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Tesla Solar Panel - My experience in Los Angeles

M3SRdude

Member
May 16, 2019
33
12
Los Angeles
I did make one layout change initially during first week of my order and surprisingly that went quickly. I ordered on 7/28. Everything else went downhill after that. The first permit they applied with L.A County was rejected 3 times. In fact the first permit didn't even have the 2 powerwalls I ordered so Tesla cancelled it and applied a second permit with all details on 9/11. LA county rejected the second one also and now waiting for Tesla to submit the corrections. Its been frustrating .. I will PM you my cell number as you live in SCV too. I am surprised you got a text saying permit approved. Not sure how thats possible when you have not submitted esigned documents including the changes you want in layout. Must have been an error.

I'm not sure why I got a text saying "We've received your permits" when on the Tesla website it still says we're reviewing your documents.
 

M3SRdude

Member
May 16, 2019
33
12
Los Angeles
I think the exact location quote is more about electrical panels and inverters than solar panels on the roof.

I don’t think it’s likely that will be likely to easily change the location of multiple solar panels on the roof on install day. If you really want the panels in a different location you need to get them to update the drawings before the install happens.

I know that some jurisdictions (like mine) require the panel layout to be shown in the permit application, so if they have already applied for and received the permit with that particular panel layout that might be one reason why they could be hesitant to change it. It is still possible to change it and update the permit though.

There are also some jurisdictions that don’t care about the panel layout for the permit, so it’s easier to get things changed after the fact in those locations.

Additionally, it’s also worth noting that there are a lot of rules and restrictions on panel layouts in some jurisdictions. For example, much (or maybe all) of California has fire code setbacks for panels that prevent panels from being placed within 3 feet of some of the roof edges and rooflines. So even though when you’re looking at the panel layout it looks like they could fit more panels in a certain spot it’s possible that the panels can’t go there because they won’t meet code. I haven’t seen your drawings, so I don’t know if that’s something you’re running in to here, but it is a possibility.

Based on what I've read for folks in SoCal, I'm hoping that I can change the panel layout later. Sounds some have changed it on the day of install and then they submit for a plan change then.

I'll probably do what SoCalDave suggested and ask for a project lead site walk through before the actual install date.

Here's my layout that I signed (but I don't like):
Solar Layout Tesls proposed.JPG

But I really want this (more panels facing West):

Solar Layout Tesla 4 - mine.png

I previously had Sunpower come out and they've actually walked the roof and this is what they say they could do on the West facing roof:

Solar Layout Green Convergence.png
Although the Sunpower panels are about 10cm shorter in the length compared to the Q cell panels used by Tesla. Even then I would think that Tesla should be able to fit more than 3 panels in the west facing roof planes.
 

M3SRdude

Member
May 16, 2019
33
12
Los Angeles
Is it too late to cancel?
This stupid layout of theirs sounds like what Solar City proposed for me; all panels on east-facing roof in an area well known for marine layer fog/overcast half of mornings of the year.

I got SunPower panels from Semper Solaris. SunPower panels offer highest efficiency, least degradation, and their Mexico and Philippines factories are certified environmentally conscious operations, so I knew I would not be reducing pollution locally by increasing pollution somewhere else in the world.

At $2/Watt, Tesla's cost just couldn't be beat though. All other installers quote at least $3/Watt. (both before tax incentives). With Tesla, it's about $1.5/Watt after tax incentive, and even then I calculated it'll still take me 7-8 years to recoup the cost of the initial investment on the panels.
 

brucet999

Active Member
Mar 12, 2015
2,679
1,489
Huntington Beach, CA
At $2/Watt, Tesla's cost just couldn't be beat though. All other installers quote at least $3/Watt. (both before tax incentives). With Tesla, it's about $1.5/Watt after tax incentive, and even then I calculated it'll still take me 7-8 years to recoup the cost of the initial investment on the panels.
Cost is not the same thing as value.
How much degeneration is there in the first few months? Cheap panels typically lose 2%.
What is long term degeneration rate? Cheap panels can be two to three times as fast as top quality Panasonic or SunPower.
I hope it works out for you, but Solar City/Tesla incompetence stories abound.
 

M3SRdude

Member
May 16, 2019
33
12
Los Angeles
Cost is not the same thing as value.
How much degeneration is there in the first few months? Cheap panels typically lose 2%.
What is long term degeneration rate? Cheap panels can be two to three times as fast as top quality Panasonic or SunPower.
I hope it works out for you, but Solar City/Tesla incompetence stories abound.

