While Tesla’s gearing up to ship its first batch of solar-panels-that-look-just-like-normal-roofs, other companies are venturing into the fray. One such startup, the Palo Alto, CA-based Forward Labs, is now accepting pre-orders for its building-integrated solar panel design—which looks like a normal metal roof.
Unlike Tesla’s tiled design, or the awkwardly camouflaged panels of other competitors, Forward Labs’ product appears to be a single surface composed of layers of solar cells and tempered glass. In fact, it’s the company’s “optical chromatic cloaking” layer between the glass and photovoltaic panels that allows it to create a roof in any color without significantly reducing the amount of energy produced by its solar cells.
Forward Labs claim that its roof is capable of producing nearly double the energy of other roofing products, while costing as much as 33 percent less than Tesla’s design. According to its website, the Forward Labs solar roof gets you 19 watts per square foot of energy density, at about $3.25 per watt and installed in two to three days.
“We use more affordable materials than our competitors and employ standard manufacturing processes,” said CEO Zach Taylor.
“The roof's installation process is simple and quick—we can install our system in half the time that other companies can. The benefit to homeowners is a return on their investment that cuts the usual solar payback time in half."
Forward Labs is currently only serving the San Francisco Bay Area.