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Tesla’s Solar Roof Has a Competitor

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Tesla’s Solar Roof Has a Competitor

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Thu 22 Jun 2017, 02:41:06

Tesla’s Solar Roof Has a Competitor

A California startup has developed PV modules that look like standing-seam metal roofing
POSTED ON JUN 1 2017 BY SCOTT GIBSON

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A California company says that its new building-integrated Solar Roofing looks like standing-seam metal roofing. Forward Labs says that installations will start in the San Francisco area next year.

A Palo Alto, California, company says that it has developed a building-integrated photovoltaic system with a top layer of tempered glass that looks like a standing-seam metal roof. The solar panels can be installed for $3.25 a watt — roughly the cost of a conventional racked solar array.

Forward Labs is now taking $1,000 deposits and says that installations will start in the San Francisco Bay area early next year. The company is apparently planning much wider distribution in the future, but cautioned visitors to its website that it could not commit to fulfilling any orders beyond the immediate Bay Area in 2018.

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This shows the layers of the new PV roof
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Re: Tesla’s Solar Roof Has a Competitor

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Thu 22 Jun 2017, 09:49:32

Great! It's good to see more competition in this space.

From an economic standpoint, between electricity prices in southern CA, and the amount of sun they get (solar incidence, solar irradiance) makes solar VERY sweet for that area compared to much of the country.

With cheap electricity (coal country, still) in central KY, and a fairly poor solar irradiance compared to southern CA, such roofs make little economic sense most places -- at least so far.

The price of this, the Tesla roof, etc. should be sobering to the wildly exaggerating green sites that try to claim Solar is "free", etc. (But it won't be, of course).

Which is probably why we see so few solar roofs around here vs their popularity in southern CA.

But still, this stuff must be built in volume to get much cheaper and the competition will help speed that up, so bring it on! After all, you never know, maybe some day they will finally pass a meaningfully large CO2 tax, and make such roofs suddenly much more feasible economically.
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Re: Tesla’s Solar Roof Has a Competitor

Unread postby baha » Thu 22 Jun 2017, 11:24:31

Nice find KJ,
I think that looks better than fake slate. I've always liked the looks of SS metal roofs. This is another step toward houses with solar capability being the norm. Now that the economics are converging, the implementation just makes sense on a new house.

How many highly paid middle men along the way do you eliminate by making your own power?
A Solar fuel spill is otherwise known as a sunny day!
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Re: Tesla’s Solar Roof Has a Competitor

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Thu 22 Jun 2017, 12:15:59

I don't think I can answer your question about middlemen. There probably will at least be a regional distributor with inventory who is training contractor/installers. Then again, many Silicon Valley startups use unique business models, as did Tesla and Amazon. They might be asking contractor/installers to fly to California, pay for their training, and then be using UPS/FedEx/etc. for direct product distribution.

As for the power industry itself, you eliminate all the middlemen. Except for people like you and me who have the interest and skills to integrate these products into our homesteads, most people need a - wait for it - installation contractor and a maintenance contract.

One constant theme has always pervaded Silicon Valley startups, which is that most of them fail. I'm specificly warning you now that although you might want to get some training, I would not give "Forward Labs" any investment money, because no fewer than EIGHT solar firms have gone belly up within two miles of my home. They were once as common as software companies, before the Chinese dumping of solar panels brought on their demise.

But then again, maybe they will make you a true believer. Admittedly I am still smarting from the $7500 I "invested" in the Cape Wind fiasco.
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Re: Tesla’s Solar Roof Has a Competitor

Unread postby Subjectivist » Thu 22 Jun 2017, 14:42:39

Why would anyone want the huge extra expense of a simulated standing seem metal roof for the north or north east and northwest angled parts of their building/home? Simple reality no or poor quality direct sunlight means no current from solar PV but given most home owner regulations you are discouraged from having different roofing types on different sides of the home.

Seems you would be much better off going with traditional roof top solar installed on top of the existing roofing.
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Re: Tesla’s Solar Roof Has a Competitor

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Thu 22 Jun 2017, 15:51:35

Well as the owner of a "conventional" rooftop PV array I will tell you (forgive me baha) that such things are butt-ugly in person, hard to sell your wife on, because she wants the perfect quaint little cottage, not something with a dozen and a half or more gleaming silicon panels. Either the SS roof from Forward Labs or the slate/shingle/tile/glass options from Tesla are far more attractive than add-on panels. I minimized the visual impact on my own house by mounting my panels as far from the street as possible on a rear roof surface.

