Tesla Solar/Solar City – WARNING!!! – Before you order your solar and Powerwall

Tesla Solar/Solar City – WARNING!!! – Before you order your solar and Powerwall

Tesla Solar failed to meet our Expectations by promising one thing and delivering another.

I’m a licensed General Contractor (GC) in San Diego, California who works as a Construction Manager for one of the largest real estate groups in the United States.
My only specific request was to NOT HAVE EXPOSED CONDUIT, just like the Tesla advertisements. The sales team agreed, we approved the cost, we received financing and off we went.

The Tesla installer showed up the prior evening of installation and confirmed the installation was going to be performed with no conduits; however, the next day, the same installer starting installing CONDUIT!! They put the conduit everywhere - I’m talking everywhere: a large, ugly 2” pipe running in the front of my house right over my front door!! Might as well have been a red clown nose the size of my front door.

Calling the manager, he stated lies! telling us, “Tesla’s not able to run the electrical conduit in the attic.”

As a general contractor, I knew he was lying. The Tesla’s manager, then threatened “We can stop everyone now” and delay the project. Oh and now they can run the conduit in the attic for an extra $1,700.00. My wife and I both agreed we shouldn’t have to pay, since we had already paid the $45,000 for our system.

As a GC, I wanted to invite folks to my house and promote Tesla Solar. Tesla’s sales representative really dropped the ball, despite our repeated attempts to communicate Tesla Solar did not provide enough information to help the consumer understand what we’re getting. (Your plans should be around 8 pages, don’t accept less!!!)

We’re not out to hurt Tesla Solar, we only wish others who hire Tesla Solar not experience disappointment.

Tesla, please don’t hurt your customers who believe in you. Tesla’s Resolutions team failed to make any concessions, despite the fact it was their sales representative’s screw-up. (FYI – Sales representative left Tesla prior to the completion of my system).

Please let us know your experiences with Tesla Solar and share your thoughts with us.

lilbean | June 14, 2019

Thank you. That sounds awful.

jptrava | June 18, 2019

So what did you end up doing?

misc | June 19, 2019

I had a very similar issue with Tesla prior to the installation. To call the Tesla sales rep that managed my project (one of many) incompetent would be an understatement. Perhaps they should hire folks that have a construction background or at least a remote idea what a piece of conduit is... The installers on the other side were reasonable and accommodating. We ended up tearing the sheetrock off the wall behind the Powerwall, semi-recessed the gateway and run all wires hidden in the walls. The end-result was great and clean looking, but getting there was... challenging.

pks | June 21, 2019

I went through Tesla’s resolution team, presenting all the evidence (emails, phone records and drawings) showing Tesla their sales department dropped the ball. The end result was kinda of funny. Even know they did not provide me with a set of plans, they showed me a drawing (one page) where is shows an outline of the install. In the drawing legend it shows the conduit but it’s not marked up in the drawing. The resolution team did not know how to read the drawing and claimed it’s showing on that page.

Tesla is not going to do anything to help, so i’m here trying to warn people. (I could sue, but not sure if that’s the right thing to do?) Hopefully Elon Musk will read this and recognize a change needs to happen, in order for Tesla solar to stay in business.

lilbean | June 27, 2019

Thanks for the info @pks and @misc. I hope our install goes well also. A crappy installation is unacceptable.

jenniferwaterman1 | July 15, 2019

Our experience with Tesla Solar has been horrible as well, completely the opposite of the experience we had with purchasing our model S. We were also looking forward to showing off our solar and Powerwall system, but the project that we initiated in February has now been stalled for 4 months at the schedule installation stage. Everything is complete that I have control over; final plans, new roof, permits from the town, application to the utility, etc... The customer service and responsiveness has been abysmal and my weekly emails and phone calls result in the same answer of "someone will get in touch soon to schedule your work". I just hope we can get our system installed before the end of the year to capture the full tax credit. I was consoling myself with the thought that when they finally install the system it will be something I can enjoy, but your post makes me worry about that now too!

gregbrew | July 16, 2019

The most pertinent question is: Was the "no visible conduit" provision *in the contract*?

If it wasn't, why did you sign it?

