Tesla Solar Roof - A Builders Perspective

Tesla Solar Roof – A Builders Perspective

Matt Risinger tours a custom home with a Tesla Solar Panel Roof. The builder on the job walks him through the install of these impressive panels. What does the builder think and should you consider them for your next build or roof replacement?

Also see Matt Ferrell’s Tesla Power Wall posts:

YouTube Video Transcript:

Hey Truitt, this looks like a metal roof from the street, but there’s something different. What is this? Rude! Yes, sir, this looks like a metal roof, but it’s actually the Tesla solar roof. Oh baby, today’s build show: Tesla solar roof. Let’s get going!

All right, guys, let me introduce you to Truitt Jenkins. Truitt’s a second-generation builder. We’re with Jenkins Design Build here on a project outside of Austin, Texas. Is this your first time using this, Truitt? Yes, sir, it is. So, give me the walkthrough on the system.

These are the panels, these are the roofing that we’re seeing actually on this roof right here, yes, sir. So, here, you’re looking at two different tiles. So, we actually have a performing tile, so it’s actually taking advantage of the UV rays and converting it into energy. Okay, and that you can see. Oh, you got a full, that’s actually the non-performing tile, let’s leave that in, I like it.

It is hard to tell, guys. This is the Performing tile, and what Truitt just had is the non-performing towel, and the only reason he could tell was we flipped it over and realized, “Oh, this doesn’t have the camera.” That’s funny, right? Yep. Do you know how these are made? It’s uh, from what I remember reading about it, this front face is some type of special glass, yes, sir, uh, and then probably there’s a laminate, because there it looks appears to be a metal substrate underneath. Is that right? That’s correct, yeah.

It’s similar to the windshield on your car, so if you have impact on the front side, uh, it can, the structure can still stay intact from the back side because it has that metal backing. Okay, that makes sense. So, in theory, you have a big enough uh, hail storm, you might be able to crack these, but you’re not going to break through it. It’s not going to be like shattering a tempered glass door, let’s say, where all that glass falls to the ground, and you could walk right in the house, correct? Although my roofer has actually also told me that they’ve had softball-size hail hit these tiles and have had no problems. Dang, that’s pretty impressive, yes, sir.

Now, on this house, in particular, were you worried about when you were designing it which roofs are facing which direction, right? Because we don’t have a rack to kind of move and integrate, we’re dealing strictly with pitch. Did you design this roof initially, or design a house, I should say? You guys are design-build with the solar roof in mind? No, sir, we actually were planning to just do a metal standing-seam roof, okay? And then the client wanted to change to the Tesla roof, and so on Tesla’s end, they engineer it where they determine exactly how many performing tiles they need based on, like, the last 12-month weather patterns, and there are various other calculations involved with that. It’s pretty wild.

And how much solar is actually this roof going to produce? You know how big the array is? Yes, sir, yeah, this is about a 50 KW. Holy C**P, that’s a lot of solar. Now, this is not a small house either here, but 50 KW, that’s a lot of these panels, I suspect. And I was talking to your roofer before we started, Capacity Roofing, And it looks like this is pretty straightforward. When these panels go in, these actually connect to the adjoining panels, yep, and then ultimately you’re going to run this DC power the panels are producing DC through some conduit into your garage where the inverters are going to leverage, correct? Yes, sir, and it’ll take that DC power, invert it to AC, and then the batteries will actually receive AC power and send that to the house. Okay, that’s pretty cool. Talk to me about install, how different is this and where do you start on install with this roof compared to, you know, say a metal roof? You know, it’s really not too difficult to install. That’s one of the benefits of it. Obviously, you start with your underlayment, which Tesla has its own underlayment that they specify that just sticks on, and in our case, the underlayment they just applied it right on top of the previous underlayment that we had for the metal roof. Now, the underlayment that I saw that you showed me, man, it feels pretty bomber. I don’t know the exact specs, but it looks to be like a really thick 40 or maybe more mil thick, probably high temperature asphaltic based, uh, you know, ice and water Shield, but you could use all over the place. And then what’s interesting about this system, uh, Truitt, is that it kind of naturally has an air gap underneath the panels by this clip system. You can talk to me about that at all? Yes, sir. Yeah, we have, uh, we do have an air gap underneath these panels, so if you do have, uh, you have rain or anything coming through, it’s going to have plenty of airflow to dry that out. And in fact, it’s a rain screen Roof System, right? Just like you and I are installing claddings on walls with an air gap behind it, this roof is the same way. Pretty ingenious though, this panel is how they connect up. Let’s see if I can do it on camera here, but there’s a hook that catches it, snaps in, and I’m hearing that this could even potentially get pulled later.

