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Tesla solar panels comparison. Who’s the Winner?

Tesla solar panels comparison. Who’s the Winner?

    Tesla Solar Roof Cost vs Solar Panels

    In early 2018, Tesla finally began manufacturing solar tiles for the public at their New York-based Gigafactory 2. That’s great news, but are Tesla’s premium solar products worth the extra cost in 2019? And how do they compare to the cost of traditional solar panels? Let’s take a look.

    First things first, let’s get our nomenclature in order. Tesla actually manufactures two different solar products. Their famous solar tiles, in which solar cells are embedded into glass roofing tiles, as well as traditional solar panels, which must be bolted to the existing roof like any other solar panel.

    Both Tesla’s solar tiles and panels incorporate Panasonic’s legendary HIT series of ultra-efficient solar cells. These are some of the most efficient solar cells available on the market. Most standard-quality solar panels see efficiency rates around 16% to 18%. That is, they are able to convert 16% to 18% of all the sunlight that hits the panel into usable electricity.

    Panasonic’s HIT panels, on the other hand, enjoy 19% to 21% efficiency. You’re probably thinking that’s not a huge difference, but you’d be wrong. Do the math and you’ll find that a solar panel that is 21% efficient can actually produce 30% more electricity than a solar panel that is 16% efficient!

    Tesla partnership with Panasonic goes all the way back to 2016, when Tesla chose Panasonic to get their solar panel production in their then-new Gigafactory 2 facility off the ground. Panasonic foot the bill for the factory and Tesla agreed to purchase all the solar products manufactured at the site.

    Panasonic initially shipped in solar cells it produced in Japan and then manufactured the solar panels in the New York factory. By August 2017, production had progressed and Tesla began producing both the solar panels and the solar tiles at the Gigafactory 2, each using Panasonic’s solar cells.

    After numerous delays and a trial run, in 2018 the factory took over the entire manufacturing process, from solar cells all the way up to the finished panel and tile.

    Tesla Solar Roof Cost vs Solar Panels Cost

    Tesla’s solar panels are premium products, in line with other top-tier manufacturers like LG and Sunpower. Their panels command higher than standard-quality offerings, but they are also more efficient and have much better warranties.

    If you’re in the market for a premium solar panel, the Tesla solar panel is a great option. It’s backed up with Panasonic’s incredible technology and likely has a good, long-term warranty.

    The panels themselves will likely be 1.5x to 2x more expensive than standard-quality panels, but the rest of the installation costs like installation and other equipment should remain fairly similar to any other traditional solar installation.

    And installing Tesla’s traditional solar panels is certainly cheaper than their solar tiles, which are hard to justify in any situation. If you’re needing a new roof anyway or are building a new home, Tesla’s solar shingles make much more sense, but it’ll still be cheaper to simply install normal asphalt shingles and a traditional solar installation.

    Q Cells vs. Tesla Solar Panels: Which is Panel Better?

    Beyond the aesthetics, the next selling point for Tesla’s solar shingles is the simplicity of the system. You don’t need to buy a new roof and solar panels, they’re integrated into each other. As such, if we want to compare costs, we can’t just compare the cost of Tesla’s solar shingles to installing solar only, but the cost of installing a new roof as well.

    Tesla’s solar roof costs about 21.85 per square foot, with 35% of the tiles being solar tiles, and the rest non-solar tiles. Covering a 2,500 square foot roof in Tesla shingles then would cost a total of 54,600.

    How does that compare to a new roof with traditional solar panels? First, asphalt shingles cost around 4/square foot, so covering a 2,500 square foot roof would cost 10,000.

    As far as the solar installation goes, we’d need more info than just the roof size to really size the installation appropriately, but let’s say the installation is 6.2 kilowatts – the average installation size in the US as of 2018. At the average installation cost of about 3/watt, that totals 18,600. Combing the roof and solar installation, you’re looking at a grand total of 28,600 – about half the price of the Tesla shingles.

    Of course, the solar installation and the Tesla shingles are eligible for the 30% federal Investment Tax Credit. Tacking those on, our total costs drop to:

    • Tesla Solar Roof Cost: 38,220
    • Solar Panels Asphalt Shingles Cost: 23,020

    The difference is much less, but you’re still spending quite a bit more on the Tesla solar shingles than traditional solar panels on a separate asphalt roof.

    That being said, there are a few long-term benefits of Tesla’s shingles over the traditional system:

    • Tesla’s shingles are guaranteed for life. While the solar cells might stop functioning, you basically have a permanent roof that is covered under warranty forever. Compare that to asphalt shingles’ estimated lifespan of 10 to 20 years.
    • Tesla’s solar cells are very efficient and should produce more electricityper cell than traditional solar panels. Unfortunately though, Tesla’s yet to publish any specs or data on their solar shingle’s production, so we can’t make a definitive statement around production yet.
    • When it comes time to sell your home, you’ll probably see a higher increase in home value with the Tesla solar shingles than with traditional solar panels. Again, this isn’t 100% sure, but we’re guessing Tesla’s panels should hold their value pretty well, and translate that to an increase in your home’s value.
    tesla, solar, panels

    How Do Tesla’s Solar Tiles Stack Up to Traditional Solar Panels?

    Tesla’s solar tiles are unique in the solar industry, because you’d never even know they’re up there. Traditional solar panels, as you’ve probably noticed, are pretty easy to spot. Let’s compare Tesla’s solar shingles to traditional solar panels in three categories:

    • Aesthetics: Tesla has all other solar manufacturers, even other solar tile manufacturers, beat here.
    • Cost: Tesla solar tiles are much more expensive than installing traditional solar panels.
    • Efficiency: Tesla’s partnership with Panasonic gives them access to some of the most efficient solar cells on the market today.