Enery User at Home | July 18, 2019

To get Elon to read it, it's probably got to be a twitter thing. Using twitter will also help because it's a public forum which can add public relations pressure to your case. This is a private forum.
I too have that conduit all over the place but was fortunate that it's in the back of the house.

hantejm | July 18, 2019

Another thing to consider is maintenance. Our system was installed several years ago by SolarCity, prior to their acquisition by Tesla. We recently needed the system removed temporarily to have our house re-roofed. Submitted the request for removal in June. Earliest date available through Tesla to remove the panels was in October.

Also, our system started having issues producing power. A technician inspected the system on 11/13/18 and left a message that our panels need to be replaced because they were part of a defective batch of panels. He mentioned that someone would be contacting me to schedule the replacement. No one called, so I emailed customer support for the status on 11/30. On 12/6 customer support responded saying they were waiting on a shipment of panels. It's now July and still no replacements.

Funny, now their web site provides virtually no solar system information or monitoring. It's basically there to sell cars. I was actually considering purchasing a Tesla vehicle, but based on their solar support I dropped that idea.

bp | July 19, 2019

We're on the other side of the fence - we've owned 3 Tesla vehicle (starting in early 2013) and have considered purchasing Tesla solar panels & PowerWalls.

We've been extremely satisfied with the vehicles and overall support (even with the recent crush caused by the huge number of new Model 3's).

But their support for solar customers appears to be quite different - and a concern. The overall direction for the business has been downward with decreasing marketshare.

The solar business may be a casualty of Tesla being a public company and the push to hit numbers every quarter, making it more difficult for Tesla to allocate resources on their smaller revenue stream from solar.

Musk continues to make statements that they are anticipating a turnaround for their energy products - still waiting to see evidence of that.

Windsurfer | July 19, 2019

I emailed Tesla for a quote for solar panels and a PowerWall a couple of months ago and never had even the courtesy of a response. I've had two Teslas (an S and a 3) and love the cars but this terrible service is concerning.

John | July 24, 2019

I'm reviewing a Tesla quote and I'm full of questions and concerns.

I'm in Arizona under SRP power. People locally have done calculations, and because SRP is compared to most, a full system isn't cost effective. I'm still waiting for someone to show any resemblance of an ROI model for SRP. Tesla (Solar City) lawyers spent years fighting and have finally settled with SRP.

The local salesman told me that I can have a net reduction in my power bill - but no data. He also claimed that the SRP rebate of $3,600 was for each PW installed. Not true, 1 max. Losing confidence fast...

Some in my area claim the sweet spot is 40% solar/60% SRP. The fact that I'm offered a massive system over the top tells me they aren't even trying to sell this to me. Those prices will push people away from Solar! Very odd strategy if you ask me.

Then there's my request to put the PWs in the garage (cool, shut up that they can handle this sun) and to use my existing underground approved conduit between my service box and garage (Garage and Service Box are separate, so I ran 1-1/4 conduit underground for charging the Model 3). Their recommendation was that I needed $4,200 for a new 200 Amp service box. I currently have a 200 Amp box, makes no sense.

I'm getting that BEV and Solar are still very separate businesses. Let's see if there is anything in the Q2 ER about solar. And thanks for the head's up people. I think I will get a quote from SunValley after all. Experience does matter.

jerodprice | July 25, 2019

We had a great experience with Tesla and SolarCity for our June 2019 - 9 kWh , 2x PowerWall installation.

Operating full month now with no glitches, 2 actual backup events where seamless when SCE shut our neighborhood off for power line work, and the installation is gorgeous to look at. I cry.

The new NEM coding is accurately consuming low cost energy from my battery while pushing high value solar to SCE, further enhances my cost / benefit.

Satisfied customer.

johncrab | July 25, 2019

I went through something similar. I has signed a contract for $22k for a two PW system with inverter, switchgear, new home breaker panel, etc., (no solar panels, just PW). This rocked along for weeks with very limited feedback from Tesla, but on my Arizona Public Service account I began seeing activity under the "My Renewables" tab. Still nothing from Tesla I looked at the drawings APS had uploaded and was quite shocked to see that Tesla had drawn the system with a 150-foot loop on my side of the meter which involved wrapping conduit around from the back of the house to the front to install a "main cutoff". This was not a slave/relay device, but an inline manual cutoff switch (redundant because there would be one in the back and they can scram the whole house via a command to the meter). After some back and forth, Tesla told me this was required by APS and I would be paying an additional $2500 I had not agreed to in the contract.

