With the explicit goal of making solar panels as appealing as electric cars have become, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has unveiled the company’s newest product: solar roof tiles manufactured with durable, long lasting tempered-glass. The slogan, “Power from above, beauty from the street” captured the product and theme of the unveiling, which took place at Universal Studios in Los Angeles with the sun ready to set in the background.
The new roofs will be a collaboration between SolarCity and Tesla and can be combined with Tesla’s Powerwall 2 home battery. The tiles are hydrographically printed. Musk explained that this process that makes each one a “special snowflake.”
Throughout the product unveiling, Musk emphasized that these solar tiles, which will be integrated into the roof and invisible when viewed from the street, offer a much more attractive option as compared with currently-used solar technology. The tiles will be soon available to the public in four distinct styles. Each is architecturally significant to a home’s core design. Four distinct tile styles reinforce the importance of connecting an architectural past to the Tesla vision of a sustainable future. The “beautiful, affordable, and seamlessly integrated” glass tiles have significant historic origins and contemporary appeal.
Tuscan Glass Tile
This roof, sometimes called Italian Renaissance style, is an element of a home integrated with its setting. Consistent with Musk’s vision of sustainable solutions to a “mine-and-burn” hydrocarbon economy, landscape architecture and gardens balance Tuscan house design. The roof structure is a combination of side gable, cross gable, combined hip and gable, or hipped configuration, often with projecting wings and deep roof overhangs and eaves. The style borrows details from the entire history of Spanish architecture, with architectural elements of paired French doors, classic arches, and some use of wrought iron.
Slate Glass Tile
The most desirable roofing material for more than 1,000 years, slate has been acclaimed for its elegance and unique character. It required a craft person’s expertise and skill in hand shaping and laying it on the roof. The Tesla version likely will resemble thin tiles split into uniform thicknesses. Slate’s aesthetic appearance is due to a wide variety of rich colors and textures that are combined in nearly endless combinations. Found on virtually every class of structure, slate roofs are perhaps most often associated with institutional, ecclesiastical, and government buildings, yet slate was often used on farm and agricultural buildings as well.
Textured Glass Tile
Textured roofing tiles were used in Neolithic China as early as 10.000 B.C. and 5000 years ago in Babylon. By the end of the nineteenth century, as the use of glazed roofing tiles grew, textured tiles became among the most ornamental and distinctive roofing materials. Now featured on many historic buildings, their aesthetic qualities include many shapes, colors, patterns, and textures. Architecturally, a field of textured tiles often covers the majority of a roof’s flat surface, with decorative tiles used along the peak of the roof. In more ornamental installations, the field of tiles may have areas of patterning created by tiles of different shapes, dimensions, or color variations ranging from deep browns to pale pinks to buff or beige. Their interesting appearance has often made textured tile roofs prominent stylistic features of historic structures.
Smooth Glass Tile
Flat smooth tile offers clean lines that compliment a contemporary design with unassuming, no-frills elegance. It contains a straightforward, stripped-down geometry and a means of securing an organic bond between old, existing architecture and new buildings. This is particularly important in optically sensitive areas where contemporary architecture accentuates an important visual impression. All parts of the resultant ensemble stem from a single smooth tile source, which appears as if it grew up over the centuries. Smooth glass tiles can contribute to an eclectic conglomeration of heritage-listed façades and modern stylistic elements. Optically robust, these tiles now provide an interplay of nuances that was once typical of hand-crafted products.
Tying Architecture and Aesthetics to Energy Power Solutions
The Tesla solar roof tiles offer high efficiency solar power which will produce energy even during high temperature days. Color louver film allows cells to blend into the roof while exposing them to the sun above. With tempered glass, the material is extremely impact resistant. The solar integrates with Tesla home batteries to collect energy during the day for use in the evening once the sun goes down. Musk tweeted that “solar glass tiles can also incorporate heating elements, like rear defroster on a car, to clear roof of snow and keep generating energy.”
Tesla expects to start installing the solar roofs next summer. More durable than normal roofing tiles, the solar roofs can be tied to the updated Powerwall 2 home battery (14 kWh, $5500) which the company also showcased at the unveiling event.
The announcement of this solar innovation implies that the Tesla/ SolarCity merger will receive upcoming shareholder votes and approval.
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