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Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

The Tesla Powerwall is arguably the best-known solar battery for homes, but does it live up to the hype? In this Tesla Powerwall review, we'll discuss the main features of this popular energy storage system and compare it with some competing battery backup devices.

Many top solar companies are authorized Tesla Powerwall retailers. To connect with a certified installer near you and get a free quote for a Powerwall or other installation, fill out the 30-second form below.

The Tesla Powerwall is arguably the best-known solar battery for homes, but does it live up to the hype? In this Tesla Powerwall review, we’ll discuss the main features of this popular energy storage system and compare it with some competing battery backup devices.


Many top solar companies are authorized Tesla Powerwall retailers. To connect with a certified installer near you and get a free quote for a Powerwall or other installation, fill out the 30-second form below.

Get Free Quotes From EcoWatch Approved Solar Installers

What Is the Tesla Powerwall, and How Does it Work?

The Tesla Powerwall is a lithium-ion battery that’s most often associated with storing energy generated by Tesla solar panels. However, you can actually charge these batteries with any electricity source to use as a backup during a power outage. You can also connect up to 10 Powerwall units as a single energy storage system, making them viable for small and medium businesses as well as homes.

You can currently purchase a Tesla Powerwall 2 or Powerwall+. The Powerwall 1 has been discontinued since 2016, but the newer versions are much better products: a single Powerwall 2 or Powerwall+ can store 13.5 kilowatt-hours of power, while the Powerwall 1 only had 6.4 kWh of usable capacity. The newer versions also have a higher power output (5.6 kW vs 3.3 kW), which means they can provide electricity for more devices at once.

The Powerwall 2 and Powerwall+ have the same storage capacity, but the Powerwall+ includes an inverter for easier integration with solar PV panels. The Powerwall+ can also deliver more kilowatts when panels are in full sunshine, while the Powerwall 2 offers the same output regardless of solar generation.

Here’s a summary of Tesla Powerwall output:

  • Originally, the Powerwall 2 offered 5 kW of continuous power and 7 kW of peak power.
  • The Powerwall+ and later versions of the Powerwall 2 have 5.8 kW of continuous power and 10 kW of peak power.
  • When solar panels are under full sunshine, the Powerwall+ reaches 7.6 kW of continuous power and 22 kW of peak power.

If you already have a home solar energy system with its own inverter, the Powerwall 2 is a great option to add energy storage without modifications. However, the Powerwall+ is easier to install with new solar panels, since there is no need to add a separate inverter. In this article, we refer to the Tesla Powerwall 2 as simply the Powerwall, since the first version is no longer available.

How Powerwall Batteries Work

All batteries store DC (direct current) power, and solar panels produce DC power. But home appliances use AC (alternating current) power. This is where inverters and rectifiers come into play.

When solar panels produce DC power, it runs through an inverter, where it’s converted to AC, then flows through your house. If you have a backup power system, excess energy that’s not used in the home will keep flowing to charge your battery. It will need to run through a rectifier to be converted back to DC power in order to be stored in the battery.

The Powerwall 2 and Powerwall+ both have an internal inverter and rectifier to convert electricity between AC and DC. The inverter in the Powerwall 2 is only for the battery, and an external inverter is required for solar panels. On the other hand, the Powerwall+ includes a solar inverter. Both models can also charge from the grid when solar panels are not producing electricity.

The energy stored in a Tesla Powerwall can be used at any time. However, there are certain times of the day when stored electricity is more valuable. For example, many electricity providers charge expensive peak tariffs after sunset, when homes tend to use more power. By pulling from your Powerwall instead of the grid at this time of the day, you can maximize your electricity savings.

The number of solar panels needed to fully charge a Tesla Powerwall will depend on how much sunshine you get. Consider that the Powerwall has a 90% round-trip efficiency when charging and discharging — to get the usable capacity of 13.5 kWh, you must have 15 kWh available from your solar panels.

