Tesla solar kiosks coming to Home Depot

Source: By Marco della Cava, USA TODAY • Posted: Monday, February 5, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO — If you didn’t already know that Tesla desperately wants you to go solar, there’s a good bet you will soon.

Home with a solar roof and a Tesla in the garage. Tesla

Tesla is opening small kiosks staffed by uniformed employees inside Home Depot stores in order to pitch its solar panels and Powerwall electricity storage devices to customers of the nation’s largest home improvement chain.

Powerwall is designed to store electricity that is either collected by a home’s solar panels or purchased from the grid during off-peak hours. For owners of Tesla automobiles, a Powerwall can act as a fill-up station for the vehicle. The unit also can be used to supply power to a home in the case of an outage.

Some Home Depot stores in Southern California already have the kiosks, while Las Vegas and Orlando get them next week. All 800 U.S. Home Depot locations should come on line later this year.

Tesla will offer its solar panels and Powerwall storage units at new Home Depot kiosks starting later this year.

Tesla website

The nationwide rollout, first reported by Bloomberg and confirmed by Tesla and Home Depot to USA TODAY, significantly increases Tesla’s access to consumers.

Tesla currently offers its $6,000 Powerwall and showcases its solar panels through its 110 U.S. stores. Increasing that reach to 800 locations could prove a make-or-break moment for its solar-powered mission.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk significantly expanded his electric-car company’s mandate in 2016 when he paid $2 billion for SolarCity, one of the country’s biggest residential solar outfits.

Although the company makes traditional solar panels, Tesla also now sells innovative solar roof tiles that look virtually indistinguishable from traditional shingles and are meant to counter aesthetic concerns some homeowners have about placing large reflective black solar panels on their roofs.

The new Home Depot kiosks will sell only Tesla’s traditional solar panels. A Tesla spokesperson would not comment on whether the tiles would ever be offered at Home Depot.

The tiles generally cost more than the solar panels as they include shingling for the entire roof, some of which contain solar collection technology and some of which do not. Prices for both the solar panels and solar tiles vary depending on the size and scope of the project.

Powerwall 2 in a Tesla store.

Tesla Motors

Tesla began taking preorders for its solar tiles last spring and began manufacturing them last month at its plant in Buffalo. Musk’s company no doubt will be the beneficiary in its solar mission from a recent Trump Administration ruling that imposes a 30% year-one tax on all imported solar cells and modules.

Musk has said that Tesla’s showrooms are meant to be one-stop-shopping destinations for solar tiles, an electricity storage tank and an electric car.

Already well known for its $100,000 Model S and X sedans, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company is in the throes of its most ambitious launch yet, that of its entry-level, $35,000-and-up Model 3 sedan. The car has been beset by production snags that have resulted in lower than anticipated delivery numbers.

Tesla says the new Home Depot kiosks will be staffed by Tesla energy specialists capable of recommending what combination of electricity storage units and solar panels will work best for a customer. The guidance will be based on using a home address to pull up satellite imagery that can estimate sunlight, shading and other rooftop factors.