October 29, 2016

Tesla Solar roof, reinventing the house

Tesla has finally unveiled its long awaited solar roof and Powerwall 2. The basic story is that it’s an invisible system, cheaper than a normal roof with solar panels, it will last longer, it will slash your energy bills to zero and it’s essentially better than the traditional alternative in just about every way.

In fact, Elon Musk might just have reinvented the house…

We’re looking for a balanced critical view and it’s just not there. This offers all the benefits of solar roofing and none of the drawbacks.

Essentially you can choose between four solar roof tiles:

  • Textured Glass Tile
  • Slate Glass Tile
  • Tuscan Glass Tile
  • Smooth Glass Tile

They look like tiles you’d have on your roof right now, tiles with no magic powers and no way of charging the Powerwall 2.0 in the garage. They allow the transmission of solar energy, but when they’re viewed from an angle they look just like normal roof tiles. If the homes looks familiar, by the way, they used to be the sets in Desperate Housewives.

It will get more efficient

The current versions lose a whole 2% of the solar energy you’d get with a normal solar panel, which is something Musk is determined to work on. With the help of 3M, Tesla and SolarCity will try to go beyond the normal efficiency of a solar panel.

As for the cost, the company isn’t giving specifics just yet due to the complexities of each individual installation. But it insists it will cost less than a normal roof equipped with solar panels. The quartz tiles are much tougher than normal roofing tiles, too, and should last two to three times longer.

So in essence, the roof should live longer than your house and the only reason to retile the roof would be if the next generation of solar tiles offer exponentially better performance. For those of you that live in colder climes, a heating matrix can melt the snow on your roof.

So, about this unratified merger?

Musk wanted to highlight the advantage of merging Tesla with SolarCity and, as always, there’s normally an agenda at work. The shareholders don’t meet to give this deal the final green light until mid-November, which might be why Musk has gone all out here to present the solar roof now when the company will not start installing them until Summer next year.

“This is sort of the integrated future. An electric car, a Powerwall and a solar roof. The key is it needs to be beautiful, affordable and seamlessly integrated,” Musk said. “Having two companies would make the whole thing unwieldy. It slows things down, makes them more expensive. It’s worse for shareholders.”

Tesla now has an arsenal of top products. The Powerwall 2.0 offers 14kWh of capacity. It is more expensive than the old 10kWh unit at $5,500, but combined with the solar roof this system could basically cut your electricity bills to nothing. Musk reckons you could go “indefinitely” without pulling any power at all from the grid.

The solar roof has now answered almost every question we had, the Powerpack 2 looks like a world-beating product and there’s a very good chance that the cars are about to benefit from the same boost thanks to the 2170 battery cells.

Musk is smashing it out the park right now

Tesla was already on the up, but every new announcement looks like a nailed on hit and they are coming thick and fast. The solar roof looks like another winner and with the right capacity Powerwall then electricity bills could, eventually, become a thing of the past.

At a time when utilities companies around the world have been accused of merciless profiteering, not too many of us will shed a tear for them.

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