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Time for Tesla to Show Some Proof for the Roof

Tesla’s solar business got some shine last week when the company reported an increase in deployments and the launch of a new version of its solar roof. 

“So all in all, the roadmap for energy products from solar, Solar Roof, Powerwall to Megapack is super exciting, and I expect Tesla Energy to become a larger part of our overall ecosystem as we leverage and integrate the same competencies from our vehicle business,” Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn said on the company’s Q3 earnings call. “The future is pretty exciting for Tesla Energy.”

Tesla said solar deployments rose by almost 50% over the previous quarter, and energy storage deployments, which include Powerwalls and Powerpacks, grew by 15% to an all-time high of 477 megawatt hours.

The next day, Tesla announced details of the third version of its solar roof tiles. Tesla has designed the solar roof tiles to look just like traditional roofs, only the connected panels are able to generate power. Tesla updated its website last week to include new pricing for the product, which estimates the cost of installation for a 10 kW system for a 2,000 square-foot home at $42,500, or $33,950 after $8,550 in federal tax incentives. 

The company combines solar and non-solar tiles made with tempered glass, which it says are more than three times stronger than standard roofing tiles. Tesla says it will begin installations in the coming weeks and expects to ramp production to as many as 1,000 new roofs per week within “several months.”

On a call announcing the new version of the roof, Chief Executive Elon Musk said the intent behind the product is to “make roofs come alive.”  He said in the future it will be odd for roofs to not gather energy. And he imagined a scenario 20 years out where you can “look around a neighborhood and the roofs are all gathering energy and doing something useful.”

That said, Musk said the product doesn’t make financial sense for somebody who has a relatively new roof, because “this is itself a roof, that has integrated solar power generation.” Still, the price point is “less than what the average roof costs, plus the solar panels.” 

The solar roof is certainly an interesting idea, but it’s been slow to come to reality. The product was announced in 2016 at an event held at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. Musk stood on a stage built outside one of the Desperate Housewives‘ homes that had been topped with a non-operational version of the solar tiles. A silver Tesla Model 3 was parked in the driveway as a prop to show the roof turned sunlight into energy to power the electric vehicle. Musk talked about the beauty of the “French slate” and “Tuscan” style tiles. Then we didn’t hear much about the solar roof product until CNBC reported two years later that Tesla still hadn’t performed many actual installations. 

Tesla admitted that the product had not received full attention. At the time, the company was trying to catch up from its Model 3 production woes, which “really stripped resources from solar for a year or a year-and-a-half,” Musk said at a shareholder meeting in June 2018. But, with Model 3 production going well, Tesla was able to give more attention to the solar roof. 

“We plan to ramp up the production of Solar Roof with significantly improved manufacturing capabilities during 2019, based on the design iterations and testing underway,” Tesla said in its Q4 2018 earnings report. “In the meantime, we are continuing to install Solar Roofs at a slow pace to gather further learnings from our design changes, as well as about the viability of our installation processes by implementing them in areas around the U.S. that are experiencing inclement weather.”

Still, Tesla said it’s just now getting the product right. 

“Version 1 and 2 we were still sort of figuring things out,” Musk said on the Q3 earnings call. “Version 3, I think, is finally ready for the big time. And so we’re scaling up production of the Version 3 solar tower roof at our buffalo Gigafactory. And I think this product is going to be incredible.”

Part of the complexity around the solar roof product is efficient installation. That’s a big piece of the puzzle that Tesla says it has solved. Musk said the goal is to install the solar roof even faster than a traditional roof. The company is currently hiring and training installers, and will likely partner with third-party contractors in the future. 

“We’re taking it from where the solar industry would often be three visits before the solar was installed and would often take a lot of time to do the installation,” Musk said on the Q3 earnings call. “But we’ve streamlined all of that to the point where in many cases it’s a single visit to do everything, and it’s fast, minimized disruption to the homeowner. And ordering solar is literally one click. You can order solar for you house in less than one minute.”

Another interesting recent announcement from Tesla’s Energy division was the August launch of a rental service for its solar panel business.

Tesla will offer three rental systems: 3.8 kW for $65 per month, 7.6 kW for $130 per month, and 11.4 kW for $195 per month. 

Tesla estimates that the 3.8 kW system will save homeowners $250–650 per year after paying the monthly rental fee. The 7.6 kW system is estimated to save $500 to $1,300 and the 11.4 kW system is estimated to save $750 to $1,950 per month.

“So, it’s kind of a no-brainer,” Musk said on the Q3 earnings call. “ It’s really, do you want something that prints money? And if it doesn’t print money, we’ll fix it or take it back. It’s kind of a no-brainer. And it sort of plays into Tesla’s overarching strategy here which is effectively to become a giant distributor global utility.”

So, it seems important that the V3 Solar Roof delivers on the promise made in the Housewives’ yard. And, Tesla seems confident that its solar products are going to be a huge part of its overall business. 

“Well, I think, on a percentage basis, Solar will grow the fastest, but storage will also grow higher on a percentage basis,” Musk said. “I think both over time will grow faster than automotive. They’re starting from a smaller base. I think, especially if you look at sort of — if you look at like year-over-year growth, it will be absolutely incredible, I think. From one quarter to the next, there might be some fluctuations due to seasonality or some short-term parts shortage or you name it, but over the course of, say, a year, gigantic increase.”

