My journey from initial Inquiry to powering up the system

My journey from initial Inquiry to powering up the system

So many confusing stories about the Tesla Solar experience (mostly negative but also some positive) that I wanted to post my story updating each step of the way. Hopefully the journey will be positive but I promise it'll be real. Maybe this will help someone else thinking of going down this path with Tesla.

Late August 2019 - Initial deposit placed.

9-7-19 - Purchase details were updated. This is for a small 3.8Kw (12 panels) system plus (1) Powerwall.
Based on the photos of my electric panel they determined that it would need to be upgraded to a 200 amp panel and a quote for this work was provided.

9-9-19 - I found a local electrician to do the panel relocation and upgrade for a better price so I let Tesla know.

9-10-19 - Documents from Tesla arrived via FedEx for my signature. Signed and returned.

9-25-19 - Final Inspection from City - Panel relocation and upgrade to 200 amp passed.

9-26-19 - Sent new photos to Tesla showing final panel (approved permit).
They sent me onto the next phase with a new specialist. I'm now waiting for them to submit plans for a permit to do the work.

So far so good ...

bcmusik | 10 ottobre 2019

10-10-19 _ Meter Spot was submitted (I think). Once that's done they said they will file the permit.

gregbrew | 10 ottobre 2019

Tesla Energy experiences are *not* "mostly negative". What you read about are the people who had negative experiences and post about them. When was the last time you bought a product that met your expectations and then took the time to post about your *positive* experiences?

The negative posts you read about are not a statistically representative sample of the totality of Tesla Energy experiences.

Tesla-David | 11 ottobre 2019

I agree with @gregbrw's point my experience with Tesla-Energy has been very positive. We got our 2-PW2 installation 15 months ago and have been incredibly blown away with how well they work with our existing 13.2 kWh solar system. Battery storage systems like PW2's are a perfect complement to solar PV systems.

People need to get a grip; Tesla-Energy had some incredible growing pains after Tesla acquired Solar City, and it took some time to sort thing out and get things rolling. Tesla-Energy has been very responsive to all my questions and concerns.

Raphel.Sal | 12 ottobre 2019

Difference between purchase and subscription? please

gregbrew | 12 ottobre 2019

We're customers, just like you. I've never heard the term "subscription". (I've only heard of "Purchase", "Lease" and "PPA".) You might want to call Tesla Customer Service.

bcmusik | 13 ottobre 2019

Gregbrew and Tesla-David I happen to agree with you. Maybe I’m in the minority but I tend to leave reviews (positive or negative) typically when I use yelp and other forums for products that I often use. I expect this solar journey to have a positive ending and I’m prepared to write about it here and share it socially.

bcmusik | 17 ottobre 2019

OCT 15 - Called the local power company myself to setup a meter spot for the solar meter. Gotta wait 4 business days..
OCT 16 - Tesla contacted me and let me know they also talked to the power company and asked for a meter spot. They were told it's all setup and will happen in 4 business days.

Still making progress ...

tonys11 | 18 ottobre 2019

@bcmusik: "Based on the photos of my electric panel they determined that it would need to be upgraded to a 200 amp panel and a quote for this work was provided."

Could you tell me what your previous panel was? 100A? Also, could you give an idea of the sqft of your home?

bcmusik | 24 ottobre 2019

Sure - my old panel was 100amp and super old. My home is 1560 sq feet.

bcmusik | 24 ottobre 2019

Oct 24 - Tesla let me know they are waiting for the power company to either approve the proposed layout or ask for changes. Said it could take up to a couple of weeks.

I asked about the 10% discount on solar and powerwall that had been tweeted by Elon and discussed on another thread. I was told that it likely won’t apply to me. All new pricing is reflected on the site when you order.

gregbrew | 25 ottobre 2019

You might consider canceling your order, if the 10% is more than your deposit, and if you can deal with the delay. At least throw that idea out there to Tesla, and ask them to escalate your request for the discount with that "threat" in mind. You would need to be prepared to have your "bluff" called, and be willing to carry through.

