Little House Brewing Company, in Chester, Connecticut, now has a Tesla Solar Roof on its 1836 house!
By Paul Braren at TinkerTry.
I’ve had my eye on Tesla solar products for a long time, and started writing about Tesla solar in 2015 (see: “Elon Musk’s Powerwall, time-shifting the energy from that handy fusion reactor in the sky“). I’ve also been thinking about residential solar ever since becoming a two-EV household in 2020.
So you can imagine what a pleasant surprise it was when I learned that Tesla Solar Roof was recently installed on a prominent building in the heart of very walkable Chester, Connecticut, a mere half-hour drive away from my Connecticut home! Heading down on a sunny Saturday, December 4, 2021, I gladly arrived just before sunset to grab some exterior photos and the introductory footage used in the video below. I then stopped into this Little House Brewing Company business below the apartment to ask if I could meet with the owner someday, and a super kind employee got me in touch via email.
Hey folks! I am one of the owners/brewers, and spearheaded this project… Do you want me to be there, or? Didn't know this was happening lol 😂
— Solar Brewer (@Sammy_Swagner) December 9, 2021
EV Club of Connecticut's @paulbraren (from Wethersfield) will be there, would love to meet as many of you that were involved as possible!
— Paul Braren | TinkerTry.com 🖥️🔌☀️🍃🔋🚗 (@paulbraren) December 12, 2021
Upon hearing that there was a group event arranged by the Connecticut Green Building Council that included a Tesla Solar Roof Site Tour of Little House Brewing Company, I immediately registered my wife and me. Even better than an interview with only my nerdy questions, this way I’d also get to hear the many questions from the locals! Turns out there were several architects in attendance, a couple who loves their large passive home, and even an Eversource employee and his wife, all of us together enjoying this mostly-outdoor-tent winter event on a cold, cloudy, drizzly Saturday, December 18, 2021.
What’s really fun to watch was the enthusiastic questions from the attendees, along with the remarkably candid responses from Little House Brewing Company Founder Sam Wagner, who permitted me to film and share everything he said. Straight-to-the-point answers, and lots of them! He also introduced us to Carlisle Schaeffer, the other co-founder, with their intriguing story detailed here.
When one of the Tesla roofers that Sam knows kindly made an appearance at the end, he was super polite and generous with his time. Generally, Tesla employees aren’t permitted to appear on camera in such videos, to avoid any perception that they speak on behalf of the company, but I was able to take some high-level notes of what we learned:
- There are currently several crews in Connecticut.
- Tesla Solar Roofers are full Tesla employees, and it’s a skilled trade given the custom metal fabrication that’s required onsite.
- New England has some of the most complicated structures to work with.
- There might be over a hundred Tesla Solar Roofs in Connecticut.
- Rocky Hill, Connecticut, may be one of the most productive Tesla Solar offices in the country.
- Built in 1836, at 185 years old, this may well be the oldest building to have Tesla Solar Roof in the world!
What a great opportunity to see this installation so up close and personal, with the co-owner telling great stories about his reasons for going with a Tesla Solar Roof on a building made in 1836! He also confessed his bias toward Tesla’s products that goes way back, pre-ordering his beloved Model 3 many years ago. A highlight to cap off this fun event was when Sam shared his real dream:
“The ideal scenario is all of Chester is dark, Little House is lit up, people are drinking beer, which will pay for that roof real fast.”
Seems to me that Little House Brewing could be just one errant squirrel away from that dream becoming reality.
On January 25, 2022, I received this update from co-owner Sam Wagner:
“Jan 25, 2022 — Our system size is 9.17kW, with Tesla estimating we will produce 4,171 kWh/yr. We are already producing daily kWh above my initial expectations for this time of year, and I believe it could be due to us having updated tiles that may not have been considered in Tesla’s initial estimates for the project. Based on my projections we should be able to offset more than 15% or more of our annual electric bill, not including the Eversource Connected Solutions program, based on last year’s usage numbers. What’s even more exciting is that we have found a number of opportunities for usage efficiency throughout the brewery and taproom, which in theory will significantly lower our overall usage and increase said offset!”
Pulling together a bit of my own research that supplements the video notes below:
- 25-year Panel Performance Warranty
- 10-Year Comprehensive Warranty
- FAQ about repairs
- ANSI FM 4473 Class 3 Hail Rating, which means they can handle 1 3/4″ (1.75″ / 4.4cm) hail
- Clearly spelled out Solar Roof Installation Process and Order Solar Roof pages
- In November, Tesla started using 22% more efficient PV in Tesla Solar Roof, used at this site
- All Tesla Solar Tiles are made at Tesla’s Solar Gigafactory In Buffalo, New York
- Demand Response For Home Battery Storage
- Energy Storage Solutions
Note for demand response use of home battery storage: You can earn rewards and lower carbon emissions by enrolling your home battery storage system in Eversource’s connected solutions. Home batteries can help you store clean energy generated by a home solar system, or simply provide backup energy in case you need it. By enrolling in the ConnectedSolutions Demand Response program, you will be rewarded for allowing Eversource to use the energy stored in your battery at times of high demand.
Note on energy storage solutions: This energy storage program can help you prepare for the increasing frequency of weather-related outages while earning incentives. Incentives are available for the initial purchase and installation of a battery plus additional monies each time your battery is used to help support the electric grid.
About the Author: Paul is an IT professional and tech blogger who covers PCs, EVs, home tech, efficiency, and more. Paul has been blogging for over a decade and has increased his focus on video content since purchasing his first EV in 2018 — a Tesla Model 3 Long Range, which replaced his 2005 Honda Civic Hybrid. All photos are provided by Paul and are used with permission.
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