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My 11.2kW Tesla Solar Project - Portland, OR

pdx_m3s

Active Member
May 18, 2019
1,325
1,160
Portland, OR
I thought I would share my experience, from order to install (still pending as of this post), regarding my Tesla "Large" solar project. This forum has been extremely helpful in navigating the process, which has been anything but "one click from your phone" as Elon likes to see it.

Background:
We decided to move in March of this year and ended up purchasing a blank lot in a residential development. It took the builder about 6 months to go from empty lot to move-in ready house. It's a 2,650 sq. ft. 2-story house. Since this was a semi-custom home and we were starting from a blank lot, we were able to make a number of changes to make a future solar setup better. These included:
- All electric appliances (induction range is like magic!)
- All electric heating and cooling (heat pump HVAC and heat pump water heater)
- In-wall conduit from main panel area to attic under PV roof plane
- Ensured no roof penetrations (beyond ridge vents) for the large west-facing roof plane
- Cat6 ethernet cable from main panel area to low-voltage panel (as well as wiring all the other rooms in the house)

Goal:
The goal is to have a "net-zero" house. While there's an up-front investment, I think that a "green" home will be worth more than a comparable standard home in the future. Consumer awareness and regulation is definitely headed in a particular direction of climate awareness. Plus, given how long we plan to be here, the PV system will have paid for itself after 7-8 years anyways, absent the value increase. If needed, there's room for 12-15 panels on the east-facing roof if we need more production (which may be the case after we replace our other car with a Model Y).

Service review:
Tesla's customer service was very good for most of the process, but there was a notable slow-down after Tesla lowered their pricing. I was generally able to get a hold of my service advisor for most of the process. Having said that, Tesla's attention to detail is mediocre. Just about every document I was sent to sign had errors that I caught and had to have fixed. Make sure to read and review before you sign anything.

If you're a techie and you're will to put on your project management hat, I can comfortably recommend Tesla. But to the uninitiated, I would consider exploring other options. I get the feeling that Tesla is trying to force a very messy process that comes in various shapes and sizes (partly based on jurisdiction) through the same little hole. They may figure it out one day, but they have work to do.

The process:
So here's a run-down of what has transpired over the last few months. This only represents the main steps in the process. There was at least 10-times more emails and phone calls than what is listed below. Install is scheduled for tomorrow.
  • 4/24/2020 Ordered 36 panel "Large" system (11.34 kW)
  • 4/30/2020 Received email from service advisor outlining next steps and forms to complete ("Limited Consumption Form" and "Intake Sheet")
  • 4/30/2020 Sent completed "Limited Consumption Form" and "Intake Sheet" to Tesla, as well as architectual house plans and a mockup of how I want the panels on the house (6x6 W-facing array)
  • 5/4/2020 Received initial Design Document, showing a 6x6 W-facing array
  • 6/2/2020 Site survey completed by Tesla, including roof measurement and confirmation of in-wall conduit routing
  • 6/4/2020 Received updated Design Document, showing an 11x3 W-facing array + 3 S-facing panels, as a result of roof dimension constraints
  • 6/4/2020 Instructed Tesla to leave off the 3 S-facing panels as they would be heavily shaded
  • 6/4/2020 Received updated Design Document, showing just the single 11x3 W-facing array (10.4kW)
  • 6/4/2020 Received "Technical Plans" document outlining the 11x3 array and two SolarEdge 3.8kW inverters
  • 6/4/2020 Requested a single SolarEdge 10kW inverter
  • 6/5/2020 Received Technical Plans document reflecting the single SolarEdge 10kW inverter, but showing that the main 200 amp breaker needed to be de-rated to 175 amps
  • 6/9/2020 Informed Tesla that the 200 amp panel has a 225 amp rated bus-bar and therefor de-rating the main breaker isn't necessary
  • 6/9/2020 Signed utility Interconnection Application
  • 6/17/2020 Received updated Technical Plans showing that leaving the main breaker at 200 amps is OK
  • 6/17/2020 Received confirmation that the permit is pending with my city's permit office
  • 6/22/2020 Spoke with service advisor about new 340W G6+ panels and pricing. Decided to move forward with changing the design to the new panels.
  • 6/26/2020 Received updated Design Document showing new G6+ panels and Contract with updated pricing; new output 11.22kW, nearly the same as original 36-panel Large system with 315W panels
  • 7/7/2020 Received confirmation that my permit was ready at my city's permit office
  • 7/9/2020 Received updated Technical Plans reflecting the updated panels
  • 8/12/2020 Placed utility in my name to get ball rolling on ETO rebate and interconnection application
  • 8/24/2020 Received confirmation from utility that Net Metering application was submitted
  • 8/24/2020 Signed Form 220-R for ETO rebate
  • 8/27/2020 Received notice from utility that Net Metering application was rejected due to errors on the application submission
  • 8/28/2020 Took possession/ownership of the house
  • 9/4/2020 Received confirmation from utility that Net Metering application was re-submitted
  • 9/8/2020 Received notice from Tesla that permit had to be mailed from city permit office to Tesla in order to schedule install
  • 9/16/2020 Received notice to schedule installation; installation scheduled for 11/10 and 11/11
  • 9/17/2020 Received confirmation of ETO rebate approval
  • 9/22/2020 Received confirmation of Net Metering application approval; signed Net Metering agreement with utility
  • 9/24/2020 Received notice that an opening came up for installation to occur the next day, 9/25; fortunately I'm working from home and had the day off, so re-scheduled install for 9/25
And here is the final layout. Originally it was a 6x6 grid with the panels flipped the other direction, but there was not enough length between the ridge vents and the gutter edge. The small roof planes west of the panel array are only for the first floor of the house (kitchen nook bump-out and covered patio) and would therefore be heavily shaded.
layout final.png


