Editorials

Tesla’s New Solar Panels Don’t Look Like Solar Panels

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If you wanted to start using solar energy to power your home, you were limited to deploying traditional solar panels – those big, ugly, fragile panels that take up most of your house’s roof when you install them. Elon Musk, CEO for tech company Tesla wants to encourage more people to go solar, and has created a brand new product that does the job of traditional solar panels in smaller, more aesthetically pleasing way.

Their new solar roof-top panels don’t look anything like traditional solar panels. In fact, they resemble regular roof tiles, with tempered glass covering for extra strength against the elements. These tiles are opaque when viewed at an angle, so passersby won’t even know that your roof is harnessing the power of the sun.

Tesla showed off non-operational tiles on the houses used on the show Desperate Housewives, and no one attending the event was the wiser until Musk told them about it later on. Because of the tile setup, you can now specify which portion of your house gets solar energy.

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Obviously taking in the sun’s power is no good if you don’t have an efficient place to store it in, that’s why Tesla also announced their new, improved Powerwall battery system. Powerwall essentially allows consumers to store energy intelligently in a way that cuts down power consumption in your home, even if you don’t have a solar panel installed by storing electricity during off peak hours (daytime) and discharging during peak hours (night time).

The new version of Powerwall now has two 14kWh lithium-ion battery packs inside, which is roughly double the capacity of the previous version. The new version is capable of powering a four-bedroom house that has lights, refrigerator and other appliances for an entire day, and also has a built-in power inverter to use with the solar panel.

Musk says that they’ll be rolling out the new solar tiles in the summer of 2017, and has reiterated that they’re capable of lasting a very, very long time. As for the cost? Musk says that the “installed cost is less than a normal roof and the cost of electricity.” That’s not much of a cost estimate, but at least it’s something.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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