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NAMASTE SOLAR BLOG. Tesla roof system

NAMASTE SOLAR BLOG. Tesla roof system

    The Tesla Solar Roof: Pros and Cons of Installing Solar Roof Tiles

    Tesla’s Solar Roof tiles have been creating plenty of buzz in the world of solar power, and some people want to know more about these tiles and if Namaste Solar installs them. Namaste Solar does not currently install Solar Roof tiles, but we can help you cut through some of the media hype to decide whether solar roof tiles are a good option for you. In this post we’ll look at the pros and cons of the Tesla Solar Roof for your residential solar energy system.

    Tesla Solar Roof: What You Need to Know

    Deployment of Tesla’s Solar Roof product has been slow with significant delays. According to PV Magazine, there may only be 100 Solar Roof systems connected to the grid so far, even though the product has been available for three years. The wait may be worth it for some who value the differentiating elements of the product. Other homeowners may want to start seeing the benefits of clean solar energy now, including seeing solar savings in their

    Pros of Tesla Roof Tiles

    Design: The most noticeable difference between solar panels and the Solar Roof is design. Tesla offers four different styles to choose from; textured, smooth, Tuscan, or slate styled solar roof tiles. The tiles mimic the look of a traditional roof so your neighbors won’t even know you have solar on your house (though many of our customers enjoy being solar trendsetters). If you want to maintain the aesthetics of your rooftop, the Solar Roof tiles are a great option for adding solar energy to your home.

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    Warranty and durability: Tesla roof tiles are made with tempered glass that is more durable than standard roofing tiles. Tesla stands behind the durability of their product with an infinite warranty (or the lifetime of your house). We don’t know the full details of their warranty, but that’s quite a bold offer.

    Cons of Tesla Roof Tiles

    Cost: To install Tesla’s Solar Roof, you’re required to replace your whole roof – even if you don’t need a new roof right now. That means you’re paying for the cost of both a solar energy system and a new roof. According to EnergySage, on an apples-to-apples comparison: “Tesla’s solar roof will cost nearly 25,000 more than installing solar panels, and yet will only deliver 77 percent as much solar electricity (due to it being a smaller system size).

    Unknown Maintenance Costs: Since the Tesla roof tiles are a new product, the maintenance costs and processes are an unknown. If you have a roof leak, for example, how complex would it be to fix? Could you call a roofer in your area or would Tesla be the only company able to perform the fix – and how much more would that cost than a regular roof repair? There is also the question of how Tesla will deliver on the infinite warranty for required maintenance. Will the company have the financial strength and longevity to deliver on that guarantee?

    Unknown Return on Investment: When you crunch the numbers (like this Forbes contributor did), solar panels still offer a significantly higher return on investment. According to their head-to-head comparison of the Tesla Solar Roof vs. solar panels for the same house, the Tesla Solar Roof cost 48.9% more and yielded just 2.79% of the savings that the solar panels delivered. In other words, with the Solar Roof you pay almost 50% more and get 97% less in savings. Ouch.

    Are Solar Roof Tiles for You?

    The Tesla Solar Roof is an option for homeowners who are concerned about the aesthetics of their rooftop because the tiles look like a traditional rooftop. The tiles do come with a high price tag, though, and will make a Tesla Solar Roof cost prohibitive for many homeowners. Solar panels are still a reliable, tested, and durable option for homeowners who are looking for a great return on investment.

    On the Front Range and Thinking About Going Solar?

    If your home is on the Front Range in Colorado, Namaste Solar is happy to help you decide if solar is the right fit for you! Reach out to get a quote from one of our non-commissioned solar experts today.

    Recommended Reading:

    Tesla Solar Reviews, Panels, and Installation

    Do Tesla’s solar panels live up to the hype? Read our in-depth review to get all your questions answered.

    namaste, solar, blog, tesla
    • Fast Facts
    • Benefits Drawbacks
    • Tesla Solar Reviews
    • Tesla Overview
    • Cost Payment
    • Our Recommendation

    Affiliate Disclaimer: All products and services featured are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

    namaste, solar, blog, tesla

    Although Tesla started as an auto company, it made a name for itself in the solar industry when it unveiled its solar roof in 2016. The product has a modern, eye-catching roof design that uses small solar panels to mimic the appearance of regular roof shingles. This sleek look, combined with Tesla’s widely recognizable name, has made it a popular choice among homeowners. But how good are Tesla solar panels, really?

