Among all the unique features of a Tesla, its red roof is perhaps the one that demands our attention the most. While Tesla’s Model 3 and Model X cars seemingly have a sleek design feature with its red roof, upon closer inspection, you’ll come to realize that its roof is not purposely designed to be a red color at all.
The Model 3 and Model X produce a red color due to one of the layers within the glass panels on the roof that blocks UV and IR light to reflect excess heat away from the car’s interior.
Tesla consistently attempts to innovate and enhance the car-owning experience. The glass panels on their Model 3 and Model X vehicles, which appear to turn their roofs red, are just another example of an innovative Tesla feature. In this article, we’ll dive in further and discuss what value this “red” glass panel roof feature brings to your Tesla.
What is the Purpose of the Red Roof?
The red hue on the roofs of these Tesla models produced by its glass panels is not a feature added for style or sleekness, but rather a feature designed for efficiency.
The glass solar panels block UV and IR light from heating up the interior of the car, thus making the inside of your car cooler and preventing you from having to run your air conditioner at a high level for longer than necessary.
This is especially beneficial for people who live in hotter regions that have had to pull down all the windows and turn their air conditioner up just to release the heat radiating off their car’s interior on a hot summer day.
The most important factor, however, is that efficiently using your air conditioning allows for more battery life on your electric car, which simultaneously improves your driving range and mileage.
What are the Benefits of the “Red” Roof?
- Vehicle Efficiency: Research shows that glass panel roofs can make your vehicle more efficient by 2 to 4 percent.
- Battery Life: Glass panel roofs can improve a vehicle’s overall battery life, reducing the need for consistent plug-in charges.
- Air Conditioning: The prevention of heat into the interior will make getting into your vehicle on a hot day a lot easier. Those who live in hotter regions during the summer will not have to worry about turning their air conditioner up to cool the inside of their car before getting in it.
- Sleek Design: Although not the main purpose of the panels, the reflective red/orange hue on the roof gives the car a more futuristic and stylish look.
What Causes the Roof to Turn Red?
Tesla adds a layer on their glass roofs that mirrors back IR/UV lights while simultaneously letting through a clear and visible light, which creates the illusion of the red roof. This is because of the following factors:
- Dialectic Mirror
- Dichroic Filter
- Interface Filter
Typically you would not be able to see the layering on the roof as it absorbs and reflects IR and UV, but when liquid touches the surface area, it delivers a contrasting refractive effect than air, thus allowing the coating to bounce off different wavelengths and colors, which then creates the red/orange hue you see on the roof of a tesla.
The dielectric mirrors are also angle-dependent, so depending on which angle you see the roof in, you may be able to see a rainbow effect when there’s enough moisture on the roof’s surface area.
Is the Glass Panel a Solar Panel?
While one may assume the glass panels on these Tesla’s are solar, the truth is they are not.
The glass panels on Tesla’s current models provide a different purpose than that of a solar panel. While solar-powered roofs may seem like an efficient tactic for an electric car, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has only recently announced the debut of a solar panel roof option with that of the upcoming Cybertruck model expected to be released in late 2021.
As it currently stands, however, solar panels have not been added to Tesla vehicles.
Why Not Solar?
Solar panel roofs will rarely ever function in ideal conditions. Solar panels are most efficient when not limited by fluctuating light conditions.
These are just some of the factors that would prevent solar-powered roofs from working efficiently and becoming a practical idea for future Tesla models.
Even in a scenario where your car is in an optimal position to use its solar panels, the amount of energy a small solar panel roof can produce is extremely limited.
Research shows you’ll only get about 150-200W or so per m² of a panel, but with the small surface area of a Tesla roof, you’d be fortunate to get 1.5m² to work with, thus limiting the potential for energy your car can retain.
The overall benefits of adding solar panels to a Tesla roof would do little to help improve the range and cost of a trip. It would take a model with a much larger surface area, such as the upcoming Tesla Cybertruck, for you to see any real cost-efficient benefits.
Tesla Models that Feature Glass Panels
Currently, two Tesla models in the market feature glass panels:
- Model S (Sedan)
- Model X (Sport)
However, all Tesla models come with the option for glass panel roofs.
Overall, Tesla currently has four vehicle models:
- Model 3
- Model X
- Model S
- Model Y
And while each Tesla offers unique features, currently, the Model 3 and Model X are the two that have glass panel roofs. The Model S also has a glass roof, but it is used more for natural lightning and to provide more space and headroom for passengers.
Despite these being the only models that come with glass panels, Tesla offers it as an option with any of its vehicles. Tesla plans to continue to offer this as a feature on their vehicles for the foreseeable future, but also plans to include fully solar panel roofs to some of their upcoming models, such as the Cybertruck.
Comparing Tesla Models that Feature Glass Panels
|Model||Base Price ($)||Mile Range||Battery Type||Glass Panel Feature|
|Model S (Standard)||$69,420||402 miles||100 kWh 350 V lithium-ion||Yes|
|Model X (Standard)||$79,990||371 Miles||100 kWh 350 V lithium-ion||Yes|
These particular Tesla models include their own individual benefits, but they both include the same glass panel or “red roof” feature. The model X is an SUV model while the model 3 is more of a sporty sedan.
So are Tesla Roofs Actually Red?
It depends on how you look at it. Do the roofs turn a red/orange hue? Yes. Is it on purpose? Not necessarily.
The red roofs are just the effect of an innovative glass panel feature designed to keep heat away from the car’s interior. Though some Tesla owners don’t necessarily like the red after effect, its positive effect on their car is undeniable.
A cooler atmosphere inside the vehicle not only means a smoother and more comfortable ride but a longer-lasting battery and a longer drive.
If you’re not into the design or color of the tesla roof, you can always get a model without the glass panel option, but in reality, if you can get past the funky color scheme, this feature offers you a lot more than it takes away.
If you’re gonna drive a fuel efficient car, we say why not do it in style?