How does Elon's techno-roof compare with more traditional roofing systems in cost and durability?
Hot on the heels of its Tesla's Q3 earnings call, the company held another, more media-focused call on Friday to talk about the commercial launch of its Tesla Solar Roof product.
In case you've been living under a rock, Tesla's solar roof is essentially a roofing tile system that looks similar to traditional roofing systems but has solar cells embedded within it. The system links all of the tiles together and can power your house via a Tesla Powerwall.
This version -- the company's third -- is already available to consumers through Tesla's website. It's targeted at people who need a new roof, whether that's due to their old one wearing out, damage or new construction, and aims to be competitive in cost with a traditional roof plus the cost of conventional solar panels.
Tesla's solar roof is being built at the company's Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, New York -- a facility that has only relatively recently sprung back into life after being slowed significantly by the brand's Model 3 production needs for battery cells and packs.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk argued that for people who have 10 years of life or more in their current roof, a more traditional solar panel setup would make more sense.
The Tesla Solar Roof carries a 25-year warranty, very similar to legacy roofing systems, and the company plans to offer the system to traditional roofing companies as part of a "Tesla certified installer" program. This takes some of the onus off of Tesla to manage the entire process as it has with its automobile program, and should also help keep costs down.
When it comes to installation, the solar roof system is meant to take no more time to install than any other tile roof, with the goal being to finish an entire roof installation on an average-size American home in approximately 8 hours.
"You leave your home for work for the day, and by the time you get back, you have solar power," Musk said during the call.
Tesla was careful to note that the tiles themselves were not quite as efficient at converting sunlight to electricity as a traditional panel, but because the area of coverage on a roof is much greater, the tiles end up being more efficient as a whole.
Presently, the tiles are available in a single, dark asphalt like colorway, but Musk plans to expand the technology to mimic other styles of roofing like clay tile roofs and French slate roofs.
Given the product's long and (compared with the Model 3 at least) relatively private gestation period, we can only hope that the panel fit for the Tesla Solar Roof is a little tighter than it has been on some Tesla vehicles.