Determining whether this would all be worth the 10% savings is one of those intangibles you'd have to evaluate. I call it the "Hassle Factor", and many projects I do include one.

bcmusik | 29 ottobre 2019

Happy to report that I received a revised purchase agreement that reflected a 5% savings. The best part is I didn’t need to haggle, just needed to ask them to look into it. Whew ... I really needed that savings to help cover some extra expenses like relocating my panel and cutting down a tree :)

bcmusik | 11 novembre 2019

Nov 11 - Still waiting to hear back from Tesla in regards to the meter spot. I was told that the power company requested some type of change to whatever plans were submitted - that request was sent to Tesla 2 weeks ago.

bcmusik | 15 novembre 2019

Nov 15
Got a prompt to update the home assessment. Basically the app asks various questions and then has you take detailed photos of your electric panels (main and secondary - in my case the garage). Also needed photos of the exact make of my AC (had to climb on the roof for that).

bcmusik | 20 novembre 2019

Nov 19
Tesla pulled a permit today with the city of burbank for our solar/powerwall install. Only thing for me to do it’s to put another 36x36 inch slab under where the performance meter is approved to go. Luckily I can do that myself this weekend.

gregbrew | 21 novembre 2019

Make sure the slab meets muni building codes, i.e. thickness, mix and rebar requirements. Take photos of every stage of the slab install, in case the inspector asks about it. Use some kind of size reference (a ruler or partially extended tape measure) in the photos, too. The last thing you want to happen is have the inspector fail the installation because of the self-installed slab.

bcmusik | 22 novembre 2019

Thanks gregbrew!!
That’s great advise.

BadgerErickson | 25 novembre 2019

Thanks BC for this time/energy in Comms.! Excellent works!

bcmusik | 26 novembre 2019

Nov 26
I was told by my Tesla specialist that the plan check fess were paid today and something about submitting for a permit with an ETA of 12/6. Not totally sure what she’s saying as we only communicate via text and always with me initiating the communication. Interesting way of doing business but ... oh well.

bj | 30 novembre 2019

The process for installing solar in the US seems... complicated. Here in Australia, it’s all handled seamlessly by the solar installer. Once you pick your installer they do everything from doing the paperwork with the energy authority, arranging to get new smart meters installed (if required) and getting the renewable energy rebates (which they take off your bill up-front). It’s very easy, and your solar PV array will be installed 4-6 weeks after paying your deposit, depending on how busy your chosen installer is.

Nearly 1 in 4 houses in Australia now has rooftop solar. In some parts of the country it’s over 50 percent. Making the process easy (and having lots of sunshine and expensive grid electricity) no doubt has helped this.

bp | 1 dicembre 2019

For our new Texas installation of 44 solar panels and 4 PowerWalls, the installer has done all of the work, only requiring us to provide signatures on a few of the documents they were filing.

Executed a contract with them on Oct 10 and installation started on Nov 25, 6 weeks (and would have been earlier, except the previous job ran longer than expected).

Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, rain before the holiday and more complex installation due to our concrete tile roof, installation should be completed on Dec 2 or 3.

The biggest disruption was losing power for most of the day last Monday while they replaced all of the cabling between our two 150A breaker panels and the meter, to add in the extra boxes needed for solar/PowerWalls.

Jasondknight | 2 dicembre 2019

BP, how did they handle your concrete tile install? I’m in HOUSTON area and also have concrete tile roof. Waiting on Tesla but it’s only been a couple of weeks sense I ordered.

bp | 3 dicembre 2019

They're up on the roof now completing the final steps before putting the panels in place today.

So far, they've done an excellent job - no broken tiles.

It is very time consuming and has taken them longer than a shingle roof for the installation.

When installing the brackets for the panel frames, it looks like they lift up one tile, fasten the bracket to the wood underneath and then reinstall the tile over the bracket. Special brackets are needed for the tile roof.

Our installers are also doing a great job in hiding all of the wiring. Underneath each of the 4 panel sections, they ran a conduit into the attic below, connected them in the attic, and then ran a single conduit through the underside of the roof by the gutter and then down the outside wall to the electricity panels, painting the conduit to match the outside wall color. Running the cabling through the attic also increased installation time, but will make the final product look much better.

The electricians have also done a great job in mounting the PowerWalls in the garage (two stacks of two PoweWalls). Rather than running a conduit inside the garage, they ran the cabling from the back of the PowerWall stack through the garage wall to the outside and then connected that to the boxes.

When Tesla came out earlier this year for a quote, they were concerned about the tile and indicated they would probably order a lot of roof tiles (increasing our cost) so that they'd have replacements on hand for any tiles they would break during the install.

Our installers haven't had that problem.

Unless Tesla has their own installers in Houston, maybe they could contract with the team we're using... Who have been great (at least so far)...

bcmusik | 10 dicembre 2019

Dec 10 -
Called Tesla and found out that the permit plans were "rejected" they need to change some "verbage" and resubmit.
There went the 30% ..... now i'm down to 26% and have to wait a year to file. Welcome to my journey :(

bcmusik | 10 dicembre 2019

Dec 10 -
It's clear to me that the reviews and criticisms of Tesla Energy are well founded. Tesla makes a compelling product but there is a total lack of communication, and close to zero follow-up. It makes sense that the best reviews that I find are from those who used local installers (like the review from Bp). I wanted to see for myself how Tesla would do and I hate to say it but they really do fail when it comes to communication on such an involved, expensive purchase.

