Tesla Solar Review: Guide to Costs, Services & More (2022)
Use this EcoWatch review to guide your Tesla solar decision. You’ll learn:
- Whether Tesla solar products are worth the hype
- How Tesla solar panels differ from the Tesla Solar Roof
- Why Tesla solar products are so cheap
- How Tesla solar customers view the company
This review guide has helped thousands of homeowners decide whether Tesla Solar is best for their home, saving them time and money in the process. Let’s get started!
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- Price-match guarantee
- Sleek, efficient and durable solar panels
- Best solar battery on the market
- Some reported issues with customer service
- Customer service varies by local dealer
- Solar Panels
- Solar Batteries
- EV Chargers
- Solar Roof Shingles
- System Monitoring
How Did Tesla Enter the Solar Industry?
The Tesla enterprise has sought to become the first and foremost name in U.S. solar rooftop installations. These efforts started back in 2016 when Tesla acquired the company SolarCity.
At the time, SolarCity was the leading residential solar installer in the country, and it just happened to be founded by cousins of Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
Tesla and SolarCity have accomplished some amazing things, including powering an entire island with solar. But numerous other solar manufacturers have made strong plays in the residential solar market, and some of those leaders, such as Sunrun and Vivint Solar, have jockeyed back and forth with Tesla for being the market leader.
Rankings vary depending on the year, quarter or even month observed, though no single provider ends up providing more than 15% of the market share. Still, Tesla remains a top spot for many households.
|Tesla Solar Fast Facts|
|Service Areas||50 states (installation availability may vary)|
|Service Types||Solar panel, solar battery, solar roof shingles and EV charger installations|
|Backup Battery Option||Tesla Powerwall|
|Corporate Responsibility Report||2021 Impact Report|
|Better Business Bureau Rating||N/A|
If you want to see how much a Tesla solar panel system would cost for your home, you can use the company’s design feature.
Where They Are Today
Tesla Solar is one of the top solar companies and is the first-place choice for many households (which is unsurprising given its success in the electric vehicle market). Based on our market research and data, we’ve found Tesla Solar to offer the best technology in the solar industry.
People also like that you can get a free quote, order products and match with a certified installer directly through its website.
Here are a few key advantages that Tesla offers:
- A price-match guarantee
- Advanced solar panel technology with sleek designs
- One of the most popular solar batteries on the market (the Tesla Powerwall II)
However, as a solar installer, Tesla has faced criticism for the following:
- Spotty customer service
- Struggles with safety issues (Tesla systems have caught fire in a small number of cases)
- Customers cannot purchase a Powerwall battery separately
What Solar Products Does Tesla Offer?
The basic offerings that Tesla solar has become known for are:
- Tesla solar panels: Standard rectangular panels most people associate with solar installations
- Tesla Solar Roof: Rather than panels on top of the roof, these systems use solar shingles designed to cover the entire roof and look like the roof tiles themselves
- Tesla Powerwall: A rechargeable home battery Tesla can install in conjunction with new solar systems to maximize efficiency and effectiveness of home energy use and protect you in cases of power outages
Tesla Solar Panels
The most basic offering, and the one the majority of homeowners envision when considering solar energy for their household, are standard Tesla solar panels. These work the same way as any rooftop solar panel, but the main features that set Tesla solar panels apart from competitors’ products include:
- Aesthetics: Tesla prioritizes the design of its rooftop panels in a way competitors don’t, creating a sleek, blended, low-profile installation that brings direct curbside appeal. Unlike most other solar modules, there is no visible grid of solar cells on the face of Tesla panels.
- Monitoring via the Tesla mobile app: You can keep tabs on your panels at any time and from anywhere through a mobile monitoring app. The app tracks your panels’ performance, efficiency and generation, as well as detects any issues with your system.
- Streamlined pre-installation: As part of Tesla’s solar panel installation process, homeowners send in photos of their equipment and system spaces rather than having a crew come out to inspect these areas. This helps bring Tesla’s prices below the national average.