Is that true? Is that what we’ve heard as well? Yeah, it’s pretty easy. You just snap these off, snap these off, and then pull the tile out. Pretty much. How about that? You know, your roofer mentioned that he might actually give me a demo of that. Let’s go check that out. A little bit of a, uh, tough, uh, climb to get up on that roof, so we’re going to let the drone film this. But the roofer, Capos, tells me that these panels, because they clip together, you could actually, if you had a problem in the future, if you needed to service something or do something, you can actually unclip a middle panel. How crazy is that? I mean, it’s not easy if you’ve got a double lock standing seam metal roof to try and get one of those panels off. It’s not easy to pull a shingle or a tile, but this supposedly can be unclipped to do service, so we’re going to watch from the drone and see them do that. Man, that’s pretty sweet too that you can actually pull a panel in the center. I also really liked, uh, the roofer was telling me that you actually have two roof jacks. So, like, where you had a plumbing vent on the other side here, you’ve got a plumbing, um, penetration flashing, but you also have another one underneath at the deck level, and with that inch and a half air gap, I suspect this actually would be a pretty energy efficient roof because you’ve got that space for any heat build-up on this black roof to kind of dissipate out, right? Correct. Yes, sir. Yep. We, uh, we spray our ceilings with foam, so having that extra air gap above the tiles gives plenty of room for ventilation and keeps the inside of the garage nice and cool. I love it. So, conditioned attic in this house. Also, random side note here, notice you’re doing, uh, ZIP 2.0 on your house. Nice job. Looks like some really good details there. But back to the tiles. I’m curious, can you give us any idea of cost on these? Turret, uh, you know, you’ve been building for years, and I’ve been friends with you guys for more than a decade. I’ve seen you guys put clay tile on. I’ve seen you put metal on. You’re not typically doing asphalt shingles on your house, but give me some idea of range of cost for this. Yes, sir. Yeah, obviously, it’s going to depend on the circumstance, the size, how many performing tiles versus non-performing tiles, but in general, at least in this application, it was about three to four times the cost for the Tesla compared to the metal.

Okay, however, once you factor in the 30% federal tax credit, you’re going to see that number reduce. And you also have to factor in the fact that you’re receiving less electricity costs because of the solar. That’s pretty awesome! And this is a multi-decade roof, right? Impact-resistant, this glass is not breaking down in the sun. This is a really impressive roof. I always thought also thought it was interesting that the some of the details, for instance, a little hard to see here from the ground, but the edge panels, those are 24 gauge kinar painted metal. The valleys, where you can see them, those are 24 gauge metal as well. So you’ve got a really bomber roof system that’s going to last. I would suspect at least 50 plus years. This is not going to get changed out when a Texas hail storm comes through. This system is very durable because it has a class 3 hail rating, which is if you stop, if you drop an inch and three-quarter steel ball 20 feet above it, it should not shatter. Wow, so there’s your hail rating. And then also has a Class A fire rating, which is the best fire rating. How about that? You know, Trude, I actually have a pretty similar product to a 1 3/4 inch steel ball. You don’t happen to have any of these laying around at the dumpster that I could do a little rogue hail testing, do you? Yes, sir. Whatever you want. Let’s check it out. Golf ball hail simulation test, build show style. We got a solar roof panel. Let’s check it out on the edge, and it still did fine. That’s impressive! This golf ball I just whipped at this panel, I think I hit right in here somewhere. I don’t see any cracking. I don’t see anything. That looks really good. I suspect you could crack it with a big enough ball or a hard enough throw, but don’t forget when your roof’s at an angle, and that hail is coming down, it’s going to bounce off. It’s not quite the same as a direct hit in this kind of scenario, but still, even on a jobsite test, looks like it did pretty well. Okay, now that we got the impact test done, let’s talk to the roofer here. I got Matthew with Capos. Matthew, nice to see you again. We did pretty well on that test, brother. Absolutely not bad at all. Now, could I have broken it in theory? Yes. Unbreakable, right? To be honest with you, I turned my back and I did not look at the test, but we’ve done a lot of these tests in the office, including hitting it with a hammer, because right now we’re on a golf course. Yeah, and one thing that we’ve seen on multi-million dollar homes is that they have concrete tile or clay tile roofs, and if they’re anywhere close to me with my notorious shank, we found that they’re generally replacing 10 or 15 tiles every year.

Is that right? And then the existing tiles fade over time, and then it sort of looks like a patchwork. And nobody with this type of property would ever want something like that. So, with the pitch and with the tempered glass, this is really a great product to stand up against those hail storms that we get here. And then you’re going to be saving money from replacing your roof, doing any type of inconvenience, and these things are very strong. That’s pretty crazy. You know, when I came here, I was thinking the story is solar and getting the look of not having solar but having solar, but I think ultimately the story I really like is that this is a system that’s incredibly durable, really well thought out. Now you’ve installed more than one of these, right? This is not your first day on the Tesla solar job, right? It’s a truly revolutionary product. Is what we’re dealing with. Are you seeing this get adopted more and more? Absolutely. Kind of in the early custom of this, right? In Texas, we’ve been very reluctant to get into solar unlike California, but now that the cost of PV has sort of gotten to a good point, and we have the 30% tax credit being extended, we’re really seeing people look at solar, reducing those energy costs. And then also, here in Austin, I know that we had a large power outage at the beginning of this year, and the last thing anybody wants is for their family to not have heat in the winter for three or four days. So, people are coupling the Tesla solar roof with the battery backup with the power walls so that during the day, they can power their home and charge their batteries, and then in the evening, they can discharge the batteries. Where if the grid goes out, I’m already seeing warnings coming up for summer high heat because we’re having so many people move to Texas. That people are really looking to have that electricity independence and not being so reluctant on the relying on the grid. That’s pretty cool. So, this house 50 KW solar on your solar roof. How much battery storage do we have going on? Ten batteries, 10 power walls. 10 power walls, yes. So, that is enough to charge all the appliances. And this is generally you’re going to want it to. This is a 12 to 15 an hour type backup situation where when the Sun goes down and then the Sun comes back up. Yeah, it’s because they’re going to constantly be recharged, so you’re not you’re not, you don’t have a battery that’s supposed to last for two weeks. It’s supposed to be recharged every day. Yeah, that makes sense. And talk to me about how much this particular house is going to rely on the solar versus grid power. We can, we did over 100% to take to completely reduce their electricity bill. Okay. Um, and people are going that way because we also, we plan for today, but we also plan for tomorrow. So, as new technology comes out five to ten years with a roof that has a warranty for 25, that’s expected to last a lot longer. People are going to be adding more technology, and we make sure that we incorporate that into our estimates whenever we’re they’re building the home. So, in theory, someday maybe we could unplug from the grid with this kind of system, right?

