Tesla will build and sell its own line of solar panels with integrated batteries, the company announced at a press event at Universal Studios in LA, today. The Powerwall 2 will allow residential homeowners to replace their entire roof with solar panels and an updated Powerwall 2 battery system, making it much simpler for homes to be entirely powered by solar power.
The roof is made of a textured glass tile with integrated solar cells. The roofs look “as good or better” than conventional roofs, according to Musk. They look like normal roofing tiles from the ground, but are completely transparent to the sun. The tiles are hydrographically printed, which, Musk says, makes each one a “special snowflake tile,” and no two roofs will be the same. “You can take any two roofs that look like that and they will be different — because they are different,” said Musk.
There are a number of different versions of solar panels: Textured Glass Tile, Slate Glass Tile, Tuscan Glass Tile, and Smooth Glass Tile. Tesla says its glass tiles are much more durable than conventional roof tile — something that’s important in areas with risk of hail.
The products are a “joint collaboration” between SolarCity and Tesla, according to SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive. Tesla is attempting to acquire SolarCity for $2.6 billion and shareholders of both companies will vote on the proposed acquisition in the middle of November. Those wishing to go entirely solar, with minimal draw off the electrical grid, would need to buy solar panels from a separate company as well as Powerwall batteries from Tesla. Now, customers will be able to buy both products from Tesla directly.
Musk says there are four to five million new roofs built each year in the US, and the solar roof product will be price competitive with more traditional roofs with solar added to it. However, existing roofs which do not need to be replaced will be better candidates for more traditional roof-mounted solar solutions.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who announced the Powerwall 2 in the California sunshine, had previously teased the product in a series of tweets as well as the Tesla Motors “Master Plan, Part Deux,” earlier this summer. Availability and pricing of the solar roof — not to mention how the thing is actually installed and works — was not announced. The Powerwall is $5,500.