KB Home is now installing SunPower’s building-integrated solar racking system on new homes


KB Home, one of the largest homebuilders in the U.S., just announced that it is the first homebuilder to offer SunPower’s new building integrated solar roof  product — at the Ashbury new-home community in the San Francisco Bay Area.

KB Home has been working with SunPower for a decade on new home solar builds — and SunPower has installed 50,000 new-home solar systems and leads in this segment. SunPower’s R&D team has worked with KB Home to develop the OneRoof residential building integrated product.

The roofing product has “interlocking metal roof trays with integrated panel clips to install SunPower solar panels directly to the roof deck. This is designed to create a watertight, impermeable solar roof,” according to a release. It is designed to install faster and easier than traditional rack-mounted PV systems.

The new product has passed UL tests, including the Class A Fire Rating for building-integrated solar. The integrated solar roof was designed to meet the needs of California new-home solar communities and replaces concrete tile roofing materials.

Tom Werner, SunPower CEO, said that the key to SunPower’s positioning was working directly with new home builders. He estimates the Californian solar manufacturer has captured more than 50% market share with new solar builds in the state. “We have 18 of the top 20 new home builders in California,” said Werner.

Roofing company and competitor GAF Energy’s president, Martin DeBono told pv magazine in an earlier interview, “The industry will evolve from rack-mounted to BIPV. By integrating solar with the roofing, you’re going to ensure the integrity of the home.”

Tesla has a building-integrated solar roof tile product that is attractive but is facing challenges with scaling, pricing and  installation labor and time.

As Werner said, “In the new home business there are different criteria for winning. Of course, you need a good solution, you need the right price point. But you also need great execution. Execution is almost more important than the other factors because no one wants idle trades – it costs a lot of money and it will dominate the economics of the whole thing.”

Werner added that for a home builder; “Working with a solar company such as SunPower means delivering ‘sustainable differentiation’ – and that this includes a battery storage component.” He also notes that “architects and planners will be thinking not only about integrating PV, but looking at how ‘storage and services’ can be integrated into their offering to homeowners.”

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