PRINCEVILLE — The first Tesla Solar Roof in the state has been installed on Kaua‘i, introducing a new option for homeowners who want clean energy without sacrificing style.
Tesla’s product resembles shingles, unlike familiar solar panels, which mount to existing traditional roofing and are relatively conspicuous.
“A lot of people never quite liked the look, just because it adds this new aspect – this square blocky-looking thing – to your roof,” said Jeremy Menschel, Kaua‘i project developer for Rising Sun Solar. “There’s always been a push over the years to find a way to make some sort of architecturally-integrated solar equipment, something that would build into the roof, so you wouldn’t notice it.”
The state of Hawai‘i has committed to achieving 100% clean energy by 2045. Joti Mangat, chief revenue officer of Rising Sun, expects every building that can support solar panels to have them by that date.
Although Tesla is not the only designer of solar roofing, it is by far the biggest, according to Rising Sun, which has contracted 11 Tesla roofs on Kaua‘i since the completion of its first in February. It’s also building Tesla roofs on Maui and Hawai‘i islands.
On Kaua‘i, a 15-kilowatt Tesla roof with two batteries, installed on an average 4,500 square-foot roof carries an estimated gross cost of $326,331.
Mangat described it as a premium product.
“It takes a large commitment to aesthetics and to clean technology and to a construction project, for that to be the one that people want to go for,” he said.
Rising Sun Solar finalized the project that included Hawai‘i’s first Tesla roof in July, but only just announced completion of the project, located in Princeville, upon receipt of approval from the county.
Menschel said Rising Sun’s customer was completely remodeling her new residence, which required new shingles and roofing underlayment, when the company suggested Tesla Solar Roof.
“She always wanted to have a home that was close to off-grid, that was super energy efficient, very clean-looking,” Menschel said. “But she never quite liked the look of solar panels and she didn’t really have a lot of roof space that allowed for solar panels.”
Solar roofing also made financial sense for the Princeville resident: the cost of Tesla’s roofing was close to the cost of a solar panel system mounted on a new cedar-shake roof. In addition, solar roofs qualify for tax credits and reduce utility bills by cutting grid use, whereas conventional roofs do not.
One new client is Noho Workshop architect Kanoa Chung, whose solar roof is still under construction. It’s just one of many experiments he’s conducting at his North Shore residence.
“One of the things that I really am excited about is embracing newer technology,” Chung said. “It’s kind of one of the things that we try to do with our business, is look at what’s new and how we can integrate that into our projects.”
Chung returned home from the mainland last year to build his own home. The modern-style dwelling, when completed, will be all-black and feature unfamiliar building materials. The solar roof’s black glass panels match Chung’s vision.
“We’re trying to do things that you might not normally see, so we can maybe encourage our clients to think outside the box in some areas,” he said. “And with the Tesla roof, what better technology and system to try and do something like that, that aligns with that kind of thinking?”
Scott Yunker, general assignment reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.