Lost beneath the Model 3 electric vehicle messaging in Tesla’s Second Quarter 2017 Update newsletter to its investor community last week, the company quietly announced its solar roof product had progressed to the real-world testing stage on a number of homes. In much the same way early-production Model 3 cars have recently been released to Tesla employees for shakedown, solar roof tiles emerging from pilot builds in its Fremont, California, manufacturing site have been installed on the roofs of willing employees—including the home of Chairman and CEO Elon Musk.
Tesla began taking pre-orders for the all-glass solar roof tiles in 2017 Q2 through an online configurator—for early adopters willing to divulge some details about their homes and place refundable $1,000 deposits. As customer-ready production ramps up in later 2017 from its Gigifactory 2 site in Buffalo, New York, Tesla will begin fulfilling orders for the smooth glass and textured glass versions of the tiles, followed by the tuscan and slate glass styles in 2018. Tesla will offer solar and non-solar versions of each style of the tiles, and both versions will have the same appearance from the street level.
The company has also announced the tempered glass product will feature a lifetime tile warranty—or infinity—whichever comes first. Furthermore, all tiles will offer a 30-year weatherization warranty, and those tiles fitted with embedded photovoltaic cells will have a 30-year power production warranty.
Tesla also says they will manage solar roof installation from start to finish, including the de-installation of the existing roof surface through permitting, installation, and activation of the new solar roof. That rooftop work will be carried out through its SolarCity unit, a company already well versed in designing, installing, and supporting conventional solar panel installations.