All politics aside, it is clear that if renewable energy were affordable, it would be a great investment. Since the early years of electronics, sourcing the power has been an integral factor in everything from design to functionality. Often as a child I would look at a little solar powered calculator that converted the light from the classroom into energy. A few minutes exposed to the light and it worked like a charm. I remember thinking, “Why don’t we have cars that use this technology?” As years have gone by such a thought is not only possible, but simple. The only problem is the cost of such revolutionary technology.
However, for those of us that for whatever reason find ourselves drawn to solar power, Elon Musk of Tesla announced a potential solution: the solar roof. An elegantly simple concept really; use the otherwise useless surface area of the roof of a home to produce electricity. And instead of installing solar panels after construction, maintain beauty by building with roof tiles that contain photo-voltaic cells. A roof with as many solar cells as there are tiles would be able go off the grid entirely.
Tesla’s vision is to have homes completely self-powered by solar roofs and connected to batteries to store and renew energy. But how is this any different? Won’t you run into the same cost issue as before? Musk suggests that you won’t. In fact, he predicts that the cost to install a solar roof and the savings on your electrical bill, will equate to less than the cost of a standard roof. Musk also assures that the product will last longer and look as good — if not better than — a traditional roof.
Tesla has published no information on the cost of these solar tiles, but this information is anticipated to come in early 2017. Once this information is released it will be interesting to see how much it will cost for the tiles to be installed and who will be installing them. We do know, however, that the “Powerwall 2” — Tesla’s home battery — costs $5,500.
So what does all of this do to the custom home industry? Well, it adds just one more option. Even those who are spending $1.5 million on a custom home do so on a budget. A homeowners often decide whether to buy high-end appliances or the hardwood floors they picked out. Given the opportunity, would you rather save $25,000 initially or buy a roof that will eventually pay for itself? If the roof installed at the time of construction cost 60% more than a traditional roof, would you buy the Tesla solar roof and start saving money after 10 years or so?
Nevertheless, I imagine that many people will wait to see how things pan out before they invest in a product such as this, but how amazing is it that we have the option. Just imagine having your dream home without ever having an electric bill. Let us know on Facebook what you think about this revolution in home building.
We’ll keep you updated on any announcements from Tesla/SolarCity regarding this technology.