Tesla Energy should partner with Real Estate Developers

Tesla Energy should partner with Real Estate Developers

Tesla has claimed that the energy side of their business will soon overtake the automotive sector. They have pinned their hopes for the growth of their residential solar business on their solar roof product. To be successful, they should ally themselves with real estate development partners, cede some control, and let the developers push these products in the most efficient package possible.

Currently, Tesla sells solar roofs and Powerwalls the way they sell cars. They offer “one-off” customized systems for anyone who books a reservation at their stores or website, with no clue whether solar even makes sense for the situation until months or years after the reservation. This approach is fatally flawed. Tesla can barely handle the minimum level of customization of its cars, and certainly is not set up to work with communication-intensive small projects or customer-driven construction schedules. Tesla’s Energy forum posts clearly show that while Tesla's end product is great, the design and installation procedure is torturous. Surprise surprise, communication is non-existent, schedules are not met, and early customers (who should be evangelists) are bitter. Tesla needs a new approach.

The best approach would be to design entire communities for Tesla solar + energy storage + car charging solutions from the ground up. That way, professional fees and tooling for 5 or 6 roof geometries can be amortized over tens of thousands of homes. One negotiation with one building department, fire department, and utility for thousands of homes - now it starts to make sense. In addition to the economies of scale, there would be significant design advantages. “Net-zero” or off-grid communities could be designed from first principles to maximize sun angles and energy efficiency, with batteries efficiently located in one place, and excess solar capacity installed incrementally as the community grows. These communities would be strategically located where solar is favorable and solar regulation is predictable.

Realistically, a real estate developer would need to take the lead, and partner with Tesla Energy. “Powered by Tesla” branded communities could be rolled out nationwide, marketed to people who want to lead ecologically responsible lives in comfort and style. That demographic would want sustainable construction practices, clean air and water, access to locally grown food, and to know that their crap doesn’t end up in a river. Some developers are already set up for this and should be eager to leverage the Tesla name. It would need to be an unequal, developer-led partnership, but one that would absolutely be in Tesla’s best interests. The ultimate advantage is that the end user only interfaces with Tesla's awesome products, not Tesla's (ahem) service.

Eventually they could work towards creating a Tomorrowland planned around Elon's greatest hits: right-of-ways for hyperloop transport; tunnels to whisk freight on electric skates to solar covered stores; streets designed for self-driving EVs; and shared mobility allowing parking lots to be minimized. There would be no telephone or power lines, no traffic lights, no traffic noise, no gas stations, no semis clogging the roads... in short, all the ugly stuff gone. (I don’t see a US developer stepping up to all of this - maybe a South Korean chaebol could pull it off - but the idea of Tesla-powered housing developments is immediately actionable.)

Hopefully Tesla is already thinking along these lines, I just think it's strange I haven’t seen it discussed anywhere.

sbeggs | 14 augustus 2018

What a great idea!

NKYTA | 14 augustus 2018

Nice, but should concentrate on Malls, big box stores first, I think.

Madatgascar | 14 augustus 2018

NKYTA, good point, but those flat roofed big boxes won’t want to spend a premium for the look of Tesla’s solar roof tiles when a conventional array would do.

Here’s another: LAX has billions in new growth planned, and they will definitely have a solar component. They plan to use traditional solar panels. But the airport could show off the cool new technology of a California company, integrated into a sleek architectural form that everyone will be able to see and appreciate from the air. (The proposed LAX ConRAC alone would be the fourth largest building in the US.)

nwfan | 15 augustus 2018

@Madatgascar, I'm seeing this done in Houston. Developer working with a Tesla competitor to preinstall wiring, service panels and trunk lines in advance of solar installation. My solar contractor sent a crew to do this in one of Houston suburbs. He was subcontracted by SunPower to wire up a subdivision under construction.

I'm seeing more and more movement to renewable energy everyday. TX is leading the nation
in renewable energy generation thanks to forward thinking of ERCOT.

Tesla-David | 15 augustus 2018

@Madatgascar, great idea, and agree that Tesla-Energy needs to rethink the way they are doing this. It took almost three years to get our PW2 installation, and many frustrated conversations with Tesla-Energy to finally get attention and action. Your analysis is spot on and worth consideration by Tesla-Energy. As @ NKYTA recommends there is a lot of low hanging fruit available. lots of roofs like Costco,etc.that could easily accommodate solar. It is great to hear that Texas is a leader on renewable energy adoption.