The exact nature of the installation chosen for your home will be customized based on your rooftop, power needs, geography, budget and more.
|Category||Tesla Solar Specs||Why it Matters|
|Wattage||425W||Most residential solar panels run around 300 W to 400 W. This means you won’t have to purchase as many Tesla panels as you would with another brand of panel, saving you money.|
|Operating Temperatures||-40°F to 185°F||These are the lowest and highest temperatures your Tesla solar panels will operate in. While it’s not likely they will ever reach these extremes, most residential solar panels are rated to similar degrees.|
|Size||82.4″ x 40.9″ x 1.57″ (including frame)||Most residential solar panels measure about 65 inches by 39 inches. Tesla’s are longer, which may allow you to purchase fewer modules.|
|Warranty||25 years||Tesla’s warranty is about average for the industry.|
|Inverter||3.8 kW or 7.6 kW||The Tesla Solar Inverter is a key part of the home solar system, as it converts the panel’s direct current (DC) power into usable alternating current (AC) power for in-home consumption. Tesla’s inverters operate at 97.5% efficiency and come with 12.5-year warranties.|
It’s worth noting that Tesla doesn’t share the efficiency specs of its panels. However, it’s estimated that they go toe-to-toe with some of the most efficient on the market.
Tesla Solar Roof
Moving beyond the conventional solar panels that are associated with household solar power, Tesla has made waves with its offering of the Tesla Solar Roof.
Tesla’s solar shingles can be installed as a new roof or on top of existing asphalt shingles, integrating with the look of your existing roof while generating energy to power your home. The Tesla Solar Roof brings with it a host of benefits that makes it more appealing than standard solar panels:
- Solar shingles are three times more durable than standard panels, meaning the risk of damage from hail, storms or other environmental factors is minimized.
- By covering the entire rooftop, even more clean solar energy can be generated for the home.
- The aesthetic appeal of the solar rooftop is undeniable, as no panels appear outside of the existing design of the roof. Note that Tesla used to offer different styles of solar roof tiles, but today it only offers black-on-black tiles.
That said, the decision to go for a full solar roof over standard solar panels is not an obvious choice for all households. These installations bring with them several downsides that may turn customers away:
- Solar shingles are more expensive to create on a per watt basis, and they usually have a greater total coverage area. This makes the initial investment notably more expensive and out of reach for many customers.
- While a storm is more likely to damage a standard solar panel than a solar shingle, if a storm is severe enough that it can cause Solar Roof damage, repair fees will be higher than they would be for other types of solar panel repairs.
- Solar panels can be readily installed and then removed later on for any reason a homeowner may choose, but the solar roof is a more permanent decision.
While customers may have an untold number of solar panel providers to choose from when going the traditional route, Tesla is among the only companies offering solar shingles today.
The last Tesla solar product that homeowners may be considering is the Tesla Powerwall, which is one of the best solar battery storage systems on the market. By adding a battery to your home solar system, you can use solar energy even when the sun isn’t shining (like at night or on cloudy days) and have power stored up in case of a utility outage.
When considering Tesla solar energy storage for a new or existing solar system, customers will come across both the Tesla Powerwall and the Tesla Powerwall+. The Powerwall+ comes with additional benefits (at an additional cost, of course). Key differences between these two options include the following:
|Category||Tesla Powerwall||Tesla Powerwall+|
|Energy Capacity||13.5 kWh||13.5 kWh|
|On-Grid Power||5.8 kW continuous||7.6 kW / 5.6 kW continuous|
|Backup Power||10 kW peak||9.6 kW / 7 kW continuous 22 kW / 10 kW peak|
|Size||45.3″ x 29.6″ x 5.75″ 251.3 lbs||62.8″ x 29.7″ x 6.3″ 343.9 lbs|
|Warranty||10 years||10 years|
We’ll note that Tesla stopped taking orders for Powerwall batteries without solar installations in 2021. So, if you have an existing system that you’re looking to pair a battery with, you’ll need to choose a different manufacturer.
