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California Startup Competes With Tesla To Offer Affordable Solar Roofs

Tesla will be facing some competition in the solar roof industry. They’ve already seen Mercedes-Benz enter the home battery market to battle with their Powerwall 2. A California startup will be launching their own solar roof, which is a little bit different than Tesla’s product and it could end up being a cheaper alternative.

Forward Labs will be a much smaller-scale production when it comes to their solar roofs. Each of them will have five layers that includes glass and photovoltaic cells to absorb the sun’s rays, and all of that will be built in a metal frame. It will be made to look like a normal roof to the casual bystander when they’re pieced together, and it will look very similar to the non-solar portions of the roof.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of this roof compared to traditional solar panels is the ability to be more efficient. When there’s extreme heat in the absorption process, it can affect electrical output by up to 25 percent. Forward Labs has created a venting process to improve that efficiency when it gets too hot. There will be space between the panels and the base of the roof that allows air to cool things down.

Company CEO Zach Taylor detailed many reasons why they went with this kind of design in a YouTube video. The materials to make it cost less and it “absorbs the cost of the roof by way of the solar panels.” Due to it being lightweight, there’s no trying to figure out if it will work on a house that needs a roof replacement. It will simply conform to any structure. All the wiring will also be hidden.

Forward Labs Media/YouTube

Other benefits to this version of the solar roof? Forward Labs claims it will be cheaper and it will take less time to install than their competitors. A base price of $8.50 per square foot will be applied to the entire product, and $3.25 per watt is added to the solar panel portions. Tesla announced their Solar Roof will check in at roughly $21.85 per square foot, which was already considered very cheap. While Tesla’s product will take around a week to install, this company claims that it will take two to three days.

What makes this even better? Any old roof that’s taken off of a structure will be recycled. The California startup will be teaming up with facilities in the area to recycle these asphalt roofs.

Similar to what Tesla did earlier this month, Forward Labs is currently accepting $1,000 deposits to obtain a new roof. Due to the size of the company, it’s limited to most of California’s Bay Area in 2018. While there are no alternatives in design, there will be eight different colors available.

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