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master steward
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This came in my inbox this morning.

Tesla to start taking solar roof orders next month (april 2017)



Tesla CEO Elon Musk is continuing in his quest to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy by announcing via Twitter on Friday that the electric carmaker and clean energy storage company will start taking orders for its solar roof shingles in April. The solar roof shingle product will be offered by Tesla’s SolarCity division. Tesla acquired the solar panel maker last November.



I've been watching this with keen interest as we may be building a new outbuilding this fall and I want it to be 100% off grid in preparation for the house going off grid.  I doubt these will get to Canada in time, especially since we have some hidden taxes or something on solar power products which can make them two to four times as expencive here as in the US. 

Here's an article saying these roofs may be cheeper than regular roofs

Direct link to Tesla's page about these solar roof tiles

 
pollinator
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Mmmm colour me skeptic on this one
I remember seeing roof tiles that doubled as solar panels in Disney world Florida in the 1980s so the idea is not new . Mr Elrons  products seem flash and pricy to me . I would stick with regular panels
 
pollinator
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Elon Musk is obviously well intentioned and deserves praise for being a well off guy actually trying to change things for the better in various ways. However the video below raises a lot of very good points about potential issues with the idea in a seemingly fair and balanced way:
 
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https://www.google.ca/amp/s/www.greentechmedia.com/amp/article/the-economics-of-teslas-solar-roof

That's the fairest review I've read about them  based on the best case scenarios.  There is a near complete lack of hard numbers as yet including durability or true cost  so the article has to make a lot of guesses.  From someone who has spent 20 years building and now works in solar they look like a nightmare of overcomplexity, cost, and failure points.  Now imagine a roof penetration every tile assembly on a roof that gets covered in the snow and ice of a canadian winter. Currently a conventional panel is going for $1 a watt canadian.  Installed on a roof for $3 a watt.  Never been cheaper and at this point you are paying for the glass and the shipping...
Best regards  David
 
r ranson
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It seems like we lack the numbers.  There's a lot of conjecture out there on how these tiles will work, but none of them have the actual data from the tiles themselves.  Tesla seems to be keeping those cards very close to their chest.  I'm really curious what these will be like.

If they manage to price these as the same or less than a regular roof, then I can see this being a big thing in urban environment.  It has the opportunity to bring solar energy to people who wouldn't otherwise choose it.  That's a big thing in my book.  I'm excited to see these tiles in action and hear first-hand reports of how they work (or don't work). 
 
David Baillie
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As to pricing: on most gear our pricing is right in line with the states once you factor in hst, exchange rate and extra shipping to a small market.  I know because I'm in Ontario and we quote the stuff out all the time.  If I was building a building in our climate today I would put on an industrial steel roof and use the standard racking system developed for it.  The panels and roof would wear at the same rate and last 40 years.  Available right now with a 30 year proven track record installed for less then $3 a watt.  The Tesla tiles are aimed at that southern California Spanish tIle roof mandated by many town councils.  Maybe more user friendly models will emerge but for now... No
Best regards, David
 
r ranson
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I'm going to keep a wait and see attitude.

Tesla has some interesting ideas and they are smart about where they put their money.  I wonder if they have something up their sleeve.  Or maybe this will be a big flop.  Either way, I'm excited that a big company is taking steps to make solar more accessible and acceptable to the masses. 
 
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Musk says that the installed cost takes into account the roof as well as the power generated over the life of the roof - a fair approach but a bigger up front outlay than some might be thinking.
 
David Baillie
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Fair enough. I hope it works out as well.  Solar is growing fast.  Many new ideas every week it seems.  Many will pan out .
Best regards, David
 
David Livingston
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I thought about this some more . If you say 500 of these tiles thats 500+ connections to go wrong as opposed to less than a dozen on convention panels I guess . Plus in a high wind how heavy are they will they move about ?

