Forward Labs, a Palo Alto, CA–based startup, debuted a building-integrated solar roof that could challenge Tesla in the category, Curbed reported. The company said its roofing will cost two-thirds that of Tesla while delivering twice the energy generation capacity of similar products.
Like Tesla’s, Forward Labs’ roof is designed to blend in, according to Treehugger, in this case replicating a standing-seam metal roof. The roof features layers of glass, photovoltaic cells and a chromatic coating in the owners’ color of choice.
The roofing can be pre-ordered and will be introduced in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2018. It will cost approximately $3.25 per watt.
Tesla’s highly anticipated solar roofing, which opened to pre-orders in early May, features solar-collecting tiles in two initial styles (black smooth glass and textured glass) and two more styles (French and Tuscan slate) to come. The company puts the price around $21.85 per square foot and says its tempered glass tiles are three times stronger than standard roofing tiles.
New York City–based integrator Cloud9 Smart Home investigated the potential ROI of the Tesla product and found that the company’s numbers indicate the product to be a smart investment, but without real-life proof of concept, early adopters will have to take on the risk of finding out.
Consumer Reports analyzed houses in three U.S. regions based on Tesla’s online ROI calculator for its new roofing product. The publication found that savings are possible for some of the homes, but that those savings likely wouldn’t be realized in the 13 years a typical homeowner stays in their house. Meanwhile, one analyst questioned Tesla’s assessment that the company’s solar roofing will save money, saying the calculator ignores several details in setting cost, including the different projected lifetimes for the roof and its companion power storage battery.
Still, Tesla’s and Forward Labs’ offerings come at a time of tremendous buzz for rooftop solar in the residential space. Google’s Project Sunroof estimated that roughly four in five homes in the U.S. could generate enough energy from rooftop solar panels to justify the investment. In a recent survey of real estate agents and brokers by the National Association of Realtors, 80% of respondents said PVs are offered in their region and 42% said that perceived property values are higher for homes with solar panels.
Many U.S. builders offer solar panels. For example, the southwest Florida master-planned community of Babcock Ranch will include a 443-acre, on-site solar array that will power the MPC. And last week, Fremont, CA, announced a mandate for new homes to include solar panels.