    We analyzed solar panel specifications, industry trends, customer service reviews, and more to determine the top solar energy companies available to put this to the test. This Tesla solar panels review covers the company’s products, payment options, reputation, services, and more.

    Important Note: Tesla makes solar panels and batteries, but it doesn’t install them. Choose from one of the Tesla certified installers below to install your Tesla solar products.

    Offers unique solar roofs for low-key aesthetic Offers 24/7 active monitoring Produces its own solar battery, the Powerwall

    Available in 50 states Has been in the industry since 1985 Provides its own monocrystalline solar panels

    Available in 23 states 25-year warranties for the product, labor, and inverter Power protection guarantee

    25-year workmanship and product warranty Perks for new construction homeowners Available in 20 states

    Fast Facts About Tesla

    BBB rating is accurate as of April 2023.

    Benefits and Drawbacks of Tesla

    UpsidesDownsides

    Tesla Solar Reviews

    We analyzed the 100 most recent additions to Google Reviews for Tesla ’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California. Overall, the reviews were mixed, with 47% being three stars or less. However, these reviews also covered Tesla’s cars, not just its solar products. Customers primarily complained that Tesla doesn’t have human customer service representatives. People also had difficulty scheduling repairs for products like its solar battery, the Powerwall. positive reviews praise the quality of Tesla’s products and the company’s efforts to make renewable energy accessible. Read what some customers had to say below.

    Absolutely love our … Solar Panels : We had a 5 kW system and upgraded to 10 kW, customer service was top notch, and the whole experience was delightful (both times). Powerwalls : A MUST if you’re getting solar … love the app, look at it three times/day. Always a fun challenge to get below net grid usage. Welcome to the future built by Tesla. … We are largely energy independent. Thank you, Tesla Team! ” —Aaron Nutten via Google Reviews

    The salespeople are very helpful, and they answer all questions you may have…. ” —Libby Chang via Google Reviews

    I’ve called customer service four separate times, and I still don’t have access to automatic billing in my Tesla Account. Terrible customer service. ” —Brandon T. via Google Reviews

    Tesla energy use[s] deceptive practices and conman sales tactics! First off, it took over two years from the date of the deposit to installation of the two Powerwalls ! And before installation they were going to finance the project at 2.5% and get me the SGIP rebates. I was told in emails and verbally that Tesla would file the SGIP rebate documents with the utility company…. Now after the project is completed I’m being told that they can no longer file the SGIP forms, and I will have to pay full price for the project. ” —Jay Garden via Google Reviews

    Tesla Overview

    Tesla has been making a name for itself in alternative energy with its electric vehicles (EVs) since 2003. In 2016, it acquired SolarCity and began providing renewable energy products for residential solar energy systems. It later introduced the Tesla Powerwall solar battery, which has become one of the most popular solar batteries on the market. Tesla is also known for its solar roofs. Rather than simply placing solar panels on your existing roof, the Tesla solar roof uses minimalistic solar panels to create a new roof with no visible grid. a concealed edge, and a low profile. This makes the Tesla panels look like typical roof shingles and offers a modern, less noticeable style. Tesla’s solar roofs also use monocrystalline solar panels. the most efficient currently available. Tesla’s solar products and services are available in all 50 states but vary according to zip code. We recommend checking with the company to see whether it services your home’s address. Get your Solar quote today.

    What We Still Don’t Know About Tesla’s Solar Roof

    The team at Pick My Solar tackle unanswered questions about the highly anticipated and still mysterious solar roof.

    On May 10, Tesla announced it has begun taking orders for the company’s highly anticipated Solar Roof systems. The Tesla website now provides more details about the cost and durability of the tiles and allows interested homeowners to place a 1,000 deposit for the system.

    For those who understand solar, however, the announcement of the new solar roof has prompted more questions than answers. On Pick My Solar’s blog, we briefly discussed the economics of Tesla’s solar tiles and found them to be significantly overpriced. A number of questions have subsequently been raised that Tesla has left ambiguous or unanswered:

    • How can we accurately compare the cost of the Solar Roof to standard solar panel systems?
    • How will Solar Roofs work with the federal Investment Tax Credit?
    • What’s the efficiency of the Solar Roof tiles? How does this compare to conventional solar panels?
    • How much do the tiles weigh?
    • What about flat roofs?
    • How does the durability of the solar tiles compare to conventional solar panels?
    • Who should get a Solar Roof?

