When you’re Elon Musk, people come and see what you have to say, just because you proved you were right so many times. Following this principle, people gathered yesterday to see Tesla/SolarCity’s newest revolutionary product: a roof tile that also doubles as a solar cell and that’s estimated to outlast your home. Or maybe a solar cell that doubles as a roof tile, without the hassles.
Today’s solar panels look just like PCs in the 80s: bulky, complex and expensive. The Tesla solar roofing, made from quartz glass, will be less expensive than standard tiles and will also ensure your home’s energy independence.
The solar tiles will come in four distinct styles: “Textured Glass Tile,” “Slate Glass Tile,” “Tuscan Glass Tile,” and “Smooth Glass Tile.” They all resemble a modern roofing material, but do the same thing: produce energy. The tiles are all transparent to solar light, but appear opaque when viewed from an angle.
Tesla will produce these solar tiles in collaboration with 3M to develop coatings that will improve their efficiency. Currently, Elon said they will be 98% efficient compared to regular solar panels the same size, but the new improvements aim to trap incoming light and make it bounce in a total reflection solar cell system. The technique is not new. Scientists such as Ryszard Dzykowski have studied it extensively in the past decade, and even produced working prototypes based on the idea.
The exact cost of the Tesla solar roof has not been revealed yet, but it was said that it would cost less then a traditional roof, if you take into account the savings it brings (they used the same marketing strategy to justify the price of Tesla cars – it works, but don’t expect something cheap right away).
Coupled with a Powerwall 2.0 battery unit, you’ll be able to keep an energy reserve and even upload it to the grid.
When they start installing them by summer 2018, Tesla will make just one or two of the four options available, then gradually expand them. And because they’re made out of quartz glass, the Tesla shingles will be very hard to break and scratch. This, in turn, will stop dust collection on them and will keep the energy output fairly constant over time.
photos (c) Tesla, TechCrunch