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Tesla, Solar City Unveil New Glass Solar Roof Tiles, PowerWall 2.0, PowerPack 2.0

Following hot on the heels of its recent Autopilot V 2.0 hardware announcement, Tesla and SolarCity — the company it hopes to soon acquire in a merger deal worth $2.6 billion — jointly unveiled the Tesla PowerWall 2.0 and a brand-new solar roof glass tiling system at a special event on Friday evening at the Universal Studio lot in Los Angeles, California.

The new Solar Roof products are almost indistinguishable from traditional roof tiles.

The new Solar Roof products are almost indistinguishable from traditional roof tiles.

Designed to harvest solar energy from the roof of a home without the unsightly raised photovoltaic panels used for most domestic solar power installations, the new solar roof tiles have been designed to look identical to traditional roof tiles from a distance. That’s because rather than simply have the solar cells covered by tempered glass as found in most commercial photovoltaic solar panels, the new solar roof tiles feature a special colored louver film designed specifically to allow light through while camouflaging the solar roof panels.

Tesla Solar Roof Tiles come in various colors

Tesla Solar Roof Tiles come in various colors

At the moment, Tesla plans to manufacturer a total of four different styles of Solar Roof Tiles: one clear glass tile with no colored louver film and three camouflaged tiles; Tuscan Glass Tile; Slate Glass Tile; and Textured Glass Tile.But while these new solar roof tiles are certainly stylish, completely inconspicuous and as customizable as it’s possible for a regular roofing tile to be, it’s worth noting that the concept of solar tiles isn’t new: solar tiles (or solar shingles as some prefer to call them) have been available for the past decade or so. They haven’t yet caught on partly because of the extra costs associated with making them, their reduced efficiency compared to traditional roof-mounted photovoltaic solar panels, and the longer installation time (and consequently, higher installation costs).

Interestingly, Tesla hasn’t detailed specifics of its Solar Roof, promising instead that we’ll get full pricing and technical information at a future time.

We can however, share the details of Tesla’s updated PowerWall 2.0 and PowerPack 2.0 products, both of which are dramatically improved compared to their predecessors.

Powerwall 2.0 is sleeker, more energy dense, and more affordable than Powerwall 1.0

Powerwall 2.0 is sleeker, more energy dense, and more affordable than Powerwall 1.0

PowerWall 2.0 first. At 269 pounds and measuring just 6.1 inches deep, the PowerWall 2.0 packs an impressive 14 kilowatt-hours of storage in its compact form factor and can be used in both grid-connected AC and standalone DC situations. Twice the capacity of its predecessor, PowerWall 2.0 is also far more capable when it comes to power draw capabilities. While its predecessor was limited to a power drain of 2 kilowatts continuous, PowerWall 2.0 can manage a total of 5 kW continuous power drain, or 7 kilowatts peak, making it far more useful as a backup power source for short-term brownouts or blackouts.

Built into the PowerWall 2.0 is the necessary software to allow owners to use the PowerWall as a backup power supply as well as operating in automatic load-shifting mode (where the battery can charge itself from the grid during low-demand periods and then providing the home with stored energy during peak demand periods).

Priced from $5,500, Tesla says PowerWall 2.0 will debut in December. Given the popularity of the first PowerWall product, we’re expecting Tesla to be inundated with demand in the coming months. In keeping with Tesla’s past policies, we’re guessing those who are still waiting for their Tesla PowerWall 1.0 units will be sold PowerWall 2.0 instead.

Teslas PowerBank is also improved with V 2.0

Teslas PowerBank is also improved with V 2.0

As with its domestic sibling, the new Tesla PowerPack 2.0 experiences a similar improvement in specification, with twice the energy density of the PowerPack 1.0 alongside brand-new energy management software and a brand-new inverter designed to work alongside PowerPack 2.0 modules in a commercial setting.

Being a commercial product, Tesla hasn’t detailed individual pricing as these will vary from client to client and site to site, but alongside the new Solar Roof tiles, it’s clear that Tesla’s attitude to energy storage is the same as its attitude to cars: innovate, test, and deploy as quickly as possible.

While Tesla’s joint event with SolarCity sets a positive precedent– and of course helps those skeptical about the Tesla SolarCity merger see just what Tesla has in mind for the future — some on Wall Street are already questioning Tesla’s pricing policy for its PowerWall 2.0 product.

While PowerWall 2.0 is certainly a steal at $5,500 — equivalent to less than $400 per kilowatt-hour — some analysts are questioning if Tesla’s low-pricing is going to enable it to make enough money for the product to be financially sustainable. Given Tesla’s drive to produce the Gigafactory was based upon its desire to drive down the cost of lithium-ion battery cells until they are truly affordable, we’re guessing PowerWall will initially lose Tesla money, but in the long-term become something of a core product for the California company.

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  • KIMS

    I’m excited for the solar roof in principle, but the utter lack of any technical or practical detail is disconcerting. How do the tiles integrate to larger arrays and power optimizer for handling shade? What is each cells efficiency? What IS the insulation properties of the tiles (given how many times they repeated it was more insulating than a normal shingle tile, you would think they would present that number at least!) etc.

    Also, from an area utilization, the solar cell section of each tile leaves quite a bit of frame, and I’m not convinced the space left around edges on a normal install will fully make up for this space in-efficiency, so at that point you have lower per cell efficiency, and lower ‘active area’ possibly.. so that’s not great.. Walking on a slanted sheet of glass seems tricky too, so install is doubly troublesome from that perspective. Imagine some morning dew or light rain while you try to lay this roof? On the plus side, say farewell to your winter snow-rake and ice-dams, those problems should be largely gone for most with a roof like this. 🙂

    The statements about it being cost competitive ‘overall’ is also discouraging in its lack of detail. I wonder if their math only adds up that way if you also account for this improved insulation, and only in certain climates, and only when the tiles alone can provide 100% of the energy (heat and cool) demands of that house? And is it then only adding up over a 20 year time-span? Did they make the typical speculative projections of electricity cost inflation over that 20 year span to make it work?

    So, in short, I love the principle and the initiative, but I find the lack of technical details very disturbing.

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