Note: One of our reporters was at the reveal and will be writing an article about the event and the new products as well.
On October 28, Elon Musk played ringmaster while Tesla and SolarCity showed off their new line of glass solar tiles that generate electricity but look like conventional roof shingles and tiles. Musk told an audience of several hundred invited guests that between 4 and 5 million new roofs are installed in America every year and many times more than that are installed worldwide. If the cost of a solar roof was less than what a homeowner would spend for a conventional roof plus utility bills that wouldn’t have to be paid over the roof’s 30 year useful life, “Why wouldn’t you?” Musk asked.
Good question. To be honest, conventional rooftop solar systems are not aesthetically pleasing to look at (in my opinion). The main advantage to Musk’s solar roof is that it adds to the look of a home instead of detracting from it. The solar roof tiles will come in four styles. The first looks like a conventional black roof shingle. The second resembles a conventional slate roof. Its individual tiles vary slightly in shade, making for a roof that is the most attractive of all. Third is called Tuscan and looks like the curved terracotta roofing tiles common throughout southern Europe and California. The fourth option is called textured glass and is visually appealing as well.
Solar roof glass tile vs. conventional roof tile pic.twitter.com/AnGWJ07jub
— Tesla (@Tesla) October 29, 2016
The secret sauce in all this is a series of micro-louvers built into each tile, technology developed in cooperation with 3M Corporation. The louvers allow sunlight to shine directly on the solar cells below but hide them from view from the street. The result is the best of both worlds — solar panels that generate electricity and a roof that generates compliments and adds value to any home.
To show off the new roof products, Tesla took over four houses on the back lot of Universal Studios that once served as the set for the reality TV series Desperate Housewives. Each house had its old roof stripped off and replaced with one of the four styles of glass roof tiles that Tesla and SolarCity will offer. Naturally, each home had Tesla automobiles parked in the garage to emphasize that having a solar roof means sufficient power for the inhabitants with enough electricity leftover to charge electric vehicles.