Tesla is pilot testing solar powered innovations that may show up in future homes


To the surprise of everyone gathered on the Universal lot, each of the four set homes had been outfitted with solar roofs, which are made up of glass tiles that are embedded with solar cells. They had been redone over the course of two weeks, and according to Musk, will probably be functional enough to run.

From the street it’s hard to tell that these are solar roofs at all, since panels tend to be bulky and unsightly. However, the roofs—which will be installed by Tesla and SolarCity starting in the summer of next year—come in four different styles (Textured Glass Tile, Slate Glass Tile, Tuscan Glass Tile, and Smooth Glass Tile). They were designed, according to Musk, with aesthetics as a priority. It was important to make solar roofs as “appealing as electric cars,” he said, which was one of the concerns surrounding the commercial viability of the product.

During the day, the tiles will collect sunlight and store the energy inside the Powerwall 2, the latest generation of the product, which was also on display at the event. The Powerwall is a lithium-ion battery for homes that can consume power and store it in case of emergency and when the sun isn’t shining. The Powerwalls can be mounted on walls and could potentially replace generators in a few decades.