GenSao

Member
Aug 3, 2017
550
938
Pleasant Hill, CA
Good article.

I would add the timeline for installations. Per the Tesla Solar Roof FAQ:

We are first installing Solar Roof in the US and then will expand internationally. Below is when you can expect Solar Roof to come to your state.

November 2019
  • Installs in California commence
December 2019
  • Expansion to Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Hawaii and Florida
2020
  • Expansion to additional states
Tesla will coordinate the entire Solar Roof process, including initial design, removal of your current roof, installation of your new Solar Roof, permitting and ongoing support.
 
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hill

Active Member
Apr 21, 2015
1,322
678
Lake Forest, CA
Oh - boy
A "Musk" time line ..... let me get my check book ....
i wonder . . . which time lune will be shorter ... the start of 'real' autopilot' 1st discussed nearly 3yrs ago (yet AP2 was not even REMOTELY on par w/AP1 - when it was released in 2016)? ... or the length of time it took for the SC to admit our ½shaft shudder was not normal .... vs the time to actually get it fixed.
pass.
:rolleyes:
.
 

Windbourne

Member
Oct 12, 2017
8
3
80126
Good article.

I would add the timeline for installations. Per the Tesla Solar Roof FAQ:

Have to say that we currently have a leased 10 KW Solar City/Tesla system from 2015.
Hopefully upon the next hail storm, if our house loses our roof (we are overdue; we have lost 2 over the last 10 years),
we will try to switch to Tesla roof.
Seems to be the smart way to go.
If not, then a metal roof with the panels.
 

radami1

Member
Aug 5, 2015
19
5
United States
I had to have a new roof installed last summer. I also signed up with Tesla for solar panels and powerwall. I wanted to wait for the solar roof but a tree in front of my house had different ideas. It fell on my 26yo roof and punched half a dozen holes in it. I had to move to get the roof done and the panels are getting done next week.

I just priced the solar roof and it came out to 10k over the job with the panels and the power wall. The amount of energy estimated for the solar roof comes out to 2.3x my estimated annual production for the panels I'm getting. The powerwall is 3x what I'm getting so it's a much better system than what I am getting done and I think it's probably worth it for the quality and the wider margin of usage.

I really wish I could have waited. Same feeling I get with the model S I've already bought and the model 3. If I waited for my 4yo model S I could have gotten 370 miles range instead of 270 at the same price and If I had waited for my 1yo model 3 I could have paid 10k less for the same config. Of course on the mod3 it was just my own impetuousness that forced my move as I really didn't need the second Tesla.

Elon is always a day late and leaving me a dollar short.
 

Big Earl

bnkwupt
Jul 12, 2017
5,543
10,245
Springfield, VA
I had to have a new roof installed last summer. I also signed up with Tesla for solar panels and powerwall. I wanted to wait for the solar roof but a tree in front of my house had different ideas. It fell on my 26yo roof and punched half a dozen holes in it. I had to move to get the roof done and the panels are getting done next week.

I just priced the solar roof and it came out to 10k over the job with the panels and the power wall. The amount of energy estimated for the solar roof comes out to 2.3x my estimated annual production for the panels I'm getting. The powerwall is 3x what I'm getting so it's a much better system than what I am getting done and I think it's probably worth it for the quality and the wider margin of usage.

I really wish I could have waited. Same feeling I get with the model S I've already bought and the model 3. If I waited for my 4yo model S I could have gotten 370 miles range instead of 270 at the same price and If I had waited for my 1yo model 3 I could have paid 10k less for the same config. Of course on the mod3 it was just my own impetuousness that forced my move as I really didn't need the second Tesla.

Elon is always a day late and leaving me a dollar short.

Maybe learn from your mistakes and just keep waiting for the next greatest thing. Unfortunately, that results in you having nothing as the pace of innovation is rapid and relentless.
 
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PedroUCF

New Member
Jun 7, 2019
2
0
New Jersey
This summer I got a quote for a Tesla Solar Roof. They said is was supposed to be the V3 tiles. The quote was around $165K for around 8 kw of power and 2 Powerwalls. My roof is over 4000 sqft with many different roof planes, but still. The 8kw was less than half of the project use for my house. I don't know what happened between last summer and this fall, but I'm glad the price was so out of whack that I couldn't even entertain the idea of "going for it." Now I had my roof replaced and standard panels on the way (not Tesla.) I why the cost was sooo high.
 

Big Earl

bnkwupt
Jul 12, 2017
5,543
10,245
Springfield, VA
This summer I got a quote for a Tesla Solar Roof. They said is was supposed to be the V3 tiles. The quote was around $165K for around 8 kw of power and 2 Powerwalls. My roof is over 4000 sqft with many different roof planes, but still. The 8kw was less than half of the project use for my house. I don't know what happened between last summer and this fall, but I'm glad the price was so out of whack that I couldn't even entertain the idea of "going for it." Now I had my roof replaced and standard panels on the way (not Tesla.) I why the cost was sooo high.

8 kW? That's it? Tesla's site is currently listing the default installation as 10 to 15 kW depending on what address I put in. It might be worth getting a fresh quote from Tesla.