    In this comprehensive review, we’ll investigate each of these important questions to reveal what’s known and still unknown about this new solar product. The Tesla Solar Roof follows a long line of largely unsuccessful building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) products. Despite all the excitement it has generated, the jury is still out on whether or not this product will meet a similar fate.

    How can we accurately compare the cost of the Solar Roof to standard solar panel systems?

    The cost and lifetime value of the Solar Roof depends on the size of your roof and electricity bill. A higher utility bill means greater electricity consumption, which means you will need more solar-generating tiles compared to non-solar tiles. Generally, the higher your utility bill, the more attractive the economics of the Solar Roof become.

    Tesla has stated that it “believe[s] in transparency and putting the customer in control.” As such, the company created a Solar Roof Calculator to show upfront estimates for the system. It’s a fun tool, but it does lack certain key pieces of information that would enable a consumer to accurately compare the system cost to a standard solar PV system.

    The calculator will display the total system cost and percent blend of solar tiles to non-solar tiles, but it doesn’t show you the power rating of the system. An easy workaround for this is to input the home address in Pick My Solar’s solar calculator, which will provide upfront the needed system size for a given location and bill amount.

    Once you know the system production size in kilowatts for the Solar Roof, you can determine the key metric for comparing solar system costs: price per watt. Multiply the roof square footage by the percentage of solar tiles, multiply by 42 per square foot (what Tesla has disclosed as the solar tile cost), then divide the amount by the number of watts. With this methodology, we’ve determined that the solar-only portion of the Solar Roof costs 6.30 per watt, give or take 0.50 per watt because the solar coverage slider on the Tesla calculator only moves in 10 percent increments.

    A cost of 6.30 per watt is essentially double some of the solar available today, and translates to a 25,000-35,000 premium on standard solar panel systems for the solar-only aspect of Solar Roofs. Is that premium worth it for superior aesthetics? Do you need a new roof, and are you in the market for something high-end? If you answered yes to both of those questions, you may want to consider putting down 1,000.

    How will Solar Roofs work with the federal Investment Tax Credit?

    On the Solar Roof calculator, Tesla says that the 30 percent federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) applies to both the entire roof and the Powerwall energy storage product. But this isn’t as clear-cut as the Tesla website would lead you to believe.

    BIPV doesn’t fit into the mold of the ITC structure and would need a special appeal process in order to determine which components of the system apply for the credit on a case-by-case basis. For example, solar shingles will qualify for the ITC, while the non-solar ones may not. This will depend on whether the IRS determines that the non-solar components of the Solar Roof are “so specifically engineered that it is in essence part of the machinery or equipment with which it functions.”

    It will likely be a lengthy process for the IRS to clarify the ITC code. Hopefully Tesla will take care of this entire process for homeowners or educate them completely on the process of claiming the tax credit. Time is short, however.- this incentive is phasing down beginning in January 2020 and concludes in 2022. Considering the long timeline Tesla will need to fully scale Solar Roof production, many homeowners may not even be able to benefit from the entire credit.

    Despite what’s shown on Tesla’s calculator, customers shouldn’t expect the full ITC benefits. The delay to receive a Solar Roof is likely to be even longer for customers outside of California. In the meantime, potential Solar Roof customers won’t be buying solar products that are already on the market today.

    “Taking preorders for this unproven technology will undeniably have a negative impact on the adoption of solar,” said Pick My Solar CEO Max Aram. “By leveraging Tesla’s sexy brand, Elon Musk can lure a few thousand homeowners off the solar market. Many of these homeowners may never get their system turned on before the expiration of the federal tax credit.

    The difference between the Solar Roof and the Model 3 is that Tesla has already proven they can manufacture great cars and that the Model 3 is coming at an affordable price point, he added. With solar roofs, [the company] hasn’t proven either.

    What’s the efficiency of the Solar Roof tiles, and how does this compare to conventional solar panels?