The loop to the cutoff was on my side of the meter so that meant every watt my house would use would go through this 150-foot loop with resulting line losses which would add up over time in dollars as energy wasted/lost. Not only this, but it would have been butt-ugly as well. Tesla had never reached out to me and I had to learn all of this from APS and from being a EE who can read a set of prints!

Because APS would not budge on this "requirement" which made no sense other than to serve to kill my project, I did just that and told Tesla that this was unacceptable and that I would not pay the additional $2500. A few days later my $500 deposit was refunded back to my card but I never heard another word out of Tesla. This was back in early 2018 when their customer service still existed. I suppose they planned to contact me at some point to get permission to go over budget but the total lack of communication annoyed me. It also seemed they don't run up against a EE every day who has worked in the electric power industry and could read their prints better than their sales people could.

Since that time APS has completely replaced their system in my part of town with brand new underground equipment, replacing the late 40's vintage rusted junk on poles. I've gone from one power failure per month (avg) to none, so the primary reason for buying PW evaporated.

chancellor32 | July 25, 2019

I have had a pretty good experience with Tesla in SRP area here. I actually was their first solar install since the lawsuit. I got a 4KW system and 1 PW as others have stated the 40% offset is the sweet spot here and well to be honest Tesla has no clue whats best for here in AZ. I did my own research for a year and got various quotes from other companies but their prices were just too high. Tesla ironically was the cheapest. ROI is about 10 years because of the PW and if it was just panels it would have been 8 years. If anyone has any questions feel free to reach out. I would like to think I am unbiased in if solar makes sense or not for people here as im not getting paid any $$ lol.

rlandrigan | August 22, 2019

I have had a 9.88 kw Tesla solar system in place since August 2015, Order Number EN7104764, 22 Deacon Lane, Sudbury, MA. My solar system stopped producing electricity at the beginning of April 2019. As of late August 2019 it still is not functioning. The peak sun months of 2019 have been missed. Tesla has made several technician visits during the five months including installing a new inverter, having a few guys up on the roof checking the system. The system still doesn't work. Blame it on lack of sustained interest or incompetence, or both. Per the system lease contract, paragraph 4(c), I am not to be "...charged for Estimated Production when the System is not producing electricity due to Solar City's (Tesla) fault". I cut Tesla off from automatic debit billing from my bank account and refuse to pay their "Estimated Production" bills on the basis that it amounts to consumer fraud. They just billed me $237.42 for the month of July when no electricity was produced. In my estimation as an attorney their "Estimated Production" billing while a system is down due to Tesla's fault is fraudulent and is clearly subject to challenge, perhaps as a class action.

knox063079 | August 29, 2019

One of our units stopped working. Telsa service call me and I went outside and tried to fix the problem as instructed by the support caller. It did not work. He then stated that the unit was bad and needed a new one. He said it would take fifhteen days to receive a unit from overseas. It should be installed Aug 1. Aug 1, came around a support showed up to recheck the unit not install a new one as promised. He tells me the same story the unit had to be ordered and would be a while. The same as stated earlier. Our electric bill skyrocketed to $247 this month and $150 last month. Including the rental the bill was over $350. And yet no word from Tesla. In fact they have done nothing about our problem. This is unsatisfactory. At least the decency to update us would be appropriate. It is the end of August and still not a word. It is difficult to contract anyone at Tesla. The unit went out in July, it is the end of August, with the hot weather every day and still no word from Tesla. Don't they care about their customers? We are unhappy, we are paying rental and not receiving proper service. When I go online all they talk about is the cars. Tesla are your listening? Why are you not supporting your solar product and why you do not have a spare unit available when the customer needs one? It takes too long to get service. Why no contact or customer update?

bobbisavon | September 9, 2019

We started leasing our Solar City (now Tesla) solar panels in September 2014. Until now everything was fine. No working problems, no damage, everything was fine. We are currently trying to refinance our home so we can have money to put an engine in my husband's truck. Everything was going along very quick until we came to the part of the lien Tesla has on our home due to their solar panels. No problem I thought. It was easy and quick for them to release the lien last time. The last time I had to pay $30 and the release was done and sent to the bank within 24 hours now they charge $150, take almost a week and send a form with instructions for me to take it to the county to have the lien released and another fee. You, Tesla, have been paid the money for that fee. I called the county and was told the lien holder has to file the paperwork so I went back to the lovely lien department lady (sarcasm) and told her and was told it would take them 15+ days. WHY?? It's done online, you have my $150 to do it, WHY is it going to take 15+ days? Customer service SUCKS!! Very rude!! When she told me the fees went up this past July I told her as a customer I did not receive any notice, she just hymmed and hawed and said No but if I didn't pay the $150 I wouldn't get the release. THIS IS COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE! I will never suggest anyone getting solar panels from Tesla.

