A few years ago you could call any homeowners installing solar power "early adopters," but with the U.S. having surpassed 2 million installs in 2019 according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, early adoption today refers to new kinds of solar technology.

The Neumann family in Northern California were early adopters of the Tesla Solar Roof, a mix of glass roof tiles and energy-collecting tiles that are nearly indistinguishable from the ground. The whole system, including two batteries that Tesla calls Powerwalls, cost $83,000 before incentives. (The lead photo comes from the video they shared on YouTube.)

Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, said about the latest version of the system in a press conference last fall, "The future that we all want is the future where you look around and the roofs are gathering energy and doing something useful."

The First 100 Days

Tara Neumann shared a video on YouTube about the couple's first three months with the system running.

"When we first got the system turned on, we were staring at the app constantly, trying to figure out what uses energy in the house," she says in the video. "We were total data junkies, just watching the app constantly."

Tara and her husband both work in I.T. and relish the use of apps and monitors to stay on top of their interests.

She says, "We don't do that quite as much anymore. We've kind of fallen into a groove."



March 2020
Electricity charges $6.67
Sold to grid $2.69
Total electricty cost $3.98
Previous year (Mar. 2019) $145


April 2020
Electricity charges $1.16
Sold to grid $16.83
Total electricty credit +$15.67
Previous year cost (Apr. 2019) $134


May 2020
Electricity charges $0.39
Sold to grid $76.64
Total electricty credit +$76.25
Previous year cost (May 2019) $143

Now that the couple understands which activities use the most power, they try to do those in daytime.

Tara says, "We try to do the high-energy things—laundry, baking—during the peak sun hours so we're using the energy we're producing rather than having to pull from the battery in the evening."

The system was activated in March 2020 and began supplying most of the home's power. One outlying day was when a heatwave caused them to draw more from the grid to run the air conditioning.

“We were totally off-grid but had no issues, didn't run out of power.”

Another heatwave led the couple to a reassuring discovery: If it hadn't been for a notification from the app, they never would have known that the neighborhood was in blackout. The grid went down, but their home life went on like normal.

"We were totally off-grid but had no issues, didn't run out of power."