Tesla has found a way to customize solar panels into a new style with its SolarCity partner.

Elon Musk showing new solar panel

On Friday night, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk demonstrated how a new kind of solar roof will come to market starting next year through its partnership with SolarCity. Using a backlot at Universal Studios Hollywood, Musk stood in front of a movie screen showing a wide range of typical rooftops that the new solar power product can offer homeowners.

SolarCity will be offering installations of roof tiles that will stand out compared to the typical unattractive array of solar panels installed on homes and commercial buildings. The Tesla and SolarCity unveiling on Friday night used as a demonstration model a house on the backlot set of what used to be the Desperate Housewives TV series. The new panel can emulate rooftops using clay tiles on a Spanish-style house, shingles on a colonial, or other settings. Musk said they have 98 percent of the ray-collecting power of a conventional solar panel, and are durable enough to last longer than the house itself.

Along with promoting the new solar tiles, Musk used the event on Friday evening as an opportunity to promote the upcoming merger between Tesla and SolarCity. Musk serves as chairman of SolarCity, and works with his cousins who run SolarCity, CEO Lyndon Rive and technology chief Peter Rive.

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Tesla will provide strategic and product plans for a combined company with SolarCity Corp. ahead of a Nov. 17 merger vote by shareholders of both companies, the electric carmaker said. Wall Street analysts have been skeptical about the merger.

roof tiles

Talking to reporters after the event, Musk said that the Tesla and SolarCity vision of the future is “very unwieldy if we’re not a combined company.”

Tesla has been making the business case that the SolarCity merger ties seamlessly into its three-part smart energy offerings. The SolarCity panel collects the power from the roof, which is stored in Tesla’s Powerwall home battery energy system. That power will be used to light up the home and run all its electronics, but can also charge a Tesla Model S, X, or the upcoming Model 3.

“Solar and batteries go together like peanut butter and jelly,” Musk said.

USA Today