The Q cell panels degrade at 0.54% per year, whereas a Panasonic panel I was looking at degrades 0.26% per year. So after 20 years, there will be a 5.6% difference in a Qcell panel system vs a Panasonic panel system.

I have a 6.8kW system. So a 5.6% difference over 20 years is a power output difference of 380W production. The panels are 340W each. Solution? Buy one more panel of the cheaper panel compared what you would have purchased with the more expensive but slower degrading panel. Financially the cheaper panel still comes out ahead, even accounting for faster degradation, because the price difference is just too large.

Also, the cheapest non-Tesla premium panels that I could find (Panasonic, LG, Sunpower panels) were about $3.4/W installed, vs $2/W Tesla panels installed. With a huge 40% difference in cost, there needs to be a very large difference in efficiency, degradation, and temperature coefficient to justify the higher cost of premium panels. The spec difference just isn't that big between the Q cell and Panasonic or Sunpower panels.

I'm also surprise that in the Tesla contract the Tesla panels are warranted for roof leakage for 10 years, system maintenance for 20 years, and system repairs are included for solar panels (at least 12 years) and inverter (at least 10 years). It's not as long as some of the other companies which offers 25 years for everything, but I question who would survive longer, Tesla a multi-billion dollar company (I know, not a guarantee for anything) or even the best among small local installers.

Tesla customer service does leave a lot to be desired though. Sigh, I have to keep reminding myself that the $9000 price difference in a 6.8kW system is worth the pain of having to deal with Tesla.
 
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M3SRdude

Member
May 16, 2019
33
12
Los Angeles
Hm... now Tesla is asking me to schedule an install date, first available date is 9/25. I ordered the panel on 9/15. That is a lot faster than I expected. I haven't even signed all the documents yet, like the HOA document.

I'm wait for my HOA to approve the plan, and in the mean time ask for a site walk through and ask for a revised panel layout.
 

mnsweeps

Member
Aug 3, 2019
555
135
Los Angeles
I had my site walk thru done around first week of August. The guy spend close to 3 hours checking roof, panels, garage etc etc. Took a ton of pictures and measurements and uploaded all that to Tesla.
 

M3SRdude

Member
May 16, 2019
33
12
Los Angeles
I discussed changing my layout when the install team arrived. My lead was fine making changes, but wanted the plans updated. So they would pull off, have to get the plans redrawn and resubmitted to the city. As the changes were to make the installation easier, I didn't bother and had them move forward.

Others have had installers make field changes with them not reflected on the plans. Just depends on the lead you get

My installer did tell me you can ask to have the lead walk the job in advance. That might be a good time to propose changes. Before 5 guys show up with two trucks filled with gear.

Hi SoCalDave,

So I emailed my advisor about getting a walk through, and he essentially said no. "If we do not require a visit ahead of tiem we do not schedule them with high res pics and area mapping we can determine where we are placing panels and the offset's required to place them. This helps keep our cost low.. etc." I'm going to keep asking and see if I get a different answer.
 

SoCal Dave

Member
Jul 30, 2020
414
311
California
Hi SoCalDave,

So I emailed my advisor about getting a walk through, and he essentially said no. "If we do not require a visit ahead of tiem we do not schedule them with high res pics and area mapping we can determine where we are placing panels and the offset's required to place them. This helps keep our cost low.. etc." I'm going to keep asking and see if I get a different answer.

That's a bummer. Tesla seems very inconsistent with their processes.
 

mnsweeps

Member
Aug 3, 2019
555
135
Los Angeles
Hi SoCalDave,

So I emailed my advisor about getting a walk through, and he essentially said no. "If we do not require a visit ahead of tiem we do not schedule them with high res pics and area mapping we can determine where we are placing panels and the offset's required to place them. This helps keep our cost low.. etc." I'm going to keep asking and see if I get a different answer.

hmm its all about saving money... I insisted in my case and I think I mentioned the onsite guy spend over 3 hours measuring and taking photos of everything in sight..
 

GHTech

Member
Jun 28, 2020
92
33
Granada Hills, CA
hmm its all about saving money... I insisted in my case and I think I mentioned the onsite guy spend over 3 hours measuring and taking photos of everything in sight..

My guy came out and just launched a drone for a few minutes, and that was it for the site survey. I did not ask for a visit. It may have also been that the visit was before my planned reroof. He did wait around and chatted for a while. He has been really helpful after the visit. For example, the original plans that were filed with LADBS had the inverter and PW's on the outside, on the south facing wall (bad news in the San Fernando Valley) due to the heat. I contacted him, and he got one of the designers on the phone with me. Got them to move it inside.
 

