See Rare Look At Tesla Solar Roof In The Wild, Plus Exclusive Interview


Behold, one of the first examples of a Tesla Solar Roof in the wild.

***Update: Our good friend Alex Guberman had an opportunity to travel to a home with one of the first Tesla Solar roof installations. He gets to check it out firsthand and interview the homeowners. We previously shared another of the first installations with you (shown below), but very little information was available. Now, Alex has hooked us up with the details.

It sure is swell (and different) to see the Tesla Solar Roof on a typical home, rather than the stock promo pictures that Tesla previously released. According to Toblerone (@Toblerhaus) on Twitter, this is a ~10 kW system. It should cover all of her family’s energy needs, with extra to spare.

Related: Tesla Solar Roof and Powerwall 2 Reveal, Details & Gallery

She says it took about three weeks to install, which is longer than normal, but this was due to an unreasonable amount of rain. Now, she just has to wait for the local power company to approve its use.

If you read through the comments on Twitter, there are a variety of references to pricing, though they are vastly inconsistent. The bottom line is – as we’ve reported before – the Tesla Solar Roof is more expensive than the competition, but it’s extremely durable and features a lifetime warranty.

Any solar roof will cost significantly more than a standard roof, but you’re getting a means for creating your own energy, which, over time, will end up saving you money. You also get a federal tax rebate on the solar portion of the roof, as well as the battery.

You can click here to get a custom quote from Tesla.

Video Description via E for Electric on YouTube:

A rare look at one of the first installations of Tesla Solar Roof in California including the interview with the owners, great footage of the solar roof’s tiles / shingles and my overall impression and review of this amazing product.

Keep the conversation going on our Forum. Start a new thread about this article and make your point heard.

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52 Comments on "See Rare Look At Tesla Solar Roof In The Wild, Plus Exclusive Interview"

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Whose lifetime? The owner’s, the house’s or Tesla’s?

Federal tax subsidy should be capped at 30-40 cents/W. That’s what a large scale installation receives and would be $3-4000 for this roof. Instead they probably get ~$20,000+. If we want to get the most clean kWhs per tax dollar we need to stop rewarding inefficiency by paying 6x as much to wealthy homeowner as we pay to efficient, large scale operators.

Site says:
“lifetime of your house, or infinity, whichever comes first”

Keep in mind, as a public traded company, Tesla is required by law to escrow warranty repair costs.

As for capping the subsidy, wouldn’t that just be favoring utility solar even more? Part of the incentive that keeps utilities in check is people have the option to go solar without the utility. Thus making sure rates are kept in check. By limiting the federal incentive to utility rates, you are just giving more free reigns to utilities.

At this point, what is keeping solar adoption limited is not cost. Solar is cheap enough. What is limiting is people’s and utility’s desire to deploy them en-mass. So the more people willing to pay the remaining 70% of the cost, the better.

All very good points. Also we need first adopters lead the way to lower prices from scale, so sooner rather than later more people will be able to have these solar roofs.
I’m surprised that contractors like Putle Homes etc. Don’t build homes with Tesla solar roofs and PowerWalls on new contruction.


“As for capping the subsidy, wouldn’t that just be favoring utility solar even more?” Would that be a bad thing? Centralized power generation and distribution is more cost-effective, and a better use of resources, than putting a solar power installation on individual small buildings. If the objective is to reduce fossil fuel use and encourage “green” renewable energy generation, then it seems to me that tax incentive dollars would be far better spent on helping electric utilities increase their renewable energy generation and storage, than to subsidize expensive solar roof tiles aimed at an exclusive, high-end market. Most of the cost of these very expensive solar roof tiles isn’t due to their practical ability to harvest solar energy. Most of the cost is to make them look nice; in fact, it’s to make them look like they are not solar panels. I am firmly opposed to using tax money to support that. Not only is it yet another example of using tax money to enrich the already rich, it’s supporting the idea that solar power installations are something to be ashamed of, to be hidden, rather than something to be proudly shown off! I look forward to the day when… Read more »

It’s a nice idea in principle, but given the active attempts by lobbying groups to load PUCs and the fact that the utilities are private for-profit monopolies that are very happy to exploit their monopolies and mislead PUCs into adding unreasonable charges, there are very good reasons to continue to support distributed generation.

remember utilities have government granted monopolies. Monopolies can not exist without the government behind them.

Centralized solar is a very poor use of land resources and has a number of negative impacts on the environment, especially if there are better options like individual rooftops where the added solar capability has no impact on land use and little on the environment.

Who cares if it’s a “poor use of land resources”, when the best place for solar farms is land that nobody wants, and isn’t useful for any other purpose?