I'm going to keep this thread going because it's important for potential buyers to really know what their getting into ... good or bad. Sorry for the rant.

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calleserra | 16 dicembre 2019

bcmusik- man, I just placed my order before seeing your post. I thought it's the other way around in that Tesla certified installers are presumed to do a less competent job than Tesla. Thanks for your round by round account of the install. BTW, I also have a 100-amp panel. How much were the estimates to replace with 200-amp if you don't mind me asking?

bp | 16 dicembre 2019

When Tesla came out earlier this year to make a proposal for our solar/PowerWall installation, they were considering ordering replacement roof tiles to replace tiles they would break during installation.

The Tesla-approved installer we selected was able to install 44 panels in 4 sections, without breaking a single roof tile...

For Tesla to see the increase Musk is projecting, they'll have to figure out how to provide better service and support for Tesla customers, though it's also possible Tesla could achieve their growth goals by using 3rd party installers and focusing Tesla's resources on customer sales and support.

Tesla has provided great support for the 3 Tesla vehicles we've purchased, so they should be able to do the same for their Energy business, if they (Musk) make it a priority. Though unlike their vehicle business, a strategy of incorporating 3rd party installers may be a better strategy for them, in the long run.

bcmusik | 16 dicembre 2019

Great points bp !!

@calleserra. My 200 amp panel upgrade was just under $3600. Would have been way less but the city made us relocate the panel to the opposite side of the house. If not for that the initial estimates for just upgrading the panel were $1800-$2200. The $3600 cost also included replacing the old sub panel in the garage with a new 70amp sub-panel + installing the Tesla Charger in the garage.

bcmusik | 16 dicembre 2019

Dec 14 -
My phone App updated, now PERMIT is checked and we're on the next item which is Installation: It says . Installation Coming Soon (we'll reach out to you when your installation is ready for scheduling - estimated timing 1-3 days).

bcmusik | 18 dicembre 2019

Dec 18 -
My install has been setup for January 14th. When they call they also go over all the various details like install day, what circuits will NOT be backed up with the powerwall and also discuss how payment can be made. Very easy and strait ahead.

RC42 | 18 dicembre 2019

My order, permits and install all happened flawlessly.
The energy guys who get bad rap...did a fantastic job
unlike the car group that is highly erratic ( ordered m 3 at the same time, yet to see delivery one knows
if it is happening or not )

bcmusik | 25 dicembre 2019

I hope your model 3 arrives soon. I got mine June 2nd. Took 4 weeks from order to picking it up. Compared to getting solar it was a breeze :)

bcmusik | 28 dicembre 2019

Dec 28
Got a call from Tesla moving my install date to Jan 2-3.

bcmusik | 2 gennaio 2020

Dec 30 -
Someone from Tesla called and wanted to stop by and check everything out before the install.
The area of my roof where the panels will go needs to be replaced ... happy new years.

Dec 31 - I had a couple of roofing contractors stop by for estimates. They both said I have a good 5-7 years left on the roof. To replace this roughly 500sf section where the panels would go would be between $4800-$5500 (2 quotes). Ouch .. At this point I was ready to have a stiff drink and cancel the powerwall ... I'm not a rich guy, been saving to do this for a few years. Happy New Years, I drank and forgot about everything.

Jan 2 - Tesla sent in a quote from their contractor whose quote was $2000 less for the partial re-roof .... YESSSS ... this was much easier to stomach. I signed the paperwork and am now waiting for the roofing contractor to schedule a day to get this done.

rglossin | 20 gennaio 2020

bcmusik, I hope you are rather young man and plan on living in your house for a very long time.

jtplourde | 9 febbraio 2020

I just ordered a few weeks ago and they didn't say anything about replacing my 100amp panel and I have air conditioning. I even asked my sales rep and he ensured me I was food according to the engineers that review the photos. My last two emails to the sales rep has gone unanswered so I'm pretty sure he's ghosting me lol.

jtplourde | 9 febbraio 2020

I just ordered a few weeks ago and they didn't say anything about replacing my 100amp panel and I have air conditioning. I even asked my sales rep and he ensured me I was food according to the engineers that review the photos. My last two emails to the sales rep has gone unanswered so I'm pretty sure he's ghosting me lol.

bp | 10 febbraio 2020

Our configuration is more complicated than a single 100A panel. We have 3 150A breaker panels (two for the house and one for the two Tesla wall chargers).

