Tesla starts taking orders for solar roofs

Tesla will start taking orders for its solar roof tiles this afternoon, founder Elon Musk said on Twitter early on Wednesday.

The roofs, which will eliminate the need for traditional solar panels, will be available in the United States this year and in overseas markets next year, Musk tweeted. Production begins mid-year, according to Tesla's website.

Tesla says the average homeowner would pay about $21.85 per square foot for the Tesla Solar Roof, compared to about $24.50 per square foot for a regular roof. It is warrantied for "the lifetime of your house, or infinity, whichever comes first." Tesla has a cost calculator for interested customers.

The product is a cornerstone of Musk's strategy of selling a fossil-fuel-free lifestyle to consumers with electric cars, home batteries, and solar.

The solar roof tiles were unveiled in October as Musk sought to convince shareholders of the benefits of combining his electric vehicle maker with SolarCity, the solar installer run by his first cousins. Shortly after the debut of the solar roof, Musk confirmed that Tesla had started its own glass technology group, and has suggested the upcoming Model 3 will offer a solar roof option.

Tesla acquired SolarCity in November, and has been working to remake a money-losing company that was selling commoditized solar systems into a premium energy brand.

The company's glass solar roof tiles are part of that strategy. By incorporating solar modules into rooftops, Tesla is hoping to succeed with a one-of-a-kind solar technology that to date has had little market success.

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