Current solar panel owners are required to sell their solar energy back to the grid in Canada, entering long-term agreements with solar panel companies that install their equipment. Tesla’s Solar Roof may soon disrupt this, allowing owners control over their own solar shingles.

There’s been a flurry of activity around solar energy and electric vehicles in the last two years, instigated by Tesla’s announcements with repercussions around the globe as manufacturers and companies seek to provide consumers with new renewable energy options.

While Tesla became famous for its Model S electric vehicle, the company has bigger plans to affect the use of energy worldwide by offering solar renewable energy to power vehicles and homes. Solar panels have been in use since the 1970s, but they have not caught on worldwide largely due to the aesthetic appearance, installation cost, agreements with solar companies and lack of efficiency. In October 2016, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the concept of the Solar Roof, taking everyone by surprise. 

Tesla Solar Roof: What is it?

Recognizing that solar use via solar panels has not caught on with consumers and property owners due to aesthetic appearance, Tesla has redesigned solar panels to be attractive and more efficient.

“I think there’s quite a radical difference between having solar panels on your roof that actually make your house look better versus ones that do not, I think it’s going to be a night-and-day difference,” said Musk at the 2016 announcement. Musk went to unveil the solar roof concept in California two months later, revealing a solar product that was so well integrated into a residential home’s design that the ‘solar shingles’ were difficult to detect. This was a remarkable improvement upon the clunky and heavy blue and white panels that you normally see as solar panels for home installation.

The Tesla Solar Roof is a building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) product that integrates solar panels into roof shingles. Hence the name ‘solar shingles” and ‘solar roof.’ A home that has Tesla solar shingles in its roof would offer protection and provide solar energy without any aesthetic impediments. 

Tesla started taking deposits for solar roof tiles in May 2017. In January 2018, Tesla increased production at their Gigafactory in Buffalo. Two months later, the company installed its first products for customers in California. Tesla did not produce the solar roof on a larger scale in early 2018, blaming delays on their existing factory process. The company revamped its process, increasing production with longer hours and hiring more employees, going from 12 solar roofs established in August to 11,000 completed by the end of the year.

At the end of 2018, Tesla shared its progress and excitement at developing a high quality solar roof that was affordable, matching the price of a traditional tile roof with a regular utility bill. Tesla’s goal is to hit a $21.85USD/square foot pricing. This translates to $44,000USD for a home with 2,000 square feet of roofing. While this may be more than traditional roofing, it is competitive when you factor in long-term costs and energy savings. Tesla provides a calculator with estimates for solar roof pricing for your home. Unique home features and obstructions can however add to the cost.

While building photovoltaics has been occurring for a long time, no one has yet designed and brought to market a viable solar roof. The first deployments of the Tesla Solar Roof are expected this summer. Electrek reported that installation takes roughly two weeks. As Tesla prepares to launch its third updated iteration of its solar shingles as a solar roof product, Elon Musk went so far as to say that 2019 will be the “year of the Solar Roof.”

The solar roof will be offered in four designs: Tuscan, Slate, Textured, and Smooth. Made with tempered glass, the tiles are considered virtually unbreakable and more than three times stronger than standard roofing tiles. Because of the tested strength and durability, Tesla is able to offer lifetime warranty, which is appealing to homeowners who are often concerned about the longevity of solar panel systems. Tesla is calling it Infinite Tile Warranty, described as “the best warranty in the industry – the lifetime of your house, or infinity, whichever comes first.”

With the new Tesla Solar Roof, homeowners are able to choose both aesthetics and durability in selecting solar panels and renewable energy options to power their homes.

Canadians can place their reservation for a solar roof today on Tesla’s site for $1,330.

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