Tesla and Panasonic collaborate to create 325-W residential rooftop solar panels

By Gary Elinoff, contributing writer

Tesla and Panasonic are teaming
to build a new line of 325-W rooftop solar panels. The action will
take place in Tesla’s new Gigafactory 2, which is located in Buffalo, New York.

Overall, Tesla will be in
charge of the operation, while Panasonic will be doing the actual
manufacturing. The new solar panels will be available only through Tesla’s SolarCity unit. Additionally, SolarCity
will, in the future, source exclusively from the joint venture. This represents
a big departure for Solar City, which, until now, has been sourcing from a
variety of manufacturers.

No visible mounting hardware

Using techniques previously
developed at SolarCity, the hardware necessary to anchor the solar panels to
the roof and to ferry the captured electricity from the roof to where it can be
used is no longer visible. The front skirt, as seen below, completes the


Tesla’s Sleek new rooftop solar panels. Image source: Tesla.

Maybe not quite the thing for
engineers who love to look at neatly arranged nuts, bolts, and hardware. Not
quite right either for homeowners who want to boast their devotion to alternative energy to their neighbors and to the rest of the world, either, because the
look is so clean that no one will know. But for those who appreciate a neat,
modern look, it’s a true thing of beauty.

When the sun doesn’t shine

The new solar panels are
designed to integrate with Tesla’s Powerwall
battery system. While it isn’t inexpensive at about $7,000, the Powerall
battery can store a hefty 14 kWh, which is more than enough to run
most households for a day or more. The addition of the battery makes it
possible to “live off the grid” for those so inclined.

Of course, Powerwall isn’t the
only battery you might consider to store your excess electrical power. Owners
of Telsa’s rooftop solar panel might consider the purchase of one of the
company’s electrically powered motor vehicles and charging its battery directly
from their rooftop solar panels. Thus, in addition to never paying for
electricity again, the owner will never again pay for gasoline, either.

Rooftop repair

These new energy systems, after
they are paid off, will provide all or some of a household’s electricity at no
cost whatsoever, aside from system maintenance. There may even be excess power
available, which, depending on local specificities, may be sold to the local
electrical utility.

There is one glaring question
that is left unanswered. Roofs don’t last forever. When it’s time for roof
repair, how much extra cost will be involved due to all of that extra rooftop