What are the Tesla Low Profile Solar Panels?
Tesla’s low profile solar panels are an alternative to traditional solar panels.
By now you’ve probably heard about Tesla’s solar roof tiles – the panels camouflaged to look just like standard roofing shingles, allowing for a subtle, inconspicuous way for homeowners to go solar.
But now Tesla has also designed low profile solar panels for those of us who can’t – or don’t want to – tear off our roof and put up another one just to go solar. These new panels, made in collaboration with Panasonic, offer a subtle look that’s faster and easier to install than old school panels.
What Are the New Tesla Low Profile Solar Panels?
Back in the beginning of April, Tesla announced that it was teaming up with Panasonic to begin offering its new low profile solar panels. This retrofit solar option blends into your current roof, without using any of what some consider the clunky and unattractive hardware often associated with typical solar panels – aluminum rails, bolts, flashing, and other mounting hardware.
While these components certainly aren’t as well-hidden as with Tesla’s roof tiles, they are hardly noticeable – especially when you compare them to the solar systems already installed around your neighborhood. These low profile panels are able to achieve their subtle, discreet look thanks to their integrated front skirts, which hides the mounting hardware underneath.
The panels’ new skirted design was developed by a company called Zep Solar, a mounting equipment design company which SolarCity acquired in 2013 – well before SolarCity itself was acquired by Tesla. In fact, a Zep co-founder, Daniel Flanigan, is now serving as Tesla’s Senior Director of Solar Systems Product Design.
Zep had already been working on a new type of mounting platform that could speed up installation time, lessen set-up costs, and look more discreet before the merger. Tesla’s newest solar panels achieve all these goals.
Panasonic will be producing the low profile solar panels at Tesla’s Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, New York. The new design is meant for Tesla’s exclusive distribution, so it won’t be available to other solar installers. Manufacturing of the low-key panels will begin sometime in summer 2017 and Tesla already has a form for requesting quotes on its website.
How Are the Low Profile Panels Different?
Tesla’s solar roof tiles are certainly one of the company’s most highly-anticipated products this year, but the first-of-its-kind solar system really only appeals to the new home market or those who are re-roofing their existing homes. Meanwhile, the largest portion of the solar market has historically come from consumers who want to attach solar panels to their current roof.
This is where Tesla’s low profile panels come in, adding a new and different option for people shopping for a retrofit solar system. Like standard solar panel installations, these new modules are fixed to your existing roof – but they are different in that they have absolutely no visible mounting hardware or cables.
While we still don’t have many specifics for this product, which will only go into production this summer, Tesla has told us a few key things:
The Tesla low profile solar panels will have a 325-watt capacity, which is quite impressive. Residential solar panels typically see around 260 to 270 watts. Panasonic already makes a 325-watt panel, unrelated to the Tesla model and sold to other installers. If the Tesla model is similar, it will likely have around a 21.76 percent efficiency rate and come with a 25-year power output warranty.
Apart from that, Tesla has only told us that the new, low-profile modules will “exceed industry standards for durability and lifespan.” We are still waiting on the details as to what that actually means.
Are Tesla’s Low Profile Solar Panels For You?
If you were drawn to the hidden and stylish features of Tesla’s solar roof, but don’t have any intention of re-roofing your home just to go solar, then the company’s new low profile panels are a great option for you. Solar roof tiles are not affordable enough (yet) to warrant a completely new roof for most of us, so Tesla has come up with a middle-of-the-road option that doesn’t compromise on appearance.
While we are still waiting on some more product specifications and pricing details, Tesla is promising an effective and durable product that will stand out from the pack – and is also expected to set the standard for solar systems from here on out. We’ll have to see if the option is cost-effective, though considering Tesla and SolarCity’s track record of high-quality, fairly low-cost offerings, odds are good these panels will be a decent option.
As Tesla ramps up production, more information should become available. Until then, keep your eye out for news on Tesla’s low profile solar panels, and we will keep you updated.
Images courtesy of Tesla.com