That’s another advantage of utility-scale solar power. If it’s just individual houses and commercial buildings, or neighborhoods installing community solar power, they’re limited to rooftops and small unused patches of land here and there. Contrariwise, grid-based solar power can be placed just about anywhere, even hundreds of miles away from “civilization”.

Furthermore, in dense urban areas (cities), the demand for power far exceeds the available surface area of rooftops. If I recall what I’ve read, rooftops would only provide about 20% of the needed area for urban areas. Some solar power advocacy websites claim otherwise; they claim the available area exceeds what is needed even in dense urban areas. But if you do the math, you see that is factually incorrect, and wildly so.

Quncy, I hear you and I think land use is a very poorly understood aspect of environmental stewardship and quality of life in general. The loss of albedo from cleared land contributes significantly to warming energy from insolation. And it has other knock-on effects. As an example, the flooding in Houston during Harvey owes far less to perceived climate change than to the massive disruption of topography and natural fauna with resulting destructive hydrodynamics. However, call Dr. Ripley because P-P has a damned good point. If you simply accounted for all the brownfield sites and the valueless old factories too expensive to demolish and otherwise undersireable for commercial purpose, there is conservatvely about 50k hectares WITHIN major metropolitan boundaries. Add what’s outside them and about 4x more becomes available. Most of these locations have crumbling but already cleared access in and out, and right of ways for utilities. Proximity to population centers means lower transmission losses. Accounting for boundaries, energy storage containment and a bit of beautification and you get easily 1.5B (yes, Billion: pronounce it like Sgan and marvel at the number) square meters of panels. Not a bad start. Completing these would take you to my actuarial conclusion,… Read more »

Utilities have shown little restraint in pricing, or passing on economies of scale actually to customers.

Watch, your utility won’t charge their commercial rate plus a profit, they’ll charge a residential rate plus a profit.

“as a public traded company, Tesla is required by law to escrow warranty repair costs.”

What law is that? And why is it different for public vs. privately owned corporations? I’m calling BS. Tesla shows warranty reserves on it’s balance sheet, but there is no escrow. In bankruptcy, warranty claims get in line with unsecured creditors (unless management asks the court to give them priority).

A capped tax credit gives the most efficient providers an advantage. If that happens to be utilities, so be it. It’s ridiculous for taxpayers to spend $20k making a wealthy person’s roof pretty. Put that money into community solar on a matching find basis and get 6x as much clean energy.

Sorry ddw didn’t see your entry.

TheWay: virtually no company maintains an “escrowed” warranty account. They take a reserve (audited based on prior experience, probability of failure, etc.) which goes to a Liabilites entry. The acutal $$ are not necessarily retained, nor are they required to be.

You might think these are under Tesla’s Restricted Cash, but they are not: “We maintain certain cash balances restricted as to withdrawal or use. Our restricted cash is comprised primarily of cash as collateral for our sales to lease partners with a resale value guarantee, letters of credit, real estate leases, insurance policies, credit card borrowing facilities and certain operating leases. In addition, restricted cash includes cash received from certain fund investors that have not been released for use by us and cash held to service certain payments under various secured debt facilities.” (p.76 10-K). A bit of back-of-napkin math will prove beyond doubt that there isn’t nearly enough cash for all those things + warranty reserve. Again, virtually no other company actually does that, either.

Agree!!!! Utility level solar is certainly more cost effective than roof top.

The tax credit and net metering is a gift to the already well off at the expense of other taxpayers and ratepayers.

Without net metering (which amounts to the utility buying your excess production at full retail value and acting as a free battery of unlimited capacity tostore it for use anytime during the calander year) people would have to invest in their own storage to make individual solar systems minimally effective.

The decision to subsidize individual solar systems was political, not economically/environmantally, rational. Like so many such programs the benifits go mostly to the well off.

PS. I have a PV system on my house but no illusions that I am doing anyone else or the world a favor. Thanks other taxpayers/ratepayers!!!!

Residential solar’s popularity can be entirely blamed on utilities offering the moronic scheme of net-metering without any community solar alternative.

All they had to do was give people the option to buy a share of a large-scale plant at a reasonable price (but still has a decent profit margin for the utility) to make residential solar a niche market, and we’d have up to twice the solar generation in the country for the same price.

Anyway, Tesla’s solution makes sense on new houses as a substitute for fancy roofs.

actually, when it comes to efficiency, solar on buildings is FAR MORE EFFICIENT than is utilities. The reason is that the grid now has to carry 100% of the load with the utility. With the building approach, the majority stays with the building.

As to subsidies, I would love to see us make 2 changes:
1) require that all new buildings of 5 stories and under, have enough on-site UNSUBSIDIZED AE, as to equal or greater than the energy used by the buildings HVAC. This will encourage building better, more efficient buildings. It will also encourage aerogel windows, along with geo-thermal HVAC.
2) then limit subsidies ONLY to buildings already built. Anything new, gets nothing.

