How Much Do Tesla Solar Panels Cost For Your Home
A top EV car maker, Tesla is understandably synonymous with renewable technology. But its eco-friendly product line is not limited to cars as Tesla also offers solar panels. Knowing Tesla’s high-end luxury status, it’s natural to wonder, how much do Tesla solar panels cost for your home?
Solar panels are a major investment, so it makes sense to do your research. You’re not only paying for the solar panel itself, but you must also account for racking equipment, performance monitoring equipment, and inverters. Plus, you might want to purchase an energy store system too.
How much does all of this cost? Our handy guide will provide you with the answers.
A Brief History of Tesla Solar Panels
Tesla first ventured into the solar panel industry by acquiring SolarCity in 2016. The company aimed to streamline battery storage and solar panel manufacturing. Although Tesa successfully retained SolarCity’s marketing infrastructure and sales, it could not produce solar panels per demand.
That’s when Tesla partnered with Panasonic in its NewYork gigafactory. Panasonic provided solar cells for Tesla’s solar roof tiles and panels in this partnership. The collaboration allowed Tesla to substantially reduce its manufacturing costs and eventually lower the cost of its solar products.
But this partnership came to an end in 2020 due to low product demand from Tesla. Panasonic still produces solar batteries for the company’s electric vehicles and Tesla Powerwalls. But the solar cell side of the partnership has ended.
Tesla then started getting third-party-manufactured solar panels from companies like Q Cells, a Korean solar giant. Later, Tesla introduced two lines of self-manufacturer solar panels for residential spaces.
Currently, there are two Tesla solar panel lines for residential installation, namely the S-series and the H-series. Check out their specifications and performance warranties in the table below.
The federal government introduced Investment Tax Credit (ITC) in 2006 to give tax relief to those who invest in solar energy systems. Homeowners that buy a solar energy system get a Federal Solar Tax Credit. They can use this credit on their federal income taxes to reduce their total liability.
In 2021, this tax credit was 26%, but it has been increased to 30%. The federal tax credit covers 30% of the following:
- Solar equipment costs, such as mounting hardware, wiring, and inverters
- Solar panel costs
- Labor costs
- Inspection and permitting fees
- Storage equipment costs (for batteries with at least 3kWh capacity rating)
Besides federal incentives, you may also get state incentives. Check the State Incentives for Renewables Efficiency database to learn more. Some states also offer upfront rebates when you install a solar power system. However, these rebates may only be available as long as the state has funds.
You should check your state’s rebates to get incentives before they run out. These rebates can lower solar panel purchase and installation costs by 10% to 20%.
Tesla Solar vs. Tesla Roof: Which is Right for You?
Besides rebates and tax credits, you may also get other incentives. We explain them below.
- Local Utility Rebates: Some local utilities incentivize homeowners to install solar energy systems. For instance, you might get rebates on your energy bill depending on the energy production of your solar panels. Similarly, some localities offer one-time subsidies to homeowners who want to install solar energy systems.
- Tax Exemptions: Solar panel installation increases your home’s value and price. But most municipalities do not include this additional value when calculating property taxes. Some states also give you sales tax exemptions for purchasing solar panels.
- Subsidized Loans: Check if your local utility or state offers subsidized loans to finance your solar panel purchase. Some non-government organizations may also provide such loans to homeowners.
As you can see, a couple of things determine the final Tesla solar panels cost. Make sure you do your research and discuss all options with a local installer before making a final decision.
Tesla Solar Panels Cost: Financing Options
The average cost of solar panel installation is 16,000 but can be as high as 35,000. That’s a lot of money to spend upfront. Here are some financing options to cover Tesla solar panels cost.
Tesla Solar Loan
Tesla solar panel financing covers the entire cost of purchase and installation. This offer is not available for commercial, business, or trust organizations.
Plus, Tesla solar loan is only available to residents in these states:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
Customers should apply for credit the day their solar panel payment is confirmed. If approved, your acceptance will be valid for 180 days. You can make payments through your phone or online.
Tesla Solar Pricing Hack (Short)
You have to make your first payment 35 days from the PTO (Permission to Operate) date and make monthly payments on the same date from then on. Learn more here.
While paying a huge amount upfront is daunting for some, cash payments are the most beneficial. For one, you don’t have to pay interest on top of your solar panel purchase. Second, you only get federal tax incentives and rebates right away if you pay for the solar panels in cash.
Solar Leases or Power Purchase Agreements (PPA)
Some states offer PPA (Power Purchase Agreements) that allow homeowners to lease solar panels. While some PPAs have a set rate, others have a payment schedule with annual increments.