Tesla Mobile App
Tesla’s solar technology comes with all the bells and whistles — including a sleek app that can act as the hub for your home’s clean energy system. The app can be used for an entire system of clean energy products including your solar panels, Powerwall and EV charger. Here’s a quick look at the benefits of the app:
- Monitor your solar system’s live performance and historical production
- When you use it with a Powerwall, you can manage your home’s energy even during an outage
- Track the amount of electricity you send back to the grid
The goal of the Tesla app is to help its customers take control of their home’s energy use and increase their energy independence.
The app is capable of a lot, so be sure to ask your solar installer how to best utilize it. Typically, your installer will help you set it up during the commissioning of your system.
How Much Do Tesla Solar Panel Systems Cost?
Tesla offers a price-match guarantee and affordable financing options for its solar panels. You can choose to pay for your Tesla Solar system with cash upfront or by taking on a solar loan through the company. Tesla does not offer solar leases.
At the time of this publication, the all-in price of a Tesla solar system (including equipment and installation) can vary from $11,840 for 8.2 kW of standard solar panels to $22,200 for 16.3 kW (both after tax incentives). For context, a 16.3 kW SunPower system might cost double the price.
A Tesla Solar Roof will have a higher price tag, typically in the ballpark of $45,000 to $90,000. A Tesla Powerwall (for backup power) will be about around $10,000 per 13.5 kWh battery.
These costs represent a wide range of system sizes, local geographies, available tax incentives and more.
There are two main ways to pay for your Tesla Solar energy system: Cash or solar loan. By choosing cash, you will immediately own your system and pay the up-front cost of the system in full. By taking on a loan, you’ll still own your solar power system, but you can pay in monthly installments.
According to Tesla’s website, the monthly loan payment for solar is often lower than your monthly energy bill, so you could see immediate savings.
Here’s what each financing option includes at a glance:
|Cash Purchase||Solar Loan|
|Maintenance Included||10-year comprehensive and 25-year panel performance warranties||10-year comprehensive and 25-year panel performance warranties|
|Added Property Value||✓||✓|
|Eligible for Tax Credit||✓||✓|
|Payment Due to||Solar Installer||Loan Provider|
If you’re wondering what’s the best way to pay for solar panels, check out our financing guide here. It’s full of information on solar payment options and recommendations tailored to your needs.
Solar Incentives for Tesla
Solar incentives are complicated — and although every American can qualify for the federal solar tax credit on a solar array, they won’t necessarily cover any Tesla solar product. For instance, solar batteries are only eligible for the solar tax credit if installed along with solar panels.
That being said, there are usually some incentives available to the average consumer. Here’s what you can expect:
- Federal solar tax credit: All solar photovoltaic (PV) installations, regardless of state, are eligible for the solar investment tax credit (ITC) of 30%.
- State tax credits: There are around 10 states that offer some form of solar tax credit that can be used in addition to the federal credit. These mostly appear in states supporting renewable energy like New York, Oregon, Arizona and Maryland.
- Net metering: Depending on your utility provider, your solar installation may be eligible for net metering (NEM). NEM is an incentive through which your utility credits you for the excess energy your home solar system returns to the grid.
- Local solar incentives: Your local city, state or utility company may provide additional incentives in the form of additional tax credits, rebates or even direct payments.
Consulting with a local solar installation company will be the best way to know for sure what type of incentives you may be eligible to receive.
How Does Tesla’s Solar Installation Process Work?
When you buy a solar panel module from Tesla Solar, you’re a part of the installation process. Here’s an overview of what you can expect from your Tesla Solar panel installation:
Step 1: Order online
On its website, Tesla Solar says it will recommend the right solar panel size for your home based on your electricity usage and your address.
Step 2: Virtual home assessment
As part of Tesla’s solar panel installation process, homeowners send in photos of their equipment and system spaces rather than having a crew come out to inspect these areas before installation (which helps bring total costs below the national average). Then, Tesla Solar representatives will create a solar design for your home, while you remain part of the process.
