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Will Tesla Solar move roof plumbing vents and upgrade panel to 200 amp before solar install?

eight_soj

New Member
Jun 30, 2021
2
0
San Jose, CA
I'm interested in getting solar but would like to move plumbing vents to get a cleaner install. My panel is also maxed out and really old, so that would need to be upgraded as well. Does Tesla do this? If not, do they recommend people to do it?

Does anyone know if the panel upgrade qualifies for the 26% federal tax credit?
 

BGbreeder

Member
Jun 19, 2020
443
259
Bay Area
Welcome!

Everything has a price. Moving a vent that goes through a large attic space a few inches is cheaper than one that goes in a load bearing wall. Some areas now allow stubby vents, so you may not need to move vents. I don't know where San Jose is on that issue.

Main panel upgrades are pretty routine for solar installations.

As far as ITC goes, I suggest that you read the sticky thread on taxes.

All the best,

BG
 

holeydonut

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
2,239
1,625
East Bay NorCal
I was told by Sunrun that vent pipes (aka stinkholes) have to stick 6 inches above the roof plane if you do not have snow, but 12 inches if you do get snow.

I sent them this link, which indicates that the 6" can be reduced to 2" if solar panels are mounted above the stinkhole to prevent anything from getting into said hole from above.


They were already mounting my panels on 6" stand-offs instead of tile hooks, so I thought this meant they could cover the ever living hell out of my roof instead of working around the stinkholes.

But Sunrun's design team said they wouldn't research this stinkhole code thing on existing homes with Contra Costa County. And the County permitting department never called me back after I left a few voicemails with them. Sad.

Apparently it would break Sunrun's policy to shorten stinkhole vent stacks, and mount panels over the top of them (with some air gap). Not that it'd matter anyway, PG&E wouldn't let me get more panels because PG&E sucks.

Regarding the main panel upgrade... I had a ton of nonsense because my gas riser was within 36 inches of the main service panel. I think whether you have this gas riser problem or not, it may actually be cheaper to break up your project into two chunks. You can find one electrician to submit the permit and do all the work on the main service panel replacement with a solar-ready 200A (with 225A busbar). This way PG&E has no doubt in their mind your work on this part of the project is only for a main panel.

Once you have your fancy new main panel, get back in touch with Tesla and they'll be like - cool. When I was getting bids; Tesla wanted to charge way more for this main panel work than what a stand-alone electrician would have charged (this was before I learned my gas riser was too close to the MSP).
 
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arnolddeleon

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Jul 21, 2012
921
1,000
SF Bay Area
Tesla in the past has done main service panel upgrades as add on charge to your install. That is usually cheaper than doing it separately. Consult with your tax adviser the ability to include the cost of the upgrade as part of the ITC. My thought on this (this is NOT advice, consult your professional) is that usually if it was a necessary part of the install then it could be included in the costs for ITC purposes.
 
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h2ofun

Active Member
Aug 11, 2020
3,048
661
auburn, ca
Tesla in the past has done main service panel upgrades as add on charge to your install. That is usually cheaper than doing it separately. Consult with your tax adviser the ability to include the cost of the upgrade as part of the ITC. My thought on this (this is NOT advice, consult your professional) is that usually if it was a necessary part of the install then it could be included in the costs for ITC purposes.
roof repair also then :)
 

holeydonut

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
2,239
1,625
East Bay NorCal
Tesla in the past has done main service panel upgrades as add on charge to your install. That is usually cheaper than doing it separately. Consult with your tax adviser the ability to include the cost of the upgrade as part of the ITC. My thought on this (this is NOT advice, consult your professional) is that usually if it was a necessary part of the install then it could be included in the costs for ITC purposes.


Yeah, this is why some of the PG&E people were arguing with me that a main panel upgrade for the sake of adding a PV+ESS system was actually "generation" equipment". PG&E has a "like for like" provision for main panel replacements within that 36 inch danger zone to the gas riser. But that means the homeowner has to be replacing a main service panel. Generation equipment for solar is expressly denied like for like treatment.

So PG&E says if a homeowner is doing the panel upgrade because of solar; and presumably is claiming some tax credit for the investment, then it cannot be like fo rlike.

But if a homeowner is just replacing an old panel for the hell of it, then no ITC would be had and it is not generation equipment.

As far as I'm aware, I am the only idiot homeowner in the entire Northern California territory to have every dealt with this BS. Sunrun is headquartered in San Francisco and has countless installs in Northern California. They were as surprised as I was when PG&E leaned hard on this interpretation of the Greenbook and the "like for like" language around whether a main service panel is generation equipment.

For normal people, they just get a new main panel if they need it and go about their normal business.
 
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jimm01

Member
Apr 29, 2021
360
413
Devonshire NJ
I was told by Sunrun that vent pipes (aka stinkholes) have to stick 6 inches above the roof plane if you do not have snow, but 12 inches if you do get snow.

I sent them this link, which indicates that the 6" can be reduced to 2" if solar panels are mounted above the stinkhole to prevent anything from getting into said hole from above.


They were already mounting my panels on 6" stand-offs instead of tile hooks, so I thought this meant they could cover the ever living hell out of my roof instead of working around the stinkholes.

But Sunrun's design team said they wouldn't research this stinkhole code thing on existing homes with Contra Costa County. And the County permitting department never called me back after I left a few voicemails with them. Sad.

Apparently it would break Sunrun's policy to shorten stinkhole vent stacks, and mount panels over the top of them (with some air gap). Not that it'd matter anyway, PG&E wouldn't let me get more panels because PG&E sucks.

