Tesla has moved one step closer to getting its new Solar Roof tile product onto the rafters of homes after receiving the highest safety rating by U.S. safety certification company Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
Tesla’s Solar Roof Class A certification granted by the UL gives the energy-producing glass roof tiles the highest fire resistance rating possible, largely because of the high-strength glass material used by Tesla which proves to be extremely fire resistant and nearly indestructible. The UL Roof Rating summarizes the classification as:
“Class A roof coverings, which are effective against severe fire test exposures”
UL rated roofing products are required by many local ordinances, with the higher ratings required in fire prone areas like much of Southern California. “There are several requirements for roof covering fire classifications in model codes and city and county ordinances. These requirements are dependent on the type of building construction and the location of the building. Some jurisdictions, due to the history of fire incidents or because of their location, have increased the minimum fire classification requirements in the IBC.” reads the UL Roof Ratings classification sheet.
Tesla-acquired SolarCity has posted dozens of new jobs for skilled roofers, primarily in California, that must have “roofing experience; including metal, concrete tile, clay tile, comp, shingle, or wood shake”. Compared to traditional roofing, installing a rooftop comprised of thousands of individual solar tiles that must be installed with perfection and wired together puts a completely new spin on traditional roofing.
If the roof is not installed correctly and leaks, or has technical issues with the solar generation, warranty costs would mount quickly. The Tesla Solar Roof product have an infinity warranty on the individual tiles and carry a 30-year warranty against leaks and for the solar production.
Tesla’s Solar Roof cost calculator factors in a Powerwall 2.0 unit into the quote, by default, and as such most customers will end up with one or more on the wall of their garage. In California, where solar net metering agreements are very pro-consumer, the payback on a Powerwall is essentially non-existent. Powerwall does enable homeowners to keep the power generated by the solar system in the house which can be used at night when the panels are not generating any power. With the strong branding of Tesla products and the lack of education of most solar customers, it is likely that the Powerwall upsell will be effective.
Tesla is currently undergoing pilot production of the Textured and Smooth Glass roof tile product from the company’s Fremont, California factory. Once volume production begins this summer from Gigafactory 2 near Buffalo, New York, Tesla’s R&D team in Fremont will parallel path development of the Tuscan and Slate finishes which are aimed at early 2018 production.
Consumer Reports’ recent cost analysis of Tesla’s Solar Roof indicated that the investment makes sense in many areas of the nation. Those looking to take a more traditional and affordable route with solar should consider flat panel solar systems as it’s much easier to install and will have better short term payouts. You can easily check to see if solar makes sense in your area by getting a solar cost estimate.