    Tesla plans to manufacture the entire product in Buffalo, New York, with cells made from its partner, Panasonic. Peter Rive, former CTO at SolarCity and now head of solar tech at Tesla, said the efficiency of the solar tile is equivalent to a standard solar module.

    However, SolarCity’s website breaks down the anatomy of the solar tiles, including how the colored louver film “allows the cells to blend into the roof while minimizing solar efficiency loss.” This implies that some efficiency is sacrificed for the system’s aesthetics.

    To date, Panasonic’s most efficient solar cells in production are the N330 HIT modules, which have an efficiency of 19.7 percent. The highest efficiency cells they’ve developed in lab are 23.5 percent. The market average efficiency of solar modules is around 16 percent, while the average for modules installers use on the Pick My Solar marketplace is around 19.5 percent.

    Assuming that the colored louver film only reduces efficiency buy a few percentage points and that Tesla would be including the highest efficiency Panasonic technology in the tiles, that would validate Peter Rive’s claim that the solar tiles have more or less equal efficiency to standard PV panels.

    At the end of the day, efficiency is not a deal breaker unless a home has limited roof space, in which case high-efficiency standard modules would be the better option. For homes with constrained roof space, it’s helpful to compare efficiency in terms of kilowatt per square foot. We’ve determined that Tesla Solar Roofs produce about 6 watts per square foot, whereas a high-efficiency module would produce 19 watts per square foot.

    Simply put, if you do not have a lot of roof space in an area with the appropriate conditions for solar, a high-efficiency module system is a much better option.

    How much do the tiles weigh?

    According to Tesla, Solar Roof tiles are half the weight of a standard tile. However, the company has never defined what tile material it considers to be “standard.” Concrete tiles weigh between 9.5 and 12 pounds per square foot, while asphalt shingles only weigh 2.5 to 4 pounds per square foot. Spanish tile can weigh up to 19 pounds per square foot, but lightweight versions are only 6 pounds. Slate tiles weigh between 7 and 10 pounds per square foot.

    We would guess that, when factoring in all of the solar tile electronic components, the tiles will weigh between 15 and 20 pounds per square foot, but it’s hard to say considering how vague Tesla has been in its statements.

    It’s unclear whether more supporting components will be needed in the sheathing of the roof to support the solar tiles. If so, that would significantly drive up the net cost of the system. Regardless, it seems clear that installing the shingles will be an extremely complicated process.

    “Aesthetically, the Solar Roof is beautiful, but we’ll need to wait and see how Tesla will resolve taking it to market,” said Trevor Leeds, president of Chandler’s Roofing, one of Pick My Solar’s roofing partners. “Roofing is a different animal than solar. There are different variables that have to be considered like waterproofing and the roof-attachment method. Compliance codes for roofing are also much different than those for solar. Will Tesla figure out how to be a national roofing contractor? Is Tesla looking to assume this liability and overhead? All of these unknowns will need to be worked out.”

    What about flat roofs?

    In sales training seminars, Tesla revealed that homes with flat roofs are not eligible for the Solar Roof. Solar Roofs can only be installed on roofs with a pitch of 3:12 (14 degrees) and more. This is a clear disadvantage versus standard solar systems, which can utilize a tilted racking system for flat surfaces.

    Tiled roofing in general isn’t typically recommended for flat roofs due to waterproofing constraints, which is an understandably greater risk considering the intricate electrical wiring in the Solar Roof. Another restriction for flat Solar Roofs may also be that the colored louvers from the solar tiles significantly inhibit production from a flat angle.

    How does the durability of the solar tiles compare to conventional solar panels?

    The Solar Roof has a warranty of “infinity, or the lifetime of your house, whichever come first.” Tesla clearly is confident in the durability of the tempered glass tiles. These claims, obviously unproven at this time, are supported by the company’s entertaining videos of the tiles being pummeled by hail cannons in slow motion.

    How does this compare to conventional solar panels? Standard solar modules are usually warranted by the manufacturer for 25 years, and will typically last much longer. Panels consist of a glass layer on top, a protective backsheet on the bottom, and an aluminum frame to protect the individual solar cells inside.

