The company will begin taking orders next month, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said recently via Twitter. Tesla hasn’t disclosed detailed pricing on the tiles, but that would presumably become clear when people start putting down deposits. Installations will begin in mid 2017, according to the company’s website.
The roof tiles are made of textured glass. From most viewing angles, they look just like ordinary shingles, but they allow light to pass through from above onto a standard flat solar cell. The plan is for Panasonic Corp. to produce the solar cells at Tesla’s factory in Buffalo and for Tesla to put together the glass tiles and everything that goes along with them.
After Tesla acquired SolarCity in November, Musk said Tesla’s new solar roof product will actually cost less to manufacture and install than a traditional roof—even before savings from the power bill. “Electricity,” Musk said, “is just a bonus.”
Still, the solar tiles are likely to be a premium product: The terra cotta and slate roofs Tesla mimicked are among the most expensive roofing materials on the market—costing as much as 20 times more than cheap asphalt shingles.
The company has been generating a waiting list of people who might be interested in the glass solar tiles since the product was unveiled in October. The wait may soon be over.EDITOR'S NOTE: The future of renewables is the focus of the Renewables Rush energy conference in San Francisco on April 5.