The Unification of Tesla’s Clean-Energy Ambitions: Car, Roof and Storage

AHT Media Future Technology, Green AV, Home Automation Trends

The vision presented last Friday in Los Angeles is the grand unification of Musk’s clean-energy ambitions. The presentation featured a complete solution for the future of solar power: a house topped with Tuscan solar tiles, where night-time electricity is stored in two sleek wall-hung Powerwall batteries, and where a Model 3 prototype electric car sits parked out front within reach of the home’s car charger.

The company’s solar roof-top panels were the star of the show, but the new $5,500 Powerwall 2 , and the Powerpack 2 for businesses both made splashes.

Solar Roof Panels

The roof tiles are made of textured glass. From most viewing angles, they look just like ordinary shingles, but they allow light to pass through from above onto a standard flat solar cell. Tesla says the tempered glass is “tough as steel,” and can weather a lifetime of abuse from the elements. It can also be fitted with heating elements to melt snow in colder climates. “It’s never going to wear out,” Musk said, “It’s made of quartz. It has a quasi-infinite lifetime.”

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During the event, Musk stated there was no concrete pricing for the solar roof-top panels, but it would be less than the cost of a traditional roof plus buying electricity from the grid.

Powerwall 2

Attracting less attention was Tesla’s Powerwall 2, a major upgrade of its home battery for electricity storage. Version 2 is a much different product. It packs more than twice the capacity—14 kilowatt hours versus 6.4 kilowatt hours—for less than half the price after installation. It includes a built-in Tesla-brand inverter and comes with a ten year, infinite-cycle warranty.

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Electricity storage is crucial for future uptake of solar power. The Powerwall 2 may be the cheapest lithium ion battery for the home ever made when deliveries start in January. Tesla is selling the batteries at retail prices that are cheaper than the average manufacturing cost at most companies, according to data compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“The future is going to overwhelmingly be solar plus battery,” Musk said. “They go together like peanut butter and jelly.”

Outlook

Powerwall 2 is a major upgrade from the first generation PowerWall. The new solar shingles are sleek, modern and look like they could be hit, but time will tell.  Within two years of production, the shingles could account for five percent of the five million roofs installed in the U.S. every year, said Peter Rive, SolarCity’s co-founder and chief technology officer. SolarCity, under the Tesla brand, would also continue to sell surface-mounted solar panels for homeowners who have no plans for replacing their existing roofs.

Contact one of AHT’s integrated home automation specialists to learn how to incorporate home energy savings into your current or new automation system.

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