The downside to PPAs is that you do not own the solar panels; a third party does. You make payments to the third party for a set period.
Home Equity Loans
Using your home equity can help you finance Tesla solar panels. In this case, your home is the collateral for the loan. You’re only eligible if there’s enough equity in your home to get the loan amount.
Since home equity loans have single-digit APRs, they’re more affordable than personal loans. The repayment payment can range from 15 to 20 years, depending on your preference.
Tesla Solar Panels Cost vs. Tesla Solar Roofs Cost
Besides solar panels, Tesla offers solar roofs with 24/7 outage protection and a 25-year tile warranty. Because roofs have more components, such as flashing and underlayment, they cost more than solar panels.
Consumer Reports says solar roofs should typically cost 24.50 per square foot to be more cost-competitive than regular roofs. Tesla’s solar roofs meet the criteria, costing 21.85 per square foot on average.
The cost of a Tesla solar roof can vary depending on the number of solar tiles you choose. For instance, homes with higher energy needs will require more solar tiles than those with fewer needs or occupants.
Like solar panels, Tesla also has a calculator for estimating solar roof costs. Type your home address and average electricity bill in this calculator, and Tesla will give you an estimate based on your information.
Forbes estimated the cost of a 1,000-square-foot single-story roof with 6.31kW of power to be 46,425. The figure also includes 1 Powerwall. The cost of a 2,000-square-foot roof with 12.57kW power and 2 Powerwalls is 64,193.
Evidently, even the cheapest Tesla solar roof is more expensive than the company’s solar panels. As mentioned earlier, Tesla solar panels cost 20,147 to 39,441, depending on their size.
Large systems with 36 panels are cheaper than installing a whole solar roof. Even better, this price does not account for the tax incentives and rebate discounts.
Solar Panels vs. Tesla Solar Roof: Here’s the Difference
The Tesla Solar Roof looks more seamless on top of your house than conventional solar panels do. That sleek design will cost you.
The image in your mind when you think of solar panels is probably pretty standard: flat black or blue slabs arranged on a rooftop. But look closely at the roofs of some houses and you might notice a surprise.
Tesla gave the solar system a new look. Instead of solar panels that sit in your front yard or stand out on the roof, the company decided to turn every shingle into a solar panel. The Tesla Solar Roof replaces an existing roof and captures sunlight to help power your home in a clean and streamlined manner.
There are some significant downsides, namely that the Tesla Solar Roof is quite expensive. (Tesla doesn’t operate a public relations department to field requests for comment.)
Can solar panels save you money?
Interested in understanding the impact solar can have on your home? Enter some basic information below, and we’ll instantly provide a free estimate of your energy savings.
For homeowners interested in solar energy, that raises the question, Should you go with the standard solar panel system or try the less intrusive.- but pricey.- Tesla Solar Roof? To help you with your buying questions, I’ve compiled a list of the biggest differences between the two solar options. Read on.
Solar panels should be relatively familiar by now, as they have been gaining popularity and have become more affordable in recent years. An array can be located on your roof or set to stand in your yard, depending on what works best for you. While there are a variety of different brands and types of panels, they all offer a clean energy alternative to fossil fuel sources like coal or natural gas. These panels can be expensive, and some are more difficult to install than others. But for the most part, you can expect cheaper energy bills, a smaller carbon footprint and increased property value.
Tesla Solar Roof
Instead of using panels, the Tesla Solar Roof turns your entire roof into your solar array. The Tesla Solar Roof uses tempered glass panels that replace your standard shingles, providing the same protection you’d expect from a traditional roof while also capturing solar energy. The Tesla Solar Roof is novel, but less proven and harder to transfer to another home if you move because they are custom made for each roof.
Solar panels or a Tesla Solar Roof?
Price is tricky when it comes to solar systems because a lot depends on what your house and property can handle. There’s the cost of solar panels and the infrastructure needed to support them, and then there’s the installation fee.- and you have to account for the capacity of the system. You can get tax credits and other incentives for installing these systems, so that’ll help ease the price somewhat. Industry data shows that the typical solar panel system costs somewhere between 3 and 4 per watt.- so a 5 kW system might run you 15,000 to 20,000.
Can solar panels save you money?
Interested in understanding the impact solar can have on your home? Enter some basic information below, and we’ll instantly provide a free estimate of your energy savings.
Conventional solar panels are cheaper than the Tesla Solar Roof. Tesla has also faced some challenges keeping the price down, which has been an issue for some people. Estimates suggest a price per watt (before adding a battery) of nearly 5 for the Tesla Solar Roof.- which would be 25,000 for a 5 kW system.
