Tesla is rolling out solar roofing panels. Is this a great innovation or is it an over-hyped toy for rich people?

Tesla’s solar roof tiles are designed to look like standard slate tiles. Photo: Shutterstock

As Tesla’s new solar roof tiles roll out, the question of economic viability comes into question. At $65,000 for the average 3,000 square foot roof, some have called this product “another toy for rich, green people” who have always wanted solar panels but who felt that the panels currently available are not aesthetically pleasing.

At best, Tesla has cornered the market for bespoke glass tiled solar roofing. At worst, Tesla has invented an overpriced solar panel for a commodity business that thrives on low-cost production.

The advantage of the tiles is two-fold. First, they look like regular roof tiles, so they don’t negatively affect the look of the roofline or the house like regular solar panels do. And since the entire roof is covered with the tiles, they are able to collect sunlight from all directions, as opposed to panels that are placed in a stationary position on parts of the roof, thereby missing some sunlight as the sun moves across the sky each day and seasonally.

As a company, Tesla is dedicated to finding greener solutions to today’s energy needs, with the goal of reducing or eliminating our reliance on fossil fuels. The company started by developing the Tesla car, which runs on rechargeable batteries, making them totally independent of gasoline. The car, like the roof tiles, is an expensive option. However, in time, as demand increases, it is anticipated that the prices for both will come down.

To support the roof tiles, Tesla has developed a battery storage solution. The battery is designed to fit on a wall in a garage, basement, or attic. It stores the energy produced by the roof so the house can be powered totally by the roof tiles. The storage capacity enables the home to access the energy even on rainy or non-sunny days.

Tesla is already producing the batteries in the U.S.

Sol Tesla is not only making the world greener and less dependent on fossil fuels, it is also bringing needed manufacturing jobs and employment to the U.S. economy. However, the question of affordability remains.