After going through two versions, Tesla has released Version 3 of its solar roof system, dubbed “Solarglass Roof.”
Announced on Oct. 25, the new solar roof design is in production at the company’s Buffalo, N.Y. gigafactory, and is said to use different materials and fewer parts than previous versions. The roof is offered in a dark tempered glass finish, though Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company expects to have new designs “every six to nine months.”
First unveiled in 2016, the electric car company developed a roof system that has solar cells integrated into the roof versus traditional solar panels. The company claims its solar roof system offers weather protection for the home and a pleasing aesthetic while converting solar energy to electricity.
“The future that I think we all want, most of us, is a future where you look around a neighborhood and the roofs are all gathering energy, they’re all doing something useful, they all look beautiful, they’re robust and resilient, and they’re powering the houses that they shelter,” Musk sad in a webcast on Oct. 25.
Tesla’s initial plans are to install the roofs themselves, but will start using third-party roofing contractors to install them. Tesla’s target is an ambitious eight-hour installation time, and the goal is to have 1,000 new roofs installed per week once production ramps up.
“We’re going to try and get some of the best roofing teams in the country to also give it a shot so it’s not just internal,” Musk said.
The new solar roof will cost roughly $33,950 for a 2,000-square-foot roof with 10w of solar capacity after incentives. The new roof comes with a 25-year warranty. Musk admitted the solar glass roof wouldn’t make sense financially for someone with a new roof, but claimed at least “80 percent of the time” the roof will make the most economical sense.
“It has the cost of roofing a house in addition to the cost of solar cells, however, we’ve been able to achieve with Version 3 a price point that is less than what the average roof costs plus solar panels,” Musk said.
The initial announcement for Version 3 was made during the company’s Q3 earnings call on Oct. 23, where Musk said the company was “scaling up” production at its Buffalo gigafactory.
“Versions 1 and 2 we were still sort of framing things up, Version 3, I think, is finally ready for the big time,” Musk said during the call. “I think this product is going to be incredible.”
Tesla originally announced its solar roof tile product in 2016 and began taking pre-orders in 2017, though redesigns delayed the launch. In September, news broke of Tesla filing two patents for solar roof technology.
“It’s been quite hard to get to this point,” Musk said.
A Rough “Year of the Solar Roof”
Musk called 2019 “the year of the solar roof,” but that has played out differently than the CEO may have anticipated. In the second quarter of this year, solar panel deployment for the company slid to an all-time low since it acquired SolarCity for $2.6 billion in 2016.
In an attempt to recover, the automaker cut its solar panel pricing and began offering rental plans for solar panels. The bad news continued when Walmart filed a lawsuit in August, claiming the roofs of seven stores caught fire due to SolarCity panels. Following this, Amazon claimed SolarCity solar panels on a warehouse in Redlands, Calif. caught fire. Walmart and Tesla have since settled the lawsuit.
That same month, the problem of solar roof panels starting fires hit the residential sector. According to Business Insider, a Colorado homeowner said their Tesla solar panels caused a fire on their roof. The resident claimed they had called Tesla the prior day to report voltage fluctuations, and that the company would send a crew to inspect it on Aug. 8. The homeowner has since started a GoFundMe campaign to hire an attorney to deal with the matter.
Despite this onslaught, Musk seems confident that Tesla’s energy division to grow to the same operation size as its automotive sector, going as far to say it could be even bigger.
“Now that Model 3 production is in a good place and headed to a great place, we’ve restored resources to Tesla solar and storage, and I think it’s going to be really crazy growth,” he said during the earnings call.
Updated 11/7/19 to include new information on Walmart lawsuit.