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Roof requirements for Solarglass tiles

bayareaever

Member
Jun 17, 2013
416
257
East Bay Area
Tesla recently denied my house for Solarglass because of too many ridges/lack of available space for active tiles. This is my roof with detached garage to the west.

0FB8EA39-B0BB-4669-9751-32DC1A6CAD84.jpeg



The old solar panels would obviously need to be removed (Tesla quoted me $1600). I wasn’t thrilled with the denial but my current roof isn’t leaking yet so that’s good.

Then I saw this Solar Roof on Electrek (this house is also in California so should be same/similar code requirements):

16220B87-1867-4F58-9E1C-29013B400CF2.jpeg


Looks pretty similar to me as far as ridges, etc.

Any thoughts, similar experiences?
 

wjgjr

Active Member
May 11, 2020
1,308
1,037
Silver Spring, MD
I can't directly answer your question as I don't know all the code rules (which might even vary by city) on setbacks of active tiles from various ridges, hips, and valleys, but I will say this - a seemingly disproportionate amount of the labor installing our solar roof was spent on the ridges and hip (singular) on our very simple, gable roof. So I would also not be shocked that Tesla is possibly tending to avoid complicated roofs, and yours may be a bit more complicated than the image (and/or maybe the above helped Tesla decide those installs were too complicated for now.)

Whatever the reasons, it does suck that Tesla denied it. Unfortunately, I'm not sure you will have much luck changing their minds in the short-term. One could hope that as they get more experience and improve their processes, and also as costs drop, that roofs like yours would then be accepted, but who knows on the timeline.
 
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patrick40363

Active Member
Mar 25, 2014
1,173
570
Cali
I think they are looking to do the easy roof jobs. I have been waiting to get mine approved however they can't manage 45 degree angle eaves. I imagine they have a person who looks at the google earth pictures and decides. Standard square box works for them.

Tesla roof picture from matt at tesla.jpg
 

jboy210

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Dec 2, 2016
5,404
3,348
Northern California
This rejection has happened before.

Solar glass has a lower efficiency (i.e lower yield per area) than regular panels so you need to have considerably larger sections of the roof covered with active panels than you do with standard panels. So to meet the yield you currently get you would need considerably more area of active tiles than your current panel area.

Also, SolarGlass tiles are a fixed size of 45"W X 17"H. so you need to have long non-interrupted runs of tiles. Every time there is a change in the roof plane this breaks runs and requires finishing with non-active tiles or metal along the edges, which further reduces the yield of a section of the roof.

So my guess is that the house in the picture has considerably lower power yields than it would with conventional panels, and so would your home.

My house has a much simpler roof, and they were able to get 12+ kW of active tiles up there. But a lot of this just helps get us going early (7:30) and staying running longer (6:30) in the summer. Some of this is because we have active tiles on the north-facing side of the house, and some shading on the south side. We see peak yields of 7-8 kW at noon on a summer day. But we have seen 10 kW in the Spring when the leaves are off the 60-foot oak in the backyard.
 
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bayareaever

Member
Jun 17, 2013
416
257
East Bay Area
Thanks for the responses. The old system is working fine but the shingles underneath will need replacement soon and I’d like to benefit from the ITC which may or may not be extended, and also get bundled pricing on Powerwalls.

Because the panels are from 2008, the efficiency is similar to solarglass, especially with more roof planes being active. Also, the current fire code would prevent reinstalling them in the same place, even if I wanted to. I leased the system in 2008 so the economics are different than if I had purchased them. I’m sure Tesla wouldn’t bother removing them at lease-end but the issue is the aging shingles underneath.

I’m surprised Tesla accepted the other roof from the Electrek article. It seems that in order to meet their growth targets, they’ll have to do more complex roofs and/or expand into new markets. Who know which they’ll choose?! I just don’t think they’ll ever bother contacting people like me if they start accepting the more complex jobs because, as usual, their potential market is so huge!
 
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SoCal Dave

Member
Jul 30, 2020
420
317
California
Thanks for the responses. The old system is working fine but the shingles underneath will need replacement soon and I’d like to benefit from the ITC which may or may not be extended, and also get bundled pricing on Powerwalls.

Because the panels are from 2008, the efficiency is similar to solarglass, especially with more roof planes being active. Also, the current fire code would prevent reinstalling them in the same place, even if I wanted to. I leased the system in 2008 so the economics are different than if I had purchased them. I’m sure Tesla wouldn’t bother removing them at lease-end but the issue is the aging shingles underneath.

