Last year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk dubbed 2019 “the year of the solar roof,” its long-promised building-integrated photovoltaic product.
It turned out that 2019 was not the year of the solar roof.
At the end of 2019, Musk announced in a memo to employees that Tesla’s first priority was to deliver “all cars” by year end — before the expiration of Tesla’s EV tax credit. Tesla built almost 105,000 cars in the fourth quarter and delivered roughly 112,000 vehicles — both records for the pioneering EV maker that have driven Tesla’s share price to new highs. Tesla has a market cap of $94.5 billion as of today.
Musk’s second priority, “just as important, is that we immediately increase the rate of solar deployments by a significant degree,” said the CEO in the same memo.
Up on the roof
More than three years after its introduction, and after having received deposits from interested homeowners, Tesla has connected just a handful of solar-integrated roofs to the grid.
Getting the exact number of solar roof installations from Tesla is difficult as Tesla press relations doesn’t relate to the press. Twitter user Nikola’s Stache suggests that less than 100 solar roofs have been installed and only a handful of version 3 roofs are complete.
Late last year, Musk introduced version 3.0 of the solar roof tile and, with characteristic optimism, claimed that the company would ramp production to 1,000 roofs per week by December of 2019. In a conference call, Musk said:
- The solar roof version 3.0 with larger tiles is ready for mass deployment.
- The tiles now look the same from any angle — using new cell technology and new materials.
- Musk said the goal is to install the roof in a single visit.
- Tesla intends to open up the product to roofing contractors.
- He said, “The solar roof does not make financial sense for someone with a relatively new roof.”
Kunal Ginotra, senior director of energy operations, said that Tesla has “increased the size and power density” of the tiles while changing some of the materials and reducing the number of parts and assemblies.
Ginotra said that the goal was to install the solar roof as quickly as traditional composition shingles — with a target of eight hours. This requires a streamlined process of getting parts to the field along with assembly equipment to allow customization for flashing, edges and trim in the field.
Musk said that Tesla “was still sort of figuring things out” with version 1 and 2. He said version 3 is “finally ready for the big time. And so we’re scaling up production of the version 3 solar roof at our Buffalo Gigafactory.”
Photos of the solar roof in the wild
Here’s the version 3.0 roof in Cupertino, California. This installation included a Tesla battery.
This home in Los Gatos, California had V2 tiles on the roof and was undergoing a complete remodel.
There were several piles of unused or scrapped tiles on the side of the home.
Here’s a version 2.0 installation in San Jose, California
Here’s another San Jose home with a version 2.0 roof.
Here’s a roof that’s seen better days on a home in San Jose, California. According to Nikola’s Stache, these homeowners have pulled a permit for the version 3.0 roof.
Twitter user Austin Flack provided a time-lapse of his version 3 installation.
— Austin Flack (@austinflack) January 9, 2020
Prepping for Austin Flack’s version 3 install.
Josh Pomilio, a Tesla solar glass crew lead, put up these version 3 installation photos on Instagram taken of a home in San Jose. This installation included two Tesla battery units and three inverters, according to the home owners.