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Tesla solar not always the cheapest

h2ofun

Active Member
Aug 11, 2020
1,551
249
auburn, ca
I have a friend who is getting bids on putting in solar, and looks like some batteries. So far her bids are from Tesla solar, Sunrun and California solar and looking at getting one more.
When I said I assume the Tesla bid was the cheapest, she said,
No, they are the most expensive but only about extra couple thousand. The overall prices are very close. I am getting two batteries for my house and one for my parents house

I then commented I thought only Tesla could get batteries now. She said
All other companies use tesla. Power wall too. Price is the same

So, even though I have not seen the written bids personally, maybe Tesla is not the slam dunk of always being a lot cheaper?
 

arnolddeleon

Supporting Member
Jul 21, 2012
683
767
SF Bay Area
I have a friend who is getting bids on putting in solar, and looks like some batteries. So far her bids are from Tesla solar, Sunrun and California solar and looking at getting one more.
When I said I assume the Tesla bid was the cheapest, she said,
No, they are the most expensive but only about extra couple thousand. The overall prices are very close. I am getting two batteries for my house and one for my parents house

I then commented I thought only Tesla could get batteries now. She said
All other companies use tesla. Power wall too. Price is the same

So, even though I have not seen the written bids personally, maybe Tesla is not the slam dunk of always being a lot cheaper?
With batteries the plausible difference comes SGIP and other incentives.
 

holeydonut

Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
979
587
East Bay NorCal
Tesla was more expensive once the incremental cost of a main panel upgrade was put on my quote. But Tesla's base cost per kW of solar is insanely low.

Also, Tesla would only use the Zep hooks for mounting. The more expensive/better mounting methods weren't even an option with them. Homeowners wont notice at first, but they'll want to avoid the "cheapest" option if flat tile roofs are involved.
 
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holeydonut

Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
979
587
East Bay NorCal
Why not. Many Installers other than Tesla still have SGIP left


In the PG&E NorCal area, SGIP is basically exhausted for anyone except low-income equity. The old 1/2 small scale residential program has been done since late 2019. The resiliency (regular income) category is waitlisted. Even the large-scale residential (3x or more PWs) is about to be exhausted (only 1 step remaining) since SGIP re-allocated a lot of funds into the low-income category a few months ago.
 

getakey

Active Member
Jan 28, 2020
1,038
329
95762
In the PG&E NorCal area, SGIP is basically exhausted for anyone except low-income equity. The old 1/2 small scale residential program has been done since late 2019. The resiliency (regular income) category is waitlisted. Even the large-scale residential (3x or more PWs) is about to be exhausted (only 1 step remaining) since SGIP re-allocated a lot of funds into the low-income category a few months ago.
Ah, I had not been following it.
 

vickh

Active Member
Dec 16, 2018
3,079
473
az
Tesla was more expensive once the incremental cost of a main panel upgrade was put on my quote. But Tesla's base cost per kW of solar is insanely low.

Also, Tesla would only use the Zep hooks for mounting. The more expensive/better mounting methods weren't even an option with them. Homeowners wont notice at first, but they'll want to avoid the "cheapest" option if flat tile roofs are involved.

why do u avoid if flat tile roofs are involved? TSLA cuts costs by standardizing no salesman etc too.
 
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charlesj

Active Member
Oct 22, 2019
1,052
218
Monterey, CA
I can only speak for my PW cost and install from late 2019. Cost difference was $9k+ more for local company.
And, from talking with them, the installation would not have been so clean as Tesla installation.
 

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Laketime

Member
Dec 13, 2020
123
57
LI NY
My associate was just quoted from Sunrun for a 12kW system and they came in almost exactly double Tesla. I was floored. The Sunrun salesman said don't go with Tesla because they make you get a new roof and it must be structurally modified. I laughed and sent a referral code to him...
 

aswami

Member
Feb 12, 2021
54
23
Phoenix
Got a quote in Nov 2020 from Sunrun in AZ, and it was almost exactly double Tesla's for panels + Power Walls. Another friend in AZ got a quote from SunSolar in Nov, and it was the same experience - almost double Tesla's pricing.
 
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holeydonut

Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
979
587
East Bay NorCal
why do u avoid if flat tile roofs are involved? TSLA cuts costs by standardizing no salesman etc too.

There isn't really an ISO standard for flat concrete tiles for roofing. So the tiles really aren't all identically shaped (thickness, dimensions, etc) from house to house or year to year. The tile hooks all kind of rely on the tiles having some space to sneak around and form the "hook" so the part can be lagged to the rafter, but still provide a mounting surface for the racking L-feet.

A roofer who has been active for the other homes in my HOA (and other nearby developments) says he's seeing an issues where the hooks are coming in contact with the flat tiles and causing damage over time. S and W curvy tiles tend to fare better since installers can shoot for the dip in the tile and there's more clearance.

