Published on December 15th, 2019 | by Kyle Field0
Tesla Installed The Solarglass Roof On Our New Home — CleanTechnica Exclusive
December 15th, 2019 by Kyle Field
Tesla has completed installation of its Solarglass Roof tiles on our new home and we just turned the system on for the first time. This installation of version 2 of Tesla’s Solarglass Roof tiles marks one of the first new-construction homes they’ve installed with these elusive solar roof tiles anywhere in the world.
Our roof is comprised of the smaller and short-lived version 2 of the solar tiles, whereas version 3 of the Solarglass Roof tiles is significantly larger, letting Tesla’s customers harness more power per tile. More importantly, the larger tiles are easier for Tesla to manufacture and install.
When our home burned down in 2017, I was eager to get the rebuild moving, and a core part of the solution for us was the solar system that would be installed on the roof. Early in the rebuild process, we put $1,000 down to reserve a Solarglass Roof, and we were elated when accepted into the pilot for Tesla’s new home program for the Solarglass Roof.
Our new home ended up being one of the first homes where the Solarglass Roof was installed. Being in the industry, I knew going into the process that Tesla was still iterating with its Solarglass Roof product. Indeed, the newer version 3 is much easier to install, provides higher output per tile, and provides better roof coverage, to boot. Having worked through the learnings from the installation process with homes like ours and having now optimized the product itself for scalability, Tesla is currently opening up the floodgates for orders for new construction.
Opening up its Solarglass Roof to new construction gives Tesla a foot in the door to California’s new housing market, and that’s huge. As we head into 2020, the California mandate that all new homes being built must have solar installed on them from day one goes into effect. That’s an entirely new market for Tesla and makes the Solarglass Roof one of the first building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) products that can be installed as part of the home rather than as a bolt-on product.
Tesla believes its Solarglass Roof is cheaper than the cost of a new roof plus the cost of power over 25 years, which could make it an attractive option for home builders in California (and beyond) looking to set their homes apart with what increasingly looks like one of the most advanced, if not the most advanced, solar roof product in the world.
If all new homes have to have solar installed on them from day one, aesthetics will increasingly become an important differentiator, not just for solar companies, but for home builders looking to stand out from the pack. The clean, modern look of the Solarglass Roof stands out from the pack as a solution that does not look like a retrofit. That fact alone proved to be one of the deciding factors for my wife in selecting Tesla’s Solarglass Roof for our home, and I’m sure we’re not alone in wanting solar without having to have panels bolted onto the otherwise beautiful lines of the home.
On the construction side of things, we worked with Tesla directly to scope out the size of the system. We sent them the roof plan and some of the blueprints for the house. From there, they determined what size system they could install on the roof and asked us how much output we wanted from it. They were able to scale the system up to a fixed maximum power output based on the layout of the roof or scale it down by replacing roof tiles with photovoltaic cells in them with non-producing glass tiles.
As we did not run any gas to the house and will run everything on electricity, we wanted the maximum output from the system that Tesla could provide. That meant installing solar tiles on the north-, south-, east-, and west-facing roof surfaces. It is not ideal to maximize solar production from each tile, but it made sense for our situation to maximize the output from the system. We signed the contract and put down an additional $2,500 for a site survey.
At this point, Tesla’s project leader for our installation connected with our general contractor, Kenny Kuhnhofer of Kuhnhofer Builders, to coordinate the timing of the installation and to communicate what they needed from the builder on the electrical side of things. This is our first time building a home, so I can’t compare to typical roof installations, but Kenny was great at working directly with Tesla’s team on the installation and schedule.
Because our home has two stories, the upper roof was installed several weeks ahead of the lower roof, which needed to wait for the stucco to be installed on the house. At that point, Tesla’s team will return to finish up the roof install, wire up the inverters, install the Powerwalls, and put in all the other goodies necessary to finish up.
I shot a quick video from up on the roof during the installation that dives a little deeper into the installation process, or you can jump into the deep dive I wrote up a few months back about all the components that go into a Tesla Solarglass Roof version 2 installation.
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