Schreiber Science: Tesla’s next big target: revolutionizing solar energy


Solar-City’s new take on both the look and functionality of solar panels and home power generation is sure to create huge ripples throughout the entire industry.

Gabe Herz, Staff Writer

Tesla, headed by Elon Musk, is pioneering the world of electric vehicles and leading an enormous movement in the automobile industry.  Tesla has been upturning the car industry by producing environmentally friendly cars that also have the luxury amenities, making the cars both sporty and classy.  With these innovations, setbacks are inevitable, and in the case of Tesla, it is the hefty price tag that comes with its cars. Despite the upfront cost, those who do buy the car believe the price is well worth it in the long run because owners save a lot of money without having to ever fill up a gas tank.

Given the success of the Model S, the first car released, Tesla has decided to branch off from the car industry to help others become environmentally friendly in other aspects.  Recently, Tesla acquired another of Musk’s ventures, a solar panel company known as SolarCity.  Unlike regular solar-panel roofs that are big and clunky, the Tesla solar panels are hidden inside the tiles of the roof and are unnoticeable to the naked eye.  The tiles are available in four different colors: Tuscan glass, slate glass, textured glass, and smooth glass.

Each tile is composed of three different parts, consisting of a high efficiency solar cell, a color louver film, and tempered glass.  The high efficiency solar cell does most of the work in the tile, producing clean and renewable energy for the house to use.  The color louver film helps the cells to blend into the tile, which allows for the normal roof appearance of the panels as opposed to the typical block type panels.

The tempered glass provides the cell with a durable cover that helps protect against wind, rain, snow, hail, and damage that may be caused from a fallen tree branch.  The energy produced by the solar tiles go directly into powering your home throughout the day, but when the panels produce more energy than needed, the excess energy goes into the a home battery developed by the company known as the Powerwall 2.  The battery and the solar tiles go hand in hand, and can help pay great dividends.  When your solar panels aren’t producing enough energy during a stretch of time where there is constant bad weather, instead of having to rely on an electric company, the battery will keep your home running.

Although the proposition of making your roof solar powered seems costly, Musk argued that the roof will be “beneficial environmentally and economically.”  Musk also stated that buyers could completely redo their roofs with the tiles, or pick and choose segments of the roof to make solar tiled.  The flexibility given to the homeowner to choose parts of the roof to make solar tiles helps to meet the economical and aesthetic needs of the buyer.

Due to their natural and earthy colors, the tiles on the roof should not contrast with the preexisting colors of the roof, and the tiles will be practically unnoticeable.  Just like Tesla cars, the roof will make owners their money back over time because they will not have to pay their utility for electricity.  Although it’s still in the very early stages and not much detail has been given about them, Tesla’s solar roof can change the way homes are built in the future by providing a clean and renewable source of energy at a low maintenance and low cost, all while still having a stylish look.