Solar roofing company GAF Energy and its parent, global roofing manufacturer Standard Industries, say their contractors have deployed “hundreds” of installations over the past year*, suggesting they may be outpacing larger rival Tesla.
While much of the attention around solar roofs has focused on Tesla, GAF Energy has been quietly deploying its solar roofing systems. Though the company declined to provide specific deployment numbers, Standard Industries’ estimate of “hundreds” of roofs deployed would appear to put it well in front of its highest-profile competitor.
Tesla had installed only 21 solar roofs as of February 2019 in the service territories of California’s three largest investor-owned utilities, the nation’s largest residential solar market, records show. A Tesla spokesperson told Greentech Media this number is low and unrepresentative. Tesla said it is installing solar roofs in eight states but declined to offer specific deployment figures.
Standard Industries first unveiled its “roof-integrated” DecoTech system in 2017. This year it created a new standalone company, GAF Energy, to house the product, with Martin DeBono — former general manager of SunPower’s residential business* — brought on as president.
In contrast to Tesla’s sleek tile-like solar roof, GAF Energy’s product sits flush against the roof but is still recognizable as solar paneling.
“There are a lot of folks trying to make that killer product. I don’t think anyone has solved it yet,” Lahey said. “But I believe we have…the best roofing-integrated product out there on the market today.”
GAF Energy is aiming to massively increase the penetration of residential solar by cutting down on customer-acquisition and installation costs. It has a unique advantage over most solar installers and developers in that regard: Rather than signing up customers through traditional channels like door-to-door sales or in-store marketing, it finds them when they’re shopping for a new roof, using leads from its broader roofing business.
Standard Industries claims it’s the world’s largest roofing manufacturer, with offices in the U.S. and Europe. GAF, a subsidiary, has certified roofing contractors in all 50 states, installing 1.5 million roofs each year — equivalent to one in four residential roofs built in the U.S.
“We’re essentially merging the product itself — both solar and roof — and we’re merging the customer experience,” Lahey said. “There’s a lot of optimization for all parties when you do that.”
GAF Energy is seeing lower-than-average customer-acquisition costs for the rooftop solar market, Lahey said, although the company declined to give exact figures. The “overwhelming majority” of GAF Energy’s business comes from inbound requests or referrals, he said.