Tesla has filed two new patents involving its solar roof initiative. Both patents appear to address the installation process of its solar tile roof system, which if implemented, would increase the installation speed.
The first patent is titled “Inter-Tile Support for Solar Roof Tiles.” According to the patent, the roof module can include “at least a first photovoltaic roof tile, a second photovoltaic roof tile positioned adjacent to the first photovoltaic tile, and a spacer coupled to and positioned between the first and second photovoltaic roof tiles.”
By using a semi-rigid joint, a group of tiles can be fabricated together and jointed in a “rigid or semi-rigid way.” As the patent claims, this system would “facilitate scalable production and easy installation” of photovoltaic roof tiles.
The second patent is titled “Hinged Building Integrated Photovoltaic Roof Tile Modules.” This patent shows how a hinged system would be installed under each row of solar tiles, and a single wire would be run across the rows of solar tiles and connect them back to the Rapid Shutdown Device.
This system would replace the need for current wiring that is required with the existing system. In doing so, Tesla would reduce the amount of measuring and calibration needed for each installation.
Given that Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s goal is to manufacture around 1,000 solar roofs per week by the end of the year, these patents could help achieve that scale of production.
First introduced in 2016 by Musk, the company’s objective is to design a roof system that not only offers weather protection for the home and a pleasing aesthetic, but also functions as a photovoltaic module that converts solar energy to electricity. At the time, he claimed the roof would take around five to seven days to install.
According to Tesla’s website, its solar roof tiles are three times stronger than standard roofing tiles. The website also states the solar tiles have a Class A UL 790 fire rating, though this might not do much to comfort potential customers after Walmart and Amazon both claimed that Tesla’s conventional solar panels are the cause of multiple rooftop fires.
In 2018, Musk said that Tesla was working on a third version of the solar roof. Earlier this year, Musk said he planned on ramping up production of photovoltaic roofing tiles. The CEO also noted during Tesla’s 2019 shareholder’s meeting that the company is installing the solar product in eight states.
The cost of a solar roof has remained largely unknown, though Electrek reported in June that a Tesla solar roof quote for a 9.45 kW system on a 1,862-square-foot roof would cost $64,634 for the roof alone. Should the patents prove successful, this price tag could shrink thanks to easier installation.
Renting Solar Panels
For a solar product more readily available, Musk announced on Aug. 19 that his company will begin offering a no-contract solar panel rental package that starts at $50 per month.
“With the new lower Tesla pricing, it’s like having a money printer on your roof,” Musk said in a tweet. “Still better to buy, but the rental option makes the economics obvious.”
Tesla’s website says its new rental program does not require a long-term contract, and installation costs are included. The plan can be canceled at any time, so the panels will remain installed, but Tesla would de-energize them. If a renter wants the roof restored to its previous condition they must pay $1,500.