Elon Musk has revealed his company Tesla’s latest world-changing innovation: a solar roof system so fully integrated into a home’s architecture as to be indistinguishable from a traditional roof.
At the unveiling event on Friday, Musk invited a crowd to the old Hollywood set of “Desperate Housewives,” the quintessential model of American suburbia. After an introduction about the imminent effects of climate change, he revealed the reason for the unique site.
“The interesting thing is that the houses you see around you are all solar houses,” said Musk. “Did you notice?”
As it turns out, nobody had. Musk had installed prototype versions of his new solar tiles onto the roofs of the surrounding houses, with an aesthetic nearly identical to that of traditional roof shingles. With many homeowners turned off by the appearance of other solar panel systems, this represents a possible breakthrough to full acceptance of solar technology.
Made from textured glass, the tiles feature microscopic louvres that allow light to pass through while blocking views to the photovoltaic cell within. Tesla claims the tempered glass shingles would be “tough as steel,” with a “quasi-infinite lifetime,” and that heating elements could be added to melt snow in colder climates.
The solar roof will come in four different architectural styles: Tuscan, slate, smooth, and textured, and will be integrated into Tesla’s Powerwall 2 home solar battery, allowing most homes to produce all of the energy they would need for a typical day. Tesla is also in the process of further refining the louvre technology to bounce reflected light back onto the solar cell, potentially increasing the tiles’ efficiency.
Pricing on the system has not yet been released, but Musk claims that the solar roof could cost less than than the installation of a traditional roof combined with the cost of electricity from the grid.