Tesla moves one step closer to Solar Roof deployment

Tesla Energy has hurdled the next barrier in its ongoing quest to bring its Solar Roof product to market.

Underwriters Laboratories (UL), an international safety testing and certification company, provided its stamp of approval by certifying that the Solar Roof, marking it as a “Class A” roofing product – the highest classification available for roofing products.

Receiving UL’s Class A certifications should allow Solar Roof installations to face fewer objections from local permitting bodies in the United States, allowing easier deployment in more locations. Tesla started taking orders for the Solar Roofs earlier this month.

Elon Musk, chairman of Tesla, unveiled his vision for the Solar Roof product in October, approximately a month before Tesla and SolarCity merged to become what is now called Tesla Energy. At the time, Musk promised the Solar roof would cost less than a traditional roof (plus the cost of electricity) and last longer than traditional roofs.

According to the National Roofing Contractors Association, most roofs “are designed to provide useful service for about 20 years. Some roof system types, such as slate, clay tile and certain metal (e.g., copper) systems, can last longer.”

Thanks to his cagey phrasing, non-solar specific analysts have argued that the Solar Roof will cost less than a traditional roof installation. A close reading of Musk’s promise, however, reveals that it will be less expensive over time because of the savings homeowners will have on electricity. Musk also claims to have the best warranty in the industry, saying that the Solar Roof will last “the lifetime of your house, or infinity, whichever comes first.”

Musk isn’t wrong – no one else in the industry is currently offering an “infinity” warranty (in the solar industry or anywhere else, to the best of pv magazine’s knowledge). By definition, of course, the lifetime of your house will come long before infinity. So the actual length of the warranty may not actually live up to Musk’s “infinity” claim (and he knows it).

The Solar Roof system includes a Tesla Powerwall battery, which costs around $5,000. The first  Solar Roof tiles will be gray smooth glass and black textured glass and installations will be done on a first-ordered, first-installed basis in the United States. According to Tesla, customers will have a worry-free installation process, with the company removing the existing roof and then designing, permitting, installing and maintaining the Solar Roof.