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(Pocket-lint) - Tesla has begun letting customers pre-order its Solar Roof.

Six months after announcing the eco-friendly product, the car-maker has finally shared all the details about Solar Roof, including how the roof's solar tiles work, how much they cost, and what the "Solar Roof experience" includes. So, we've gathered all this information and explained it below, with the hopes of helping you decide whether this is the perfect home solar setup for you.

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What is a Tesla Solar Roof?

Popping a solar panel on your roof is a great way to generate free, sustainable energy for your home, but there's one major drawback: It is often unsightly. However, Tesla's latest product, Solar Roof, would be approved of by anyone and everyone. It covers the entire top of a house, and yet you wouldn't notice because each tile is a smaller solar panel. They're made of tempered glass with a solar cell contained inside.

Tesla Solar Roof was announced during a special Tesla event last October. Keep in mind Tesla acquired Solar City last year. It's a San Mateo, CA-based company that provides energy services, such as the designing, financing, and installing of solar power systems. Musk co-founded SolarCity. You can read more about SolarCity and why Tesla acquired the company in Pocket-lint's guide here.

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How does Tesla Solar Roof work?

Integrated Powerwall

Solar Roof turns sunlight into electricity, obviously. But with an integrated Tesla Powerwall battery, the energy collected during the day can be stored and made available any time, "effectively turning your home into a personal utility", Tesla said. That also means you can have access to uninterrupted electricity during grid outages. To learn more about the Powerwall 2, check out Pocket-lint's guide here.

Tesla’s Solar Roof only connects to the Powerwall 2, the second-generation of its home battery, and it's capable of storing 14kWh of energy, with a 5kW continuous power draw, and 7kW peak.

Solar tiles and non-solar tiles

Tesla actually offers two types of glass tile, solar tile and non-solar tile, and both appear the same from street level. You can customise the amount of solar tiles you need, and every solar tile is warrantied for the lifetime of your house. During a conference, Musk said that in some cases, depending on the roofs, customers will be able to have up to 70 per cent solar tiles, but in most cases, it will be about 40 per cent.

Tesla offers a calculator directly on its website so you can get an estimate of what you need. All the solar tiles are made with tempered glass and are supposed to be more than three times stronger than standard roofing tiles. They’re also printed in a way so that they aren’t visible from the road and should look opaque or even be mistaken for regular roofing tiles (unless you’re looking down on them from above).

Tesla said the tiles will not degrade over time, like regular asphalt or concrete tiles do. Here's a video of a “hail cannonball” shattering into pieces when chucked against a solar tile in slow-motion:


Slo-mo hail cannonball impacting Tesla solar roof tile

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on

Tile styles

Although there are two types of tiles being offered by Tesla, solar and non-solar, there are actually four different style types: tuscan, slate, textured, and smooth. The first two tiles, smooth and textured, are going into production this summer. Tesla said it decided to go with those two styles first because they received the highest number of inquiries after being announced last autumn.

You can learn more about the different styles from Tesla's website.

Solar Roof experience

Tesla said that every customer who orders a Solar Roof will get the entire "Solar Roof experience - from the removal of your existing roof through design, permitting, installation, operations and maintenance of the new Solar Roof.” The company estimated that the installation should take approximately the same time to install as a regular roof installation. In other words, about five to seven days.

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How much does Tesla Solar Roof cost?

Here's what Tesla says on its website:

"The estimated cost of your Solar Roof includes materials, installation, and the removal of your old roof. Taxes, permit fees and additional construction costs such as significant structural upgrades, gutter replacement, or skylight replacements are not included. The Solar Roof cost is based on estimated roof square footage for your home, provided by Google Project Sunroof where available, and the portion of your roof covered with solar tiles."

According Tesla's calculator, the average US customer can expect to pay $21.85 per square foot of solar panels. A Tesla Solar Roof for a two-story, 2,000-square-foot home in New York state should be around $50,000 to install after federal tax cuts. But it would generate $64,000 in energy savings over three decades, so Tesla said the upfront cost is "more than offset by the value of energy the tiles produce".

Tesla includes an installed 14kWh Powerwall 2 in every quote. It can be removed, but Tesla thinks that most people will want to have the home battery pack for backup energy. Tesla also estimated that its non-solar tiles are cheaper than regular tiles.

Does Tesla offer financing?

Yes. Tesla will offer financing for Solar Roofs in the US in late 2017. 

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When will Tesla Solar Roof be available?

Tesla has started taking pre-orders for its Solar Roof. A $1,000 deposit is required when ordering online from Tesla. Homeowners outside of the US can also order, but apparently, they shouldn't expect installation until 2018. We'll keep you posted when learn the specifics of UK pricing.

Want to know more?

Check out the Tesla Solar Roof FAQ page.

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Writing by Elyse Betters. Editing by Chris Hall.