Here’s how that breaks down in a typical solar panel system:

  • Assuming a solar panel capacity of 330 to 360 watts, you will need around 10 to 14 panels to generate 15 kWh of usable energy per day.
  • The exact number of solar panels needed to charge a Tesla Powerwall will depend on the specific model and local sunshine conditions.

Keep in mind that your home uses some solar electricity during the day, while the Powerwall is charging. You must have enough solar panels to cover your daytime consumption and charge the battery as well.

Tesla Powerwall Specs

The Tesla Powerwall has some of the best specifications in the home battery market. There are many energy storage systems with excellent performance, but the Powerwall is among the top products in terms of storage capacity and power output.

This is in part because the batteries use a lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide chemistry, or NMC for short. Lithium-ion batteries with NMC technology are characterized by their high power and storage capacity relative to their size.

Here’s a snapshot of key Tesla Powerwall specs:

  • Energy storage capacity: 13.5 kWh
  • Continuous power: 5.8 kW (5 kW on earlier Powerwall 2 units)
  • Peak power: 10 kW (7 kW on earlier Powerwall 2 units)
  • Size: 45.3 in x 29.6 in x 5.75 in
  • Weight: 251.3 pounds
  • Operating temperature range: -4°F to 122°F
  • Warranty: 10 years

If you have a Powerwall+ connected to solar panels or solar roof shingles, it can achieve a higher output with full sunshine. The Powerwall+ is also larger and heavier than the standard unit since it includes a solar inverter:

  • Energy storage capacity: 13.5 kWh
  • Continuous power with no sun: 5.8 kW
  • Peak power with no sun: 10 kW
  • Continuous power with full sun: 7.6 kW
  • Peak power with full sun: 22 kW
  • Size: 62.8 in x 29.7 in x 6.3 in
  • Weight: 343.9 pounds
  • Operating temperature range: -4°F to 122°F
  • Warranty: 10 years

The solar inverter on the Powerwall+ has an efficiency of 97.5% and four Maximum Power Point Tracker (MPPT) circuits. This means you can group solar panels with up to four different orientations and connect each group to a different MPPT circuit to maximize power generation.

Home with Tesla solar panels and Tesla Powerwall+ Batteries
Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

Tesla Powerwall Cost

The Tesla Powerwall has a higher price than many other battery systems, but you also get a high storage capacity and power output. The price is calculated based on how many units you order: a single Powerwall sells for $10,500, but two units will cost $17,000 ($8,500 each). They can be purchased directly from Tesla, but you can also get them from third-party providers and solar installers near you.

Powerwalls and other battery systems qualify for the 26% federal solar tax credit (ITC), which effectively reduces the price of a single unit to $7,770 (down from $10,500). However, you must meet some requirements to be eligible:

  • The Powerwall must be used with solar panels (or another renewable energy system) to get credit. In other words, a stand-alone unit that only pulls charge from the grid does not qualify.
  • If you’re using the Powerwall in a home, it must get 100% of its charge from solar panels.
  • If you’re using it in a business, it must get at least 75% of its charge from solar panels.

Depending on where you live, there may be additional solar tax exemptions or other financial incentives from your state government or utility company. Before installing a Tesla Powerwall, look for information about local incentives and their eligibility requirements.

If you’re interested in buying a Powerwall, there are a few additional things to keep in mind:

  • Since the Powerwall has become very popular, there are often long wait times to get products in after ordering them.
  • Tesla is no longer selling Powerwalls individually — they can only be purchased with new solar roof shingle or panel installations.
  • If you want to add a Powerwall to an existing solar array, or you want to use solar panels and inverters from another manufacturer, you will need to contact a third-party provider.

Many top solar companies are authorized Tesla Powerwall retailers. To connect with a certified installer near you and get a free quote for a Powerwall or other installation, fill out the 30-second form below.

Get Free Quotes From EcoWatch Approved Solar Installers

Is Tesla’s Battery Really Better Than Competitors’ Products?

