Elon Musk’s recent solar roof panel announcement has generated a lot of buzz. Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity prepared many of us for an impending departure from the company’s former sole focus of electric cars. Still, when Musk unveiled the company’s newest developments — beautiful, integrated solar roof tiles — the tech world was humming with excitement over the possibilities.
But some skeptics are wondering whether Tesla’s focus on residential, rather than commercial, roofing is a mistake that could cost the company big time. CEO Elon Musk argues that this new solar roof will be a much more cost-effective option than a regular roof for homeowners, due to its ability to lower energy costs. It’s certainly true that solar technology can offset energy bills in a significant way. Since approximately 40% of a house’s heat loss escapes through the attic, having a solar power source designed as part of the roof — rather than an addition on top of it — could certainly balance that out. But some experts argue that getting homeowners to buy into the technology in the first place could prove to be too big a challenge.
Certain cynics remain unconvinced that homeowners will go for a much more expensive total roof replacement with these solar shingles when they could easily opt for old-school shingling and add panels for solar energy benefits. The main selling point of Tesla’s new innovation is the aesthetic appeal of the solar tiles. But a prevailing opinion is that Tesla is trying to target an especially niche market — and that doesn’t always serve well as a business model.
Though Musk is highly experienced, some are wondering whether commercial roofing would have been a much better focus for this development. Commercial projects tend to be more profitable and can employ many more workers. But while commercial roofing may have a better bottom line, providing visually stunning roofing options for elite homeowners has a nicer ring to it in terms of marketing.
Ultimately, some are predicting that Tesla’s new solar roof will be right on target with what they’ve experienced with their electric cars. These cars are selling, despite their hefty price tag, but they won’t be replacing gasoline-powered vehicles any time soon. Though these roof panels may hold a lot of promise, you’d have to be able to afford them first.