Would you buy solar panels from an electric carmaker? That’s what Tesla is hoping with a whole new concept in rooftop solar. The solar cells are built right into the rooftop shingles or tiles so your roof will both look good, and produce electricity.
Tesla’s Elon Musk tweeted on Friday, March 24th, that the company will begin taking orders for its new solar roof tiles next month. There’s a video on the Tesla website of Musk unveiling the new solar roof in a presentation last year.
The rooftop tiles are made of tempered glass that Tesla promises will outlast a normal roof. The glass is supposed to be as “tough as steel” and withstand three times the force of standard roofing tiles. Tesla created a video showing a 1.2 pound steel ball dropped on other roofing materials, which all shattered. The Tesla product did not.
And these tiles are aesthetically pleasing. The solar cells inside the tiles are visible from a bird’s eye view, but when you look at them from street level, the tiles look like normal roofing material.
And you can get them to match the architecture of your home. They will come in four styles including smooth, textured, slate, and terra cotta. The smooth tile is dark-colored glass with a modern sleek look. The textured tile is also dark-colored glass that looks more like a real shingle. The slate tile comes with texture and variations in color like real stone. And, the terra cotta roof tiles are shaped like the rust-colored tiles you see on Mediterranean-style homes. The website isn’t displaying prices yet but Musk says his solar roof will be cheaper than a normal roof once you figure in the energy savings.
Tesla is also selling the energy storage batteries you need to power your home when the sun goes down. If you want one day’s worth of back-up power for a 3-bedroom home, you’d need one Powerwall 2 battery. The total cost for one battery is about $7,000 including the battery, installation, and supporting hardware.
The batteries are being made at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Reno, Nevada and the solar tiles are being made in Buffalo, New York with the help of Panasonic. Tesla has also teamed up with solar panel installer Solar City to install these products.
So what’s not to like about these new tiles? Elon Musk says they are powerful, beautiful, and affordable, although we don’t know the price yet. The website promises various financing options.
You can go to the websites for Tesla or Solar City to be among the first to pre-order the tiles but production isn’t support to begin until the middle of this year.
If they are as good as Tesla promises, they will likely add value to your home. Both the FHA and Fannie Mae say that solar panels add value if you own the system. And the federal government offers a 30% tax credit on solar installations.
Unfortunately, investment properties do not qualify for that tax credit. If you rent your property with utilities included, you may want to run the numbers, especially if you are about to replace a roof. And you may want to wait a few months to see if the Tesla tiles make sense for your project.
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