While we were distracted by a rocketing share price and almost daily electric vehicle and giga-factory updates, Tesla’s energy department quietly opened orders for its rooftop solar panels, as well as its potentially game-changing “solar roof,” in Australia.
The news came to our attention via Twitter (no surprise), with local mega-fan Tesla Tom on Monday declaring that Australian customers could now order Tesla solar panels for a $100 deposit, with a choice between a small 3.8kW system, a medium 7.6kW system or a large 11.4kW system.
But 24 hours earlier, Tesla Tom raised much local excitement when he announced that he had ordered himself a solar roof.
To clarify, Tesla’s solar roof is distinct from its rooftop solar panel systems in that it is an entire roof made up of solar glass tiles – a novel and relatively untested product which Musk last year declared was set to grow in uptake “like kelp on steroids.”
The button to order these in Australia sits right next to the button to order solar panels, but pressing it appears to result in more of a reservation than an order – no deposit required, no quote (immediately) given, and no word of when delivery might be.
Rather, alongside confimation of your reservation, you get a vague assurance that Tesla will “reach out” when the solar roof becomes available in your area.
As it stands, Tesla’s solar roof is only just getting going in the US. Musk posted a Tweet on Sunday (Australian time) saying Telsa was ramping up solar roof installations across more American states and “looking forward to international expansion later this year.”
What this means for Australian customers is anyone’s guess, but considering installations have barely extended beyond California in the US, it could be a long wait.
According to this timeline, US installations were expected to extend to Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Hawaii and Florida in late 2019 and early 2020, and then later this year, to “additional states.”
We’re not even sure of the exact size and output of the tiles that will be made available to the Australian market – although we do know that the only style currently available is the basic textured slate grey shingle.
The second version of Tesla’s solar roof tiles, which have been used in trial and early installations in the US, were 25W each. But as Musk noted last year the version 3 tiles that were launched in October and are still being nutted out at the company’s Gigafactory in Buffalo, New York, are bigger in size and more powerful.
“Versions 1 and 2, we were still sort of figuring things out. Version 3, I think, is finally ready for the big time,” he said. “And so we’re scaling up production of the Version 3 solar tile roof at our Buffalo Gigafactory. And I think this product is going to be incredible.”
Needless to say, the industry remains on the whole healthily skeptical about the delivery and prospects of Tesla’s solar roof – although that won’t bother Musk one bit.
“It’s kind of like a weird and odd product,” he conceded during the webcast launch last October. “It’s like, ‘why would anyone make a solar roof, how strange?’”
“But it’s just a thing that should be, and so we’re going to make it. And it’s just going to be real confusing, because there’s like no actual product like this.”
“On a percentage basis, it’s going to grow like kelp on steroids,” he added. “But so many things have to be sorted out.
“But I think it’s going to be a very exciting product and I think it’s something people will want to have on their roof.”