Little House Brewing Company in Chester Connecticut, built in 1836, now has a Tesla Solar Roof!

Posted by Paul Braren on Feb 2 2022 in
  • Efficiency
  • EVs
  • Tesla
  • CleanTechnica-logo

    This article was originally written for and published by CleanTechnica here.

    About the author - Paul Braren is an IT professional and tech blogger who covers PCs, EVs, home tech, efficiency, and more. Paul has been blogging for over a decade and has increased his focus on creating EV articles and videos at TinkerTry along with helping the EV Club of Connecticut since purchasing his first EV in 2018 - a Tesla Model 3 Long Range - replacing his 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid. All photos are provided by Paul and are used with permission.

    Table of Contents



    I've had my eye on Tesla solar products for a long time, and started writing about them in 2015 with my time-shifting the energy from that handy fusion reactor in the sky article. I've been thinking about residential solar ever since becoming a two EV household in 2020. You can imagine what a pleasant surprise it was when I learned that a brand new Tesla Solar Roof was just installed on a prominent building in the heart of very familiar Chester Connecticut, a mere half-hour drive away from my Connecticut home! Heading down on a sunny Saturday December 4 2021, I gladly arrived just before sunset to grab some exterior photos and the introductory footage used in the video below. I then stopped in to this Little House Brewing Company business below the apartment, asking if I could meet with the owner some day, and a super kind employee got me in touch via email.


    Upon hearing that there was a group event arranged by the Connecticut Green Building Council that included a Tesla Solar Roof Site Tour of Little House Brewing, I immediately registered myself and my wife, hoping she'd be willing join. An interview with only my nerdy questions would have been good, but having a diverse group of attendees asking all kinds of questions would surely be even better. Turns out the attendees included local architects, an engineer, a couple who loves their large passive home, and even an Eversource employee and his wife! All of us together enjoying this mostly-outdoor-tent event on a cold, cloudy, drizzly Saturday, December 18 2021.


    What was fun to watch was the enthusiastic questions from the attendees, along with the remarkably candid responses from Little House Brewing Co-Founder/Co-Owner Sam Wagner. He permitted me to film and share everything he said and the attendees were cool with it too. Sam gave straight-to-the-point answers to our many questions, and introduced us to Carlisle Schaeffer, the other Co-Founder/Co-owner. Their intriguing backstory is detailed at

    When Sam's neighbor who happens to be a Tesla Roofer kindly made an appearance at the end, with up to 14 in the work crew completing their magic in just 2 days in mid-November. He was super polite and generous with his time. Generally Tesla employees aren't permitted to appear on camera in such videos, to avoid any perception that they speak on behalf of the company. I was able to take some high level notes of what we learned:

    Basic project overview shows tile planning, provided by co-owner Sam. You can see the PV cells outlined in white cover almost every usable part of the roof.
    • Tesla currently has no Tesla Solar Roof for commercial customers, this roof is considered residential because of the residential apartment dwelling upstairs.
    • Sam found the installers to be easy to work with.
    • Sam suggested to Tesla that they offer gutters as part of the installation, he details why in the video below.
    • We learned that the 26% federal solar tax credit applies to the entire cost of the project. This means that Little House is able to get a deduction on the cost of their new solar roof, roof trim, and Powerwall battery, explained by Tesla here.
    • There are currently several Tesla Solar Roofing crews in Connecticut.
    • Tesla Solar Roofers are full Tesla employees, and it's a skilled trade given the custom metal fabrication that's required on site.
    • New England has some of the most complicated structures to work with.
    • There might be over a hundred Tesla Solar Roofs in Connecticut.
    • Rocky Hill Connecticut may be one of the most productive Tesla Solar offices in the country.

    I later learned that Little House Brewing company was built in 1836, making it 185 years old. I wouldn't be surprised if this is the oldest building in the world that has a Tesla Solar Roof. It may also be one of the very first installs of the 22% more efficient panels that weren't even known about publicly until Tesla Solar tweeted it on Dec 1 2021!

    What a great opportunity to see this installation so up close and personal, with the co-owner also telling stories about his reasons for going with a Tesla Solar Roof on this quirky building. He confessed his bias toward Tesla's products that goes way back, pre-ordering his beloved Model 3 many years ago. A highlight to cap off this fun event was when Sam shared his real dream:

    Ideal scenario is all of Chester is dark, Little House is lit up, people are drinking beer, which will pay for that roof real fast.

    Seems to me that Little House Brewing could be just one errant squirrel away from that dream becoming reality!