Tesla-David | 15 augustus 2018

Additionally, we are starting to see Tesla-Energy working on broader application and use of their solar/battery storage in Australia and Samoa, and even Arizona, and elsewhere. I think we are about to see a huge expansion of projects from Tesla-Energy in the near future, but agree their current structure and customer support needs to be drastically overhauled, as anyone frequenting the Tesla-Energy forum will see their are a number of unsatisfied customers who are not being helped to the degree they should. I feel fortunate, that 50+ days in with our PW2 installation, everything has worked superbly and I couldn't be happier, but there have been a number of problems with other installations.

blackiysto | 15 augustus 2018

m seeing more and more movement to renewable energy everyday. TX is leading the nation
in renewable energy generation thanks to forward thinking of ERCOT.

Rocky_H | 15 augustus 2018

It’s an interesting starry-eyed idea, but it just seems like a minuscule market. I just don’t think there is very much of this kind of development of large communities all at once on bare land. Most of this country is already built on, so the vast majority of the solar installation market HAS to be on existing buildings.

Madatgascar | 15 augustus 2018

@Rocky_H, on the contrary, there are a lot. Since a couple of people mentioned TX, let’s go there for an example of the kind of scale I am suggesting:

This one development has more homes in one place than Tesla has under contract to install solar roofs nationwide. Would you really prefer to have thousands of separate contracts, designs, permit processes, and schedules for existing buildings whose roofs may or may not face the sun?

Rocky_H | 15 augustus 2018

It has nothing to do with what I "prefer". It has to do with people who own those existing houses wanting to buy solar panels.

Madatgascar | 15 augustus 2018

I'm not talking about what you prefer, I'm looking at it from Tesla's standpoint. Sure, existing home owners may want the product, and Tesla can sell it to them all they want. But it's going to be a Waterloo. They can't make money or accomplish their mission through house-by-house trench warfare.

Let's review - they are trying to accomplish three things:

A) install a custom engineered, one-off system for the same price as a commodity any local roofer can install
B) keep myriads of potentially unsophisticated but wealthy home owners happy while performing open heart surgery on their biggest asset
C) make a profit doing so

I frankly don't see how they can accomplish more than 2 of the 3 on a repeat basis. Razor thin margins you can justify on cars are not OK in this business because the lawsuits are big and mistakes are easier. Car is late - no big deal. Roof is late - BIG deal. So the operation would need to be subsidized by other profit centers.

IF Tesla can somehow make money on this basis, the approach I'm suggesting would make SO much more money it's ridiculous. It would advance Tesla's mission faster and would help the developers win awards for green building and energy efficiency. Everyone wins.

sbeggs | 15 augustus 2018

Yes, and Tesla should also make some great deals with the fleet buyers for every rental car company in the world. My dream, rent a Model 3 in Switzerland! Easier to make a big run of all one kind, all one color!

Madatgascar | 15 augustus 2018

@sbeggs, definitely! Introduce curious travelers to the Supercharger network, and travel costs in general.

“Are you going to return the car fully charged, or pre-pay for electricity for an extra $9?”

David N | 15 augustus 2018

How do you know that they are not already in negotiations for what you mentioned?

Ross1 | 16 augustus 2018

For years I have been putting up examples of this from Australia.
Who cares?

Madatgascar | 16 augustus 2018

@David N, I am just guessing, don't know for sure. There was some discussion on the 2Q18 call in which Tesla claimed there was strong demand for the solar roof product, but they were production constrained. (Also they used the word "retrofit" with respect to the product.) But this comes simultaneously with news that Panasonic is now churning out solar cells at the Gigafactory and having to find other buyers because Tesla isn't using them yet. So either the batteries are the bottleneck, or the design and approvals process is killing them as I suspect. Elon said they now had "hundreds" of solar roofs, but it was later clarified that that included roofs that had not been installed yet.

Then there was this nugget from Elon: "We’re working with first responders to make sure it’s safe in the event of a fire and that kind of thing." I expect they are confronting several issues, which I actually warned Tesla Energy about 2 YEARS AGO:

1) The panels are almost indestructible, and firefighters are trained to chop holes in roofs to fight fires. How do they vent a solar roof? Can they saw cut through it? Do they have to disconnect power first to avoid electrocution?