David
 
David Baillie
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If you read that article it goes over the likely architecture.  From an installer point of view it would be a lot of extra labour.  Tesla is equating it to the cost and labour of intalling a traditional tile roof.  They have  a flat shingle version as well.  What worries me is repair and replacement.  Currently I can loosen 4 nuts and lift 250 watts worth of array diagnose and change an optimizer or micro inverter and reinstall in very little time.  They will have to create electrical runs under the assemblies or penetrate the roof  much more often.  The NEC is going to love that! I'm really not a naysayer I just have to approach from the point of view of someone who will have to work with it. As such I've had to invest more time then most thinking about it.
Best regards, David
 
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Tesla, with another unobtainium device. Electric shingles are just not a good idea. Uni- solar had them 20-25 years ago. That was a real product that was installed in the real world and is not done anymore for good reason. At 136 or so watts each, even the traditional peel and stick uni solar modules were kindof alot of wiring, especially before connectors came on them.

Still, its hard to beat the aesthetic and durability of stick on solar between standing seams of metal roofing if you must have solar equipment that looks like a roof...
unless you need max power density, possible relocation or want max lifespan and or simply prefer a rigid module. I fly mine pitched and ugly!
 
r ranson
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What I would love to see are metal roofs that are also solar panels.

Metal roofs are all the rage in my neighbourhood with about half the houses and barns now having metal roofs.  This number goes up as about 2 out of every 3 new roofs are metal.  That's their plan for this barn, put a metal roof on it because it's good for harvesting the water and summer dew, doesn't need much maintenance and lasts a long time.  It seems perfect for our weather.  Put a steep enough pitch and the snow slides right off it on those years when we do have snow (every 7th year or thereabouts). 

So we put the roof on it and then we put the solar panels on it. 

It would be so much nicer if the roof was the solar panels. 

Metal roofs come in big sections.  Would making these sections solar reduce a lot of the problems that come with Tesla's tiles?
 
David Livingston
pollinator
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In short Yes

David
 
r ranson
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David Livingston wrote:In short Yes

David



Do they exist yet?
 
frank li
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Here is an interesting link. There is a cool metal roof detail with pv between standing seams and thermal hydronic tubes underneath!

http://www.metalroofing.systems/solar-pv-metal-roofing-guide/

There are metal roofing companies that apply amorphous pv modules to standing seam roofing panels, in effect rpv that is the roof.

Uni-Solar was great, you can still get them. I think lightway solar makes imports now.
 
r ranson
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Apparently they are starting taking orders today

Here's the order page.  It has several different countries including Canada. 

I can't figure out the pricing.

I'm still very interested in this as we will need a new roof on our house in about 10 years and at that time we want to go semi to completely off grid. 10 years ought to be long enough to see if this system works or not.

I'm also still thinking about the barn and how we can make it as our practice off-grid structure (if the barn ever happens).  What we can learn from the barn, we can apply to the house when it's time to renovate it.
 
Phil Gardener
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Does it seem strange that Tesla's on-line estimator does not ask the orientation or pitch of the roof?
 
frank li
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No suprise. They just want to cover your roof with product. Shingles are about tacky in my opinion anyway, now walls sided in that stone looking tuscan....

If you go through the motions with them and show them some money or credit, i would hope they will do some sizing and design. They did say 'based on roof area' .

I remain sceptical that this will be affordable for most. It is high end architectural....

The system system is probably riddled with all kinds code to make it unusable under certain circumstances and non repairable/installable by anyone other than their techs or computer server. Prety "smart"
 
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This is what Tesla tries to do, though.  They produce a vanity project for a high price and proof-of-concept and then they leverage that experience to produce more economically feasible versions.  Once the Model 3 comes out we will have some idea if the concept can work.

As far as roof penetrations go, I assumed that each tile would lock into another creating the circuit in the tiles themselves, minimizing the need for roof penetrations, and that tiles would then be connected to sensors, or the circuit would have diagnostic software, that could tell where in that circuit had problems.  Is that not the way that they work?  I guess we don't know yet.
 
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Here in the UK we have pretty strict conservation laws that prohibit putting standard solar panels on many roofs. The slate shingles might be a viable work around for it.  I don't think anyone claims they will be cheaper or easier than great big solar units mounted on the roof; they just have better aesthetics, for where that is the deciding factor.
 
pollinator
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Tesla announced this week that the shingles will have a warranty for...infinity...basically, as long as your house is upright.  That, of course, assumes Tesla will be a going concern, but that's true for anyone issuing a warranty.  I'm looking at building in 3-5 years.  By then, we should have a good sense of how well they are working.  I will seriously consider them.  I want to know how they handle serious, ongoing rain as a functional roof. 