    Tempered glass is up to six times stronger than regular plate glass. In fact, the material is already used in most, but not all, solar panel brands. Some cheaper panel manufacturers will use regular plate glass instead to cut costs. However, LG, SunPower, Canadian Solar, Hyundai and other large manufacturers all use tempered glass.

    A comparison video of a Solar Roof tile and a tempered-glass solar panel being shot at by hail cannons and other heavy objects would quickly reveal the winner in this category. Until then, we’ll never know which one is actually more durable, because they are made of the exact same material and there aren’t any more details available at this time.

    One factor that has not been discussed enough is how the solar components of the Solar Roofs will be replaced after the production degrades too much. Useful solar production is guaranteed by Tesla to last 30 years. Whereas regular panels could be easily replaced after this time, it’s likely going to be an expensive and labor-intensive process to retrofit Solar Roofs.

    Who should get a​ Solar Roof?

    By and large, Tesla’s Solar Roof will appeal to wealthy, tech-savvy homeowners with a passion for the environment but a disdain for the aesthetics of standard solar panel systems. These homeowners will also understand the relative risk of being an early adopter of these systems, but are still excited to be the first to experience the technology. Details like the ITC and final system cost are still unknown, so these homeowners will need a significant surplus of spending money. They’ll also.- most importantly.- need to possess a healthy level of patience, as it could be years before the system will be installed.

    Overall, Tesla’s Solar Roof has and will continue to inject excitement into the solar industry, which has had its fair share of bad news these past couple of months (American module manufacturing, in particular, has been hard hit). The fact that so many media outlets and interested consumers are talking about BIPV again means that this technology is moving in the right direction.

    Elon Musk himself has admitted that the Solar Roof will have significant challenges in the coming years, particularly in ramping up production to bring down and service more territory. Building a vertically integrated national roofing company is a huge challenge by itself, and he recognizes the Solar Roofs won’t be widely available for five or maybe even 10 years to come.

    If you’re one of the lucky first few to have a Solar Roof installed on your home, invite us over!

    Max Aram is the co-founder and CEO of Pick My Solar, an online platform for comparing solar companies.

    Why Tesla’s new solar roof tiles and home battery are such a big deal

    On October 28, Tesla unveiled its new solar roof tiles. Few of us in attendance, if any, realized the solar roofing tiles were actual functional solar panels until Elon Musk said so. Sure, it’s a neat trick, but what’s the big deal?

    Why does it matter that Tesla is making a fashion statement when the point is green power and a future where we aren’t so dependent on fossil fuels?

    I’ve heard from some people suggesting that this is nothing new, because of other similar previous projects, including Dow Chemical’s canned solar shingle project, for example. Others are wary of Tesla’s ability to sway consumers with a solar solution that sounds like it’ll still be quite expensive in terms of up-front (or, with payment plans, deferred but net) installation costs. Still others aren’t clear on Tesla’s goals with this product, or how it fits into the company’s overall strategy relative to its electric vehicles.

    Looks matter

    It’s easy to dismiss the aesthetic import of how Tesla’s tiles look, but it’s actually important, and a real consideration for homeowners looking to build new homes or revamp their existing ones. The appearance of the tiles, which come in four distinct flavors (Textured Glass, Slate Glass, Tuscan Glass and Smooth Glass) is going to be a core consideration for prospective buyers, especially those at the top end of the addressable market with the disposable income available to do everything they can to ensure their home looks as good as it possibly can.

    As with other kinds of technologies that are looking to make the leap from outlier oddity to mainstream mainstay, solar has a hurdle to leap in terms of customer perception. Existing solar designs, and even so-called attempts to make them more consistent with traditional offerings like the above-mentioned Dow Chemical project, leave a lot to be desired in terms of creating something that can be broadly described as good-looking.

    It’s like the VR headset — Oculus and Google can make claims about their use of fabric making their headsets more approachable, but both are still just options somewhere along the curve of things with niche appeal. Neither is very likely to strike a truly broad audience of users as acceptable, and neither are solar panels that don’t succeed in completely disguising themselves as such.

    Halo effects

    Tesla has been referred to as the Apple of the automotive world by more than a few analysts and members of the media, and if there’s one thing Apple does well, it’s capitalize on the so-called “halo effect.” This is the phenomenon whereby customers of one of its lines of business are likely to become customers of some of the others; iPhone buyers tend to often go on to own a Mac, for instance.

