Exploring If Tesla Solar Roof Is About To Go Mainstream?

– Tesla made a huge splash
in the solar panel world when they unveiled the latest version of the Tesla solar roof. But since then, we haven't
seen too much about it. Is it a bargain or a bust, or a solar tiles of
about to go mainstream? I'm Matt Farrell. Welcome to Undecided. (upbeat music) (air whooshing) When Tesla unveiled version
three of the Tesla solar roof in October of 2019, it caught a lot of our attention. They spent a great deal of time and effort to refine
the installation process to make it faster and more
affordable to install. Like larger tiles to increase efficiency in manufacturing costs, as well as reducing the number of parts needed to install it by half. In the end, it's reduced the overall cost of installing a Tesla
solar roof by about 40%. But since that announcement, there hasn't been much said about it. We've seen some customers
sharing their experiences online, but I've been really curious about what it's been like to install them. So I reached out to a roofing company that's doing just that. Elan had mentioned during the announcement that they were most likely
gonna ramp up a partner program to bring installers into the fold to support the rollout.

I had a chance to speak to Eric Weddle from
Weddle and Sons Roofing who's the CFO and head of
their Colorado operations and one of Tesla's partner – Everything's still kinda the pilot with our relationship, because we've been one
of the early entrance the way that we work with them now, it may not be the way that
we worked with them forever. You know, initially they shared some leads with us that had been kind
of sitting in their queue for a long time in territory
in Kansas, Nebraska where they had no direct presence. So, they've kind of been experimenting with redirecting people to
us that are in our territory – As a roofing company, it was interesting to hear
what their training was like, and how well thought out it was. – The first week was a classroom kind of classroom warehouse based. So, as a team, we would sit and work through kind
of installation stuff. And then we would go out
into the warehouse adjacent and practice on those things. Then you go out and they have
two test houses built onsite in the corner of their Fremont
car factory on Cato road, under a tent, which is nice.

And we just did a full-scale installation. – To me the most interesting part of this, is that you expect solar installers to be the prime candidate for taking on a solar roof installation. But installing a roof is a
completely different skillset from installing solar
panels on somebody's roof. On that front, it gives companies like Weddle and Sons, a bit of an edge. – We have so much to learn
and we're still learning. We don't claim to be experts
in the solar side of things. I felt like this product and this system just installation wise, it's a better fit for a roofing company just because there's so much
detailed metal work, the trims and the flashings
and the waterproofing are just critical.

You know, once it's down you don't wanna be pulling that up. I felt like it was a really good fit for our company as roofers. – Solar tower products like
the silver roof are still new. Not just to customers, but
to the industry at large. Tesla isn't the only
game in town here though. There are solar tower
products from companies like DeSol Power and Luma Solar. There's some distinct differences between the systems though. On the aesthetics front, the
DelSol product doesn't mask the look of the solar cell much at all.

You can clearly see the
shiny reflective cells within those tiles. So you get a lower profile
consistent shape, but not color. The Luma Solar product looks
far more consistent in color but the solar cells are
still very noticeable. And that's where Tesla
stands out from the pack because they've spent a good deal of time and energy figuring out how to make their tiles blending closely.

On the announcement call, they actually spoke to that point. – [Narrator] So our cells
are optically isotropic, meaning it can look purple from one angle and green from another. And we have through a number of different iterations from
technology experiments landed on the technology that
gets the solar tiles to the point where they're anisotropic. So they blend in with the surrounding, non-solar tiles and the trim. They look the same from
any angle, exactly. (laughs) – But just as impressive as that, is the cost differences
between the systems. Based on an assessment
from solar power world, the solar roof costs about $2 and 11 cents per installed watt. While DeSol Power Tiles cost
about $7 per installed watt and Luma Solar Tiles cost about $4 and 50 cents per installed watt. Just comparing Tesla's own prices between regular panels and solar roof, you can see that there's
still a sizeable gap and per installed watt prices.

We're talking about the
difference between $49 versus $2 and 11 cents, but that's after incentives and the incentives are
currently changing here in the United States. So those prices might actually
be going up a little bit. It's pretty clear that if
you're happy with your roof, you're not gonna wanna
replace it with a solar roof. Going with regular panels is the obvious choice in that case. But what if you're replacing your roof or building a new home? How does the price
compare to roofing costs? On that, Eric has some
really nice insights. – It's substantially more
than a basic asphalt roof. It's probably five times
the cost of asphalt. Maybe it's called four times the cost of a standard asphalt
roof on a typical home.

But, it's not four times
the cost of asphalt plus PV. But if you start to compare
it to a premium roof product, like a standing seam metal
as synthetic shake or slate which we do a lot of… DaVinci's a common name. They do a really nice
synthetic slate product. It compares really favorably to a premium roof plus solar panels. It's pretty comparable in cost, it's a little bit more
than like a synthetic shake or synthetic slate but the synthetic product
doesn't have the PV built-in. it's getting close to those
premium roof products. It's certainly premium
roof plus panels compares very favorably.

