Elon Musk’s new frontier – the suburban roof

Every year, about 5 million U.S. homeowners install new roofs.

Tesla and SolarCity are betting some healthy portion of these renovators will pay a premium for a solar shingles, generating power while looking great from the street.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Friday introduced four new styles of power-producing shingles. The announcement is one of a series of events in the run-up to a Nov. 17 shareholders vote on a merger between the two companies.

Tesla chose a movies set at Universal Studios in Los Angeles to reveal its new products. Some found the setting apropos — Musk offered the surface appeal of red, faux-Tuscan tiles and gray, faux-slate shingles, while omitting the cost, installation and construction details for builders.

The solar shingle business so far is littered with technical challenges and failures.

“You’re looking to drive a completely new type of product through the very conservative roofing channel — and that’s a daunting marketing challenge,” Green Tech Media’s Eric Wesoff wrote.

Tesla’s four new glass tile types — Tuscan, slate, and textured and smooth glass — are embedded with high-efficiency solar cells. The materials are designed to fit seamlessly into a renewable-energy package that includes Tesla storage and vehicles.

On Tuesday, Tesla plans to roll out a more detailed vision for the proposed merger.

Photo: A Tesla solar roof made of Tuscan-style tiles. The glass tiles are embedded with solar cells. (Photo courtesy of Tesla)


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  • marty1234

    As a licensed roofing contractor for 31 years I’ve seen many solar tiles, all of which had major drawbacks, all failed. Tesla roofs look great, appear shatter proof, traditional in application and offer insulation and longevity. I’ve seen many high end shingles come and go..Cal Shake, Cemwood, Firefree to name a few..All gone under a flood of lawsuits….We knew “Immediately” that these products were junk and over the years I talked hundreds of people out of them..If teslas roof are what they appear to be they will take over the upper end of the market and perhaps will see the same phenomenon that tesla cars have created where people are willing to spend more for a given product..The “Green Factor” in roofing is a big factor for my customers, granted I roof in Southern California..
    Almost all roofs are paid in full upon completion and not financed but it’s the opposite with solar, the tesla combo roofs would probably be financed..