While solar roofs are no longer an unusual sight in many parts of the country, on most houses they’ve definitely been added as an afterthought rather than worked into the design of the building. Elon Musk’s company SolarCity aims to change that with a new roof that will be made entirely out of solar cells and integrated with a Tesla backup battery pack to allow homeowners to use solar power even at night.
The new product is aimed at customers with older rooftops who may be putting off a solar panel installation due to the time and cost needed for repairs. Instead of waiting for these customers to renovate their home, SolarCity would be able to offer them a completely new roof that’s even more durable than what they had before. While there’s not much information available about the specs yet, we’re eagerly awaiting more details.
Related: Tesla and SolarCity just agreed on a $2.6 billion merger
This announcement also hints at the new direction SolarCity is likely to take as it merges with Musk’s other company, Tesla. Two weeks ago, Musk explained that the new company would be focused on providing “end-to-end clean energy” solutions rather than simply offering solar panels and electric cars. This merger is not expected to impact Tesla’s plans for the upcoming Model 3 or the recently-opened Gigafactory.
Images via Jon Callas and SDELC
The lifetime of a roof is usually much longer than the lifetime of solar panels. Therefore, the basic structure for the roof will need to be there. The panels will only replace the tiles, I guess.
My company, OPTICAL ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES INC.. developed and proposed a 50 year glass roof that looks like a skylight, made from off the shelf PV panels flashed into conventional shingle roofs over six months ago. It is described in our website: http://www.opticalenergy.com/hybrid. Not only does this system generate electricity, it also generates domestic hot water by capturing the heat generated by the panels. By pre-heating the hot water it actually improves the efficiency of the PV panels electrical output by cooling them to near their 77F rated temperatures. A solar thermal version of this system SOLAROOF, using heat pipes mounted between rafters behind tempered glass, was designed and constructed in Trumbull CT in 2012, and is described in our website http://www.opticalenergy.com/SOLAROOF. Mr. Musk can save significant costs on his proposed development (as well as possible legal costs by using our technology.