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Tesla Continues To Ramp Up Solar Roof Tile Installations

Tesla’s Solar Roof Tile System is potentially one of the most disruptive products in the portfolio, but presents a massive challenge to roll out at scale. Produced at Tesla’s Solar Gigafactory in Buffalo, New York, Tesla struggled to refine the design of the tiles not only for mass production, but for rapid, efficient, and long-lasting installations. Roof tiles are no joke and must produce power and protect the home if they are to succeed.

After two iterations of the solar roof tiles, Tesla finally ramped up production of version 3 of the Solar Roof tiles in late 2018 and through 2019 before expanding Solar Roof installations across the country. This week, a story out of New York confirms Tesla continues to rapidly expand its installation area across the state and into new areas of the country.

According to the person who shared the news, their installation is the first Tesla Solar Roof to be installed in Ulster County, New York, though a few others in Orange and Westchester make it clear Tesla is well on its way with new installations across the state. Including the cost of the two Powerwalls, the sticker price of the new 14 kW Solar Ro0f system with two Powerwalls set the owner back $40,000, after $20,000 of incentives. The alternative was installing a metal roof, which would have been $30,000, making the total cost of adding solar + storage an incremental $10,000. Not bad.

A New & Improved Design

The new “version 3” of Tesla’s Solar Roof tiles did away with the need for installers to cut the glass tiles to fit on site, like they had to for installations of version 2. This decreases the likelihood of post-installation microfractures that require a follow up visit to correct. With my home installation, Tesla waited a few weeks after the initial installation process before coming back to replace the 5 tiles that had shattered after installation as a result of these microfractures.

The installation of the new Tesla Solar Glass Roof took about a week to get everything installed and wired up. That’s not bad, seeing that our Solar Roof took a little over 2 weeks to get everything buttoned up last year. Combining the installation of a roof and a solar system is more complex than the sum of the parts, but Tesla wants to go faster. More rapid installs mean less cost for Tesla and less inconvenience for homeowners.

Tesla is already working to streamline the process, with all measurements taken from a satellite image instead of requiring a site visit. It’s an impressive use of technology, and if it’s effective, why not use satellite images to build systems? Tesla CEO Elon Musk mentioned the possibility of a Solar Roof install-a-thon, and that could be just the ticket for raising awareness and coming up with some cool ideas to streamline the process, potentially saving Tesla thousands on each installation.

Version 3 of the Solar Roof now comes with the same “blank” glass tiles that don’t have any photovoltaic cells in them to fill in gaps around the massive 45″ active tiles. These blank tiles maximize the surface area covered by active tiles and give Tesla an easy, cost-effective way to cover the roof on the edges or where active tiles are not needed. Owner unaluna shared that installing glass tiles around all of the PV tiles also ensures no metal touches the active PV panels. That’s huge for safety and performance, as external metal contact with PV tiles can cause Potential Induced Degradation, or PID.


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