Without a doubt, the Tesla Powerwall is ahead of the competition in terms of market share, and Tesla Powerwall reviews from customers consistently give the batteries high marks. However, when you compare technical specifications, there are many home batteries with excellent performance out there.

Here’s how two other market-leading batteries — the Enphase Encharge 10 and the Generac PWRcell — stack up against the Powerwall:

Tesla Powerwall Enphase Encharge 10* Generac PWRcell
Price $10,500 $18,000+

($6,000+ for a single Enphase 3)
$9,999+

(modular design, price increases based on capacity)
Storage Capacity 13.5 kWh 10.08 kWh

(3.36 kWh with a single Enphase 3)
9+ kWh
Continuous Power 5.6 kW 3.84 kW

(1.28 kW with a single Enphase 3)
3.4+ kW
Warranty 10 years 10 years 10 years
Size 45.3 x 29.6 x 5.75 in 42.13 x 26.14 x 12.56 in 22 x 10 x 68 in
Weight 251.3 pounds 341 pounds 287+ pounds
Monitoring Tesla app Enlighten Manager and MyEnlighten app PWRview app

*The Encharge 10 is an integrated AC system that uses three smaller Enphase 3 units.

As you can see, the Powerwall’s storage capacity and continuous power output beat out the competition, as does its straightforward pricing. Lower-end batteries may save you money in the short term, but over the lifetime of your solar system, you’d be hard-pressed to find a model as cost-effective as the Powerwall.

FAQ: Tesla Powerwall

How much does a Tesla Powerwall cost?

A single Tesla Powerwall has a price of $10,500. The system price increases based on how many units are connected together (up to 10), and the price per Powerwall is lower when installing two or more.

Can a Tesla Powerwall power a home?

Yes, a Tesla Powerwall can power a home during a short-term blackout or overnight, but you will normally achieve a better return on investment by staying connected to the grid.

An on-grid Powerwall with solar panels can greatly reduce your electricity bills, covering a large part of your consumption during the day and night and pulling from your utility grid if you need more power. However, if you’re planning to go off-grid, you’ll need at least two (but most likely more) Powerwalls to power your home continuously when the sun isn’t shining.

How long does a Tesla Powerwall last?

The Tesla Powerwall comes with a 10-year warranty, which ensures the battery will keep at least 70% of its rated storage capacity after 10 years (equivalent to 9.45 kWh). When used only for solar self-consumption and backup, the Powerwall warranty does not have a cycle limit during the warranty period.

When the Powerwall is used for other applications beyond solar self-consumption and backup, the warranty covers a battery throughput of 37.8 megawatt-hours. In other words, the warranty ends when the battery has stored and provided a total of 37,800 kWh.

Will a Tesla Powerwall save me money?

A standalone Powerwall can save money if your electricity provider charges time-of-use prices. You can charge the Powerwall when grid electricity is cheap, and you can use it when grid electricity is expensive. If your utility company has demand charges, you can also use the Powerwall to cut the peak demand measured by the power meter, and this will be reflected as a lower demand charge on your next bill.

A Powerwall with solar panels or roof shingles can achieve greater savings, as it charges locally with solar power. Instead of exporting your surplus generation to the grid, you can store that energy in the Powerwall and use it when its value is higher. Like in the previous case, you can use the Powerwall to avoid peak tariffs or reduce demand charges.

Leonardo David is an electromechanical engineer, MBA, energy consultant and technical writer. His energy-efficiency and solar consulting experience covers sectors including banking, textile manufacturing, plastics processing, pharmaceutics, education, food processing, fast food, real estate and retail. He has also been writing articles about energy and engineering topics since 2015.

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Solar panels offer an excellent return on investment, and the savings you can expect over their 25- to 30-year service lives are much higher than their upfront costs. However, there are some performance issues that can affect solar panels, and they will undermine your savings if left unattended. Fortunately, most of these problems are relatively easy to solve, and major issues are covered by a warranty if you purchase high-quality solar panels.

