in the neighborhood, and just don’t look good for your beautiful house; this on top of the fact that they are already an expensive investment.
Elon Musk says, not anymore. Electric car and battery company Tesla has just announced stylish solar roof tiles to go with your new Powerwall 2 home battery. There are four different designs, each made with durable textured glass and a special film to help solar cells blend into the roof. And, with Tesla’s future acquisition of SolarCity (another Musk company), these solar roofs can be made cheaper than your ordinary roof tiles, not to mention savings on your electricity bill.
The four styles, Tuscan, Slate, Textured, and Smooth Glass Tile, will each be topped with quartz glass, making them last way longer than asphalt tiles. Elon Musk says “they should last longer than the house”. This aside, the glass material is also very lightweight, introducing substantial savings in shipping cost, a key part to making these cheaper than other choices.
At the moment the solar cells lose about 2% in efficiency due to the glass covering. But, the company is working with 3M to develop a better solution that will raise efficiency higher than current solar panel, by reflecting light within the glass. The special glass is key to making this roof appealing, as they look opaque from street level but become transparent from the sun’s vantage point.
Tesla plans to bring these roofs to homes starting next summer, starting initially with one or two of the currently planned four designs.