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Time for electricians to become roofers? Tesla & SolarCity unveil solar roof and Powerwall 2

November 4, 2016 | By Anthony Capkun

Solar roof from Tesla and SolarCity. Photo courtesy Tesla.

November 4, 2016 – According to his “Master Plan, Part Deux” published in July 2016, Tesla’s Elon Musk wrote: “Given that we must get off fossil fuels anyway […], the faster we achieve sustainability, the better. Here is what we plan to do to make that day come sooner…” Meet the solar roof and Powerwall 2.

When Tesla and SolarCity embarked to design and engineer the solar roof together, they say the goal was to “create the most beautiful and efficient roof ever—one that would make homes look better while reducing the cost of electricity”.

The solar roof consists of glass tiles, embedded with high-efficiency photovoltaic (PV) cells, that are engineered so the PV cells are invisible. Made of tempered glass, the roof tiles can withstand the impact of hail up to 200 mph.

The solar roof is offered in four styles—Textured, Slate, Tuscan and Smooth—and promises to seamlessly supply renewable energy to homes, battery storage systems and back into the grid. When combined with Tesla Powerwall, the company says the solar roof can power an entire home with 100% renewable energy.

To that end, the recently introduced Powerwall 2 is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery designed to enable self-consumption of solar power, and provide emergency backup, load shifting and other grid service applications.


Powerwall 2 consists of a 14kWh pack, liquid thermal control system, an integrated inverter and software that dispatches electricity when it’s needed. The unit mounts on a wall or on the ground—indoors or out—and is integrated with the grid to export excess energy. The unit measures approx. 45 x 30 x 6 in., weighs 269 lb, and operates from -20ºC to 50°C. It is warranted for unlimited cycles up to 10 years.

Sidenote: While applauding Tesla’s announcement, Dutch company ZEP was quick to issue a press release stating it had invented the solar roof tile last year, and is already supplying homeowners, distributors and construction firms in the Netherlands, Germany, England and Scandinavia.

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