I read past week the ex solar city in couple years they will reach 11-12 billions dollars also they are looking for1500 new employees to add already to 500 workers it pretty rare to see they looking to triple up Good Jod

I wish Tesla would put some of their engineering genius to work to bring Tesla roofs up to hurricane proof strengths for the US Virgin Islands. It seems very doable and is greatly needed .

I thought they were hurricane rated? Aren’t they? For this much money they should hold up to 300 mph winds!

How is the solar portion of the cost figured out for tax credit purposes? Or is that just a refund of some fixed amount kW installed? I can’t recall.

The tax credit is simply off the TOTAL installation, materials, labor, administrative, everything.

That is how the old SolarCity milked our tax dollars and created solar-backed securities. Report a $10K system as $30K, claim $10K credit (hence $0 down for the homeowner) and voila, $100 a month cashflow.

Unlike the EV $7500 tax credit which requires you to have a tax obligation higher than that, the solar ITC is fully transferable. That was SolarCity’s main product.

It made all the utilities mad and now we the homeowners see the end of Net Energy Metering.

Not entirely true in this case, since a good portion of the tiles will be either non-functioning or non-solar. The homeowner will be paying for portions of the roof that are not solar, but in many markets, the demographic for this product will be different than panel solar or even replacement roof plus panel solar. Here in NJ, most people go solar to save money. The tax credit will only apply to the portion of the roof that is actively solar.

Wait a minute, reporting a $10k system as $30k is fraudulent claim. Where did you get this information? Is it FAKE NEWS LOL CONNECT THE DOTS ON CLEAN AIR WAKE UP FOLKS

I don’t know about the specific case under discussion, but there are plenty of examples of what would be called fraud by any common sense standard, but are allowed (or even encouraged, in some cases) by regulation, so are never treated as fraud by regulators or law enforcement. Did you know that American farmers are paid by the government to not grow crops on their farmland?

Welcome to the real world. Life isn’t fair, crime often does pay, taxes and investments are rigged to favor the wealthy, and the good guys don’t always win.

SC bundled in O&M fees for the life of the system as part of the cost. Hence getting to a high price. They were taken to court by IRS and lost and had to pay back.

Give me one solar company that doesn’t charge $20k for $5k of panels installed. They all do that. That is the bulk of the cost, installation and permits. If you had a pv system you would know. NEM is going away only where corrupt politicians allow it to. Of course it’s not in any utility’s interest for people to install pv so they nee to come up with stories to limit the process. No one is milking your tax dollars, the pv owners are just smart enough not to give you theirs. Suck it up!

NEM from personal solar should be forced to face competition from community solar.

If it did, it would die without a doubt. It’s an artificial construct that has retarded the proliferation of solar.

NEM is a wasteful artifact of early solar without proper storage. Moving to a zero-backfeed model is MUCH more cost effective for all concerned. You don’t require NEM so you don’t need a NEM agreement and since you ‘re not backfeeding you don’t need an interconnection agreement. All you need is local building inspector approvals. See for an example. (No I have no ownership or benefit from Solpad)

These two factor eliminate the majority of time involved in an interconnection for solar which means that much more value for the building.

I like solpad, but no response when messaging them, and no news of their home system coming online!

It makes little sense to integrate the battery into a solar panel.

First, there’s a warranty mismatch, 25 years for the panel and inverter but only 10 years for the battery.

Second, the battery is not thermally managed, something that would have been automatically taken care of had it been placed inside the building.

If by ‘community’ solar, you mean putting solar on good ground, then you are a fool.
Look, when SC installed 10KW system on our home, one of the first things that I noticed was that in the summer, our AC ran at a fraction of the time. Why? Because 80% of the sun that had been heating up our attic was now being converted to electricity. IOW, it dropped our electricity usage in the summer a great deal.

Secondly, the idiots that put solar over GOOD GREEN GROUND should be shot. At the least, put it over parking lots. By doing that, it will stop converting light into heat (which is what it does) and instead, convert it into electricity.

“Give me one solar company that doesn’t charge $20k for $5k of panels installed. They all do that. That is the bulk of the cost, installation and permits.”

Yes, and that’s because the formerly high cost of solar panels has fallen so far that now installation costs exceed the cost of the panels. Trying to spin that as “a bad thing” seems pretty warped to me, if not downright perverse!

I don’t see why any reasonable person would call that “fraud”. The per-hour cost of labor to install the things on your roof doesn’t drop like a rock just because the price of what they’re installing has! If there is fraud involved, it must be in the installer padding the expenses for labor, permits, etc.