2) What happens when a solar tile comes loose? Does it continue to generate electricity, perhaps causing an arc to its contacts that might start a fire?

3) Would they heat up so much they might start a fire, being in direct contact with the structure?

4) The smooth tiles are much smoother than any residential roof - more like the sloped glass skylights you see on office buildings, which require safety tie-backs for maintenance people. How to make sure emergency responders (and others) don't slip and fall off the roof?

They will need to go through these and other hurdles with every... single... jurisdiction. Until it is codified. Bureaucrats don't want to approve something new without a struggle, and they don't accept the precedent that other departments have done it before. That's why I emphasize doing it ONCE for an entire subdivision, hiring an expediter to grease the skids if necessary.

Madatgascar | 16 augustus 2018

@Ross1, shhh. This is supposed to be a Tesla breakthrough.

Elon's comment at the unveiling: "I don't know why nobody's done this before. It blows my mind!"

Besides the Australian stuff, here in America we had SolarSave roof tiles installed on hundreds of California homes, which had a few fires that resulted in Centex having to replace all of those roofs.

Sort of explains why fire departments need a little convincing....

Rocky_H | 16 augustus 2018

@Madatgascar, Quote: “Would you really prefer[…]?”
@Madatgascar, Quote: “I'm not talking about what you prefer”

Ow. I think I just got whiplash.

You are going on and on about how much better the profit margin this is. I never disputed that. I just don’t believe the overall market is big enough in volume.

Madatgascar | 16 augustus 2018

I meant "If you were Tesla, would you really prefer..."
I am not talking about what YOU (end user, single family homeowner) prefer. Is that better?

There are over a million new housing starts in the US every year, many in planned developments. Elon is claiming they have "hundreds" of solar roofs under contract. I just showed an example of ONE project that has more homes than everything Tesla now has under contract. These homes will use nice high quality roof shingles that will just fry in the Texas sun. The majority of the country's planned communities are springing up in places like Phoenix, Houston, and Atlanta that have great sun too. I don't see why Tesla shouldn't target this stuff.

Yodrak. | 16 augustus 2018

I see in the news today that Tesla is backing off from its agreement with Panasonic to take the full output of the NY gigafactory. That doesn't look like Tesla is going to go strong on the PV solar business, just the opposite.

blue adept | 16 augustus 2018


So, essentially, what you're suggesting is that Tesla should sub out the labor for sales and installation of their SolarCity roof panels/shingles and their PowerWall battery storage cells to "developers" who'd act as third-party contractors to simplify/expedite the sale and installation of Tesla's Power products which, basically, would enable middlemen to carve out a niche for themselves and pocket a piece of the pie like, you know, ICE car dealerships do now...Right?

Madatgascar | 17 augustus 2018

@just, I haven't said anything about subbing out the installation. Could be the developer just makes all those roofs available and lets Tesla come in and install the solar roofs, connected to a centralized energy storage system the way Tesla does their grid scale installations.

Licensing third party installers may not be such a bad thing, though, since you brought it up. Whatever makes the most sense financially to accomplish the mission. My sense is that Tesla wants to be a manufacturer and grand-scale designer, and will not have the patience and resources for individual little architectural retrofit projects.

Madatgascar | 17 augustus 2018

@Yodrak, I think Tesla wants to get it launched, but something is holding it back. It could be the emphasis on Model 3 production numbers has got them starved for batteries for the associated Powerwalls. But I think it's more likely they are struggling with the approvals process, as Elon hinted in the earnings call.

blue adept | 17 augustus 2018


The developer is just that, the developer, not a home's eventual owner, so the extent of their authority/control over the property typically concludes with the development of the property to the level of habitation with the one exception being in the case of some fault arising that is directly attributable to some sort of negligence on the developer's part.

What this means is that it should be no one but the homeowner who decides what is or isn't installed on their roof/whether or not they'll employ the use of Tesla's PV panels or shingles/roof tiles as they are, ultimately, the ones who should stand to benefit, not some developer looking to get a cut of the pie.

Also, I only brought up 'third party installers' because that was exactly what you were alluding to. Just suffice it to say that it's the "individual little architectural retrofit projects" that is exactly what Tesla Power's/SolarCity's business model was/is specifically designed to cater to...No need for any third party installers.

Surely you realize your suggestion would entail taking jobs away from actual Tesla/Tesla Power//SolarCity employees, right?