Southpasfan

Member
Jun 2, 2019
359
485
Pasadena
My guy came out and just launched a drone for a few minutes, and that was it for the site survey. I did not ask for a visit. It may have also been that the visit was before my planned reroof. He did wait around and chatted for a while. He has been really helpful after the visit. For example, the original plans that were filed with LADBS had the inverter and PW's on the outside, on the south facing wall (bad news in the San Fernando Valley) due to the heat. I contacted him, and he got one of the designers on the phone with me. Got them to move it inside.

Speaking of LADBS, it seems the plans for my project are "with them." In other words, my LADWP solar ESR guy says he's waiting to hear back from Building and Safety.

Did you ever have reason to contact B&S? And if so, how did you get contact info? Thx.
 

GHTech

Member
Jun 28, 2020
92
33
Granada Hills, CA
Speaking of LADBS, it seems the plans for my project are "with them." In other words, my LADWP solar ESR guy says he's waiting to hear back from Building and Safety.

Did you ever have reason to contact B&S? And if so, how did you get contact info? Thx.
Hi Southpasfan,

Did you check the status page for LADBS? I did not contact LADBS. Mine shows finaled. Did they do your install?
 

Southpasfan

Member
Jun 2, 2019
359
485
Pasadena
Hi Southpasfan,

Did you check the status page for LADBS? I did not contact LADBS. Mine shows finaled. Did they do your install?

Nothing is on my house's LADBS page since the last permit was pulled in 2005. Right now I have confirmed plans, had Tesla and LADWP inspect, finalized the contract.

I don't have, apparently, the permit or an install date. So I could call my Tesla advisor but I am figuring out whether I can also call LADBS directly. Calling and emailing LADWP directly went well, they were very responsive.
 

GHTech

Member
Jun 28, 2020
92
33
Granada Hills, CA
Nothing is on my house's LADBS page since the last permit was pulled in 2005. Right now I have confirmed plans, had Tesla and LADWP inspect, finalized the contract.

I don't have, apparently, the permit or an install date. So I could call my Tesla advisor but I am figuring out whether I can also call LADBS directly. Calling and emailing LADWP directly went well, they were very responsive.

Hi Southpasfan,

I would call the LADBS to find out. My install went quick after the reroof was completed mid-Aug. Install of the PV and PW happened Sep. 1st. The LADBS inspection happened quick. LADWP PTO has been slow. Tesla finally sent the paperwork over to LADWP this Sun. afternoon.

I am wondering what your delay is. Even though the Chatsworth office is really close, my install was from the Atwater Village office, which is pretty close to you.

Regards,

GHTech
 

TDsolar

New Member
Mar 28, 2021
2
0
Los Angeles County
I did make one layout change initially during first week of my order and surprisingly that went quickly. I ordered on 7/28. Everything else went downhill after that. The first permit they applied with L.A County was rejected 3 times. In fact the first permit didn't even have the 2 powerwalls I ordered so Tesla cancelled it and applied a second permit with all details on 9/11. LA county rejected the second one also and now waiting for Tesla to submit the corrections. Its been frustrating .. I will PM you my cell number as you live in SCV too. I am surprised you got a text saying permit approved. Not sure how thats possible when you have not submitted esigned documents including the changes you want in layout. Must have been an error.
Did you end up getting a roof? We are almost a year into our process and received permit approval only to be told that LA County Fire Department is now standing in the way of further Tesla roof installs
 

TDsolar

New Member
Mar 28, 2021
2
0
Los Angeles County
Hi M3SRdude,

If you want a bigger system, you can tell them so, and they will try. I really needed only a 6 - 6.5 kW system. I ordered the 8.16 kW system, and asked them to reduce. They did. But, I thereafter decided that paying the $2K extra to get the bigger system (8.16 kW) at this time makes more sense and much cheaper than trying to add later on. They made the change, and I also added the 2 Powerwalls. My 8.16 kW PV and 2 PW were installed on Sep 1st. LADBS has approved the permit, and am waiting for LADWP to issue the PTO.

Regards,

GHTech
Did you get your roof? After getting our permit approved, we are now being told LA county fire dept is standing the way of our install.
 

mnsweeps

Member
Aug 3, 2019
555
135
Los Angeles
Did you end up getting a roof? We are almost a year into our process and received permit approval only to be told that LA County Fire Department is now standing in the way of further Tesla roof installs
No roof for me. I was just panels. Nightmare got over on dec 4 when we got out PTO
 

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