One practical problem that you have with add-on rooftop PV panels is that they must pierce your rooftop moisture barrier and be anchored to the frame of the flat roof or the trusses of a pitched roof to resist high winds. To begin with, you need to install a roof with a warranteed life of 25+ years, to prevent the necessity of removing/reinstalling the panels when servicing the roof. Having the roof cladding and the PV integrated together neatly avoids having to pierce the roof and to have seperate roofing and solar contractors. (I deal with this, I had 35 years left of a 40-year mineral-clad steel roof warranty when I mounted PV panels on top with 25 year warranty, and probably invalidated my roof warranty on the roof area beneath, as they drove 6-inch hex head bracket mounting screws into my 2x6 vaulted ceiling rafters.)

I DO have a HOA and I did get their permission to install the PV panels. In my letter to them I specified that I was installing the panels on the rear West-facing surface of my roof, where the ridge runs almost exactly North-South. In the SF Bay area, we frequently have what we call "fog" but which is actually a marine layer at the height of the hills around the valley. (The source is either the SF Bay or the Pacific, depending upon whether that day's breezes are onshore or offshore.) But most days the marine layer has been burned off by the sun before noon. Therefore having the PV installed on the West face of my roof (afternoon sun) is better than the East face (morning partial sun).

BTW, you are turned around. In the Northern Hemisphere we try to face the panels S/SE/SW towards the Sun when possible, not N/NE/NW as you indicated. But once again, if your roof has integrated PV, there should be a good appearance match between the PV portion and the conventional materials it mimics which you would use on the remaining roof surfaces.

Let me say that both the Tesla and Forward Labs products are mainly for new home construction, although they could be used in a retrofit/remodel if replacing the roof anyway. Knowing what I now know, I would not actually place PV panels on a roof at all, provided I had the space on the ground for the panels. I would either use fixed panel mounts or active tracking panel arrays, placed where I could perform maintenance without climbing a ladder in my old age. A row of large shrubs or evergreen trees can entirely hide such PV from view.
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Re: Tesla’s Solar Roof Has a Competitor

Unread postby baha » Thu 22 Jun 2017, 18:54:37

KJ - As far as maintenance goes (and overhead), I will maintain that solar is cheaper than the grid now. Ask Ghung, 15 - 20 years of just cleaning panels once a year is not something people can even conceive.

I have not been a fan of solar shingles. They have been overly complicated and low performance. I would never install a solar anything on the north side of a house (in the northern hemisphere). But that's the cool thing about the SS metal roof you posted. You can put the solar kind on the south and the non-solar kind on the north and no one can tell the difference. I don't think Tesla has this approach but I'm not sure. I am not bought in to the shingle thing yet. Modern flashed L-feet have to hit a rafter but they do not leak.

I am obsessed with efficiency. I would not install an array unless I could get perfect orientation...It would drive me crazy. You saw my thermal panels tilted at a 45 to make the most of a west facing roof.

Are you kidding me...Solar panels are sexy :) All warm smooth glass with shiny edges. Plenty of customers smile at me and ask to see my panels :oops:
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Re: Tesla’s Solar Roof Has a Competitor

Unread postby asg70 » Fri 23 Jun 2017, 10:20:37

The problem is the existing housing stock simply does not have proper roof design or orientation. Outside of the embedded cost of razing all of that housing and rebuilding, you have to deal with what's there.

The way to do that is to just drive the cost of panels as low as possible (already here for the most part) and just cover the entire roof surface to compensate for shade and off-angles.
Hubbert's curve, meet S-curve: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2b3ttqYDwF0
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Re: Tesla’s Solar Roof Has a Competitor

Unread postby pstarr » Fri 23 Jun 2017, 16:37:07

asg70 wrote:The problem is the existing housing stock simply does not have proper roof design or orientation. Outside of the embedded cost of razing all of that housing and rebuilding, you have to deal with what's there.

The way to do that is to just drive the cost of panels as low as possible (already here for the most part) and just cover the entire roof surface to compensate for shade and off-angles.

So you are an expert on photovoltaic installations as well. Who knew? Here we always believed you were merely our Oil Industry Guru. What a gift lol

Everybody in the solar installation industry know that integrated solar roof tile systems by design are flawed and known to overheat because of the lack of air flow.
Another Tesla con game. Bring on the suckers. asgy are you ready to buy?????
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Re: Tesla’s Solar Roof Has a Competitor

Unread postby asg70 » Sat 24 Jun 2017, 08:42:03

pstarr wrote:Everybody in the solar installation industry know that integrated solar roof tile systems by design are flawed and known to overheat because of the lack of air flow.


I did a quick google search on this and could not find some sort of epose' on this flaw. If there is an engineering problem there's an engineering solution.
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