Absolutely, yeah. We have, um, when we installed this, the Tesla solar roof with the power walls, it’s not hooked up to the grid yet, and we have customers that are already using it that are thrilled. And it’s for the first two weeks, all they do is they stare at their phone, and if a cloud flies over, they show their production drops a little bit, but then it goes back up. And we get text messages about how it works during the rain, and on cloudy days. It’s really something that is, it’s a perfect product that more and more people are adopting because they’re looking 25, you know, 30 years down the road and really having that electricity and independence. Very cool. Matthew, thanks for coming out to see me on the job site. It’s always a pleasure. Bye, K. Post. Thank you. Let’s go back to see the builder here and finish this video up. Alright, let’s talk about controls. How will your clients kind of know what’s happening with the solar and you know, this whole system? Yes, sir. So there’s actually two methods of control for the client. So, uh, there first there’s the span panels which are smart electrical panels, yes, sir, and so we’re going to replace the uh, two main 200 amp electrical panels with span panels. Okay, and the client will have control through the span app, and they will actually be able to see, okay, what all are my loads at this moment, and then they can actually turn off and on breakers from the app. How about that? That’s one form of control, and another form of control is through the Tesla app itself, and that allows more customization with the actual how the roof actually functions. So you can choose things like when do you want to pull from the batteries? Do you want to pull from the batteries during peak hours so that you use less grid power when it’s most expensive? That’s a common thing that people would do. So there’s various ways to customize through, five o’clock in July, that’s when power is most expensive, everybody’s got their AC on it, exactly. So that’d be a great time to pull from the batteries and stuff. Yes, sir, and I guess you could, in theory, you may not have that here, but there are places where you can get time-based metering too, so you can pay less money with the system, correct? What about the power goes out in the neighbourhood though for two weeks and by the way, it’s cloudy or snowy out? Is there any other form of backup for this house?

Yes sir, there is actually on this house. We have two backup generators because the way the Tesla system works now is you have to have a generator for each Gateway, and the Gateway basically transfers power a certain direction depending on what’s needed. So, you can pull from the grid, you can pull from solar, or you can pull from the batteries via the Gateway. So, you have to have a generator for each Gateway, which is why we have two generators backing up each one. That’s some serious resilience right there. Holy cow, that is impressive. We need to come back here. What do you think about having us back when you get all this installed? Yes sir, that power walls get in, the spans get in, it’d be really fun to see. It’d be our pleasure. Comment below if you want us to come back to this house and see what the Jenkins team did at the end. I think this is going to be a really cool house. Thank you so much for the tour. Very impressive, by the way. If you guys want to learn more about Jenkins Custom Homes, believe it or not, their website is newhousebuilder.com. They grabbed that in the 90s. That is so awesome. I love that that’s your website address. And if you want to learn more about Tesla and the roofer that was here on site with us today, I’ll put a link to both those in the description below. Very impressive. My first time seeing it on site, and to be honest, I thought the story really was about solar, but there’s a so much more interesting stuff going on here. And the last thing I want to say is, you know, this is a big house, this is a client who has the money to do whatever they want, but I think what you’re going to see here is just like Cadillac came out with airbags in their cars and I don’t know, the 80s probably, and now even the least expensive Kia on the road has airbags, I suspect we’re going to see the same thing happening with Tesla solar roof, with batteries, with the resilience story that Jenkins Customs Homes is kind of leading the pack on here. So that maybe, you know, your kids when they get involved in the business in 20 years, this is kind of a standard feature even on modestly priced houses. Absolutely. In the way, brother. Really appreciate it. Thanks for having us. Our pleasure. Thank you. I’ll put a link to these guys in the description below. Hey, guys, if you’re not currently a subscriber, hit that subscribe button. We’ve got new content here in the Build Show every Tuesday and every Friday. Follow us on Instagram or TikTok. Otherwise, we’ll see you next time on Build Show.

Original YouTube Post: https://youtu.be/85A1nQ0jwL4

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