The exact nature of the installation chosen for your home will be customized based on your rooftop, power needs, geography, budget and more.
Step 3: Installation
Tesla Solar states on its website that most solar installations are finished the same day, and you only need to be at your house for the first hour. The crew will need access to a few basic things, like Wifi. Use this opportunity to ask the crew how to use your Tesla mobile app.
After installation is complete, Tesla will work with your local building department to schedule an inspection. Tesla will then need to work with your utility company to receive permission to operate your system.
Step 4: Permission to Operate (PTO)
Your utility company will send permission to operate (PTO), usually via email, once you pass your inspection. This gives you the thumbs-up to power on your Tesla energy products and start generating your own electricity.
What’s cool about Tesla is that you can monitor your solar system’s energy production through the Tesla app, so you can monitor your energy usage, know exactly how much energy you’re generating, and ultimately stay on top of how cost-effective your panels are.
Watch Below: See for yourself what the Tesla solar panel installation process looks like
Do Tesla’s Solar Products Come With a Warranty?
Tesla Solar equipment comes with two warranties, including a 10-year comprehensive warranty and a 25-year panel performance warranty.
- Comprehensive warranty: Your Tesla solar system is covered by a 10-year warranty. That means for the first decade after your solar panel installation, Tesla should perform any maintenance or labor request related to your solar system at no cost. It covers issues related to roof mounting and leaks, your Tesla solar inverter and/or your Powerwall.
- Panel performance warranty: Your solar panels are protected by what Tesla calls a “panel performance warranty” for at least 25 years following installation. Under it, your solar panels are guaranteed at least 80% of nameplate power capacity. Tesla should process any claims and perform any related labor at no cost.
Tesla Solar Customer Reviews
We’ve covered the basics of what Tesla Solar has to offer in terms of products, services and financing, so now let’s dive into what its customers have to say about the experience.
As mentioned previously, a lot of Tesla Solar customers have complained about the provider’s spotty customer service. However, Tesla Solar also has hundreds of happy customers who rave about the quality of Tesla’s solar installation and products.
Before we dive into some perspectives, we’d like to mention that, because Tesla is a national company, your experience may vary depending on the installation companies in your area. For example, Tesla solar might be a good choice for homeowners in California, but not in upstate New York. We recommend finding reviews from people in your area, as you’ll likely have a similar installation experience to theirs.
Many Tesla solar customers have raved about their great experiences with their solar installers on customer review sites. A few reviews we saw even mentioned that they switched to Tesla solar after having consultations with other solar companies and were so grateful they chose Tesla instead.
“I couldn’t not be happier with the system and install… [The team] treated my home as if it were theirs. It was a two-day install because the size of the system. (36 panels, 2 Powerwalls, 2 inverters, Gateway, etc.) They ran 1 conduit with the trim of my house from basement to attic. You can’t even tell [it is] there! … They built a wall in my basement for the inverters, gateway, Powerwalls, and two electric panels. Everything was aligned and no wires showing at all!”– Sarin via Consumer Affairs
“We installed Tesla panels two years ago: a 12-panel 3.8 kW system. The installation went seamlessly and the panels save us around 30% of our electric bills. We haven’t had any problems since installing the panels. Highly recommended” – Vladimir via Yelp
Negative Tesla solar reviews typically mention Tesla’s spotty customer service and failure to follow up if something goes wrong after installation (after payment). What concerns us most about recommending Tesla as an installer is the consistency of its negative reviews across platforms like the Better Business Bureau. Here are a few examples:
“If I could give less than 1 star I would. Tesla solar has the worst customer service of any company I have ever dealt with. If you are reading these reviews because you are considering using Tesla: run, don’t walk, in the other direction. What is amazing is that they are still in business.” – Diane via Yelp
“Once you pay them, they leave you stranded. Panels do not work because National Grid needs paperwork from Tesla and Tesla keeps saying it is complete. It has been months with useless panels, no customer service support, not even a phone number. This is an extremely difficult process spending so much money and not having the ability to utilize the product.” – Michael via Consumer Affairs
How Does Tesla Compare to Other National Solar Providers?
