TMC is an independent, primarily volunteer organization that relies on ad revenue to cover its operating costs. Please consider whitelisting TMC on your ad blocker or making a Paypal contribution here: paypal.me/SupportTMC

Tesla coupled with a SolarCity charging station?!

Discussion in 'Model S' started by gg_got_a_tesla, Jun 18, 2011.

  1. gg_got_a_tesla

    gg_got_a_tesla Model S: VIN P65513, Model 3 Res Holder

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2010
    Messages:
    6,097
    Location:
    Redwood Shores, CA
    #1 gg_got_a_tesla, Jun 18, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2011
    To all Roadster owners out there (some of who are getting a Model S) who also got a charging station installed by one of Elon's other great investments, SolarCity, can you please provide some input on how good the experience with SolarCity was with regard to the charging station installation and maintenance?

    And, do some of you have a SolarCity solar PV system installed as well on your roofs? I do and have mostly had a great experience with SolarCity on the PV system front but for a few hiccups early on (back in 2007-2008) with water leakage into the garage wall and such which they have since rectified quite well. More recently, the inverter they installed (by Xantrex) had a recall on it (this is out of SolarCity's control, of course) so, my system was out of commission for almost 4 months but, SolarCity compensated me quite okay for that interruption.

    Any feedback would be great! After all, SolarCity is the official charging station installer for Tesla, aren't they?!
     
  2. rsquared99

    rsquared99 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2008
    Messages:
    239
    Location:
    Surprise AZ
    I used Solar City to install my PV system and HPC about two years ago when it came close to the time of delivery for my Roadster. Solar City was just opening an office in Arizona, so I waited a bit for them to get thing set up and had one of their first Phoenix area PV systems installed. They weren't really into the HPC installations here until I made an inquiry and they agreed to do it for me after some discussion with the California operation. My house was built in 2004, so it had a 200 amp capacity and it was a pretty simple installation for them to do. They took care of the permits and approval process and everything went smoothly. I've been very pleased with Solar City with regard to the PV system, especially their remote monitoring capability since I can pretty well ignor the system operation until they call me to inform me of a problem. I've had one inverter failure early on in the system operation, which took them about a month to replace. Otherwise, except for a couple of resets of the system monitor, everything has been humming along nicely. No problems with the HPC installation or equipment.
     
  3. ggr

    ggr Roadster R80 537, SigS P85 29

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    Messages:
    2,479
    My feedback is mostly good. The charger installation took three visits, because the guy came down from Orange County to San Diego, and even though the inspector had assured him by phone that the specifications were the same, she then rejected the installation for some paper-worky reason. But the job was done very well. The solar panel installation was smooth and well done. We did have an inverter failure for a while, but that doesn't seem to be SolarCity's fault. Overall I was very happy.
     
  4. gjamrok

    gjamrok Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2011
    Messages:
    31
    Location:
    Culver City, CA
    I had a SolarCity PV system installed (with a group purchase from 1BOG.com) in December of 2009. (I live in LA). At that time, one of the big draws was that they were offering a free charging station install if you purchased a Tesla (I already had put down a Model-S reservation). I even had the engineers at Solar City system leave room for a few extra PV panels for when the Model-S arrived. Unfortunately, the last I heard was that SolarCity had discontinued the Free Charging station installation. I hope they restart the program after (or preferably a little before) the Model-S is released.
     
  5. DZCPA

    DZCPA 2.5 2011#1263 "NO GAZZZ"

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2011
    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    San Clemente, CA
    A few months ago Solar City gave me a quote for my home. They did not use micro inverters but just one large one. Using micro inverters allows more flexibility to add panels in the future where Solar City could not handle that. Also, if one panel drops power due to leaf, dirt, bird presents...all panels drop their power output. With micro inverters, only that panel is affected as all the others will still operate at full power. I went with another company and are very happy.
     
