Instead of adding bulky solar panels to an existing roof, Tesla will build and sell a new line of solar roof tiles with integrated batteries, the company announced at a press event at Universal Studios in LA, this week.
The new roofs are the result of a collaboration between SolarCity and Tesla, and can be combined with Tesla’s Powerwall 2 battery. The tiles are hydrographically printed, a process that makes each one a “special snowflake,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a press event. He also tweeted that “Solar glass tiles can also incorporate heating elements, like rear defroster on a car, to clear roof of snow and keep generating energy.” The Powerwall 2 will allow residential homeowners to replace their entire roof with solar panels and an updated Powerwall 2 battery system, making it much simpler for homes to be entirely powered by solar power.
The current versions of the tiles actually have a two percent loss on efficiency, so 98% of what you’d normally get from a traditional solar panel, according to Elon Musk. There are also a number of different versions of solar panels: Textured Glass Tile, Slate Glass Tile, Tuscan Glass Tile, and Smooth Glass Tile. Each of them achieves a different aesthetic look, but all resembled fairly closely a current roofing material style. Each is also transparent to solar, but appears opaque when viewed from an angle. The company is also working with 3M on improved coatings that have the potential to possibly go above normal efficiency, since it could trap the light within, leading to it bouncing around and resulting in less energy loss overall before it’s fully diffused.
The Powerwall 2 can store 14 kWh of energy, with a 5 kW continuous power draw, and 7 kW peak. The battery is warranted for unlimited power cycles for up to 10 years. It can be floor or wall mounted, inside or outside. It can be used for load shifting or back-up power. According to Tesla, The solar roof product should start to see installations by summer next year, the company will start with one or two of its four tile options, then gradually expand the options over time.