Tesla is one of the top solar providers in the nation, and one of the few companies to offer solar roof tiles. But is Tesla Solar the best solar energy provider? Here’s an overview of how it stacks up against some of its competitors:
|Tesla Solar||SunPower||Blue Raven Solar|
|EcoWatch Award||Best Technology||Best Overall||Best Financing|
|Services Offered||Solar panel, solar battery, solar roof shingles and EV charger installations||Solar panel, solar battery and EV charger installations||Solar panel installations (batteries coming soon)|
|Service Areas||All 50 states||All 50 states||17 states including CO, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, MO, NC, NV, OH, OR, SC, TX, UT, VA|
|Payment Options||Cash payments, loans||Cash payments, loans, leases, power purchase agreements (PPAs)||Cash payments, loans, leases|
|Warranties Offered||25-year panel warranty; 10-year comprehensive warranty||25-year product, production and workmanship warranties||25-year product, production and workmanship warranties|
How Did We Rate Tesla Solar?
|Category||Tesla Solar Star Rating|
|Cost & Financing||4.5|
Tesla Solar is one of the top solar companies, but it’s up against some other great contenders. The inherent diversity in the market is a great opportunity for potential customers to shop for their best option and identify what specific offerings best align with their energy needs and budget.
It’s important to understand that Tesla’s strengths lie more in its technology than its customer service. If you order a solar system directly through Tesla, your representative will outsource the installation to a subcontractor in your area. This will involve a third party which can cause delays and miscommunication.
In other words, too many cooks in the kitchen.
We firmly advocate for Tesla’s products — specifically the Powerwall and Solar Roof (if you can afford it), but we recommend that you hire a local company to design your system and carry out your installation of Tesla’s products. This way, you get to choose exactly who will be doing the work on your home.
There are a large number of companies certified to install Tesla products that can provide you with reliable customer service, maintenance and backend support. In fact, the majority of the companies we recommend can procure and install Tesla products.
If you’re ready to connect with a vetted company in your area, click below to get started.
FAQ: Tesla Solar Products
Here are the most common questions we get about Tesla solar products. If you have specific questions that aren’t answered here, reach out to our team of solar experts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Tesla solar system (including equipment and installation) can vary in cost from $11,840 for 8.2 kW of standard solar panels to $22,200 for 16.3 kW (both after tax incentives). A Tesla Solar Roof will have a higher price tag, typically in the ballpark of $30,000 to $90,000. A Tesla Powerwall will be about $8,500 to $10,500 per 13.5 kWh battery. These costs represent a wide range of system sizes, local geographies, available tax incentives and more.
Tesla is able to mass-produce its equipment, use economies of scale and streamline the installation process by recruiting homeowners themselves to contribute to the evaluation of their homes. These are some of the factors that allow Tesla to offer a price-match guarantee, ensuring the company offers the cheapest solar panels in the U.S.
Once installed, Tesla solar panels are highly efficient and effective, which has kept them as one of the most popular solar installers in America and able to offer customers payback periods of just a handful of years.
When you buy solar panels, depending on your location, Tesla will either send its own installers or contract workers from another local installation company to set up your system.
One of the biggest complaints against Tesla Solar is its reportedly spotty customer service. Business Insider even featured an article detailing how several Tesla Solar customers were reportedly “ghosted or sent in circles” by customer service representatives in 2021. Many of the customer reviews on Tesla Energy Solar’s Yelp page also complained of poor customer support experiences.
Tesla has been notably mysterious about the origins of its solar panels. For instance, it hasn’t released the specifications of its products, such as their efficiency.
But here’s what we do know. Tesla has had a manufacturing agreement with Panasonic since 2016, but it pulled out of this deal in late 2021. Tesla has also used Q Cells (Hanwha) solar panels for its installations. It’s likely Tesla makes its panels via a combination of manufacturing agreements at its gigafactories.