System Cost.png


I'll update this thread after installation. We have a 100% chance of rain, which may impact things. Fortunately, I also have Monday penciled in if needed.
 

SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
9,072
9,787
SF Bay Area
Good luck on the install and on the new home! Great roof space there for all those panels. We’ve got our inspection scheduled for 9/30.

Lots of new solar and solar + PWs going in across the country. Not surprised things slowed down CS wise when the new prices went into effect. Our advisor said at one point he had over 500 accounts to manage. Elon said last quarter he wanted Energy to really start to take off this yesr and should be interesting to see how it does this quarter. Do expect some slow down 4th qtr due to weather and maybe covid again but also the PW inventory issue. Assume its more battery constrained than anything else.

How is your area relative to the wildfires? Don’t forget to add the equipment to your homeowner’s policy. Look forward to your next update.
 

pdx_m3s

Active Member
May 18, 2019
1,325
1,160
Portland, OR
All of the panel bases are in and panels are going up. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), that roof plane is completely hidden from all angles so I won’t be able to get any pictures of the array progress.

They are also working on the garage-mounted inverter, disconnect, and backfeed breaker.
 
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jboy210

Supporting Member
Dec 2, 2016
5,102
3,172
Northern California
All of the panel bases are in and panels are going up. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), that roof plane is completely hidden from all angles so I won’t be able to get any pictures of the array progress.

They are also working on the garage-mounted inverter, disconnect, and backfeed breaker.

I guess Portland-based installers have to be OK working in rain.

Also, I prefer out of sight. That is a big reason we went with a SolarRoof.

Congrats on getting the install going.
 
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pdx_m3s

Active Member
May 18, 2019
1,325
1,160
Portland, OR
Just curious, how big was everyone's install team?

There are 5 people working on-site here. 1 electrician, 3 workers on the roof, and 1 supervisor.
 

pdx_m3s

Active Member
May 18, 2019
1,325
1,160
Portland, OR
For my powerwall/solar install I had 2 electricians, 5 or 6 guys on the roof, and 1 foreman.

Right on. You're system is no joke, so it makes sense that you would have more.

The supervisor/foreman here said they just wrapped up a 79-panel installation in my city. :eek: Didn't know Tesla went that big!
 
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pdx_m3s

Active Member
May 18, 2019
1,325
1,160
Portland, OR
Well I'd say it was a successful day. The crew finished everything except the left and right skirt for the panel array because they ran out of it; the 79-panel job down the street used up the stock they had in the truck.

The crew was really happy with how everything turned out and thankful that I made it easy for them with pre-ran conduit and a clean, open roof plane.

The PowerBlaster is in the right-main panel, but it is also connected to the left panel so it picks up usage from both mains. The piece of conduit I had the builder's electrician put between the main panels really came in handy. The Tesla electrician said I made it too easy for him. Only thing they had to "change" was to move a breaker so the backfeed breaker could go on the very last lug of the busbar.

Also not sure if this is the standard Solar Gateway now, but mine appears to be different than what I have seen in previous pictures on this forum.

Here's a few photos of the install. Once I can get a drone in the air, I'll get some pictures of the array.

IMG_4114.JPG

IMG_4113.JPG

IMG_4112.JPG

IMG_4115.jpg
 

wjgjr

Active Member
May 11, 2020
1,223
959
Silver Spring, MD
Also not sure if this is the standard Solar Gateway now, but mine appears to be different than what I have seen in previous pictures on this forum.
That is what mine looks like (installed in March) though I have seen what seems like a different version - no idea if it is just cosmetic or something else. (I was kind of annoyed that the Solar Gateway does not seem to come with mounting hardware or even a couple holes to hang it off of some screws/nails.)
 

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