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Tesla Launches Sales of ‘Invisible' Solar Roof

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American technology company Tesla has launched sales of its new solar roof.

The roof is made of glass tiles that can collect energy from the sun. The tiles were designed to make the roof look similar to those on traditional homes.

Some of the tiles have solar cells inside that take energy from the sun and turn it into electricity. All the tiles look the same and the solar cells are invisible from the street.

Tesla founder Elon Musk says his goal was to create a solar roof that looks better, costs less and lasts longer than non-solar roofs.

The tiles are three times stronger than non-solar tiles, and weigh half as much, according to Tesla. The company is guaranteeing the tiles for the whole lifetime of a home.

The company estimates the cost of installing a solar roof on a 240-square-meter home would be about $69,000. Some industry experts have noted this estimate is much higher than for a roof made from traditional materials.

But Tesla says a solar roof will actually cost less over time because it can reduce or get rid of electricity payments. The government also reduces taxes for some people using solar technology.

Tesla sells batteries to store the solar energy that powers homes. The battery is called a Powerwall, which is included in the price of the roof installation. The Powerwall stores energy that can be used at any time of day or night, the company says.

Tesla's Powerwall battery is unveiled on stage in Hawthorne, Calif., on April 30, 2015. Tesla's Powerwall battery is unveiled on stage in Hawthorne, Calif., on April 30, 2015.

Tesla also makes electric automobiles that can be charged with solar power. Elon Musk says both products can be used to help conserve the planet’s energy supply.

“When you think of a sustainable energy future, you want roofs to be beautiful and generate energy from the sun,” he said. “That energy can then charge Powerwalls and electric vehicles - that’s the future we want.”

Tesla is currently selling the roof tiles in two different styles and is expected to add more options in the future. (Tesla) Tesla is currently selling the roof tiles in two different styles and is expected to add more options in the future. (Tesla)

People interested in buying a solar roof can go online and estimate the cost by entering information about their home. A $1,000 deposit is required to place an order. Two designs are currently available and more will be added in the future.

Roof installations are set to begin in the United States next month and will start in other countries next year.

Musk said he is not sure how many people will order the solar roof tiles and admitted there could be some difficulties along the way. But he added that Tesla is committed to the project, which he described as “the only sensible vision for the future.”

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. His report was based on information from Tesla, the Associated Press and Reuters. Hai Do was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Would you spend money to install solar panels on your roof or buy an electric car? Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

solar adj. of or related to the sun

tile n. flat piece of material for covering a roof

cell n. small container used to hold materials for producing electricity

invisibleadj. impossible to see, not visible

install v. put a piece of equipment in a particular place

conservev. use carefully to prevent loss or waste

sustainable adj. able to be used without becoming completely used up or destroyed

generatev. produce

sensibleadj. showing good sense or judgment

vision n. clear idea about what should happen in the future

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