    Latest Update

    On January 25 2022, I received this update from Co-Owner Sam Wagner:

    Our system size is 9.17kW, with Tesla estimating we will produce 4,171 kWh/yr. We are already producing daily kWh above my initial expectations for this time of year, and I believe it could be due to us having updated tiles which may not have been considered in Tesla's initial estimates for the project. Based on my projections we should be able to offset more like 15% or more of our annual electric bill, not including the Eversource Connected Solutions program, based on last year's usage numbers. What's even more exciting is that we have found a number of opportunities for usage efficiency throughout the brewery and taproom, which in theory will significantly lower our overall usage and increase said offset!


    Image from order page.

    Pulling together a bit of my own research that supplements the video notes below:

    Order Process

    • Order undiscounted at, or if you appreciate the author's work, use Paul's Referral for your $500 off your Tesla Solar Roof or $300 off your Solar Panels, applied after your system's activation. Latest Tesla referral program details here.


    I encourage you to enjoy the video in its entirely, without worrying about taking notes, since I've done all the note-taking for you in this article below, and in the video description. Enjoy!

    Little House Brewing Company Tesla Solar Roof

    Video Description

    Notes with links to timestamps. This is a more detailed version of the YouTube Video's description that is limited to 5,000 characters.

    00:00 Paul Braren gives a tour of the exterior of Little House Brewing, Dec. 4, 2021
    01:38 CT Green Building Council Dec 18th open house event announcement
    01:45 Co-owner Sam Wagner introduces the other co-owner Carlisle Schaeffer, Sam begins answering questions
    02:25 Sam has a Tesla Model 3, solar roofer is a local friend, building was built in 1836
    03:14 Feb 2021 placed order, followed by price changes, Tesla used to a lot of new construction in southwest
    03:55 took a couple of days, but Tesla had subcontractors tear off the old roof, up to 14 guys on the roof at a time
    04:25 design experience was a little tough, it's a residential product
    04:52 permitting by town of Chester was a breeze, final inspection expected at the end of December
    05:36 load bearing issues? no, not heavy, dummy tile to show us is not active PV but gives sense of weight
    06:26 what % of roof is active PV? estimated 85-90%, system is not grounded, they use 58 to 60 kW per year
    07:48 open questions about gutters? old ones torn off, Sam wishes Tesla would sell gutters, since Tesla can't use straps under or over the Tesla Solar Roof.
    09:22 how has the power been, has it met expectations? Yes, but hard to gauge, new to solar, cloudy weather. It's a 9.2kW system, average home in America is 6kW system.
    10:18 what inspired you to do this? always wanted to do solar, traditional solar panels didn't make sense and might not have worked given how heavy they are and how old the structure is, and needed a new roof. Once crew arrived, the experience was much better than everything that led up to that. They turned it on. Big disconnect between Tesla corporate and installers.
    11:45 new underlayment and patch work, they did everything
    11:55 only 6 to 7% offset since we started, but brewing system is electric, as is glycol chiller, on a regular home it'd be like 80-90%.
    12:48 Tesla Powerwall battery. If we lose power we could turn off brewing and chillers and be offline 24 hours.
    13:24 26% Federal Tax Credit for any solar project, this one included, and happens to include a tempered glass roof.
    13:55 outside
    15:08 brewing equipment takes a lot of electricity, they have three 6,000kW heating elements
    14:42 attendee has 9kW solar on a 2200 sq. ft. passive house with a 900 sq. ft. apartment that is all electric, entire bill for energy is $1200 (per year).
    17:10 this is a really strong roof with 25 year warranty, bullet point #1, we needed a new roof anyway
    17:50 what made you go with Tesla Solar Roof instead of Sun Power panels? I'm a bit of a Tesla fanboy, have a Model 3, like their products, despite being a little difficult to deal with, worth it in the end. Traditional solar would have required a whole new roof anyway.
    18:38 How much? Just over $40,000, with so many prices changes since Feb, but almost half that cost is 2 Powerwalls (sandwiched together)
    19:38 excited to get to April May June when sun will hit the roof almost all day.
    19:57 should shed snow nicely, snow guard topic came up
    20:32 did they get in before Tesla price changes? We did they did end up honoring it, despite surprise of $30,000 increase in price.
    21:00 go online and entering your info into the configurator to see current pricing.
    21:30 Eversource (utility) will pay you to pull from your batteries through its program called Connected Solutions, up to $1700 per year.
    22:12 in process of enrolling in ConnectedSolutions, Eversource employee in attendance who is involved in Energy Storage Solutions (new). Similar to ConnectedSolutions, but specific to Connecticut, if you install a battery either or residential, you can be eligible for an up-front incentive, and a performance incentive for when you dispatch.

