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