The installation process for solar energy systems can be complicated. In general, traditional solar panels are easier because they can be installed in different places depending on the layout of your property.- either on your roof or on the ground. The Tesla Solar Roof can only be installed on your roof, obviously, and is a bit more of a to-do since it requires replacing your entire roof. There are fewer contractors familiar with the Tesla Solar Roof system than conventional panels, so this can create challenges in finding a capable installer.
Solar power capabilities
Both the Tesla Solar Roof and traditional solar panels will have a similar ability to meet your power needs, although your ability to scale your solar power system to your electricity needs might be more limited with the Tesla Solar Roof compared to panels. It will likely be easier to expand a setup with traditional solar panels in the future if you find your electricity needs have increased.
Mobility and longevity
One downside of the Tesla Solar Roof is the fact that it really can’t move with you. Because it is custom-fit to the roof of your home, you can’t pack it up and install it on another home. Conventional solar panels offer a bit more flexibility here, as you could potentially take your solar system with you.- though you may want to leave it to benefit from the boost in property value that they provide.
Winner for most: Solar panels
For now, conventional solar panels are the safer bet if you are looking to make the switch to solar power. They are a proven product. They are also typically cheaper and offer a bit more flexibility in terms of how you install them.
Tesla’s Solar Roof shows a lot of promise, but the custom tiles can be cost-prohibitive and early troubles with the product make it hard to recommend at this stage. Future versions of the Tesla Solar Roof may improve and make good on the promising concept. For now, stick with what works so you can save on your energy bill and shrink your carbon footprint.
How are Tesla solar panels so cheap?
The most straightforward answer to this question—the Tesla brand and model drives down cost.
Tesla has a simple online ordering process and relies on organic search as well as brand recognition to drive traffic to their site. And, Tesla’s model drastically differs from most contemporary solar companies to their benefit.
By offering four standard system sizes and having the whole process online, they’ve cut out the need for salespeople to go over specifications and detailed information with homeowners.
Tesla offers neither customized nor tailored solar solutions.
All of this practically eliminates overhead costs that many other solar companies face. Not to mention, Tesla’s overarching scale allows them to undercharge for their panels and take a slight loss at the front end of the deal.
What makes Tesla solar panels different?
Arguably, the biggest difference between Tesla’s solar modules and others is how they look on the roof. Installation photos demonstrate a product with a sleek all-black finish, consistent with Tesla’s impeccable reputation for design. However, Tesla is neither the first nor only only company to offer all-black solar panels. Many major brands in solar have offered similar black-on-black design for years, including LG, Panasonic, Solaria and more!
Considering that, the overall system design still differs between Tesla and its competition.
The Tesla website states, “Our solar panels blend into your roof with integrated front skirts and no visible mounting hardware.”
The included skirts create a beveled edge, wrapping around the roof-mounted modules. This causes the solar array to appear almost integrated into the roof, as with the Solar Roof. While Tesla does not have exclusive rights to this technology, they have prioritized its use in order to maintain clean designs across the board.
WHAT IS TESLA SOLAR ROOF?
Elon Musk’s Solar Roof was first unveiled in October 2016. Around two years later, Reuters reported that Tesla had only activated 12 roofs in California. Installations remained extremely limited in the U.S. until October 2019, when Tesla unveiled a tweaked version of the roof tiles to enable faster installation.
Ironically, CEO Elon Musk told an audience in 2019 that it would be the “year of the solar roof” — the year when solar deployments reached their lowest point since the roof’s launch.
In 2020, Musk claimed he wants Tesla’s energy business to expand from less than 10 percent of the company to 50 percent. Evidence suggests, however, that Tesla’s solar installs remain relatively limited.
Tesla’s solar deployments — which include its retrofit solar panels and the Solar Roof — in the fourth quarter of 2021 were effectively the same as the fourth quarter of 2020.
Tesla remains the second-largest residential solar installer in the U.S., behind first-placed Sunrun. Tesla’s 2021 total of 345 megawatts was an impressive 68 percent improvement over the previous year, but solar panel supplier Sunrun installed 792 megawatts of capacity that same year. Wood Mackenzie claims Sunrun accounts for 13 percent of the total residential solar market.
A chart depicting Tesla’s solar deployments over the past year.
In April 2021, Tesla announced plans to raise roof based on a given installation’s complexity. Musk admitted the company made “significant mistakes” in assessing how hard it would be to install certain roofs in an earnings call that month.
Musk’s long-term vision for the future is one where it’s “odd” for a roof not to collect energy to power the building within.
But how does an early adopter feel about Tesla’s roof? We asked.