    • Demand Response For Home Battery Storage

      Earn rewards and lower carbon emissions by enrolling your home battery storage system in Eversource's ConnectedSolutions.
      Home batteries can help you store clean energy generated by a home solar system, or simply provide backup energy in case you need it.

      By enrolling in the ConnectedSolutions Demand Response program, you will be rewarded for allowing Eversource to use the energy stored in your battery at times of high demand.

    • Energy Storage Solutions

      This energy storage program can help you prepare for the increasing frequency of weather-related outages while earning incentives. Incentives are available for the initial purchase and installation of a battery plus additional monies each time your battery is used to help support the electric grid.

    24:03 Sam - Ideal scenario is all of Chester is dark, Little House is lit up, people are drinking beer, which will pay for that roof real fast.
    24:23 attendee mentioned Eversource has program if you have a smart thermostat, they can take demand off the grid, and get Amazon gift card.
    Join ConnectedSolutions from Eversource and earn $45!
    25:17 if you did a new roof plus solar panels, do you think you're better? Yes, the comparison is to a premium roof. It would be far cheaper if we did an asphalt roof. There's a 25 year warranty for all the tiles, if anything happens, they just pop the old one out, and put a new one in.
    26:27 architect attendee - building integrated photovoltaics, peel and stick, problem was when keeping rain out or providing power, to fix problem, were affecting other performance as well. A place in Hawaii, a problem replacing. What happens when there's a leak? Who does (snap fitting)?
    27:40 Sam - we were Tesla is monitoring the tiles, and they would know before we did. (sounds great in theory) What is the protocol? Sam - was told Tesla has a pretty big office in Connecticut, would reach out to them if any tile was shattered by a limb, that's part of 25 year warranty, would replace it. What if it's the underlayment with structure damaged, how would that work, insurance etc. That's an open question.
    29:23 (Andrew Baumer, in charge of Green Building for Homes Committee) it's a newer, refined product since announcement, an ongoing evolution just like their cars.
    Wind rating of class F, fire rating of class A, hail rating of class 3, can only use on roof pitch of 2:12 - 24:12. Sam added that the dormer is right at minimum pitch. The inverter will go from 3.8 to 7.6 kW, and it's 97.5% efficiency.
    30:22 he's an early adopter, this is right on the fence of leading and bleeding.
    30:47 ANSI FM 4473 for hail, class 3.
    30:56 "solar nerds" in attendance, with a dummy (non-PV) Tesla Solar Roof tile handed around to inspect
    31:00 Alicia Dolce, Executive Director of the Connecticut Green Building Council introduced Andrew Baumer whose in charge of the Green Homes Committee. He set this event up.
    31:18 off grid demo, lights didn't flicker
    31:33 "with that glycol chiller and some of the other equipment and the power spikes, there's no home battery better than the Powerwall by a mile"
    31:42 Tesla app demo
    32:49 close look at the 2 Powerwalls, 2 power meters, a Tesla inverter, a Tesla gateway, and a 400 amp service panel.
    33:45 closing close-up photos and fun tweets including construction




    My family owns no stock in Tesla. Tesla doesn't advertise at TinkerTry, or anywhere else, and this is not a sponsored post. We financed the purchase of two Tesla Model 3s, replacing my 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid in December of 2018 and replacing my wife's 2005 Honda Civic EX in December of 2019. These big moves to an all electric household were an expression of our mutual desire to go green, avoid gasoline, be safe, have fun, and save money in the long run. Mostly for my job, I drive a lot, 25,000 miles in 2019 for example, and I thoroughly enjoy sharing what I've learned with you. I hope you can tell!

    See also at TinkerTry

    See also


    • Little House Brewing Company Gets A New Tesla Solar Roof
      Nov 25 2021 by Johnna Crider at CleanTechnica

      Little House Brewing Company, a microbrewery in downtown Chester, Connecticut, took to Twitter to share its news of a new Tesla solar roof. The company shared that this had been a dream of theirs since well before they opened.

    • A Trip To Little House Brewing Co in Chester, CT
      Nov 08 2018 by Ryan Sylvestre at Connecticut Weekender

      As you know by now, I am fascinated with the craft brewing industry for a number of reasons. The community is really unlike any other. Though there are tons of breweries here in CT, there isn’t much competition. Each brewery has their own defining qualities and looks out for one another; like a family.

      The more I sit down with these owners and brewers the more my love for the industry grows. Here is what I learned sitting down with Carlisle and Sam from Little House Brewing.

    Still TBD - Feb 02 2022 - 105: Grids, Big and Small - Tesla Powerwall & Virtual Power Plants