Thanks for sharing the details. I asked as I'm curious what people are doing with older systems.

Did you know your roof only had 12 years left before you installed the system originally?
 

wjgjr

Active Member
May 11, 2020
1,308
1,037
Silver Spring, MD
I think your best shot at getting the roof + ITC would be to wait until early/mid 2021 and see what happens, assuming your roof can hold out. You could contact Tesla again to see if their criteria have changed (you are right, don't count on them contacting you,) and I really expect that Tesla will drop prices to at least match the 4% ITC drop. Also, we might have more clarity by then as to whether, and in what form, the ITC might be extended. But, if your alternative is to get a new roof and new panels, just don't wait so long into 2021 that you cannot get it complete, if needed to beat the ITC clock, if it is not reset.

Still, I would guess probably things won't change enough by then for Tesla to change their mind on your roof, but there is always a chance.
 

bayareaever

Member
Jun 17, 2013
416
257
East Bay Area
Thanks for sharing the details. I asked as I'm curious what people are doing with older systems.

Did you know your roof only had 12 years left before you installed the system originally?


I bought the house with the existing roof not knowing it’s age, but it was probably ~10 years old at that point (there’s no permit history for some reason). In hindsight, putting panels on a roof that isn’t newish is not something I would do again. Of course, the shingles that are shaded by the panels are aging well, it’s the rest that are looking old.

Tesla Solar roof phone reps don’t seem to know much about technical stuff, so for now I’d have submit another deposit to get a straight answer. Unless I start to see of lot of other solar roofs with complicated layouts, I won’t be doing so very soon.
 

jboy210

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Dec 2, 2016
5,404
3,348
Northern California
Thanks for the responses. The old system is working fine but the shingles underneath will need replacement soon and I’d like to benefit from the ITC which may or may not be extended, and also get bundled pricing on Powerwalls.

Because the panels are from 2008, the efficiency is similar to solarglass, especially with more roof planes being active. Also, the current fire code would prevent reinstalling them in the same place, even if I wanted to. I leased the system in 2008 so the economics are different than if I had purchased them. I’m sure Tesla wouldn’t bother removing them at lease-end but the issue is the aging shingles underneath.

I’m surprised Tesla accepted the other roof from the Electrek article. It seems that in order to meet their growth targets, they’ll have to do more complex roofs and/or expand into new markets. Who know which they’ll choose?! I just don’t think they’ll ever bother contacting people like me if they start accepting the more complex jobs because, as usual, their potential market is so huge!

The one thing I noticed looking closer to the picture you posted was you can really only see on side of the home. Perhaps the other side has few roof planes. Or it could be the owner just wanted some solar, not matter how minimal:). We were given two options and went for the larger one. Had we gone for the smaller one we would have no active solar on the north side of the house which has the more complex portions of the roof. The south side is a 30 by 16-foot single 20ish degree slope.
 

bayareaever

Member
Jun 17, 2013
416
257
East Bay Area
The one thing I noticed looking closer to the picture you posted was you can really only see on side of the home. Perhaps the other side has few roof planes. Or it could be the owner just wanted some solar, not matter how minimal:). We were given two options and went for the larger one. Had we gone for the smaller one we would have no active solar on the north side of the house which has the more complex portions of the roof. The south side is a 30 by 16-foot single 20ish degree slope.

Yeah, it looks like the other home has a continuous plane on the right of the photo. The thing is, my house has a big roof plane too (granted facing NW). Tesla didn’t give me any solar roof option (I’d be fine with relatively low kw rating). I got nothing in writing- I was jtold by phone rep that system size would be too small relative to total roof size which really doesn’t make much sense when I think about it.
 

jboy210

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Dec 2, 2016
5,404
3,348
Northern California
Yeah, it looks like the other home has a continuous plane on the right of the photo. The thing is, my house has a big roof plane too (granted facing NW). Tesla didn’t give me any solar roof option (I’d be fine with relatively low kw rating). I got nothing in writing- I was jtold by phone rep that system size would be too small relative to total roof size which really doesn’t make much sense when I think about it.

I think it makes sense from Tesla's viewpoint. They make much of their profit in the active tiles. So if you do not have a lot of active tiles the overall project does not meet profit requirements. Also, a more complex roof means more valleys. These are filled with hand bent metal constructed on-site, so add a lot of time to the install.
 

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