The Tesla Solar Roof: An Overview
Back in October, Tesla/SolarCity CEO Elon Musk made a big announcement with a preview of Tesla’s upcoming integrated solar roof shingles. This was a pretty exciting preview of what’s to come.
Now in all fairness, integrated solar roof shingles are not a new thing - in fact, they’ve been around for almost a decade. Up until the summer of 2016, most of that market belonged to Dow Chemical, when they let go of that product line, citing difficulties in selling the value prop behind these shingles that proved to be less efficient than a traditional mounting system. Other manufacturers are still out there as well, most notably, Certainteed (Saint-Gobain).
So what makes the Tesla roof shingles special? It comes down to two things: 1) aesthetic appeal, and 2) price (although that still isn’t confirmed - we’re basing this on the claimed price). Musk even went so far as to say these “solar glass tiles can also incorporate heating elements, like the rear defroster on a car, to clear the roof of snow and keep generating energy.”
Bringing Beauty to Solar
One of the biggest knocks against switching to solar for many homeowners has been how the majority of systems are big, intrusive, and visually distracting/unappealing.
Most people still want a beautiful home, and traditional PV systems have never had that mainstream aesthetic appeal - in fact, their look has contributed to slower adoption. So with an approach that is both beautiful and seamless, it’s another point of friction towards adoption that is removed.
Having an integrated solution, or in this case, a refined version of the typical BIPV (building-integrated photovoltaics), makes the proposition much more enticing. Tesla announced four roofing styles that are close to the common roofing styles that are out there today: A modern smooth glass tile, a textured glass tile, a Tuscan tile similar to Spanish roofs, and a slate glass tile.
In this sense, a new roof becomes just as much a style choice as it becomes a choice to go solar.
Pricing for Everyone
As in many new technologies, prohibitive startup costs are often the cause of slow or no adoption for homeowners when talking about solar. And despite the fact that solar PV has never been more affordable than it is today, the up-front costs are still a barrier for most. That being said, Tesla is hoping to position its BIPV for when you’re ready to replace your roof, an essential part of every home that in many cases needs to be replaced every 20 years.
To make it irresistible for anyone and everyone to install solar quicker, Tesla is planning to offer their new roofs for even less than the typical ‘dumb roofs’ (asphalt typically being the lowest in price) - and that doesn’t include the energy savings you’ll get after having it installed.
Several folks are still skeptical of these claims though, as Tesla has remained vague on the numbers to back up their claims. We’re optimists though, and looking at Elon Musk’s track record, we’re confident that Tesla will deliver on its promises.
Just like Rise, Tesla has realized that in order to get people to buy into sustainable products, there needs to be a financial incentive, equal or increased aesthetic value, or no-brainer pricing that makes the product irresistible. To get adoption, there needs to be little to no friction, and with this announcement, Tesla has effectively tapped into a very mainstream market.
The Unknowns (…stay tuned!)
It’s true, there’s a ton of hype around this upcoming product - but here are some important facts that are missing:
- What’s the actual cost of an installation? We only know that Tesla claims it will be competitive with traditional asphalt roofing solutions.
- What are the shingles made from and how do they perform? (Some PV materials can be inexpensive but have a big environmental footprint.)
- How are they installed?
- If you’re in Canada, you might be waiting a while - SolarCity, (now part of Tesla Inc.) has yet to make a hop to the Canadian market. That means you may still need to wait a while before you can purchase these.
Check out the unveil video from Tesla:Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2022-10-07T16:13:17+0000