Yodrak. | 17 augustus 2018

Most developers, other than high-end developers building McMansion communities, want to shave their costs as much as they can so as to minimize price while maximizing profit. Not really a good fit with offering solar, except for those relatively few high-end developers.

Green Mountain Power in Vermont has a program in partnership with Tesla to install Powerwalls in GMP's customer's homes.

Madatgascar | 17 augustus 2018

@just, and @Yodrak, good points. But Tesla claims that the cost of their solar roofs would be less than the cost of similar roof tiles + the difference in power costs (not sure what amortization is assumed). That's presumably for the cost of their one-off projects, so hopefully things get much better with economy of scale. That minimal difference in construction cost would be passed on by the developer to the home buyer, with an estimate of significantly reduced utility bills (who also gets to feel good about using clean power).

The developer hires an architect and design team to design the project, and contractors to build it. They can hire Tesla Energy directly to partner with their design team, and have their contractors hire ("assume") Tesla installers to do the installation. No Tesla jobs lost unless Tesla WANTS to train and license local contractors instead.

Granted, not every home buyer may be interested. But a developer could commingle the solar roof homes with non-solar roof homes and run some focus groups to estimate the level of uptake when they do their planning. If you can show the energy savings pays the increased mortgage, why that's a deal right there.

Madatgascar | 17 augustus 2018

...It's basically the same reduced fuel cost math you consider when buying an EV. People aren't stupid - this will sell.

blue adept | 17 augustus 2018


The point you're overlooking is that Tesla's solar ALREADY sells and does so without any special considerations like design or architectural input as they're all already done by Tesla prior to installation, as such you'd just be replicating the work just to crate a niche opportunity for some developer or others to get a kickback.

I don't know why you're not seeing this?!? Maybe you're just being deliberately obtuse?

Madatgascar | 17 augustus 2018

No, I’m talking about something different. A grid scale installation, no Powerwalls. The solar roof product does need a lot of design and approval as I outlined above. If Tesla was already doing this, where are the homes? Probably spending 3 to 6 months per house just trying to negotiate building permits. It’s not going to be as easy as just slapping roofs on the set of Desperate Housewives.

Yes, Tesla is already selling their normal solar panels without much issue, but now they want to move towards integrated systems with solar roof and energy storage. They can do this best with a larger scale development. They don’t need to let the developer take a “cut”: the developer gets to offer an attractive product not marred by black panels on roofs.

Getting on board early with a planned development lets them have input into the design to maximize efficiency of roof orientations etc. If the whole community is planned from first principles you have the best shot at successfully demonstrating the potential of the system.

blue adept | 20 augustus 2018

You are aware, are you not, that there ALREADY are homeowners out there who've also chosen to install the PV tiles/panels and PowerWalls in addition to their purchase of their choice of Tesla vehicle that are real world examples of the viability of the system, yes?

So, again, what need be there for some third-party to offer what is ALREADY available to anyone who might want to these products?

You're needlessly trying to create an unnecessary niche market, however, should a developer decide they want to purchase Tesla Power's PV roof tiles/shingles or panels for installation on the roofs of a community they're developing, well, I think that that would be the more enterprising way to accomplish this desire of yours.

SH555 | 20 augustus 2018

good... This concept will have a positive result

Madatgascar | 20 augustus 2018

@just, yes, I'm aware of this for conventional solar systems, I just have not seen the solar roof rolled out successfully. We agree it can work either way.

Your way: Tesla gets a $1000 reservation from Joe Fanboi and sends a team to his house in, say, Ithaca. The team crawls all over the house, measuring every ridge, hip, valley, and dormer. They calculate snow and tree shading and estimate solar generation. The roof is catty-wampus to the sun and it barely makes sense, but Joe has a Tesla hardon, so they all agree to go ahead. They develop detailed drawings for the system, during which time Joe and his wife call 12 times with questions, tweaks and changes. They hire a structural engineer to review the as-built construction for the increased weight of the new roof tiles, and other professionals as required. They submit drawings to the City, where they sit for a month before a low level bureaucrat opens them up and realizes it's something he's never seen before. Since it's a minor renovation, there's negligible fee to actually research the product, and a quick Google search turns up Centex fires and scary stories of massive liability. The project goes into the City's "find any excuse to deny the permit" file. After exhausting the City's objections over a period of several months, a permit is issued, and construction begins. But wait, under the existing roof we discover mold (or termites or dry rot) that needs to be mitigated! Call in the guys in spacesuits and explain the massive added costs to Joe. Cover the roof quick, snow is coming! Finally, all said and done, Joe gets his sparkling new roof. One roof.