    For Tesla, this represents an opportunity to jump-start its home solar business (which it’ll take on in earnest provided its planned acquisition of SolarCity goes through) through the knock-on effects of its brisk Tesla EV sales, including the tremendous pre-order interest for the Model 3. It’s strange to think of halo effects with big-ticket items, including vehicles and home energy systems, but Tesla’s fan base shares a lot of characteristics with Apple’s, and because they’re already purchasing at the level of an entire automobile, the frame of reference for what constitutes a valid halo purchase is actually appropriate.

    Tesla, like Apple, scores well with customer satisfaction and brand commitment, and that’s something that no one trying to sell a solar home energy system at scale can match. As strange as it sounds, “buying a roof because you like your car” might be the new “buying a computer because you like your phone.”

    Benefits beyond basic solar

    Tesla’s solar tiles claim to be able to power a standard home, and provide spare power via the new Powerwall 2 battery in case of inclement weather or other outages. Musk says that the overall cost will still be less than installing a regular old roof and paying the electric company for power from conventional sources. But Musk’s claims about the new benefits of the new solutions don’t end there.

    Tesla’s tiles will actually be more resilient than traditional roofing materials, including terra-cotta, clay and slate tiles. That’s because of the toughness of the glass used in their construction, according to Musk, who demonstrated the results of heavy impact from above, using a kettlebell as you can see in the video below.

    This should make them theoretically more resistant to potential damage from elements like hail, or even debris like fallen tree branches. In fact, Musk also said at the event that the roofs should far outlast the standard 20-year life cycle common for roofing materials used today — by as much as two or even three times. Fewer roof tile replacements means more value, provided that’s not already factored into his estimates of the up-front cost.

    There’s also the possibility that the new tiles could become more efficient than existing solar panel options. Though in their current form, Musk says they achieve 98 percent of the efficiency of regular panels. He said that the company is working with 3M on coatings that could help light enter the panel and then refract within, letting it capture even more of the potential energy it carries to translate that into consumable power.

    A new kind of ecosystem

    The announcement of Tesla’s solar tiles does not guarantee a sweeping solar power revolution; far from it, since Tesla says it won’t start installing the product in any consumer homes until next year, and a lot can happen between now and then. But Musk also said with full confidence that he ultimately expects the Powerwall to outsell Tesla cars, and easily so.

    Solar roofing, Powerwall and Tesla cars taken together represent a new kind of ecosystem in consumer tech, one that carries a promise of self-sufficiency in addition to ecological benefits. Tesla has already tipped its hand with respect to how it intends to make vehicle ownership a revenue generator for its drivers, rather than a cost center. You can see how it might eventually do the same for solar power using solar tile roofs combined with Powerwalls installed in series, giving homeowners surplus power generation and storage with a few different potential options for monetizing the excess (including, say, acting as a supercharger station for other Teslas, or selling back to the grid).

    It’s tempting to look at Tesla’s unveiling last week and think that it’s more of an incremental development in the home solar industry. But it’s more likely a step toward a future where individuals have more direct control over power generation, leading to a big difference in how we think about renewable energy.

    Will GAF Energy beat Tesla on integrated solar roofs?

    The sister company of roofing giant GAF has sector-spanning smarts and thousands of installs to date.

    SAN JOSE. California — GAF Energy has installed several thousand integrated solar roofs. That’s more than Tesla Energy has installed despite the ambitious promises of its CEO. Elon Musk. In fact, GAF Energy President Martin DeBono believes that his company’s just-launched photovoltaic roof shingle design positions it to solarize millions of residential roofs.

    “ What we’ve built is a nailable solar shingle that goes on as fast or faster than a regular shingle, looks great and generates electricity,” said DeBono, who spoke with Canary Media during this reporter’s recent visit to the company’s new 50.megawatt-capacity, 112. 000.square-foot manufacturing facility in San Jose, California.

    GAF Energy is a Standard Industries company and sister company to GAF. one of the world’s largest roofing companies. GAF manufactures asphalt shingles as well as roofing materials such as thermoplastic polyolefin ( TPO ), polyvinyl chloride ( PVC ) and underlayments.

