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Startup’s solar roof is cheaper, more efficient, and easier to install than Tesla’s solar tiles

Dallon Adams
solar roof cheaper than tesla

The solar roofing competition is heating up, and one company in particular is looking to challenge Tesla head-on. Californian upstart Forward Labs has its own solar roof design, and not only is it cheaper than Tesla’s — it allegedly installs in half the time, too.

Technologically speaking, Forward Labs’s solar roof is slightly different than Tesla’s. The startup’s innovative design uses monocrystalline solar cells, which have a higher energy density than most other solar products. As such, these solar cells can achieve 19-watts per square foot compared to 11W per square foot for other solar cells.

Aesthetically, the overall design of the Forward Labs roof is notably different from Tesla’s as well. The Tesla roof is designed to mimic the classic rooftop shingle model, with each solar shingle made from three basic layers: a solar cell, a masking film, and a top layer of tempered glass. Conversely, Forward Labs’s design uses a single, fully-integrated standing-seam metal design with a similar tempered glass top layer.

While Tesla uses a a film to disguise the cells from onlookers (and pesky neighborhood associations), Forward Labs’ five-layer build comes with an “optimal chromatic cloaking” layer below the tempered glass. The roof is available in eight colors at the moment, however the chromatic layer means virtually any color is possible.

Forward Labs CEO, Zach Taylor, recently stated that his company’s solar roof will cost $8.50 per square foot for the roof (plus $3.25 per watt for the solar). And while many solar roofs can take nearly a week to install, the Forward Labs roof can be up and running in just a few days — or so the company claims. Most importantly, the final product will supposedly cost on average about one third less than Tesla’s solar roof.

Time will tell if these bold claims turn out to be true, but in the meantime, Forward Labs is currently taking preorders, and plans to launch the roof officially sometime in 2018.