For the moment, it is impossible to find solar tiles in France. However, one of our very first Californian customers granted us an exclusive interview. In English.

Interview : James Locke, by Tesla Magazine

tesla energy


Q: So, firstly I would like to know why did you decide to install this system in your house? For curiosity, financial reasons, green energy…?

A: My wife and I decided to purchase the Tesla solar and powerwalls for several reasons, the main was greater energy independence from the grid. When we moved to California we learned of the possible power outages to reduce wild fire risk. We wanted to ensure we didn’t have to worry about a grid that wasn’t always going to be there in the times when power is needed most. We also have 2 electric cars, 2017 Model S 100D and 2017 Model 3 and wanted to ensure we always had a source of power to keep those charged. We of course also wanted to reduce our carbon footprint and the price of solar and powerwalls was so financially appealing it was an easy decision. We didn’t look at any other companies as we want to support Tesla and there mission as much as we can.

The installation

Q: Then, I read your thread on Twitter about the installation of solar panels and powerwalls, but could you explain how was it? Was it difficult for the technicians? How long did it take? Did they ask you about the place to install powerwalls? We want to know everything that could be interesting to know for people who envisage to install it.

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A: The install process with Tesla was very painless, Tesla showed up on time and as scheduled and was very fast. They installed the system within the 2 days allotted, in fact they were faster then I expected. The solar panels were one dedicated team and they had those down within the 2 days, I suspect they could have had it done in 1 day but they needed some extra parts they didn’t have so completed the work on the second day before noon. System install looks very clean and professional.

Tesla Solar Panels

The powerwall and electrical work (inverters, gateway, conduit etc) was another team. They got there work done over 2 days, day 1 was mounting the powerwalls and installing all the conduit and equipment, day 2 was running wiring and terminating it all. They had to cross connect all our household circuits as with our 4 powerwalls our entire home can be covered in a power outage off the powerwalls so each circuit had to be moved from our main panel to the new backup panel.

Tesla did ask about placement of the powerwalls, either inside or out, mounted on the wall or stacked on a concrete pad. If you don’t have an existing concrete pad that meets Tesla’s specifications they can do that for you for an added cost. Otherwise install is fully included. We wanted them mounted in our garage on a completely open wall as love looking at these every day as we go out to our cars.

The financial side

Q: So, now it is ready to operate, are you satisfied and why? Is it financially interesting? With a lot of solar panels and 4 PowerWalls are you able to sell a lot of electricity into the power grid?

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A: Yes I am very satisfied with our Tesla energy system. I wish we could have gotten the XL system however our roof couldn’t handle the panels necessary and Tesla doesn’t do custom sizes. You have to choose from there “menu” of small, medium, large or XL system for your home. The large will meet out needs but we will need some grid power but only a small fraction of what we were using.

We are really still getting used to the system and ensuring it is used efficiently. There are several options within the Tesla app for how the energy is managed and still figuring all those out. We have sold a bit of power to the grid in the first month of operation however we haven’t gotten our first bill yet so not 100% sure how it will all work out with our monthly costs.

You love DATA? Use the app

Q: I have also seen that you were fascinated by the data and the application. Why that? And, for the sharing of electricity from solar panels to powerwalls, housing electricity, Tesla car and power grid, do you let the algorithm do the job or do you control that? Are you able to ensure that you get as much benefit as possible at times when electricity is more or less expensive?

A: Both my wife and I love looking at data, we also like playing with tech. The Tesla app allows for a set it a forget it approach but I like messing with various settings and variables and seeing what happens. With COVID19 we haven’t needed to drive around much and no daily commute as we are both working from home so our power use is different right now that we don’t need to charge the cars.

The Tesla app also has an advanced mode for time or use rates which we do have here in Southern California. From 4pm to 9pm is our peak rate and we can set the app to sell 100% solar during that window to maximize our money generation from selling to the grid but also to ensure we don’t use any power during this window. We can also set our system to self-generation and that means we don’t sell to the grid unless we have extra. IE our batteries our full and house doesn’t need all the solar currently being produced.

Tesla Energy is much bigger than auto business

James Locke

Q: Finally, what do you think about the future of Tesla Energy? Will it revolutionize the electricity market?

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A: I think the future of Tesla Energy is much bigger then the auto business. There is a lot of untapped potential when it comes to renewable energy and Tesla is on the cutting edge of the battery and solar technology that I see. They are making it much easier to purchase and install solar for home users and I suspect commercial users as well. It is mind boggling to me why utilities like those in California aren’t doing more to encourage more home users to install solar and powerwalls to help grid stability, especially right now during the heat wave and rotating blackouts needed to stabilize the grid. Can’t imagine being quarantined in your home due to covid and having the utility shut off power for an hour at a time so no AC during temps outside over 40C.

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