The installations are exciting to see, as they show that the product is real and that Tesla is testing the waters with its product in low volumes with customers near its factory in Fremont, California. Additionally, it’s fun because we get our first real look into the installation process and the final product itself.
First off, we can see from a pic from Twitter user @Toblerhaus that the roof tiles themselves come in blocks of a few tiles. This was mentioned earlier, with the rationale being that it helps to streamline the physical installation and wiring while also reducing the possible points of failure from a wiring or roof leakage standpoint.
The photo below shows an overhead shot of a Tesla Solar Roof mid-install. The solar roof tiles are boxed in blocks of 1 meter (3 feet). Up on the roof, the wiring is tucked into the supports under the roof tiles for protection from the water and sun.
Twitterer @triduchuynh shot out photos of the initial teardown by the roofing crew with pics three weeks later of the finished install. He mentioned that his home was selected by Tesla due to its close proximity to Tesla’s factory and its simple roof configuration, making for a less challenging installation.
Much like with the Model 3 launch, Tesla is clearly picking and choosing simpler configurations for the earlier installations of its Solar Roof Tiles to get crews up to speed. Having created a completely new product that’s a hybrid of roofing and solar, it’s exciting to see Tesla taking one of its many tech babies out into the real world for the first time. Perhaps more than that, it’s fantastic to see people getting excited about solar. Thanks for that, Tesla.
Built on a Firm Foundation
Tesla’s solar legos come with a mind-boggling lifetime warranty that ensures their physical integrity for the life of the home or infinity, whichever comes first (in typical Tesla fashion). To this end, the first installations reveal the underlayment that Tesla is mounting under the panels that gives them the confidence that the roof will indeed stand up to decades or even centuries of wear and tear.
The new installation photos reveal that Tesla’s installers laid a foundation of water barrier to keep the water out topped by a new wood structure to hold the water barrier down while also giving the solar roof tile building blocks a place to mount. The Titanium PSU 30 underlayment comes with a limited lifetime warranty of its own and, per the manufacturer, provides a robust rubberized asphalt barrier against water intrusion.
Bundled with Powerwall
All of the installs we found bundled the Solar Roof Tiles with Tesla’s Powerwall residential energy storage product, with one home featuring 3 of the massive 14 kWh units. That’s enough for the average American home to run off the grid for 3½ days without changing habits or even using energy produced by the solar panels.
One customer also commented that the Tesla installers were “amazing” to work with and that the Solar Roof Tiles were available faster than the Model 3. That’s no surprise considering how much more difficult it is to set up an entirely new battery assembly plant, supply chain, vehicle manufacturing lines, etc. compared to trialling a new style of solar collector at a small number of installations (which happened to include this home). Having said that, Tesla’s Solar Roof Tiles do seem to offer significant value to the customer with only a minimal visual footprint. Some might even say the Solar Roof Tiles are an aesthetic improvement compared to traditional roofing products — I know I like them better!
The Finished Product
The homes getting Tesla’s Solar Roof Tiles are paving the way for Tesla’s forecasted production ramp-up for the first two roof tile options. The launch of the third and fourth styles of roof tiles comes a bit later. Tesla’s textured, Tuscan, and slate tiles offer a look similar to traditional roofing products, while Tesla’s smooth glass tiles offer a more modern, sleek look than traditional roofing products — and will surely become a fixture in modern and postmodern homes in the years to come.
Jumping inside the home after the install, customers were eager to share the new intelligent energy-monitoring capabilities that come bundled with the products. Tesla’s smartphone app allows users to view solar energy production, consumption, and energy flow from the various sources and consumption units. For owners with a Tesla vehicle, Powerwall, and roof tiles, the flow of energy from all of these units is displayed and can be parsed out depending on the user’s preference.
The historicised display of energy production and consumption by source is a powerful tool, even at this macro level, to help users understand what appliances are drinking energy compared to how much power the solar panels are producing. The power of data is magnified when it is translated through simple charts.