My way: Tesla gets a call from an Orange County golf course. "We've got 600 Spanish units coming up in Coral Gables and 400 outside El Paso, give me a fee to turnkey the deal with your Solar + Energy Storage." No site visit; the architect can send 3D plans in Revit that Tesla can easily turn into shop drawings with a note: "Make 1,000 thus." Because the roofs are part of massive new developments, they command a large plan check fee, and Tesla can fly in with PowerPoint presentations to wow everyone and make them feel like they're part of saving the world. And, because the roofs are designed to maximize sun exposure, and the developer only calls Tesla for the deals that really sing, solar efficiency and power cost savings are guaranteed. So Tesla gets 1,000 roofs that make 3x as much power for less executive, professional, and administrative effort, great press, and crazy fees per square foot.

Does that explain "what need be there"?

sbeggs | 21 augustus 2018


sosmerc | 23 augustus 2018

In my younger days I worked for a company that sold built-in vacuum systems, both commercial and residential. We often visited builders on site to try and sell them "rough-in" the house would be "ready" for a system should the new owner want one. Much easier than installing in existing structures. Seems logical to me that states that our serious about renewable energy might want to require all new structures to be "ready" for solar systems, including power storage. Tesla might compete for the business of completing the "solar ready" homes and buildings.

sosmerc | 23 augustus 2018

I know if I were buying a new home, I would certainly want that home to be pre-wired and ready for easy addition of solar....including battery storage. Are there really any parts of the world where solar is not at all feasible?

blue adept | 27 augustus 2018


Perhaps therein is from where your obliviousness arises as each solar roof installation is specifically tailored to the residence's structural parameters and are executed precisely and efficiently and in short order.

Residential (and commercial as well) roof structures are already industry mandated to comply with specified area/regional weight/load capacities that are capable of supporting the addition of an excessive amount of weight, some even more than others depending on the area's climatology, so there really is no need for any special structural considerations or extensive post-construction modifications to ready the roofs for PV panel or tile/shingle installation.

Infrastructure type systems like HVAC, Plumbing, energy utilities and these vac systems @sosmerc mentioned, typically do require 'roughing in' during the construction process, but Tesla's SolarCity and PowerWall solar capture and clean energy storage facilities are already specifically designed for pre-xisting/post-construction installation which makes them readily adaptable to ANY structural scenario.

As such, they would have to reverse engineer the technology to make it suited to your niche enterprise.

You go on to mention something about having no need for Tesla's people to visit the site, yet need I really point out the inherent folly of relying on someone else to supply the specs for your installation parameters?!?

The only jobs your niche would create are those the existing Tesla Power/SolarCity employees would lose, rendering your proposition counterintuitive to Tesla's overall goal, nevermind the potential increased liability that would be incurred with reliance on the installation of third-party personnel relying on third-party supplied parameters regarding maintenance of warranteed coverage.

In otherwords you would, essentially, be placing Tesla at great risk of even greater liability for some third-party faux pas'.

There are so, so many blatantly obvious reasons why this would be such a bad idea that I can only conclude that you're either being facetious or incredibly obtuse/dense.

blue adept | 27 augustus 2018


I hope that my above response to @Madatgascar adequately addressed your concerns as well.

Madatgascar | 28 augustus 2018

@just an allusion,

1) I am a structural engineer, so I do know a few things about this. Any mandate to design new homes to handle the weight of solar post-dates the average existing home by decades. Code requirements for live load, wind load, and snow load are additive to the dead load (weight of the roof itself), so you can’t always increase the dead load with impunity. (Increasing the dead load also increases the seismic loads in earthquake country.).

Most existing homes do not have structural drawings; they are built per framing standards that become quite sketchy when you get into complex roofs. So you are working in the blind and nobody will guarantee anything about the existing roof’s load capacity. I don’t want to overstate this because Tesla’s solar roof is pretty light. Suffice it to say if the solar roof weighs more than the existing roof (say, single ply or wood shake), Tesla may or may not be willing to take risks on this, and may or may not be able to prove that it works to the satisfaction of a building department. But for a new building, you can be sure to design for the correct weight.