In this article, we will discuss some common issues that may affect solar power systems, as well as how to solve them. By making sure that your solar panels stay productive, you get consistent savings each month and can shorten your solar panel payback period.

Solar panels offer an excellent return on investment, and the savings you can expect over their 25- to 30-year service lives are much higher than their upfront costs. However, there are some performance issues that can affect solar panels, and they will undermine your savings if left unattended. Fortunately, most of these problems are relatively easy to solve, and major issues are covered by a warranty if you purchase high-quality solar panels.

In this article, we will discuss some common issues that may affect solar power systems, as well as how to solve them. By making sure that your solar panels stay productive, you get consistent savings each month and can shorten your solar panel payback period.

Common Issues That May Lower Solar Panel Output

When the electricity output of solar panels is lower than normal, there are many possible causes. However, the following are some of the most common:

Solar Panel Output Issue Issue Description
Dust and dirt Dust and dirt can accumulate on the surface of solar panels, partially blocking sunlight and decreasing their energy output.
Pollen Pollen can have the same effect as dirt and dust during the flowering season of plants.
Cloudy weather Although solar panels work on cloudy days, they do so at a much lower production rate.
Shade from trees Your solar panels may be covered by shadows from trees that were shorter when you installed the system.
Shade from new constructions Shadows from new constructions can also block the sunlight received by your panels. However, most states offer legal protection with solar easements. When you have an easement, neighbors can’t build structures that block your solar system.
Disconnected components Solar systems use plenty of wiring, and components can get disconnected by accident.
Malfunctioning components If there’s an issue with any part of your system — solar panels, wiring, circuit breakers, inverters, batteries, etc. — it can lead to a reduced panel output.
Seasonal variation Solar panels generate more electricity during summer.
Gradual efficiency loss Even the most efficient solar panels become less productive over time, but this happens at a very slow rate. The annual productivity loss is normally less than 0.5%.
Monitoring errors If you’re experiencing what seems like a low output, there’s a chance the panels are functioning normally but you have an issue with your monitoring system.

It’s important to understand that solar panels will rarely generate their nameplate wattage — they are tested under ideal laboratory conditions, which are not achieved in rooftop installations. Solar manufacturers use the same testing conditions to allow a direct comparison of their products, but the actual electricity output depends on site conditions. You can have two homes with 360-watt solar panels of the same brand, and their electricity output can vary widely due to factors like local sunshine, roof orientation and ambient temperature.

Also, keep in mind that inverters are often sized smaller than the solar arrays connected to them. This is an economic decision: solar panels will rarely reach their peak output outside of laboratory settings, and an equally-sized inverter will rarely operate at rated capacity. Instead, the inverter “clips” the occasional solar power peaks that exceed its wattage.

The capacity relationship between a solar array and its inverter is described by the DC-to-AC ratio, also known as the inverter load ratio or ILR. For example, a 10-kW solar array with an 8-kW inverter has a DC-to-AC ratio of 1.25. This is designed to help homeowners save money on solar panel installations, but it can also occasionally lead to a lower-than-expected solar panel output.

How to Detect Issues with Your Solar Panels

If you suspect that your solar panels are suffering from low productivity, the first step is identifying the exact issue. You could be simply dealing with seasonal variations, or your solar panels could be in need of cleaning. However, your solar PV system could also be suffering a major malfunction, which requires professional attention and possibly a warranty claim.

Solar inverters from leading brands like Fronius and Sungrow come with built-in monitoring systems and mobile apps. You can check the daily output of your solar panels from a smartphone, and performance issues are reflected as a drop in the daily kilowatt-hour output. When this happens, you can start by ruling out normal variations in productivity and problems that are easy to fix, including:

  • Cloudy weather
  • Lower productivity during winter
  • Dust, dirt, pollen, leaves and other particles on the surface of your solar panels
  • Disconnected wires
  • Tripped circuit breakers

Solar panels can be expected to lose productivity over time, but this happens slowly — a sudden drop in electricity output normally means trouble. Keep in mind that the best solar panels lose less than 0.5% of their capacity each year. So if your system generated 10,000 kWh during its first year of operation, you can still expect around 9,950 kWh the second year.

