Here’s why Tesla’s new So­lar Roof tiles might have an edge

Fast Company - - Next How I Get It Done - KIM LIGHT­BODY

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.

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