 
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These solar roofs aren't cheaper than regular roofs, according to RoofingCalc.com these roofs can easily cost well over $50,000 here is the article explaining Tesla solar roof pricing from the horse's mouth: https://www.roofingcalc.com/tesla-releases-price-new-solar-roof/
 
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It probably would be more viable in California with our solar incentives.  Plus building is so expensive here anyway, and our tight housing market would make a solar roof almost non-consequential in terms of cost. Solar has become the norm, but unfortunately it's not for off-grid reasons.  Everyone with solar is grid tied in my area and most installers will not deal with the disconnect switches required to charge a battery bank.  So owners are still SOL if the grid is down.

Frankly I'm more interested in Tesla's battery bank development.  I will be re-roofing sometime in the future so this will be interesting to watch.
 
pollinator
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Hi all.

Personally, I love this idea, but I have also had some of the concerns voiced in this thread.

I would be much more comfortable with a solar roofing system that came in 4'x8' panels, with modular post fittings that were also the electrical connectors. I would love to see something engineered such that a malfunctioning panel was easy to diagnose, remove and swap out with another, while the malfunction was fixed and the panel set aside for the next malfunction.

And if you needed to ship your 4'x8' panel off to Tesla or wherever, or to take it in to a dealership for service, so be it. I think it's much more important that this sort of thing be designed for disassembly and repair rather than planned obsolescence.

I am also interested in the possibility of increased clean rainwater and dew capture from off of glass tiles. I doubt the quality would be any better than off of, say, a steel roof with a baked enamel coating, but stacking functions is a permacultural passtime. Roof cladding, electricity generation, and water capture? The execution is necessarily tricky, but that sounds like permaculture to me.

-CK
 
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Gee that tile looks kinda tacky.

Think I would rather go with these -- https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/im-getting-my-roof-redone-and-heard-about-solar-shingles/
 
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Chris Kott wrote:I would be much more comfortable with a solar roofing system that came in 4'x8' panels


That opposes one of the design requirements of this product - to make the panel essentially invisible from street level. In the presentation, Musk says (going from memory now) that many Home Owner Associations do not allow solar panels on roofs because they look "ugly" (complete madness if you ask me!). These tiles are designed to defeat that problem.

Chris Kott wrote:And if you needed to ship your 4'x8' panel off to Tesla or wherever, or to take it in to a dealership for service, so be it. I think it's much more important that this sort of thing be designed for disassembly and repair rather than planned obsolescence.


I believe these panels are designed to last the lifetime of the roof - 30 years or so.
 
Chris Kott
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Oh, I know why they were designed as they are. I think that a non-shingle approach is mechanically better, from the roofing and power generation standpoint. Also, that particular aesthetic doesn't speak to me as much as, say, that of a baked enamel steel roof.

I am really glad that this type of product is on the market, as it has been for years to one degree or another, and that Tesla has taken up the torch, as, whether they succeed or fail, they are bringing a lot of attention to a very practical type of function stacking.

-CK
 
Matt Coston
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Matt Coston
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Chris Kott wrote:I think that a non-shingle approach is mechanically better, from the roofing and power generation standpoint.


Yeah I agree that if you can install the large "traditional" solar panels, you should. This product is for people that can't do that.
 
Chris Kott
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Yes, I also understand the target market audience.

I am not talking about the large solar panels on mounting brackets on top of conventional roofs of any description.

I was suggesting a solar roof in the same vein as the Tesla solar roof, but made of 4'x8' sheets instead of tiles, integrating all the panel electronics into these modular sheets, such that an oversized pin and socket arrangement along the panel edges would serve to lock the panels together both structurally and electrically.

I think that catering to HOA sensibilities has limited a lot of the permacultural potential of Tesla's product.

They look pretty, though.

-CK
 
Matt Coston
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Chris Kott wrote:I think that catering to HOA sensibilities has limited a lot of the permacultural potential of Tesla's product.


Yeah I'd agree with that. There probably is a market for a less "pretty" but less expensive and higher performance (regarding power) product.
 
frank li
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Matt Coston wrote:

john mcginnis wrote:Gee that tile looks kinda tacky.


