THE SHINGLE FACTOR
Here’s why Tesla’s new Solar Roof tiles might have an edge
Tesla’s Solar Roof shingles are noteworthy for their design, but they’re not the first solar tiles on the market. Industrial behemoths like Dow and BP began selling them alongside typical solar panels as long as 15 years ago—before exiting the market due to high costs and low demand—and there are at least three competitive products being sold today. While traditional solar panels have consistently dropped in price, tiles have remained relatively expensive and don’t generate as much power. Chris Fisher, a product manager at roofing company Certainteed, estimates that Certainteed’s tiles convert about 16% of the sunlight they receive into energy, compared to 18% for traditional panels. But expense and efficiency will only be part of the equation for Tesla customers. Solar Roof tiles only became available for preorder in May (they are due to market later this year), and high-end developers are already buying in. “The Tesla shingles look like something we’ll feel comfortable putting on our buildings,” says Marmol Radziner design principal Ron Radziner, who is planning to use them on the roofs of a small apartment complex in Santa Monica, California. “They’re clean and look well-designed, and that’s important.”
Tesla’s Solar Roof tiles will be available in terra-cotta style in 2018.