You can also detect solar panel issues by keeping track of your electricity bills, but note that higher bills can have several causes. For example, if you live in a place with hot summers, you can expect air conditioning to increase your bills during that time of the year.

The best option is having a dedicated monitoring system for your solar panels, to obtain measurements that are not affected by other electrical devices. Older inverters may lack metering functions, but there are monitoring systems that offer compatibility with multiple inverter brands. Modern inverters can detect many types of faults on their own, and they will diagnose exactly what is happening. This makes troubleshooting much easier.

How to Address Issues and Maximize Solar Panel Efficiency

Many solar power issues can be fixed with cleaning and checking if there are loose connections or tripped breakers. However, some problems are a bit more challenging:

  • If your solar panels have been shaded by trees that were previously shorter, the trees must be trimmed. Moving solar panels is not recommended — it’s more difficult than trimming trees, system components may be damaged and warranties could be voided.
  • Shading from new constructions can be prevented by getting a solar easement in advance. Just keep in mind that your neighbors must agree to sign it, or otherwise they have no legal impediment to build structures that cast shadows. Before installing your solar panels, take your time to research the constructions that are being planned in surrounding properties.

As mentioned above, there may be cases in which your monitoring system displays zero production but your solar panels are working normally. Or, there could really be an issue that prevents electricity production. In both cases, you should contact your solar PV system provider for an inspection. Waiting for the next power bill is not recommended, as you may get an unpleasant surprise.

Electrical faults and other major malfunctions are rare if your solar power system uses high-quality components installed by professionals. However, these issues can happen even with the best solar products.

Here are some key things to know about solar panel output issues:

  • You may be left without solar power for some days if there is a malfunction, but any damaged components will be replaced for free if you have a solid warranty.
  • Solar panels normally come with a 10- to 12-year warranty against manufacturing defects, and a 25- to 30-year power production warranty.
  • Inverters typically have a 5-year warranty, but there are extended warranty options from several manufacturers.
  • If your system includes a solar battery like the Tesla Powerwall, the typical warranty period is 10 years.

Generally, the company that installed your solar panels will help with warranty claims and component replacements if necessary. However, this only applies if you’re dealing with professionals, which is just one reason it’s important that you make sure you purchase your solar PV system from a qualified provider. If you’re interested in getting connected with a professional solar installer in your area, fill out the form below.

Get Free Quotes From EcoWatch Approved Solar Installers

Even if your solar panels are working normally, there are many things you can do to use their electricity more efficiently and increase your savings. Adjust your energy consumption habits and program your appliances to operate around noon whenever possible, as this is when the sun is directly overhead. Avoid using appliances in the evening, when many electricity providers are charging their highest tariffs. Also, make sure your solar panels are cleaned regularly, or their kilowatt-hour output could drop significantly.

Leonardo David is an electromechanical engineer, MBA, energy consultant and technical writer. His energy-efficiency and solar consulting experience covers sectors including banking, textile manufacturing, plastics processing, pharmaceutics, education, food processing, fast food, real estate and retail. He has also been writing articles about energy and engineering topics since 2015.

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Photo by Zbynek Burival on Unsplash

If you live in an apartment without its own roof or if you're a business owner renting a commercial space, a community solar project may help you save on electric bills. Community solar power is a great option for individuals and businesses who can't install their own solar panels.

You can join a community solar project by purchasing a share or by paying a subscription. Then, the electricity production that corresponds to your ownership percentage or subscription will be measured and subtracted from your power bills. This is possible even if the community solar panel installation isn't located in your neighborhood — by investing in the project, your share of the solar generation is simply subtracted from your bill.

If you live in an apartment without its own roof or if you’re a business owner renting a commercial space, a community solar project may help you save on electric bills. Community solar power is a great option for individuals and businesses who can’t install their own solar panels.