If the incentive for installing solar power on a home owner’s roof was based on the costs of nothing but the panels and frames, then the reimbursement amount would have dropped significantly over time, making it harder and harder for any home owner to justify paying for the install. Is that what we want? I think some people have not thought this through!

It is the Koch’s ALEC laws that have been spread around the country like a cancer.
Wide spread solar power threatens them directly.

well, you are totally full of it.
What does subsidies on solar on buildings have to do with removing net metering? Absolutely NOTHING.
I have to laugh at the idea that these 2 things are related in any form or fashion.

Secondly, how was SC ripping us off? The subsidy was there. They used it, AS IT WAS DESIGNED. How is this ripping us off?
They now have the largest installation company in America AND are the only installation company that has it all the way back to the cells/panels. As such, they have some of the lowest costs going, which was the entire idea of these subsidies.
So, what issues do you have with them that you have to lie like trump?

Someday when this type of product is cheap enough, I’ll go solar. I like it and it is the best solution, but the price tag on the roof for this house is ridiculous! By the time it’s paid off, the solar panels will need replacing.

If you talk about the product in the article then these are called solar tiles and are a bit too expensive. Solar panels got so cheap that in CA the payoff is now under 5 years for a 30+ year system….RIDICULOUS!

Payback is that quick because:
A) net metering is an artificial construct
B) people with net metered solar pay far less than others to pay for the grid, despite still using it regularly
C) California has a tiered price scheme to encourage conservation and lower cost for the poor (who use less energy per capita).

Californian grid operators pay under 4c per kWh on average to generators for their power. Everything beyond that on your bill is grid cost: transmission, distribution, maintenance, customer service, billing, subsidies for the poor, etc. Unless you’re 100% off grid, you contribute to those costs, which amount to over 70% of what people pay for electricity.

Net metering is an unsustainable sham of a system.

Also why do you think they will need replacing? My pv system will still hold over 80% of original capacity at the 30 year mark. My guess is you’re just not knowledgeable enough on the subject…

THe way to look at this is NOT if you have a shingle home.
This really needs to be on new middle-upper end homes, not low-end shingles.
So, think of this as replacing tiles, since this roofing is actually CHEAPER than tiles, and costs about the same as metal.

When are they going to be available in Canada?

My next roof will be a Mighty T Solar roof. Very nice.

I can’t be the only one that doesn’t like the shiny roof. The ones that will supposedly come out next year I think will look a lot nicer.

That said it does look cleaner than the usual PV system but it’s not like they bother me either. I am not often staring at my or my neighbors roof…

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

“That said it does look cleaner than the usual PV system but it’s not like they bother me either. I am not often staring at my or my neighbors roof…”

Same here. I don’t hive a sh|t what my neighbors roof looks like with solar. If I went solar, there’s no way the Tesla tiles will even be considered as I’ll need to re-roof for them! I’ll take the less expensive panels.

The Tesla Solar Roof tiles are definitely for those with more dollars than sense! This product is aimed at an exclusive high-end niche market, not at Joe Average.

I think there should be a cap on any incentive. If Mr. Moneybags wants to put high-end Tesla solar tiles on his roof, then let him pay for most of that cost himself. He shouldn’t benefit from our tax money at any higher rate (on a per square foot basis) than someone doing a normal solar power install using the cheap solar panels that are no being used for most installs.

When you have high risk investments such as new technologies, rich folks can afford to take the loss.

Middle class folks could not afford to risk 20x their annual electric bill to save 10-20% on their electric bill.

Most early adopters did not even get their money back ever.

The more constraints you put on subsidies the more you slow the adoption down. Adoption is what drives the price down.

All the subsidies paid are already reaping huge rewards by driving down solar costs!

Wow! Twenty installers for a roof! No wonder it costs so much.

It might make sense only if it’s a newly built house. The initial investment is too high to justify the return. Unless you don’t ever move again.

Dan, with interest charges on the additional $10k’s of cost it gets even worse.

Again, if Residential solar undercuts commercial solar from your utility, that disproves your argument.

The premise is stated in this discussion that central electrical generation is cost effective and that we have plenty of farmland and we are paying farmers not to grow crops. So let us put solar panels in faraway places not on rooftops.

New Jersey has about 10% of its farmland remaining. I do not think there are a lot of farmers being paid not to grow crops there. As far as centralized electrical generation being cheaper that ignores line losses which are greatest during hot months when solar generates the most. As a person who has worked on three-phase 480 volt circuits and monitored the conditions year round it should be known that line losses soar and power quality suffers during the hot months. Rooftop solar will correct this. No amount of centralized generation ever will. Real-world understanding of the US electrical grid supports solar on rooftops. Political behavior does not.

How are these solar PV shingles wired? Do they use a single central inverter, or small inverters for groups of shingles?