Energy Products

What's the deal with Tesla solar?

edited November -1 in Energy Products
I got a quote from a local company for solar and was surprised at how expensive it was going to be. With financing, even with a long 20-year loan, the payments were more costly than the savings the system would provide, which seems counterproductive. Paying it off quicker or just paying cash still seemed like a pretty bad investment after crunching the numbers.

This quote was for LG panels and microinverters, with 25yr warranty on everything including labor. It was about 45% higher than what Tesla's website is advertising for a similarly-sized system. With Tesla, I can even get 4 powerwalls and it's only slightly more than my quote for solar only, and then I'd have power after the next hurricane, which changes the math since the system is actually providing an extra service (keeping the power on during outages) rather than just lowering my electric bill. I could stomach my overall energy bill going up slightly if it means uninterrupted power after the next hurricane.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot of info on Tesla's website on what you actually get, which is a little concerning. What's the catch? Why so much cheaper? Does this include the cost of install, permits, inverter(s), miscellaneous equipment, etc? What kind of panels do they use? What kind of inverters? How do they install on weird-shaped roofs that might not fit the long rectangular block of panels that they depict on their website? Can it be broken up into smaller pieces? Can it be placed diagonally? How can they provide a quote without even evaluating the roof? How long will everything take? What does the warranty cover?

There's no information about any of this on their website. They want us to just pick one of 4 sizes and give them $100 and permission to start permits without any info about what we're actually getting or how the process works?

Can anyone who has gone though this provide any of those answers?

My main concern is the shape of my roof. The South side is not just a flat slab of roof that would fit what they're showing on their website, so unless they can break that up somehow, it's not going to work and I don't want to give them $100 along with permission to start getting permits.

Thanks in advance for any info about what Tesla is actually offering.


  • edited November -1
    Steve - I’ll offer a few thoughts:

    You’re likely aware that Tesla recently decided to step on the gas relative to their energy business as Elon has stated publicly. Apparently the rapid expansion of this business is now one of the top company priorities. Gotta love it!

    History has shown us when Tesla gets serious they play to win and IMHO their recent moves in the energy business are no exception. Apparently they have decided to compete heavily on price.

    After taking another look at their latest web site pricing I was somewhat amazed to see their “Large” 11.4 kW system priced at roughly $2.32 per watt before tax incentives. This price point is quite a bit lower than many/most of their current market competition.

    The aggressive pricing moves now apply to Powerwalls as well. Prior to the new aggressive Tesla pricing strategy Powerwalls were running about $8-9K each including installation and excluding incentives. They are now offered at $5,833 each for the large bundle with three units. Wow - a huge major price reduction.

    Regarding the system design details we all seek to compare and understand - it appears they have decided not to complicate matters for future customers during the sales process. Want it? Just buy it. They will handle all the details later. If you don’t like details just cancel the order. A brilliant strategy assuming the company has the strength to deliver. Tesla can check that box using either their direct installers or their authorized dealers depending on geo location.

    What’s not to love about this new approach? Can’t think of anything. That said, like many others here, depending on the geo location I would be cautious about agreeing to use Tesla-direct installers and customer support. They are woefully understaffed in some parts of the country. Hopefully this will change as they grow the business.

    Long story short - as long as you live in area with plenty of local Tesla-direct installers and happy direct customers - take the amazing deal and run! If you don’t like the details when you get them just cancel the order and select a local dealer, just don’t expect the same pricing...

    Good luck!
  • edited February 2
    BTW - my feedback is based on our recent decision to install a 10 kWh system with 3 PWs. Installed pre-incentive pricing was about $3/watt for the solar generator and $9K each for PWs. In our case Tesla has no direct installation/support in our geo location so buying direct from Tesla was a non-starter.

    If we had been able to utilize a Tesla-direct solution with the latest pricing we would have saved over $10K. While a painful price difference, the system is performing flawlessly so far, after incentives the numbers still work, and we’re now mostly self-powered. Whooo hooo!
  • edited November -1
    After you place an order you'll be contacted and asked to provide more info like your electric bill, type of roof and so on. At some point they contact by phone and discuss more details about the system and what they suggest (based on your electric bill usage) and answer any questions. After they configure a system for you they'll send you the details - (a diagram showing where the panels would go, the type of panels and inverter, and any other details required. It's an easy process but feels long as you're going through it. Of course you can opt-out at any point and they'll refund your $100 deposit.
  • edited February 2
    Thanks Patrick and bcmusik. I went ahead and pulled the trigger. We'll see how it goes.
  • edited February 4
    Tesla SOLAR is absolutely the worse ! HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE service. My system has been non operational for six months! I keep getting excuses and delays! The service is horrible, I keep getting the run around, when it was Solar City, if I had an issue they would be out and fix it right away. I run a small business from my home that is heavy on electricity usage, and their lack of response is costing me a ton of . They are so busy expanding they are ignoring existing customers, then get info on referring customers, I will NOT refer anyone to them. Soon I'm thinking of having my system removed and going elsewhere.
  • edited February 4
    My service since 2015 has been exemplary, both with my Solar City PV install in 2015, and my PW install in January last year. The few follow-up issues and/or questions were resolved promptly. Tesla installs many thousands of systems in a year.

    I don't deny that problems exist, just that you are in an unfortunate minority.
  • edited February 4
    In case anyone else is wondering, I got some info on what they're offering. They use:

    - "German engineered" Hanwha Q Cell solar panels (315 watt)
    - String inverter -- they state they chose this because they don't have to get up on the roof for maintenance, but its probably because they're much cheaper than microinverters (but they also don't last as long)
    - Warranty is 25 years on the panels, 10 years on the inverter (microinverters have a 25 year warranty from what I've seen), 10 year guarantee against roof leaks, 20 year "workmanship warranty" (not sure what this means)
    -The loan option that they offer on their website is a 5% (4.99%) 20-year loan (so Powerwalls and inverters would likely be past their useful lifecycle before you're done paying for them).

    I'm not 100% sure how much a new string inverter costs, but a Tesla competitor who was pushing microinverters told me it would be about $3K and that I could expect to have to pay for at least one new one during the 25-years that the panels are warrantied. To be conservative, I'm assuming that he's right.
  • edited November -1
    FYI - SolarEdge offers a relatively inexpensive extended warranty for their string inverters. Our installer threw it into the deal at no extra charge.
  • edited February 8
    Thanks Patrick, good to know.
  • bpbp
    edited February 9
    Our Tesla-approved installers used Chilicon Power microinverters, that are warrantied for 25 years, with one microinverter for each of our 2 350W LG panels.
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