You think this looks tacky?
https://www.tesla.com/tesla_theme/assets/img/energy/solar/T-Sroof-Tuscan@2x.jpg
https://www.tesla.com/tesla_theme/assets/img/energy/solar/T-Sroof-Slate@2x.jpg
https://www.tesla.com/tesla_theme/assets/img/energy/solar/T-Sroof-TexturedGlass@2x.jpg
I guess there's no pleasing some people



Composite shingles, are a waste and shed horrible junk. There is fiberglass in the air in the most remotely located regions on the planet, it rains fiberglass.

Almost any other roofing material is better. I also do not get the desire to have so many pieces, solar or roofing.

Shingles are tacky in general, in my opinion, but can be done tastefully, not composite though, its like that faux stone, tacky  in my opinion, because most material and installations do not pull off the simulation well. Then i would touch it and yup, feels cheap... tacky. Like vinyl stickers on particle board that looks like wood.

One thing some of the tesla shingle do well, is simulate premium roofing. As long as is long lived and does not shed gick.

And no, there is no pleasing most people!
 
David Baillie
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Dado Scooter wrote:It probably would be more viable in California with our solar incentives.  Plus building is so expensive here anyway, and our tight housing market would make a solar roof almost non-consequential in terms of cost. Solar has become the norm, but unfortunately it's not for off-grid reasons.  Everyone with solar is grid tied in my area and most installers will not deal with the disconnect switches required to charge a battery bank.  So owners are still SOL if the grid is down.

Frankly I'm more interested in Tesla's battery bank development.  I will be re-roofing sometime in the future so this will be interesting to watch.


You want to Google "ac coupling" in regards to using your net metered system during a blackout. Basically it's a second battery based inverter that can generate the ac signal required to make the normally grid connected panels provide power. It's a work around and costs you efficiency but they are getting more and more strict about high voltage dc strings on roofs. We don't even use central inverters for roofs anymore and have switched completely to micro inverters to bypass all the rapid shut down requirements. High voltage dc it a tricky thing.
 
David Baillie
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Chris Kott wrote:Hi all.

Personally, I love this idea, but I have also had some of the concerns voiced in this thread.

I would be much more comfortable with a solar roofing system that came in 4'x8' panels, with modular post fittings that were also the electrical connectors. I would love to see something engineered such that a malfunctioning panel was easy to diagnose, remove and swap out with another, while the malfunction was fixed and the panel set aside for the next malfunction.

And if you needed to ship your 4'x8' panel off to Tesla or wherever, or to take it in to a dealership for service, so be it. I think it's much more important that this sort of thing be designed for disassembly and repair rather than planned obsolescence.

I am also interested in the possibility of increased clean rainwater and dew capture from off of glass tiles. I doubt the quality would be any better than off of, say, a steel roof with a baked enamel coating, but stacking functions is a permacultural passtime. Roof cladding, electricity generation, and water capture? The execution is necessarily tricky, but that sounds like permaculture to me.

-CK

the replaceable panel is basically what we have now. A 72 cell panel is 40 inch by 78 in unit not 48 by 96 but about the limit for tempered glass. If you throw a micro inverter behind each one or an optimizer you can monitor them at a panel by panel level. The racking provides the air space needed so the things don't cook and loose efficiency. Most of the water flows right over our panels so could easily be caught by a standard eavestrough system. My personal opinion is there is a small market for the tesla tiles. There is already 3 flush mount systems on the market now which make the panels dissappear.  Give solar a decade and you will be able to custom order entire array sections and have them craned into place perfectly matching the underlying roof flashed at the edges so no rails show through. Then don't forget that the building industry is already adapting. The age of the intersecting roof is over as energy rates climb. If it has a southern face it will be designed optimised for solar. All opinions and musings...
David
 
pollinator
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If you are actually thinking about going solar, there are better & cheaper solutions.

Standard solar panels are much cheaper per watt than solar shingles and if raised up enough off the roof, they result in a cooler roof surface that lasts longer.  I would recommend a metal roof with standard panels, it will likely outlive you and will cost significantly less to install than solar shingles.
 
