Whole Life Magazine

February / March 2017

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city of angels By Teresa Bergen Stylish Solar Roofs from Tesla Technology W hat if your roof could look beautiful while secretly fueling your home with solar power? Would more people invest in solar if they didn't have to attach un- sightly photovoltaic panels to their roofs? That's what Elon Musk, the always-innovative Tesla CEO, is banking on. In October he unveiled his new solar roof tiles at a media event on the Desperate Housewives set at Universal Studios. Unbeknownst to the crowd, the houses on the set had been reroofed with his new tiles. And they looked gorgeous. He claims that his new solar roofs will be more attractive and durable than traditional roofs, while generating electricity. "Now why would you buy anything else?" he asked the crowd. "Save us, Elon!" came a cry from the audience. Cost The new Tesla tiles—made in conjunction with Solar City, a fi rm Tesla just acquired—are still in prototype mode. They may be ready for the market in another year or two, but it could take 10 or 15 years for the price point to come down to where regular people can afford the new shingles, predicts Amir Salahi, residential sales director at Glendale-based installer Solar Optimum. Since the shingles aren't yet available, pricing is still hazy. Consumer Reports theorized that 3,000 square feet of Tesla solar shingles would cost around $73,500. However, if the roof lasts 30 years and generates $2,000 worth of electricity per year, it will offset $60,000 of that cost. Aesthetics The roof tiles Musk unveiled in his media event mimicked four different styles of high-end roofi ng materials: textured glass, slate glass, Tuscan glass, and smooth glass. All four are transparent from above–that is, from the sun's vantage point– but appear opaque from other angles, such as the street. This trick is what allows the house to appear to have a traditional roof, while harnessing the sun's electrical power. Very smart and crafty. A Long Time Coming Salahi, an electrical engineer by training, points out that many other innovators laid the groundwork for Musk's break- through. However, the product has been hung up on two main factors: getting the cost low enough for consumers to afford; All Photos: Courtesy of Tesla Motors and Alexis Georgeson FUTURE MEETS FUNCTION 8 wholelifetimes.com

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