Regarding the main panel upgrade... I had a ton of nonsense because my gas riser was within 36 inches of the main service panel. I think whether you have this gas riser problem or not, it may actually be cheaper to break up your project into two chunks. You can find one electrician to submit the permit and do all the work on the main service panel replacement with a solar-ready 200A (with 225A busbar). This way PG&E has no doubt in their mind your work on this part of the project is only for a main panel.

Once you have your fancy new main panel, get back in touch with Tesla and they'll be like - cool. When I was getting bids; Tesla wanted to charge way more for this main panel work than what a stand-alone electrician would have charged (this was before I learned my gas riser was too close to the MSP).
This is very good advice. A few years back I had my service line & load, meter socket, and 200A main panel replaced for less than $3000, (can't remember exact price).
 

mje123

Member
Oct 6, 2021
6
3
North Bay
On the Tesla solar roof installs,they can now cut off the vent pipes and put the roof tiles directly over top of them. There is enough gap of an air gap between the roof tiles and the decking for the pipes to properly vent. So you'll have a really nice clean look.
 

DBeckwith

Member
Oct 18, 2018
124
153
Wheaton
On the Tesla solar roof installs,they can now cut off the vent pipes and put the roof tiles directly over top of them. There is enough gap of an air gap between the roof tiles and the decking for the pipes to properly vent. So you'll have a really nice clean look.
You must be in a warm climate. I would think it would freeze up or snow would restrict in cold climates.
 

SVDNN

Member
Sep 23, 2018
66
36
SF Bay Area
On the Tesla solar roof installs,they can now cut off the vent pipes and put the roof tiles directly over top of them. There is enough gap of an air gap between the roof tiles and the decking for the pipes to properly vent. So you'll have a really nice clean look.


Was not my experience (about option of cutting vent pipes below solar tiles)...wish I could have had a completely smooth roof and consist Pv pattern).
Maybe tolerances have changed recently
 

mje123

Member
Oct 6, 2021
6
3
North Bay
Was not my experience (about option of cutting vent pipes below solar tiles)...wish I could have had a completely smooth roof and consist Pv pattern).
Maybe tolerances have changed recently
My install was in August 2021, The crew said it was a fairly new method approved by their engineers.
 

Vines

Active Member
Jul 20, 2018
2,081
2,518
Silicon Valley, CA
I was told by Sunrun that vent pipes (aka stinkholes) have to stick 6 inches above the roof plane if you do not have snow, but 12 inches if you do get snow.

I sent them this link, which indicates that the 6" can be reduced to 2" if solar panels are mounted above the stinkhole to prevent anything from getting into said hole from above.


They were already mounting my panels on 6" stand-offs instead of tile hooks, so I thought this meant they could cover the ever living hell out of my roof instead of working around the stinkholes.

But Sunrun's design team said they wouldn't research this stinkhole code thing on existing homes with Contra Costa County. And the County permitting department never called me back after I left a few voicemails with them. Sad.

Apparently it would break Sunrun's policy to shorten stinkhole vent stacks, and mount panels over the top of them (with some air gap). Not that it'd matter anyway, PG&E wouldn't let me get more panels because PG&E sucks.

Regarding the main panel upgrade... I had a ton of nonsense because my gas riser was within 36 inches of the main service panel. I think whether you have this gas riser problem or not, it may actually be cheaper to break up your project into two chunks. You can find one electrician to submit the permit and do all the work on the main service panel replacement with a solar-ready 200A (with 225A busbar). This way PG&E has no doubt in their mind your work on this part of the project is only for a main panel.

Once you have your fancy new main panel, get back in touch with Tesla and they'll be like - cool. When I was getting bids; Tesla wanted to charge way more for this main panel work than what a stand-alone electrician would have charged (this was before I learned my gas riser was too close to the MSP).
Just FYI, the referenced portion of that code 2018 IRC 3103.1.3 is not adopted by California.

I am curious what justification Tesla will use to cover them in San Jose. Certainly from my experience San Jose is picky about covering vents.
 

h2ofun

Active Member
Aug 11, 2020
3,048
661
auburn, ca
Just FYI, the referenced portion of that code 2018 IRC 3103.1.3 is not adopted by California.

I am curious what justification Tesla will use to cover them in San Jose. Certainly from my experience San Jose is picky about covering vents.
Seems to me no way would vents want to be covered. They are there for a reason, with details how they have to be installed. And to cover them seems to be making changing these specs.
 

Vines

Active Member
Jul 20, 2018
2,081
2,518
Silicon Valley, CA
Seems to me no way would vents want to be covered. They are there for a reason, with details how they have to be installed. And to cover them seems to be making changing these specs.
It's safe as long as you follow the code. Some jurisdictions allow it, others do not regardless of the code.

Read the article @holeydonut posted for more information if interested.
 
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h2ofun

Active Member
Aug 11, 2020
3,048
661
auburn, ca
It's safe as long as you follow the code. Some jurisdictions allow it, others do not regardless of the code.

Read the article @holeydonut posted for more information if interested.
Interesting, I learn something new everyday. One code that impacted me, that my installers seemed to not know about, in my county is clearance.
They said and installed all sides to 36 inches. But, I now find the code is 18 inches. I could have place a lot more panels on my south and west facing if
they had known this, or I, and asked why. I do believe the 36 is safer, but, ....


The vent opening must communicate with outside air over an area no less than the area of the vent pipe, measured on the inside. For a 2-in. pipe (1-in. radius), that area is 3.14 sq. in. Assuming the pipe is clear around all sides, a panel could be as close as 1/2 in. above the vent and still provide the minimum 3.14 sq. in. of communication with the outside air.
 

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