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Tesla starts selling solar roof tiles; says savings to cover costs

Posted: 3:02 PM, May 10, 2017
Updated: 2017-05-10 15:02:46-04
Tesla starts selling solar roof tiles; says savings to cover costs

DETROIT (AP) -- Electric car maker Tesla has added another product to its lineup: Solar roof tiles.

As of Wednesday, customers worldwide could order a solar roof on Tesla's web site. Installations will begin next month in the U.S., starting with California. Installations outside the U.S. will begin next year, the company said.

The glass tiles were unveiled by Tesla last fall just before the company merged with solar panel maker SolarCity Corp. They're designed to look like a traditional roof, with options that replicate slate or terracotta tiles. The solar tiles contain photovoltaic cells that are invisible from the street.

Tesla's web site includes a calculator where potential buyers can estimate the cost of a solar roof based on the size of their home, the amount of sunlight their neighborhood receives and federal tax credits. They can also put down a refundable $1,000 deposit to reserve a place in line.

Tesla said the solar tiles cost $42 per square foot to install, making them far more costly than slate, which costs around $17 per square foot, or asphalt, which costs around $5. But homes would only need between 30 and 40 percent of their roof tiles to be solar; the rest would be cheaper non-solar tiles which would blend in with the solar ones.

Tesla said the typical homeowner can expect to pay $21.85 per square foot for a Tesla solar roof. Over time, the roof will pay for itself in electricity savings, the company said. The roof is guaranteed for the life of the home.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk wouldn't say how many orders the company expects to get this year.

"It will be very difficult and it will take a long time, and there will be some stumbles along the way. But it's the only sensible vision of the future," Musk said.