Tesla and SolarCity may have just made that task of reducing the energy crisis more straightforward with their new Solar Roof product. Unlike solar systems that must be mounted on top of traditional roofs, Tesla's new panels come integrated within glass roof tiles, which completely replace your home's roof.
Because they're made of glass, Elon Musk says, they'll last "quasi indefinitely," even in harsh conditions. Musk also said 50-year life spans should be no problem. The Solar Roof offers efficiency that's 98 percent as good as traditional, photovoltaic panels. More impressively, they are much more pleasing to the eye. The glass tiles are available in four looks that each replicate a standard style: slate, textured, Tuscan and smooth glass. The Tuscan in particular remarkably resembles the real thing. Musk calls the roofs "a fundamental part of achieving differentiated product strategy, where you have a beautiful roof. It's not a thing on the roof. It is the roof, which is a quite difficult engineering challenge and not something that is available anywhere else."
Musk also unveiled Tesla's Powerwall 2 - a new version of the company's residential at-home battery and Tesla's charger. Although it's bigger, bulkier and more expensive than before, at $5,500, it packs 14 kWh of power capacity. Musk says that the combination of a Powerwall 2 with a Solar Roof, lets you go "indefinitely" without pulling any power from the grid.
Tesla's previous Powerwall home battery came in two sizes. The cost of the ten kWh unit was $3,500 and was intended only for backup use. The cost of the smaller, seven kWh unit for daily cycling was $3,000. Though they were both announced and officially released, neither was ever offered in any quantity. Hopefully, that will change with this new generation of production ramping up at the Gigafactory.
No pricing was announced for Solar Roof, beyond the promise that it will cost no more than a new traditional roof "plus electricity." The missing factor in that equation, of course, is time: How long will it take to make up for the price differential between a standard roof? That would, of course, depend on your home's current average electricity bill and the cost of the new system. Still, given you won't need a traditional roof beneath, this should offer substantial cost savings over traditional photovoltaic systems.
The Solar Roof tiles should go into production in the summer of 2017, and will initially be very limited, "one or two homes" Musk indicated. Availability will start in California and spread from there. Powerwall, meanwhile, goes into production this December. It'll likely be years before you can reasonably expect to apply both to your house, but if you're dreaming of moving off the grid, better get to saving.
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