Tesla Solar Roof: How it all came together
In January 2021, Nochta switched on his new roof. His 1,175-square-foot roof has enough solar-harvesting tiles to generate 7.6 kilowatts of power. The Tesla Solar Roof uses a mix of solar tiles and dummy tiles; the latter used at the edge of the installation to enable teams to more easily cut edge tiles down to size and fit the roof seamlessly to the house.
Nochta first installed solar panels on his house in 2016, supplied by SolarCity. SolarCity merged with Tesla later that year.
The first installation was less than three kilowatts — not much energy, which meant the couple was using slightly more than they produced. But as the household grew to add children and parents, Nochta discovered it was surprisingly difficult to expand the existing solar panel system to add more capacity. The new panels would have to work as part of a dual system, with two inverters feeding into the house.
These inverters are vital for getting solar power into the home. As Energy.gov explains, they convert the panels’ direct current electricity — with a single voltage in one direction — into the alternating current used in homes where the voltage moves between positive and negative.
Nochta had “a couple of friends that do roofs” and they estimated it would cost 8,000 to 10,000 to replace the roof. Including new solar panels would cost another 10,000 to 15,000.
When Inverse checked Tesla’s retrofit solar panel website, these estimates seemed accurate. For a home in Saddle Brook, New Jersey, Tesla charges:
- 10,128 for a 4.8-kilowatt solar panel installation
- 20,256 for a 9.6-kilowatt installation
- 11,000 for one Powerwall battery
A 9.6-kilowatt installation with a battery would come to 31,256 total. Still, Tesla’s website notes that customers could benefit from a 6,205 Federal Tax Credit, plus a 7,392 Solar Renewable Energy Credit that could bring the total cost down to as low as 17,659.
That figure was close to the amount Nochta had already guessed he would spend on a new roof — so he took the plunge.
“At that point, it’s just, don’t do it, just get a Solar Roof done,” Nochta says.
Nochta’s project came to 42,000, including 14,500 for battery storage. It may have been cheaper for Nochta to get a new roof and solar panels — but he’s satisfied with the final installation and doesn’t regret the purchase.
See a video of Nochta’s installation below:
Nochta is one of a slowly growing number of happy Solar Roof owners. Inverse also spoke with:
- Amanda Tobler in California, who was an early adopter back in January 2018 with her 9.85-kilowatt roof
- Jason Lassen in Wisconsin, whose 15.9-kilowatt roof braved the cold weather in early 2021
- Tony Cho in Florida, whose giant 44-kilowatt installation went viral in December 2021
- Richard and Beth Parrish’s California project in March 2022, which powered two Tesla electric vehicles
How to get Tesla’s Solar Roof
Nochta ordered his roof in July 2020, months after Musk announced new third-generation tiles that would enable faster installations. But Nochta says he also did “a lot of research” to try and move the project along.
“I was an asshole, I’ll tell you that!” he says. “I think the people hate me at Tesla.”
Nochta organized the permits for building the roof himself. He contacted people to get the correct permissions, chased up the utility company to get approval, and stayed home to ensure every inspection went smoothly. A previous contact from the utility company, who had helped with his 2016 installation, pitched in again to support Nochta’s mission.
The people at Tesla may hate him, but Nochta says a “super nice” employee from Tesla Solar also contacted him to see if he could help them get the project off the ground faster.
Nochta’s install midway through.
The installation process took place over a couple of weeks in late 2020. It didn’t start well: Nochta had planned to remove the skylight from his roof. But the installer’s plans retained the feature. The mistake would have reduced Nochta’s Solar Roof down to 7.07 kilowatts.
“I would advise every single person to stay home on the first day and look at the plans of the installer,” he says.
But by November 2020, the roof was fully installed. After another month of waiting for final approval from the utility company, Nochta switched on the roof in January 2021.
Tomas Nochta’s roof fully completed.
Nochta says his roof has produced 8,148 kilowatt-hours of energy in his first year of usage — more than enough to cover the family’s energy usage, even with an electric vehicle.
But he still has to pay a 5 per month connection fee to keep his home on the grid, however — just in case.
“Our main reasons were to go green and use the Sun to produce our own electricity,” Nochta says. Objective achieved.
Nochta’s reality is fast becoming other Americans’ dreams. In a Pew Research report, 65 percent of U.S. adults in 2017 said the most important priority for addressing the country’s energy supply should be developing alternatives to coal, oil, and gas — like wind and solar. This was ranked above expanding production of existing sources like coal and gas.
In 2020, that figure had jumped from 65 percent to 79 percent of Americans who believe solar and wind — and other green alternatives — are the priority.
Musk said in 2019 that the goal of the Solar Roof was to “make roofs come alive.” With the surging interest in renewables, that vision might finally be just around the corner.
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