Tesla CEO Elon Musk at Universal Studios in LA unveiled a range of textured glass tiles with integrated solar cells that are nearly indistinguishable from conventional tiling.
A couple hundred invited guests, mostly Tesla owners, ooh-ed and ahh-ed as Musk revealed that a row of suburban American houses on Wisteria Lane—the old set of Desperate Housewives—were all, in fact, topped with solar roofs.
Each house’s old roofing material had been stripped away and replaced with one of four new styles of solar tile.From the street, it was virtually impossible to tell that roofs retained a variety of traditional looks.
Musk said that secret to the tiles appearance is a special coating that becomes more or less see through depending on your viewing angle.
These solar tiles appear to be nontransparent. But viewing angle approaches 90 degrees.
For those concerned about the strength of a roof made of glass tiles. In a demonstration, Musk shared footage of drop test to show how much the glass is tougher than materials like clay and slate.
“It’s never going to wear out, it’s made of quartz, it has a quasi-infinite lifetime,” Musk said.
“We need to make solar panels as appealing as electric cars have become,” Musk said. He wants to make every roof solar, by making it irresistible. “It needs to be beautiful, affordable, and seamlessly integrated. If all of those things are true, why would you go any other direction?” Why, indeed. Musk makes a strong case, but it’s one he only partially supported this evening; Tesla’s panels certainly look good, but Musk provided no details on pricing, availability, or the installation process.
A Better Battery
These solar roofs are designed to be used with the Tesla Powerwall Version 2.0 which is unveiled by Musk in the same conference and is a bright white rectangle and flatter than the first version which Tesla released in April 2015. It will cost $5,500 for 14kWh of the storage ad 7kWh peak draw.
The new roof and battery are both part of Musk’s master plan to save the world through sustainable energy.
Tesla is partnering with SolarCity on the new products and is hoping to convince shareholders of both companies that they make a good pair.