– Ben Sullins put together
a great price breakdown last spring between the different options. Based on his search criteria he found that the Tesla solar roof
would cost about $56,000 and compare that to a solar array and a shingled roof at 42,000. Or a solar array in a
metal roof at $70,000 or a solar array and a
tile roof at $111,000 or the big one a solar array
in a slate roof at $134,000. So just from a roofing cost comparison, even without the added solar, the solar roof is already
fairly competitive with higher end roofing materials. But when combining higher
end roofs plus solar, Tesla solar roof is an
incredibly compelling offer. But Eric brought up a point
that I hadn't considered. It's a similar point that
EV enthusiasts bring up when comparing EV cars to gas. Cost of maintenance. – This is something that
has always bothered me. Working in Colorado. We had an asphalt roofs to get hailed out and have to be replaced. And you incur a pretty significant cost if they've already got panels. It's pretty costly to
have those panels polled, stored, do the roof, get the inspections,
put the panels back on.

When you start to take into account that this product should
hold up really well to impact should age well, you know, it has a 25
year warranty from Tesla and for what I've seen, I expect it to last that long. You know, if you start to compare it to an asphalt roof that
only lasts 10 or 15 years, suddenly it actually even the economics of that start to work out. – But just how durable
are solar roof tiles? I get the question about
regular solar panel durability a lot from people that are
considering going solar. Like how well they'll stand up to hail and the other elements? Well, tempered glass is
actually really strong. – I mean, I think they're pretty amazing. I I've got one here. So this is a glass. This is one of the
glass was non active PV. You can kind of see the… What the thickness is, this is about quarter
inch or three eighths of an inch or something. You know, we'll walk
on these all day long, you can jump on, we'll drop stuff on.

I mean, I can kind of… (Eric bangs glass heavily) I can pound on its glass. I wouldn't do that on one of my windows even said it was temporary. – Add to that the modularity of the tiles. It's like Lego blocks snapping into place. So the modularity makes
it easier to prepare. – So if you break one of these tiles, all you have to do
because they're temporary, they just shatter into
pretty safe size and pieces.

Here just take a shot
back, you vacuum it up, you slap a new tile. You know, the the clips that they hang on, you know, there's a slot to hold a clip. There's hangers, super easy to pop one out, pop a new one in. As a roofer, I really liked that because I see roofs that get replaced, asphalt roofs get replaced all
the time because they've got you know, X number of impacts and it's not practical to go
replace 20 or 30 shingles, you know, with solar roof, maybe you do have a massive hailstorm. Maybe it knocks out 30 or tiles. Vastly cheaper to repair
that, then replace it. I mean, all of the work has
done underneath the tiles, once the layout is done,
the tiles just snap in. So I envision that repairability is actually gonna be a real
advantage going forward. – In the end, the solar
roof may prove to be cheaper to maintain and repair than
other roofing materials.

So that's something you should factor into the cost depending on where you live, especially if you live
in an area with hail. But the modularity benefit
doesn't stop there. – On my brothers or if we
made some wiring mistakes just because we were so early, we were ahead of the
training documentation. And so we're in the process of fixing that and it's been a good at
a case study actually in the repairability. It's actually been pretty easy to go back and pop up a section of… In fact we actually popped up
a section of his dummy tiles and move or replace them
with active PV tiles after the fact, it was really easy.

We use almost all the same clips. – That's right. They expanded the PV system of the roof. It's pretty plug and play in that regard. Now this isn't something
that Tesla's speaking of as a selling point, but it's pretty cool that you could theoretically add to or upgrade tiles down the road. But much like everything
else in the world, you have to follow the money. Affordability and price competitiveness is the only way forward
for solar tiles to catch on and go truly mainstream. Elan's goal was to make the silver roof truly
a competitive product with asphalt shingles and solar panels. One area to drive that cost
down is on installation. And Eric had a take on that from an installer's
point of view too. – There's a point at which it becomes a very
attractive segment for us. And that it really comes
down to the days to install.

And so something that takes us four days on paper it may turn a profit, but the opportunity cost is pretty high. We could have done better
things those four days. If we can get that down to two days, it suddenly becomes a really
attractive segment for us. – There's already a lot of pent up demand for solar roof at its current price point. People reporting long wait
times to get one installed, and Eric has a long wait list of his own. – You know, you asked what challenges are. I mean, other challenges we're sitting on probably 200 requests
that were a backlog of probably 200 or more
requests for quotes. – That's 200 requests just for the area that Weddle and Sons Roofing serves. Roll that kind of demand out across the country and the world, and you could see that Tesla
is really onto something here. Just imagine how much
that demand will ramp up as they continue to drive
the cost down even further.

From a customer's point of view, I think the solar roof is on
the verge of going mainstream. And from an installer's point of view. – Yeah, we liked the challenge and honestly we've had
a great relationship with Tesla and they're trying
to do something very hard and they have a track record of doing a lot of very hard things. And so every time that
I'm feeling skeptical about something I remember
like same guy behind this landed rockets, you know, vertically. I think they can figure this out. At least I don't think
I wanna bet against it.

(both laughing) – I couldn't have said it better myself. I'd really like to thank Eric Weddle and Matt Heflin from Weddle
and Sons roofing for their time and some of the great video
shots that you saw on the video. And jump into the comments and let me know if you're chomping at the
bit to get solar roof. If you like this video be sure to check out one of the ones
I I've linked to right here. Be sure to subscribe and
hit that notification bell if you think I've earned it. And as always, thanks
to all of my patreons and new producer Craig Cooper
for all of your support. And as always, thanks
so much for watching. I'll see you in the next one.

You May Also Like