beaver | September 12, 2019

Great to hear the panels and 2 PW install went well for you. How has it been going? Working well? Hoe much are you generating? How has your bill changed? Did you buy or rent?

I live in LA (Pasadena) and it gets really hot July - September, house electric bill around $200. I have a separate meter for EV charging, plan to keep the mode 3 on TOU-EV1.

I am considering renting 7.4 kW system maybe with 1-2 PW ( would love 2 but it’s pricey). 1 PW isn’t enough to be self sufficient on most days. I am done some calculations showing that I need 11 kW and 2 PW to be self sufficient most days.

Any advice people can share is appreciated. Anyone rent the panels yet with the new program? How does the install look? Smooth process? What happens if the system fails? my bill will skyrocket since I am in tiered pricing now but have to move to the terrible TOU plan with SCE that charges $0.45 from 4-8pm.

Thanks for any help.

blonddi37 | September 16, 2019

I will agree customer service is beyond terrible. we leased a 12kw system they put half the panels up on a side of the house with a 2 story right next to us so power stops at 3p.m. we have never made over 8kw in a day and when you call anyone from the company your told they will get back to you. 1 person said he would have a manager call. I called him daily for 2 weeks. never a return call by the manager. they give their selfs plenty of room on their amount it will produce as after reading their contract shows less than 8kw avg so careful I needed more than I got but good luck getting them to add or fix. Repairs have been ridiculous as never in a hurry to get it fixed. if your looking for something to replace electric company. they are not reliable to repair. at least not in a timely fashion. been looking at other companies to put panels where I need them. Sorry I went with Tesla as it is a very very unreliable company to deal with

blonddi37 | September 16, 2019

LOL another problem we had just to show their nonresponsive issues my daughter put up a 15kw system and gave us the referral so was supposed to be 400 or so to us for the referral was told would receive 3 months after their install. took them 17 months to pay the referral. you think the name is good but really Tesla is trash to do business with

cslaurie | September 16, 2019

I installed a 5.1 KW system. The company has really good price points and their own installers. My system cost 15K turnkey and that included plans and permits. I am really pleased not to be paying the electric company and more pleased when the pay me at the end of the year on net metering. They can also provide FHA 20 years loans. Nothing down. I was paying $175 a month, the 100 percent loan cost $118 a month. From day one I was making $57 a month on the install, a $4500 Irs tax credit and $1500 State and $160 cash refund a year.

cslaurie | September 16, 2019

I installed a 5.1 KW system. The company has really good price points and their own installers. My system cost 15K turnkey and that included plans and permits. I am really pleased not to be paying the electric company and more pleased when they pay me at the end of the year on net metering. They can also provide FHA 20 years loans. Nothing down. I was paying $175 a month, the 100 percent loan cost $118 a month. From day one I was making $57 a month on the install, a $4500 Irs tax credit and $1500 State and $160 cash refund a year.

gregbrew | September 19, 2019

Be careful about counting on that "...$160 cash refund a year", unless you've already received one of that amount.

SCE (and some others) carries excess production as a cash amount based on average retail rates, but then at True-Up, pays based on wholesale rates. At least, this was the way they did it in 2016.

My first full year with Solar City PV (2016) , I was remodeling the house, so usage was very low, and I watched the over-production payback amount grow throughout the year. It got up to ~$500 by the end of of the year...SWEET!

I received a check for $70.

Patrick | September 22, 2019

@cslaurie - please say more about the 20 year FHA financing mentioned above. Does FHA offer loans for solar and PWs?

Patrick | September 22, 2019

Please disregard my last post - found the info. Limited to $25K and owner-occupied primary residences only.

gregbrew | September 23, 2019

Everyone her has already purchased a Tesla product, so your "warning" is probably too late for most.

BTW, my customer service experiences with both Solar City and Tesla Energy have been stellar.