Installing A Tesla Solar Roof — Review By The American Contractor Show

“The American Contractor Show” has shared its review of the installation of a Tesla Solar Roof. The show is a series of episodes featuring contracting and this episode took a deep dive into the Tesla Solar Roof installation process. Davide Silverstein and American Home Contractors demonstrated just what it takes to install a Tesla Solar Roof. The episode includes a step-by-step look at the installation process.

David Silverstein from American Home Contractors takes the host of the American Contractors Show, John Dye, on a walk-through of a Tesla Solar Roof installation.

Silverstein shared that American Home Contractors is a Tesla Solar Roof Certified installer and the company has been installing the solar roof for a little over a year. It’s also been in the roofing business for over 15 years.

“The reason that we’re doing this is to help the mission of transitioning people over to a sustainable energy economy — really important to get as many people moved over to solar as possible. We’re really passionate about it and we’re excited to be part of this mission and this good cause for humanity.”

The video shared clips of the unveiling of Tesla’s Solar Roof, which was supposed to eventually come in four styles that look like normal roofing material. As all readers here on CleanTechnica must know, and Dye explained, these tiles are actually solar panels of a sort — collecting energy from the sun and turning it into electricity.

“Before this, solar panels were large, clunky, and really just plain ugly. What makes the Tesla solar roof so desirable is that the solar panels integrate directly into the roof. So let’s dive in and see what it takes to install this roof system.”

[Editor’s note: beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I think normal solar PV panels look good. Though, opinions clearly vary.]

The Jig

The first thing they discussed was this “template-looking thing” called the jig. Silverstein explained what it was for.

“That’s for the starting feet.

“So there’s starters, starter bars below it, starter feet based off of that layout-template jig, then our first course of tile, the uplift clips that are on the bottom go into those feet. So it’s basically the bottom of a tile.”

He then walks through installation of the first row, “Deck C,” waterproofing, and more.

Tile Layouts, Rows, & Exposure

In the video, Silverstein shared the blueprints and explained that this tile layout called for a #5 tile in the lower left-hand corner, which is what the team begins with. From there, they install the full tiles, which are #6 tiles, up until they reach the valley. Then they switch to a #2 tile before needing the valley trim flashing.

Next, Silverstein shares how you figure out the rows and exposure.

“We use what’s called a swing tape, so on the tape measure, we mark the maximum exposure, which is 14 and a quarter inches. We marked that all the way up to the tape measure, and what we do is we hold it at the mark and then we try to get the exposure lined up so that the rows make it so that we don’t end up with a dead zone at the top.

“If we end up with a dead zone, we have to install metal tiles all the way across. We’re hoping to use all glass. Ideally, if you have enough rows, you can swing tape it so that you line it up perfectly so that the ridge vent just covers the glass. No need for a small metal row tile. So we’ll figure out if we have a dead zone here or not but the maximum exposure is 14 and a quarter inches. The minimum is 13 and a half.”

Silverstein explained that with tile roofing, towards the top of the roof, you can pull them up or push them down.

Tesla Mid-Circuit Interrupter

Silverstein explained that the Tesla Mid-Circuit Interrupter (MCI) is for fire code for rapid shutoff if needed.

“We install these approximately one every 10 PV tiles and you can see it just gets installed directly to the roof deck right above the roof foot. And then it gets connected to diodes which connect to the PV tiles themselves.”

Tesla explained in its Solar Roof First Responder Guide that its MCI functions as a Rapid Shutdown Device. When activated, the device limits the voltage of conductors, which leaves the array to no more than 30 VDC between any two conductors or any conductor and earth ground. You can read more about that here.

Warranties & Replacing Cracked Tiles

Silverstein spoke about the warranties and how his team would repair a cracked tile that was cracked during the installation process.

“Solar Roof has some of the best warranties in the industry. The hail rating is up to an inch and three quarters and the wind mile per hour is up to 166.

“If one of the tiles cracked, which unfortunately does happen during the course of installation, then it’s really easy just to swap it out. Pop the tile out, put a new one in its place. It takes about five to ten minutes — really no big deal.”

High-Quality Hardware

He also explained that everything used in the installation of the Tesla Solar Roof was of great quality.

“All the hardware, the screws are extremely high quality. These self-drilling screws are used for metal flashings and they’re expensive.”

The video also walks through the staging area, where Silverstein explains what some of the tools and materials are and what they are used for. One key thing that Dye mentioned is that all of the roofing materials are built by Tesla.

“It’s so cool, though, because everything is built by Tesla. You think of a normal roof system, you could have four of five different manufacturers on a single roof system, whereas here, everything is built by Tesla.

“It’s so cool because it’s so much engineering that goes into that and this is where I think people fail to recognize how impressive this really is as an undertaking for Tesla on the engineering side, because they have taken and built everything for a roof — for this particular roof.”

He was emphasizing the fact that Tesla custom-designed the roof for the specific house that was having the solar roof installed. “This stuff will not fit on this house,” he said as he pointed to a different house. The fact that Tesla designed every part of the installation process specifically for one home and does this for each home is a reflection of CEO Elon Musk’s attention to detail. “Every piece that’s on here was built specifically for this house.”

Silverstein confirmed Dye’s statement and added, “Yeah, it was designed for this house and all of these materials were sent out based on the layout and design early on in the process.”

You can watch the full video here.

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