    Standard Industries businesses include operating companies GAF. BMI. Grace, Siplast, Schiedel and SGI. as well as Standard Investments and Winter Properties. Forbes ranks Standard as No. 65 on its list of America’s largest private companies.

    Disrupting the roofing industry

    “ Technology has ripped apart every industry, and technology is going to change roofing. We’re the largest roofing manufacturer in the world; either we’re going to go disrupt the roofing industry ourselves or someone else will,” said DeBono.

    The CEO contrasted the traditional solar mounting process — solar panels installed on racking secured by drilling through the roof and ​ “ trying to hit a rafter” — with the GAF Energy product, ​ “ a shingle that is lapped, installed and booked just like any other shingle would be in order to create a waterproof barrier.”

    DeBono said GAF developed the product by thinking like a roofing company, not a solar company, building a roofing product that happens to have solar capabilities. He said the roofing industry is 20 times larger than the rooftop solar business and has an enormous advantage in scale.

    Residential solar installations exceeded 130. 000 systems in the U.S. last quarter, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, while more than 5 million new roofs are installed on U.S. homes each year, according to DeBono, who also said that GAF commands a 25 percent share of the U.S. roofing market.

    For a traditional solar company, the process of customer acquisition is the most expensive part of a residential solar system, costing far more per watt than the solar panels themselves. DeBono estimates that customer-acquisition costs for roofers are ​ “ typically less than 500. compared to 3. 000 to 5. 000 for a solar roof.”

    DeBono said GAF Energy is making it easier to complete the electrical connections by placing the electronics and wiring on the top side of its shingles. ​ “ GAF Energy does all the electrical services. The roofer does the roof, and at a later date, the GAF Energy employee will come and install the inverter and finish the electrical run,” he said.

    “ As the manufacturer of both the solar and the shingle itself, we want to make sure that it’s done correctly if we’re going to be on the hook for a 25.year warranty,” he said.

    Installation time is one to three days, according to DeBono, which compares favorably to the weeks-long construction process often needed to install a Tesla solar roof (despite that company’s repeated insistence that it takes only five to seven business days).

    Get Caught Up

    Can the US manufacture enough solar panels to meet its surging demand?

    “ Because it’s built as a roofing product, it has to meet roofing standards. It has to be able to be submerged in water; it has to be able to withstand hail; it has a Class A fire rating — all standards that a solar panel does not need to meet but a roof does,” said DeBono.

    It’s a roof and it’s BIPV

    GAF Energy’s solar roofing system is a type of building-integrated photovoltaics, known as BIPV. Bunea said, ​ “ It’s a roof and it’s BIPV. so when we are certifying, we have to certify in both worlds. We have roofing industry standards as well as BIPV standards.”

    She added, ​ “ The testing agencies have become smarter about building-integrated photovoltaics.”

    In September 2021. GAF Energy’s solar shingle achieved UL ’s 7103 certification, which authorizes the company to install its system on residential roofs as a roofing product and a solar energy product — the first product to be recognized as both, according to GAF Energy.

    namaste, solar, blog, tesla

    There’s huge potential for the product. Americans want solar on their homes. Even as the pandemic persisted, residential solar deployment in the U.S. was up 21 percent in 2021 compared to the previous year, reaching a record 3. 9 gigawatts, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

    BIPV is a tough business

    But GAF Energy has some competition. In addition to Tesla, there are a number of BIPV designers and installers operating today, including ArteZanos, Atum, CertainTeed, Forward, Heliatek, Lumeta, SunTegra, Ubiquitous Energy and Viridian Solar.

    There is also a long list of less-than-successful BIPV efforts.

    But GAF Energy’s parent company is fully behind its lofty aims.

    “ Realizing our vision of a breakthrough mass-market solar roof has been our mission since we launched GAF Energy in 2019 ,” said David Winter and David Millstone, co-CEOs of Standard Industries, in a press release.

    DeBono notes that unlike the offerings of some other high-profile vendors, ​ “ The product is available today; it’s not vaporware.” He adds, ​ “ Our mission is energy from every roof, starting with composite shingle roofs.”

    Correction: This story initially reported that GAF Energy’s mono PERC solar cells are domestically manufactured. In fact, they are manufactured overseas, not in the U.S. (though not in China).

    Eric Wesoff is the editorial director at Canary Media.

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