Planning our system required inspecting the inside of the panels - and the assignment of the circuits between the panels. For example, our HVAC units had the breaker for the attic equipment on one panel and the outside compressors on the second panel. We originally were looking at having only one panel on the solar/PowerWalls system, which would have required shifting circuits between the two house panels. And to do that, they needed pictures on the inside of the breaker panels and for the connection the original electricians installed between the panels.

With 4 PowerWalls, it was determined we should be able to support the loads on both panels with a single Tesla Backup Gateway, so the electrical plans changed - and now both panels are connected to the Gateway.

The one item we weren't sure about was if our 3 HVAC systems would work correctly when operating off-grid - and last week during testing determined that only 2 of the 3 units will spin up when operating off battery - so we'll get "sure start" added to all 3 HVAC systems.

In addition to reviewing the inside of your panel and the actual loads, another useful resource is smart meter data, so you can look at the peak usage over the last year or two and determine if the PowerWalls you are installing (1 or 2?) are sufficient to handle the likely peak load.

SteveWin1 | 10 febbraio 2020


I've also got concrete tiles. Can you tell me if they honored the price they list on their website, or if there was an added expense because of your tiles? If so, how much more was it? I've gotten several quotes from local guys. Tesla is definitely cheaper with the same tech, but that may not be the case if they come out and see the tile roof and want to tack on an extra charge. A $100 deposit may be hard to get back if I decide not to go with them and I've read lots of horror stories about Tesla Energy, and I have my own horror stories with my Model 3, so I'm hesitant to give them any money without knowing exactly what I'm getting myself into. Their website is way too simplistic and doesn't give many details. The forums seem to give better information than Tesla reps, at least when it has come to my car.

Thanks in advance.

bcmusik | 11 febbraio 2020

Feb 10
Partial re-roof completed. Tesla used a roofing contractor they work with who came out this morning and finished everything in a day. Solar install is scheduled for This Friday.

bcmusik | 11 febbraio 2020

Feb 10
Partial re-roof completed. Tesla used a roofing contractor they work with who came out this morning and finished everything in a day. Solar install is scheduled for This Friday.

bp | 12 febbraio 2020

We went with a 3rd party installer.

When Tesla came out last year to make a proposal, they indicated they would have to increase their proposal to cover the increased installation costs (time and replacement tiles). But I never got a proposal from them, because they had to get someone up onto the roof to inspect it prior to making the proposal - and it was raining at the time. We decided not to have them do that, because they were going to be pulling roof tiles to inspect the roof - and we didn't want them to do that, especially if we decided not to go with Tesla.

A few months later, when we had the 3rd party Tesla-approved installer out, they didn't need to get up on the roof for their proposal. Instead, they used a drone to take detailed pictures of the roof and inspected the inside of the attic to verify the stud spacing and access for running the conduits through the attic instead of across the roof.

Tesla's website provides the option for Tesla to increase their installation costs, based on the actual installation. For concrete tile roofs, I would expect them to significantly increase the solar panel installation costs, since it takes a lot more time to lift the roof tiles, install the brackets and then replace the tiles, instead of just fastening the brackets through the shingles. And for clay tile roofs, if they'll even agree to do that, installation will be even higher since they will likely need a lot of replacement tiles - unlikely they can do the installation without breaking a lot of tiles.

SteveWin1 | 12 febbraio 2020

Thanks bp. That's kind of how I figured it would go.

bcmusik | 14 febbraio 2020

Feb 14
Solar Panels were installed today. The installers were on time, fast, answered any and all questions, did an excellent job. Nice work Tesla.

bcmusik | 4 marzo 2020

March 3
PTO !!!! Finally got permission to operate from Burbank Water and Power today. System was tested and passed. The app is working fine showing both solar and how much energy my home is consuming. Looking at the app now shows me that all excess solar is going back to the grid.

This was a long journey getting here but we made it. Good work Tesla !!!

SteveWin1 | 5 marzo 2020

Yeah, 6 months is a decent amount of time. Sounds like the outcome was good though. Thanks for taking the time to share.

rmasters | 24 marzo 2020

What mode are you using for the Powerwall, and are you satisfied with how it's functioning?

TeslaTechie | 27 marzo 2020

@bcmusik, Keep us posted on how the system holds up.

bcmusik | 28 marzo 2020

So far so good.We're both super happy with the results. Once we received PTO it's been "set it and forget it:. Probably the biggest surprise was on average how little energy we actually consume. We've been averaging between 80% - 115% energy offset with multiple cloudy days and with the wife and I having to work from home. Right now my 3.8 kW system is creating 3.3 kW - sending 2.9 kW back to the grid - the house is only using 0.4 kW