Dado Scooter
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Some utilities used to not allow battery backup with a grid tie array.  I don't believe a solar array is high voltage at 12-24 volts... it has to be over 600 volts to be high voltage.  I have heard of people really having a hard time finding solar companies that want to do a battery backup array in our area.   Probably further out it in the boondocks it would be easier.  I bet with Tesla entering the market with the Powerwall, and Solar City being a subsidiary of Tesla, this will eventually shift.  I am definitely interested in seeing how the Powerwall does in the market.  Right now the ROI isn't that great for me for anything solar because I have a low energy bill. 

It's a more of a prepper thought for me to have a solar array with battery backup, but this could probably be achieved very easily if I DIY without grid tie.  I have very little HVAC load living in such a temperate climate.  Even with the typical summer days in the 90's-100's(F) the AC rarely kicks in.  I just open the windows at night when the marine layer rolls in the 50's and close windows and shades during the day.  Rarely freezes.  I use the central heat even though I have a wood stovewood stove doesn't do much for heating the whole house so I rarely use it.  At least I have it in case of grid failure.
 
Dado Scooter
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As a side note regarding Tesla, one of my elderly horsey friends bought one of the first runs of Teslas.  His wife got another Tesla for herself, and we got a light and sound show from it complete with gull wing lifts at the Christmas party.  They live in Menlo Park, the home of the first Tesla dealership.
 
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I'm guilty of succumbing to the hype, and finding Tesla products very sexy.  I've had my eye on these roof tiles for awhile, and love those cars, too.  I know pretty much NOTHING about going solar, so please forgive me for betraying my ignorance in this post.  But, GEEZ, a lot of these responses, if Elon were the OP, seem like they don't fit with Paul's Publishing Standards!  So much negativity!  So many reasons why it won't work...didn't work in the past, therefore won't work in the future...doesn't leave room for someone to solve those problems!  Or, does it?  Thankfully, there are lots of people out there who don't have time to listen to the negativity because they've got their noses to the grindstone, and they're "GETTIN' 'ER DONE!"

Check out these articles:

http://www.newsweek.com/fossil-fuels-transparent-solar-panels-harvest-energy-windows-msu-691308

http://news.mit.edu/2017/mit-researchers-develop-graphene-based-transparent-flexible-solar-cells-0728

I was reading a book on exponential technologies recently.  I wasn't familiar with the concept, so in case anyone reading this is in the same boat, here's the perfect example to illustrate the concept: the computer.  Size is decreasing, and cost and speed are increasing at an exponential rate.  Consider the size of a computer in the 1950's-it fit in a building.  1970's-it fit in a room.  1980's-PCs were on our desks.  2000's-on our laps.  Today-on our wrist.  Cost?  Who could afford a computer in the 1950's?  Now, how many people have a smart phone?  Speed/computing power (not sure these are exactly the same thing)?  My book says that the 2016 iPad Mini had 50,000 times more computing power than the 1986 space shuttle.

Also from my book: Moore's Law, "created by Intel cofounder Gordon Moore in 1966: A computer's speed doubles and its price drops by one-half every 24 months.  It's since been updated to reflect actual results over the past 50-plus years: doubling occurs every 18 months, not 24, and prices drop about 30% every year, not 50% every two years."

The biggest thing I took from the book is that, technologically speaking, we're just entering the exponential part of the curve, called the "knee of the curve," where the line appears to go from horizontal to vertical.  Things are going to get crazy!  So, for myself, I think that if I were to purchase a solar panel system TODAY, I'd go with the cheapest option that produces the desired result.  That way, when the EXPONENTIALLY better technology is on the market, and has had a chance to get EXPONENTIALLY cheaper, which sounds like will be soon (a few years?), I could replace the solar panel system I bought today, and not feel too bad about the fact that I didn't get its full life's worth out of it.

But, if I didn't believe in exponential technologies, or were still ignorant of the concept, and were building my Spanish Colonial-style dream house TODAY, I would definitely install those terra cotta tile lookalike Tesla solar roof tiles!
 
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What is the usable life if the solar tiles? Solar panels and tiles will lose efficiency as time goes by. I think that a tin roof with solar panels is a more viable option and for about half the price. The solar panels will protect the roof so you might extend its life as an extra.
 
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