2. The energy storage solution can be whatever makes sense. I would think centralized storage would be more logical for a planned development but if it makes more sense to put Powerwalls in every home, go for it. Economy of scale is still there.

3. There you go again about third party installers. You don’t understand what “turnkey” means. That means design AND build and do everything up to the point it is turned over to the customer. Tesla can get fat on this kind of project if they want to. If not able to scale quickly, I mentioned they can decide to delegate it to others (profiting from training and license fees and mark-ups). Tesla’s “Mission” is not to employ as many construction workers as possible, it is to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy. There’s no site visit in advance in “my way” because there is no existing building to investigate, get it? Of course, Tesla still works on site during the installation.

blue adept | 28 augustus 2018

I'm not in the practice of throwing accolades around, but just suffice it to say that I, too, am a engineer, plus, I also have an extensive background in architectural building design, construction, renovation and remodeling, including site facility implementation, so I "know a few things about this' as well, though it seems that your argument has shifted from one encouraging the formation of a partnership with real estate developers to one favoring the establishment of a property development division at Tesla as a means of facilitating the rapid adoption of renewable energy usage..."?"

Apparently you're unaware that Tesla already has a model community wherein Tesla's sustainable energy facilities are deployed throughout as a test bed for market-wide viability? Who knows, perhaps that will be a new venture for Musk, though I don't perceive a need for a partnership with an outside agent for Tesla to do what they're already capable of.

Again, Tesla's energy facilities are already adaptable to ANY structural environment...If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Madatgascar | 28 augustus 2018

Which model community is that? The Desperate Housewives set at Universal Studios?

I am envisioning a strategic alliance with large developers who can make a lot of their roofs available in the same place at the same time. Not necassarily residential - retail might work too, but anyone’s solar works for retail. I doubt Tesla wants to be in the speculative home building business as a prime.

I was not aware if Tesla had a model community already, that’s great. But I t’s one thing to build a proof of concept, quite another to get easy installs by the acre all over the country.

If you have experience with renovations, surely you must realize that the house by house approach is a Sisyphean task very badly suited for Tesla’s skill set. You know what it’s like to work with contractors, and presumably you have tried to communicate with Tesla at some point, right? You don’t see the problem with this picture?

blue adept | 30 augustus 2018


"...surely you must realize that the house by house approach is a Sisyphean task very badly suited for Tesla’s skill set."

Again, if you completely ignore the fact that that is the very way that SoalrCity/Tesla's Power division has BEEN doing it (successfully I might add), then you might have a point, but it's not and you don't...See my reply to @mos6507 for context:

"You know what it’s like to work with contractors, right?"

Which is why it was smart of Tesla to move everything in-house/under one roof...No "contractors" and potential miscommunication, just skilled , experienced employees.

"You don’t see the problem with this picture?"

No, not at all.

Practically speaking, I don't think that it is proper for some developer to make the decision for a (potential) homeowner as to whether or not they should augment/power their homes with PV panels/tiles/shingles or not, and can only see a LOT of needless liability for Tesla should they decide to pursue your idea.

Madatgascar | 30 augustus 2018

@just an allusion,

SolarCity HAD been selling conventional solar panels that way, and if your definition of "successfully" is "to the verge of bankruptcy," then I don't think we will see eye to eye.

After Tesla absorbed SolarCity, it laid off a good chunk of SolarCity's staff. This despite the fact that pushing an entirely new product at any kind of volume in addition to the traditional solar business would require more staff, not less. Market share has collapsed. So either they intend to let it hemorrhage and die, or they are sitting on top of a brilliant product that is going to start a new paradigm and just can't get it off the ground for whatever reason. Pick one:
1. Still working on regulatory approvals
2. Starved for batteries
3. In-store sales and custom design model is flawed
4. Need to show 3Q18 profit

My guess is all four. These problems will all be temporary, except for #3. The entire solar division is probably not getting enough executive attention right now and will eventually take off when the product gets some traction. I know I want the solar roof I ordered long ago! At that point, they will find themselves woefully understaffed, with a four year backlog of hundreds of thousands of custom retrofits that take significant time and attention.

At that point, they will realize they need some easy installs.