  6. gg_got_a_tesla

    gg_got_a_tesla Model S: VIN P65513, Model 3 Res Holder

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2010
    Messages:
    6,097
    Location:
    Redwood Shores, CA
  7. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Messages:
    17,252
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    Panels are expected to outlive inverters by a long while, so eventual inverter replacement is expected.
    One argument in favor of the old OBI ("One Big Inverter") approach is that the inverter is easily accessible, and can be replaced and serviced without having to remove panels.
    Lets say in 10 or 15 years your micro-inverters start to fail. Do you pull up all the panels to replace them all at once? Or pull up one panel at a time to replace them each time there is a failure? Some mounting systems make it difficult to remove individual panels. If it is a panel in the middle of the array do you climb on top of the other panels to get to it? Serviceability is something to consider.

    ...Good job for going solar...
     
  8. DrComputer

    DrComputer Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2009
    Messages:
    893
    Location:
    Sherman Oaks, CA
    My HPC was installed by Solar City (per Tesla's recommendation). I was not very happy with them. In anticipation of getting my Roadster I had the garage remodeled and a 240V 100A circuit brought in specifically for the HPC. All the Solar City guy had to do was connect the wires and mount it on the wall. They originally quoted me $200-300 to do that and I agreed. Then the installer got there he insisted that he was "required" to do a whole house energy load test and inspect the panel and that it was going to cost me $750. Since my Roadster was going to show up in a few days and he was already there, I begrudgingly agreed to his inflated price. Needless to say that when I did install my PV system I did NOT use Solar City but went with REC Solar instead. My PV system uses a central Sunnyboy inverter with Tigo optimizers on each panel. I believe this is the better combination.
     
  9. NigelM

    NigelM Recovering Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2011
    Messages:
    13,257
    Location:
    Sarasota, FL
    We went with Enphase microinverters which now guarantee for 25 years, matching the PV panels. See here: http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/news

    Using microinverters means that I can monitor energy production from each panel and can easily see if all panels are working (no problems, dirt, tree shadows etc.). I have exactly 100 panels on my roof and there is a limit on the amount of power output any OBI can handle; this would have meant that I would need multiple inverters, even the big ones! Now they are about the size of a small suitcase and weigh 35-40lbs, so I had the problem of where to locate 4-6 of these things. The biggest argument against the OBI is that if one panel fails for any reason you have no idea which one, you'll just see total power production has decreased.

    Microinverters are easily accessible. Removing a panel takes a couple of minutes and is simple enough that anyone who knows that bolts unscrew counter clockwise can do it. Inverters are sealed units and there shouldn't be any servicing.

    Advance research is critical to create a system that avoids these problems. Most are really easy and if you have them on ground level or are worried about security you can get locking bolts.

    Yes. Of course, it's better to crawl or do a "baby shuffle" on your butt across the panels so you don't put all your weight on one foot in the middle of a panel; also the panels can be slippery and if you're up on the roof, standing isn't such a good idea...
     
  10. Mycroft

    Mycroft Life happens

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2011
    Messages:
    1,592
    Location:
    Tacoma, WA
    Nigel, what was the total cost of your solar install? I know each installation will be different, but I just want a thumbnail of a typical install.
     
  11. NigelM

    NigelM Recovering Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2011
    Messages:
    13,257
    Location:
    Sarasota, FL
    #11 NigelM, Jul 27, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2011
    We had an annual usage of about 21MWh (pre Tesla), and took into consideration that will have 2 EV's by next year. Then I changed the pool pump to a variable speed efficient model and changed all the kitchen lighting to LED's and added Smartcool to both of our HVAC units. Total cost for us all included was just over $100k including local sales tax etc.; however, there is/was a 30% Federal Tax credit on the total paid. My monthly electric bills averaged close to $400 and the straightline amortization would be around 15-16years; however, you also have to calculate that our utility company has raised prices 3% every year over the last 20 years. I expect the true amortization to be closer to 11-12 years. We planned for a system to produce around 19MWh and I am figuring right now that we will be closer to 18MWh usage, although the garage still awaits my Model S. All excess power production goes back into the grid and after a very sunny June and July, the utility company actually owes me about $300 :biggrin:

    You can see pictures of one of our arrays here.
     