You can join a community solar project by purchasing a share or by paying a subscription. Then, the electricity production that corresponds to your ownership percentage or subscription will be measured and subtracted from your power bills. This is possible even if the community solar panel installation isn’t located in your neighborhood — by investing in the project, your share of the solar generation is simply subtracted from your bill.

In this article, we’ll outline the pros and cons of community solar subscriptions and help you decide whether to invest in your local program.

What is Community Solar?

Community solar is a term used to describe photovoltaic systems that are shared by many consumers, including homeowners, renters, businesses, nonprofit organizations and more. Electricity savings and other benefits from the solar project are split among its shareholders and subscribers at a rate based on the level of investment.

When starting a community solar project, developers will establish the geographic area from which consumers are eligible to join. Some programs have installed multiple solar power systems in the same area, allowing a larger number of shareholders and solar subscribers.

Community solar power is possible thanks to virtual net metering. Through this process, a percentage of the electricity produced by the community solar panels is subtracted from the total amount of power you use in your home even though the panels aren’t located on your property. Here are a few key things to note:

  • The kilowatt-hours produced by a community solar project are measured for each billing period and are divided based on ownership shares.
  • If a community solar array produces 10,000 kWh of electricity and you own 5% of the project, you get 500 kWh for that billing period.
  • The value of those 500 kWh will be subtracted from your power bill, so if you use, for example, 750 kWh of electricity in your home, you’d only pay your utility company for 250 kWh.

Benefits of Community Solar

The main benefit of community solar is saving on power bills, especially in places with high electricity prices and abundant sunshine. However, the concept of sharing a solar array brings many other benefits, both technical and economic. These include:

  • Community solar can be used by homeowners or renters who can’t install rooftop or ground-mounted solar panels. Some roof structures are not suitable for solar panels, and others are too shaded from surrounding buildings or objects to be effective. Community solar may also be an option if you live in an apartment without its own roof or if you simply don’t like the appearance of rooftop solar panels.
  • You can easily take your solar savings to another home or apartment. If you install solar panels and decide to move in a few years, you must either sell them or take them with you. On the other hand, when joining a community solar project, you can simply assign the savings to your new address.
  • You can sometimes sell or donate your community solar share (depending on program conditions). This is useful if you move to a location that is not covered by the community solar program or if you decide to install your own solar panels in the future.
  • Community solar supports a more diverse customer base. To install your own solar panels, you must have the cash for an upfront payment or qualify for a loan. This financial barrier is eliminated with community solar — consumers can pay a monthly subscription or can purchase a small share according to their budget.
  • With community solar, you can forget about maintenance and part replacements. Solar panels need regular cleaning to stay productive, and components like inverters and solar batteries must usually be replaced after about 10 years. However, you don’t have to worry about maintenance with community solar, as there is a project developer in charge.
  • Community solar shareholders are eligible for the federal solar tax credit. When purchasing a share of a community solar project, you can deduct 26% of your investment on your next tax declaration. Just keep in mind that this benefit is not available when joining as a subscriber, since technically you don’t own a part of the community solar farm.

Community solar is an easier alternative to installing your own solar power system. The project developer is responsible for financing, installation, operation and maintenance, and you can reduce your electricity bills by simply buying a share of the project or subscribing.

However, installing your own solar power system also brings many benefits. You save the full economic value of the electricity generated, for example. Onsite solar power also increases the value of homes and commercial buildings, and many incentive programs are only available when you buy solar panels directly.

If you’re weighing each option, it can be helpful to get a free quote for a home solar installation. Fill out the form below to get connected with a
top solar company near you.

Get Free Quotes From EcoWatch Approved Solar Installers

How Does Community Solar Work?

