Tesla’s Solar Roof Tiles, Potential Game Changer

Why Tesla’s solar roof tiles and home battery are potential game changers

On October 28, renewable energy innovator Tesla unveiled its newest product. The company makes a venture into roofing with its new solar roofing tiles. Despite, maybe, people’s initial reaction that may have been similar to “Ok?”, the tiles are functional solar panels that could represent something significant – perhaps, a positive change in the relationship between consumers and renewable energy.

Well sure it looks really cool, but what the actual expletive is the big deal? Why does cosmetic value matter when the true point is sustainable energy?

The new tiles may just represent another product whose cost (immediate or acceded) will no doubt be expensive to implement and will still not achieve the mainstream success needed if a true difference is to be made. Though, on the contrary, they may not.

Looks are Pretty Important

Aesthetics are easily paid no mind but are, nevertheless, very important. Looks matter to either prospective or current homeowners looking to build a home or switch up their roof. A prevalent cosmetic issue exists with every other attempt at a solar offering. As with most other similarly “science fiction” technologies, the plunge into the mainstream seems an awfully long jump.

Just think of the current VR situation and it might become clear. No matter how much Google and Oculus try to sell consumers on the fact that their headsets have really nice fabric, the technology will always occupy its own little nook in the market – appealing to some but not all that awesome to everyone else.

The look of the new tiles (offered in four tile styles: textured glass, slate glass, Tuscan glass, and smooth glass), as with any conceivable consumer product, will be important to those looking to purchase. Everyone within the market, from top to bottom (in particular those on top), will consider looks as an important factor in their decision. Who doesn’t want a house that looks good?

Think Apple

Apple Inc. is the world’s leading expert in the field of consumer cognitive bias. If that sounds confusing, here’s the idea. Apple creates one thing that we, the consumers, think is awesome, subsequently, this plants an idea in our brains, leading us to believe all of Apple’s other things are equally as awesome. This flaw in human cognition is otherwise known as the halo effect. The halo effect has a very strong relationship with our perceptions of attractiveness (this ties into the aforementioned import of the tile’s looks). As much as those who hate are “gonna hate”, there is no denying that Apple’s products are pretty damn good looking. If that seems way off track, hold tight. I am about to bring this thing full circle.

Tesla has been dubbed by many, including media members and tech pundits, as the Apple of the automotive industry. Starting to smell what I’m cooking? With the company’s recent acquisition of SolarCity, it can now seize the opportunity to give its home solar business a quick defibrillation and harness the halo effect. Since Tesla’s fan base is said to be fairly similar to Apple’s, and because the equivalent iPhone in this metaphor (an electric automobile) is, in fact, much more expensive than a smart phone, the idea that Tesla can create its own halo effect doesn’t seem too far off base.

More Than Just Energy

The new solar tiles have the alleged ability to power a home, and provide alternate power via the Powerwall 2 battery if a day sees no sunshine. The overall cost, according to Elon Musk, will be less than the cost of a regular roof installation coupled with paying for power from orthodox sources. But wait, Musk has more up his sleeve.

Video footage from the October unveiling shows us that the tiles will actually be more durable than some of the very roofing materials whose looks the tiles are designed to emulate (terra-cotta, slate and clay). In the video footage, a kettlebell is dropped on a tile of each material. Each tile breaks under the blunt force, excluding the Tesla solar tile. This means that the solar tiles could potentially outperform every roofing material we use today by twofold, driving up its value.

Different Consumer Culture

The renewable power revolution that Tesla hopes to bring to the table seems a little way off, but Musk is confident for the future. He expects the Powerwall to sell better than Telsa’s flagship – the electric car.

Tesla’s three products – Solar roofing, Powerwall and electric vehicles – together represent a change in the consumer culture surrounding the company. A change that, uniquely, brings hopes of self-sufficiency and the prospect of a future where individuals have greater control over their own power generation, ultimately changing our relationship with clean energy.

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