While not all solar tile hooks are the same, they pretty much all operate with the same principle. SnapNRack literally shows a picture of the problem on their own webpage:

You can see the hook is literally sitting on the course of tiles below it. And the tile above it is literally sitting on the hook. SnapNRack is owned by Sunrun while Zep is owned by SolarCity/Tesla. Zep smartly won't put pictures of their product online when installed on flat tiles. But I'd wager dollars to donuts the same exact problem occurs with their hook on flat tile as well.

Technically installers are supposed to grid a notch on each tile that is near a solar tile hook to prevent the hooks coming in contact with the tiles. But that's simply not happening as installers get pressed for max-speed to operate on razor thin margins. Plus a ground-down tile is naturally going to be less strong over time.

I agree, the tile hooks are pretty thick, so you're not bending one with your hands (at least I can't since I'm a wimp). If you hold a tile hook in your hand you're probably thinking it's going to last forever. But imagine these hooks being affixed under a big solar array and getting years of strong gusts ... the array will exert force up and down on the hooks for years as well. So over time the hooks can crack the tiles they're resting on. Yes, your underlayment may still protect against leaks, but now you're at more risk for leaks because there is no flashing anywhere near the broken tile.

Some homeowners also complain about the upper course of tiles rattling since they're seated on the hook.

There's a way to get the mounting done using flashing above and below the tile after they put a hole through the tile for the stand-off mount. And they use mastic to seal the ever living hell out of the penetrations. This method won't leak because of a lag-penetration when done correctly. Even if the tile is compromised with the hole, the top/bottom flashing keep water from getting near the penetrations. The QuickmountPV flashing/method shown here even has the top flashing stamped with the cone so water has to rise up pretty high to even get to the bead of M1 they put on. This approach simply isn't leaking over time due to Solar because nothing moves and there's flashing everywhere..

1616991907863.png



Yes, this way is uglier, but no, I don't care about ugly. I care about a future leak and finger pointing over who is at fault. I had a roofing guy inspect the solar just to look for some shoddy work and clean out my gutters. He says things look pretty good. So at this point, if there's a leak, I'm 99% sure it's going to be because of my aging roof or a skylight. I'm not even going to try and finger point to the solar having caused the leak.

Edit: I had one local installer say they use the IronRidge Knockout tile replacement mount. If you have flat tiles, do NOT go with this option.

Same roofer that says he's seen issues with hooks also say this knockout tile replacement is prone to leaking. The EPDM collar basically sits on the same plane as the flat tile. If you watch the video, you can literally see the fake 3D animated water flow down on the tile replacement and intersect where the knockout is made and the L-foot is mounted flush. He said these things leak like crazy when the EPDM collar corrodes and there's no protection under this knockout tile. This IronRidge flat tile replacement knockout thing is way worse than tile hooks.

1616993241166.png
 
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vickh

Active Member
Dec 16, 2018
3,079
473
az
thx! Very informative response. Hope TSLA installers followed this for my S tile roof.

My big concern was no leaks but it doesn't rain a lot here either in PHX...
 

holeydonut

Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
979
587
East Bay NorCal
Yeah S tiles tend to work better with hooks. They may need to grind down the tile a bit to keep the tile above the hook from contacting the hook. But the risk of the hook actually resting on the tile below is minimal since the Zep hook can be moved left and right a bit to ensure the dip of the "S" is below the hook.
 

BGbreeder

Member
Jun 19, 2020
138
76
Bay Area
Great post.

But even S tiles work better when you use a tile replacement mount rather than trying to sneak under it. For all the reasons you mentioned, I made sure that the roofers used a system like the quick mount. I used to work on roofs and I think there is an easy, leak prone, way, and the right way in most roofing issues. I would never have used a design like the iron ridge as there looks like a single point of failure to get a leak.

All the best,

BG
 

holeydonut

Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
979
587
East Bay NorCal
Great post.

But even S tiles work better when you use a tile replacement mount rather than trying to sneak under it. For all the reasons you mentioned, I made sure that the roofers used a system like the quick mount. I used to work on roofs and I think there is an easy, leak prone, way, and the right way in most roofing issues. I would never have used a design like the iron ridge as there looks like a single point of failure to get a leak.

All the best,

BG


It's weird, but Sunrun says they've never been able to use the Quickmount integrated tile replacement mounts since they simply don't fit alongside the original roofing tile. I guess the differences in S, W, Flat, etc shapes are severe enough that the tile replacements are more hassle than just double-flashing with mastic.

But, Quickmount is HQ's up here in Walnut Creek, so you can literally drive to their building and pick up a sample to test along side your original tile. If the tile replacement mount fits well, it's likely a better option than the top/bottom flashing method since the tile replacement mount is basically just a bunch of flashing with integrated mounting. I guess you'll need to make sure they still flash the area around the replacement mount's rafter penetrations though.
 
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