Elon Musk says SolarCity will build a “solar roof” for your house

What if your entire roof was made up entirely of dedicated solar power cells? No, not adorned with the current kind of solar panels you’ve likely seen on the existing roofs of a few neighbour houses – an entire roof actually made up of solar gathering material, rather than add-ons that install after the fact. That’s the vision described by Elon Musk in SolarCity’s investor call yesterday (via Elecktrek).

Musk, who acts as board Chairman rather than occupying a company executive role, joined TeslaCity likely because of his proposal that Tesla buy SolarCity. That deal remains in progress, with a $2.6 billion stock offer agreed upon by both companies and now awaiting shareholder approval.

On the call, Musk followed a reveal by SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive that SolarCity would have two product s to unveil by the end of this year with a comment that the company is working on “a solar roof, as opposed to modules on a roof.” Rive echoed the product details, and Musk said that part of their product’s appeal vs. Other solutions will be that customers end up with “a beautiful roof,” as opposed to “a thing on the roof.”

By creating a product that actually replaces roofing material, SolarCity’s power generation offering becomes not an add-on, but a core housing component, with a much easier sell opportunity both for new construction and whenever a home has to re-roof (typically once every 20 years or so depending on the type of shingle used). Both Musk and Rive signalled they see a huge market opportunity in new roof builds.

It’s very likely that a solar roof option would be more expensive than a traditional one – probably by a wide margin. But SolarCity will also probably market in the cost of power production over however long the roof will last, which I’m sure will more than balance the construction cost, at least on paper.