Developers do create themed developments, and I think one that advertised zero dependence on fossil fuels and low utility rates would book up in no time. The solar roofs would come with the package; and what's not to like? Your choice to buy a home there or not.

aaroncheung1 | 31 augustus 2018

In MA, I just moved into a new development and the solar company I'm working with stated it could be a win win for everyone since the owner would get "free" solar and hook ups (assuming it little to no additional cost to the owner) and the developer would get the SRECs (which I know is going away) which would offset most of their costs in the long run. Don't know who gets the tax credit between the owner and the developer.

blue adept | 3 september 2018


And what, pray tell, would be the outcome should your little developer go bankrupt (as many have and do), leaving Tesla on the hook for the expense of the panels/shingles, associated mounting and installation materials, and labor costs...What then?

If a developer wants to build a community featuring/powered/supplemented with Tesla's Solar capture and storage facilities, then what the developer should do is build their community, THEN pay Tesla (in full) to come in and install their Solar capture and storage facilities on the COMPLETED residences, which the developer could then market to their customers as a zero dependence, low utility rate community.

Everybody's happy then because everybody gets what they need and Tesla wouldn't be on the hook should the developer meet with some misfortune (as they are sometimes known to do)...


Madatgascar | 3 september 2018

So, finish hundreds of whole roofs with nice slate or Spanish tile, then scrape it all off and install solar tiles, go back through plan check, fish the wiring through completed construction, and delay the Certificate of Occupancy? Doesn’t sound like the way to go from the Developer’s standpoint. There are shared risk arrangements that could work reasonably well.

A key part of my proposal is that the community is designed from scratch expecting solar roofs. The roof orientations would be set to maximize solar efficiency. The siting of the whole project would be considered for this purpose. Maybe there is a centralized energy storage area, and added wind or solar as necessary to ensure the viability of the whole community.

johnse | 4 september 2018

For new construction, you want to make it easy for the developer to incorporate the product. I think none of the biggest bits of crosstalk going on here is the difference between solar panels retrofit to an existing roof vs. solar roof tiles. I also think @madatgascar may be overestimating the design work needed. My understanding is that Tesla designed them to be installed just like other high-end roof materials with just the addition of the electrical connectors-which should be simple bus connections.

Retrofit panel installations are what most of the residential solar is doing today.

I think Tesla will be serving both markets.

Madatgascar | 4 september 2018

@johnse, I would hope residential retrofit of solar roof tiles would be as easy as you say, but something does not compute.

A) demand is huge
B) gigafactory is producing the cells in bulk
C) installs should be easy where are they? And why lay off Solar City installers?

johnse | 4 september 2018

I don’t believe retrofit is the primary market for solar roof. My understanding is most of the Solar City layoffs were the outside (door-to-door) sales force.

I also do not think the solar tiles are in full volume production.

blue adept | 4 september 2018


@johnse touched upon the very point I've repeatedly tried to explain to you (honestly, its been like talking to a wall), but perhaps you'll listen to them since you seem so unwilling/unable to listen to me?!

With the exception of Tesla's PV shingles (which only require ASTM No. 30 roofing felt/synthetic/polypropolene underlayment and some drip edge/cap, all commonplace roofing materials), there are no special considerations that need be made for the installation of any aspect of Tesla's Solar energy capture and storage facilities infrastructure, none whatsoever.

Even if arrangements were made at the onset of the site's development (for either Tesla's panels or shingles or PowerWalls or battery banks or even a combination thereof), construction sites are still very dynamic environments right up until the finish carpenters/interior finishers/landscapers leave for good with a lot of heavy equipment and tools and materials 'littered' (merely a figure of speech, construction sites are typically fairly orderly, but shit happens anyway) all about the place where literally anything could happen (and, believe me, it does) that could pose a risk to the roofs, PowerWalls or battery banks, which is why it is best to wait until the units are 'move-in' ready BEFORE any of Tesla's power infrastructure is installed just as it is advisable for Tesla to require payment, in full, prior to installation (to avoid the potential of any Nevada-type shenanigans occurring again).

Precedent dictates caution being the most prudent course of action.

+1 @johnse

Nexxus | 5 september 2018

Actually, it's going to take a state or fed level law to make solar panels or roofs mandatory for all new builds (residential and commercial) starting with a 5kWh base system for residential. Then various upgrade options for higher levels for residential (same can be applied to commercial) up to 20kWh systems. Set a date and all new construction would have at least some level of solar power to offset new use. The power companies can then use current income for much needed grid upgrades/repairs and ultimately be the transfer mechanism for all power generation.