Decades ago, a man had a dream about Computers. His name is Bill Gates. He dreamed of a PC in every home! Today, his dream is what we are living in. After PC revolution, now is the time for energy revolution! Being energy hungry species, we (human being) are becoming more and more energy-dependent over the time. As the fossil fuels are on the verge of extinction, we are developing clean energy alternatives over past few decades. Out of all, Solar energy is promising. Solar Plant installations are being carried out on large scale throughout the world. However, the problem of land acquisition is hurting the main motto behind the installation.
To address the problem, an American based company Tesla has developed the product called Tesla Solar Roof. Solar Roof tiles convert your home into a small generating unit. You generate your own energy using these tiles. It took 6 months to Tesla to materialize the idea.
Tile Warranty: Tesla claims infinite time warranty for their solar roof tiles. They are made up of tempered glass and hence more durable than conventional roof tiles. Solar Roof tiles are 3 times stronger than the conventional roof tiles.
Availability during Grid outages: You can get uninterrupted power supply with roof tiles if you integrate them with Tesla’s Powerwall 2 (another product from Tesla). Powerwall 2 uses smart inverter technology to store and manage the energy flowing among solar tiles, your home/office and utility company.
Solar Tiles and Non-Solar Tiles: It is not possible to have solar tiles everywhere on roof due to shadowing effect. You need to place the solar roof tiles in the most efficient locations. To do this, Tesla has launched two types of tiles. The one type produces the electricity whereas the other does not. Both types look exactly identical to each other. So, the outsiders see unified tile pattern over your house. However, only you know which tile is producing power and which is not!
Cost-effective: Looking at the cost of panels and their ability to produce electricity, you are about to save considerable amount of money over the time even after considering the annual inflation rate of 2%.
Power Output warranty: 30 years (Ordinary solar panel manufacturers claim 25 years of power output warranty)
Recommended Roof Slope: 3/12 (Rise=3 , Span=12)
Hail Testing: The tiles are tested OK for hailstone. During the test, it was observed that Tesla Solar Roof Tiles can sustain 2 inch hailstone hitting at near about 100 mph speed. This is best rating out of all available hail ratings.
Fire Resistant Class: Class A UL 790 (best of all)
Wind Protection Class: Class F ASTM D3161 (best of all)
Average conventional roof costs $5/square foot. Tesla Solar Roof Tiles cost near about $22/ sq. foot. Keep in mind that these calculations are not straight forward. Considering the power generation advantage and 30 years life span of tiles; the solar tiles are actually economical than traditional tiles. Tesla offers design and installation services along with solar roof tiles and Powerwall products. Once started, the typical installation takes 7 to 15 days for average house. Tesla is also going to finance the installations from December, 2017.
Types of Tiles
Tesla has launched 4 types of tile designs. These are Textured, Smooth, Tuscan and Slate as shown above. I like the textured design. Out of 4, Textured and Smooth tiles are currently available to order. Rest of the 2 will be available by the end of 2018.
Right now (as I am writing this post on 12 Aug 2017) they are offering their service in USA, Canada, Mexico, Belgique, Danmark, Deutschland, España, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Italia, Luxemburg, Nederland, Norge, Österreich, Portugal, Schweiz, Suisse, Svizzera, Sverige, Suomi, UAE, Jordan, Hong Kong, Macau, Australia and New Zealand.
Even though I admit that Tesla’s invention is milestone for solar industry, I would not recommend ordering the tiles until the beginning of 2018 because of following reasons;
- Solar panels efficiency is a major concern here. Todays best-of-industry panels are rated with 22% efficiency. I am waiting for the breakthrough invention in cell efficiency. The best is yet to be discovered.
- Since you need to buy Powerwall 2 along with the solar roof tile, you will get the present generation batteries. I always say that battery is like a girlfriend. You have to take care of it a lot. Otherwise its performance reduces significantly. Your investment in battery is risky over the 30 years of span.
- The present Tesla module is a first generation product. It needs to be upgradable with time. As a customer, I will be more confident to order the tiles if they provide such up gradation services!!