Tesla partners with Panasonic on sleek low-profile solar panels

William Gayde

TS Addict
Staff member

Tesla is no longer just a luxury electric vehicle manufacturer. Some of the company's most profound new products have focused on renewable energy systems. Late last year the company announced solar roof tiles which were mainly designed for new home installations. They have been relatively slow to get off the ground though since most of the solar market is centered on adding solar panels to existing buildings. Tesla's newest announcement comes as an effort to strengthen their position in this mainstream solar market.

The new solar panels will be manufactured exclusively by Panasonic at Tesla's new Gigafactory 2 facility in Buffalo. Prior to this announcement, Tesla's solar panel division SolarCity used a wide range of generic panels from other manufacturers. They weren't especially attractive due to their thick construction and mounting hardware.

By designing and producing their own panels in partnership with Panasonic, Tesla will be able to control most aspects to create a seamless solar system. Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, hopes this can allow them to create a more distinctive solar panel brand. Musk's plan is reminiscent of Apple with their distinctive design traits and visually appealing construction. This includes panels with "no visible mounting hardware" and much better overall aesthetics. The new rail-less mounting system was produced by Zep Solar, which Tesla later acquired.

Tesla will offer new 325-watt panels in addition to their older 250-watt panels from other suppliers. The new "sleek and low-profile" design is sure to turn heads in a market that was once dominated by less visually appealing blue rectangles and aluminum mounting bars.

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Skidmarksdeluxe

TS Evangelist
I like the idea of solar roof tiles and I hope it becomes mainstream sooner rather than later, not remain something niche. While I don't give a rat's a$$ about something like fancy schmancy IoT dwellings, renewable energy is something I'm a big supporter of.
 

mbrowne5061

TS Evangelist
If this is going to be produced at Gigafactory 2 - when Gigafactory 1 isn't even complete yet - then we can safely say this will be a long way off...

What did SpaceX mess up this time? Every time Tesla releases a "wouldn't it be cool if?" statement like this, SpaceX releases a piece of bad news - and vice versa.
 

ChrisH1

TS Addict
If this is going to be produced at Gigafactory 2 - when Gigafactory 1 isn't even complete yet - then we can safely say this will be a long way off...

What did SpaceX mess up this time? Every time Tesla releases a "wouldn't it be cool if?" statement like this, SpaceX releases a piece of bad news - and vice versa.
I think they reused an old rocket, not a good thing in these days when everyone wants something new. :-d

While you may be technically correct that the Gigafactory 1 is not yet complete, it began limited production of Powerwalls and powerpacks in1Q 2016, and has been mass producing batteries since Jan this year. It's not like they're still pulling up the weeds and deciding where the first foundations will go.
 
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mbrowne5061

TS Evangelist
I think they reused an old rocket, not a good thing in these days when everyone wants something new. :-d

While you may be technically correct that the Gigafactory 1 is not yet complete, it began limited production of Powerwalls and powerpacks in1Q 2016, and has been mass producing batteries since Jan this year. It's not like they're still pulling up the weeds and deciding where the first foundations will go.
Did they both actually release good information simultaneously for once? Seems like every time one tripped, the other would go "LOOK! Shiny CGI and grand statements!"

But I doubt they'll start building GF2 until GF1 is [nearly] complete, if only from a project management and resource standpoint. Even if they broke ground tomorrow, I would say that still put these panels 5+ years from market, which is more than enough time for another silicon giant to start offering a similar product.
 

Reachable

TS Evangelist
Whenever I look at photos of solar panels on roofs, they look awful -- still. And I don't think it's a matter of it taking time for the public's judgment of what is aesthetically acceptable to change and adapt. There's something basic about form and harmony that's being violated here -- perhaps someone with architectural or artistic training could describe what it is. One of the considerations of having an upscale house is its appearance, and the awkward and industrial look of solar panels probably stands in the way of their popularity. And that's a shame, because we want fossil fuels to be replaced by renewable energy.

Two possible solutions:

The first, and less ideal of the two, is to cover the rest of the roof with dummy panels, to make the whole surface uniform and get rid of the car floormat look of the solar installation.

The second solution is to develop solar panels that look just like shingles (and to again use dummy shingles to make sure that the entire roof has a uniform appearance.)