  12. Mycroft

    Mycroft Life happens

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2011
    Messages:
    1,592
    Location:
    Tacoma, WA
    Ouch! One nice thing about the Northwest is our low energy cost thanks to Hydro and wind farms. My bill averages around $100 or so. So I think it'll be a while before they get the solar cell efficiency high enough to enable it to pencil out for us.
     
  13. NigelM

    NigelM Recovering Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2011
    Messages:
    13,257
    Location:
    Sarasota, FL
    #13 NigelM, Jul 27, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2011
    There are so many variables and the size of your system will depend on your annual usage and estimated #days of sunshine. We have plenty of sunshine, but living on an island here we use electricity for cooking, hot water, lighting, pool, irrigation and especially for Air Conditioning - we have 2 units (5 tons and 3 tons) which run 9 months of the year; plus we run electric heating on 2 months a year in the winter. A 3300sq.ft house means we run 2 AC units and there is at least one of us home almost every day which means that it is more economic to leave the AC on permanently.

    Last year we were up in Seattle and no-one really had AC and definitely not the big units we need for cooling the whole house. I'm guessing you won't come anywhere near the same usage as us and maybe you have gas for cooking, heating or hot water. You really need to look at you MWh usage and then make the $$'s comparison.

    P.S. At least I save money on snow shovels!
     
  14. Mycroft

    Mycroft Life happens

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2011
    Messages:
    1,592
    Location:
    Tacoma, WA
    Ha! Actually, if it snows more than an inch or so, the whole place pretty much shuts down.

    You're right though, we don't have central air (for about two weeks of the year, we wish we did), and we're on natural gas. Once we have the Tesla, I'll probably look into an estimate for a solar install. The house and garage roof is positioned perfectly for the panels with one side facing south. At least the constant rain would keep the glass on the panels clean. :)
     
  15. NigelM

    NigelM Recovering Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2011
    Messages:
    13,257
    Location:
    Sarasota, FL
    The Roadster seems to hardly impact my numbers at all. :smile:

    Surprisingly, rain is often a little greasy and for us definitely dusty/sandy! That said, I've not needed to clean mine since final installation over 6 months ago, but we're just into the rainy season now.

    P.S. PV Panels are like the Tesla - do NOT use a high power washer, a garden hose with freshwater will suffice.
     
  16. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2006
    Messages:
    14,792
    Location:
    CA CA
    I like the Tigo System over microinverters. Not manycompanies use them yet so you don't hear about them much from the installers.
     
  17. NigelM

    NigelM Recovering Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2011
    Messages:
    13,257
    Location:
    Sarasota, FL
    Neat looking stuff, although just by looking through their website I don't see any features that are missing from my Enphase set-up. There are some interesting claims on maximizing production and I'm interested as to how that works. Have you installed any Tigo products?

    I will always have the issue of where to put a bunch of big inverters.
     
  18. DrComputer

    DrComputer Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2009
    Messages:
    893
    Location:
    Sherman Oaks, CA
    I've got the Tigo system installed. It seems to work very well.
     
  19. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2006
    Messages:
    14,792
    Location:
    CA CA
    #19 vfx, Jul 28, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2011
    I know a few Roadster owners who have the Tigo on their systems. I'll let them them answer any questions you may have as I have not solarized my home. :(
     
  20. NigelM

    NigelM Recovering Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2011
    Messages:
    13,257
    Location:
    Sarasota, FL
    I'd love to understand the principle of the Tigo optimization - if you can explain how it works? I am delightedly happy with my monitoring system, but would like to make sure I'm not missing out on maximized production.
     

Share This Page