With Tesla ramping the production of its residential battery and solar products, Solar Roof installations are bound to become more commonplace. Being a new type of PV system, Tesla’s solar shingles could provide challenges to emergency personnel and first responders who are not trained to handle the glass tiles. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, better known as CAL Fire, recently released a video demonstrating techniques on how to best respond to a home fitted with a Tesla Solar Roof installation.
CAL Fire veteran Brock Archer noted that the construction of the Tesla Solar Roof is actually pretty simple, with the photovoltaic cells being mounted on top of a firestone clad guard, which is a thin moisture barrier. The wiring for the tiles themselves is hidden underneath the shingles. Archer further stated that each Solar Roof tile represents itself as three shingles on the roof. As per Tesla’s design, one to four of these tiles can be wired together to create branches, which are then wired to a diode trunk harness. The diode trunk harness carries the electricity from all the panels through the roof itself.
Archer further noted that while the diode trunk harness operates at a high voltage, testing on the Solar Roof system indicates that there is almost zero risk of shock or electrocution when cutting or crushing the tiles. There is also almost no risk of electric shock when cutting through the diode trunk harness. A rapid shutdown device that’s installed close to the solar arrays, terminates DC power in the roof when AC power is interrupted.
While Tesla’s glass solar roof tiles are designed to be nearly indestructible, conducting emergency extrication maneuvers through the photovoltaic system could prove tricky. Fellow CAL Fire veteran Nick Papa noted that the Solar Roofs are very slippery, and are best treated like metal and slate roofs. Thus, for firefighters and other emergency personnel, using a ladder to gain access to a Solar Roof-equipped house is necessary. The fire veteran also noted that the tools such as fire axes and chainsaws work well with the Solar Roofs, as the shingles could be removed quickly without any problems.
The recently released emergency response training video for Solar Roof installations ultimately showcases the clever design of Tesla’s next-generation PV system. When Elon Musk unveiled the Solar Roof tiles back in 2016, Musk highlighted the shingles’ aesthetics and durability. If this recent video is any indication, it seems like the Solar Roof tiles are also designed with safety in mind.
In a recent statement, Tesla CTO JB Straubel noted that the company is aggressively ramping the production of its residential solar and battery products. Despite increasing competition from other residential solar companies in the United States, Straubel stated that Tesla is in no way stepping back from the residential solar industry. The Tesla CTO also noted that production of Powerwall 2 home batteries is set to ramp later this year. Solar Roof tile production is also expected to hit its full stride in 2019.
Watch emergency response techniques for the Tesla Solar Roof in the video below.