In a few words, community solar lets you save on power bills with a shared photovoltaic array, instead of having your own system. However, not all community solar projects are alike, and they can be classified into several types:

  • On-site vs. off-site
  • Ownership vs. subscription

Community solar should not be confused with group purchasing, which happens when many homeowners or businesses purchase individual solar systems at bulk prices. This does not count as community solar, since the project is split into many private installations.

On-Site Vs. Off-Site Community Solar

Many real estate developers use on-site community solar projects in their residential, commercial or mixed-use projects. The electricity generated by solar panels reaches consumers through a private power system, without depending on the local electric grid. On the other hand, off-site community solar is supplied via the grid.

Here are the main benefits and drawbacks of each type of community solar project:

On-Site Community Solar Off-Site Community Solar
Pros On-site community solar systems often achieve higher savings — because they don’t use the local electric grid, they don’t pay transmission and distribution fees to a utility company. Off-site community solar projects can serve a larger number of customers. You can also keep your ownership share or subscription when moving to another address, as long as you stay within the project’s service area.
Cons On-site community solar is only available for local property owners and tenants of communities that have installed these energy projects. Depending on limitations with your local power grid, you may not yield as high of savings with off-site community solar.

Ownership Vs. Subscription Model

Community solar projects offer ownership shares and subscriptions. Some projects only have one option available, while others let you choose. You can save on power bills with both options, but understanding the differences between them is important:

  • When you purchase an ownership share in a community solar project, the corresponding percentage of power generation is yours for the entire service life of the project. Also, since you’re a partial owner of the system, you can claim 26% of your investment as a federal tax deduction. However, owning part of a community solar project means you must have the capital to pay upfront.
  • When you subscribe to a community solar project, there is no upfront investment. Instead, you pay a monthly fee. This means there is an ongoing cost, but the corresponding power bill savings are higher than the subscription fee. Keep in mind that subscription costs may increase over time, while an ownership share represents a single upfront payment.

Each option has pros and cons — you will generally save more when you become a shareholder in a community solar project, but a subscription comes with zero upfront cost. Also, consider that you must sell your share if you move to a location not covered by a community solar project, while a subscription can be easily canceled.

Is Community Solar Available Near You?

Community solar offers many benefits, but it is not available nationwide. To scale these types of projects, state governments must first enable this business model by law. Also, developers are more likely to invest in community solar projects if market conditions are favorable. Generally, the best states for solar power are those with incentive programs, abundant sunshine and/or high electricity prices.

There are currently 40 states with at least one community solar project in operation, and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reported that 3.1 GW of community solar were online and operational by the end of Q1 2021. There is an optimistic outlook for community solar, and the SEIA has forecast a growth of 4 GW over the next five years. Each gigawatt of solar power can cover the electricity needs of around 186,000 American homes.

If you’re interested in community solar power, you can check local government and utility websites — there could be several projects available near you.

FAQs: Community Solar

Is community solar legit?

Like all power generation projects, community solar systems are subject to laws and regulations. If you look for a developer that uses high-quality solar components and qualified installers, community solar is a reliable option to save on power bills for many years.

Is community solar a good deal?

To join a community solar project, you must become a shareholder with an upfront investment or pay an ongoing subscription. The power bill savings achieved will be higher than your monthly utility payments in both cases, but depending on the pricing model of your community’s program, one option may present a better deal than the other.

What is community solar, and how does it work?

Community solar is an alternative to installing your own solar panels: You participate in a shared solar project as a shareholder or subscriber, and you get part of the electricity produced. This is a great option for individuals or companies who can’t install their own solar panel systems due to lack of space or other limitations.

How does community solar make money?

Based on your ownership share or subscription type, you get part of the electricity produced by a community solar array. The kilowatt-hours generated are subtracted from your power bill — just like when you own solar panels directly.

Leonardo David is an electromechanical engineer, MBA, energy consultant and technical writer. His energy-efficiency and solar consulting experience covers sectors including banking, textile manufacturing, plastics processing, pharmaceutics, education, food processing, fast food, real estate and retail. He has also been writing articles about energy and engineering topics since 2015.

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