Tesla is expanding its power generation offering with a new series of solar panels designed by Panasonic exclusively for the American company. The new panels can be installed on virtually any roof and come with a nice streamlined design. The panels have “integrated front skirts and no visible mounting hardware,” making them more visually appealing. There is no official word on pricing but you can request a custom quote on Tesla’s website.
Since Tesla merged with SolarCity, the biggest solar residential contractor in the United States, the company’s strategy has shifted dramatically. Traditionally known for making fast electric roadsters, Tesla is now a more robust company with big ambitions to dominate energy generation and storage (PowerWall series), not just sustainable transportation.
Though Tesla, formally Tesla Motors, has a far more diverse product offering now, the company’s core marketing direction and values seem unchanged. When Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, took over the company he wanted to address the false belief that “an electric car had to be ugly and slow and boring like a golf cart.” We’re all familiar now with Tesla’s super sleek vehicles, like the P100D which has a 0-60mph time of only 2.5 seconds.
Likewise, Tesla seeks to make solar panels that aren’t only practical but aesthetically pleasing too. Not long after its merger with Solar City last year, Tesla showed off the ‘Tesla roof’ which are basically roof tiles capable of harvesting solar energy. These will be available sometime later this year.
“Would you like a roof that looks better than a normal roof, last twice as long, cost less and by the way generates electricity? Why would you get anything else?” Musk said at the time of the announcement.
The newly unveiled solar panel line is something different. These are normal solar panels, not solar tiles, but with some pretty nice perks. The first thing that people will notice is the sleek, streamline design which is engineered by Zep Solar, a startup acquired by SolarCity in 2013 and now part of Tesla’s Solar Systems. The technology uses a railless system which not only renders any mounting hardware invisible but also cuts mounting time in half.
The panels are made by Panasonic at Tesla’s Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo exclusively for Tesla. Before the merger, SolarCity used to work with all sorts of suppliers for its residential solar. Tesla will continue to work with third-party solar panel suppliers but it’s foreseeable it will be gradually cutting down until it only sells its own branded products.
Production of the first modules, which have a 325-watt power rating, should start this summer. You can request a quote from Tesla if you want to learn how much it costs in your area. It’s also a good idea to estimate the solar energy that hits your rooftop with Google’s excellent tool.