    Let’s take a look at each of these categories a bit more in depth.

    Aesthetics: Tesla Wins Hands-Down

    This is the biggest selling point for Tesla’s solar shingles. They just look so good. Let’s admit it, renewable energy is beautiful, but those solar panels bolted on your neighbor’s roof aren’t. Sure, they complement certain home styles quite well, but most of us don’t live in the bold, ultra-modern homes that solar companies use in their advertisements.

    Tesla’s solar shingles, on the other hand, are so well-designed you wouldn’t even know the roof you’re staring at is pumping out electricity. Of course, if you want your neighbors to now you’re so green-minded, then you might have a problem.

    Compared to other solar tiles on the market, Tesla still comes out ahead. Unlike competitor’s products, Tesla’s solar tiles are designed to cover your entire roof. Tesla manufactures tiles both with and without solar cells inside. With matching solar and non-solar tiles, your roof looks uniform, but you don’t waste money installing solar tiles in shaded areas.

    Other solar tile manufacturers only produce tiles with solar cells inside, so the solar tiles will only cover part of your roof. They’re still certainly an improvement over traditional solar installations, but instantly recognizable as something other than just a normal roof.

    Overall, nothing comes close to Tesla’s solar tiles.

    Efficiency: Tesla Uses Some of the Most Efficient Solar Technology Available

    Thanks to their partnership with Panasonic, Tesla solar panels and solar tiles are built around some of the most efficient solar cells available today. Somewhat annoyingly, Tesla hasn’t yet released any official stats on either their solar panels or tiles yet, so we can still only offer conjecture on their wattage and efficiency.

    We do know that Tesla solar panels are 325 watts, but that’s all the info Tesla has officially released. We can reasonably assume their solar panel is similar to Panasonic’s own 325-watt panel, which boasts an efficiency of 21.76%.

    As we mentioned earlier, standard-quality solar panels are typically around 16% to 18% efficient, so that’s quite a jump in performance.

    Tesla’s solar tiles, which measure 8.7” X 14”, each contain two solar cells that produce 6 watts of electricity, for a max of 12 watts per tile. At this wattage, 27 solar tiles is equal to a single Tesla solar panel.

    Tesla has yet to release numbers on the efficiency of the tiles, but unless the textured glass severely hinders sunlight from making it to the solar cell, it’s hopefully close to the panel efficiency above, since both the tiles and panels use the same Panasonic solar cells inside.

    SunPower Vs Tesla: What are the Differences?

    Let’s examine SunPower Vs Tesla which is better than one another. There are many similarities between these two. Both can be more easily installed into a current solar panel system because they are AC-coupled. The two batteries are mainly intended for use as backup power in emergencies.

    To know between SunPower Vs Tesla which is better here are some of the differences between a SunPower Battery and a Tesla Powerwall.

    Solar Energy Storage

    If there is a power outage in your area, having a solar storage system gives you backup power to keep your appliances operating. Solar batteries receive any extra energy produced by the solar panels and use it to power the storage device.

    The energy from an energy storage device can then be used to reduce the amount of electricity drawn from the power grid during power outages, after sunset, or even during the day.

    a. Sun Vault

    The hub and battery of SunPower’s Sun Vault are mounted either inside or outside of your house. Through the SunPower app on your phone, the storage system enables you to keep track of how much energy is generated and manage how you use your stored energy.

    When combined with their Equinox solar system, the entire system is developed and warrantied by SunPower since they produce everything in-house. Compared to systems and storage units that use components from various manufacturers, this makes the process of getting repairs simpler.

    b. Powerwall

    Similar to the Sun Vault, you can use the Powerwall storage device’s stored energy at any moment to cut back on the amount of energy you use from the grid. Since it doesn’t need gasoline to operate, it is a more environmentally friendly answer to power outages than a traditional generator.

    Additionally, Powerwall has an app that you can use to track energy consumption and production. It can be placed outside or inside and is resistant to weather and water. It is secure for homes with young children and pets because it lacks hot wires and vents.


    The Lithium-Ion NMC technology is used in many batteries. The Sun Vault does, however, have a Lithium Ferrous Phosphate (LFP) battery. They are said to be safer, more dependable, and have an extended shelf life.

    In contrast, the Powerwall battery has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and an incorporated AC battery system. It has a Battery Management system safety that guards against overcharging, over-discharging, and short-circuiting the lithium battery. After this, let’s explore SunPower Vs Tesla efficiency.

    SunPower Vs Tesla Efficiency: Which is Efficient?

    The rated power of a panel, which is expressed in watts, is the maximum quantity of power it is capable of producing under ideal circumstances. Efficiency is the percentage of usable energy that a solar panel can generate from the sun. It is an important factor to consider before installation.

    The SunPower model has a higher power output than the Tesla model, and it also comes in versions with an output of up to 420 watts. Additionally, the SunPower model generates at least 1.4% more useful energy for your house from sunlight. That might not seem like much, but when you take into account the fact that you will own your solar panel for 25 years, it is at least three months’ worth of free energy, not to mention the lessened environmental effect. With this, you have learned about the difference between SunPower Vs Tesla efficiency.

    TESLA Solar Panels Review 2023 (SHOULD YOU GET THEM?)

    How to Order

    Ordering a Tesla solar installation is fairly simple.

    You go through Tesla’s online configurator on the company’s website.

    Tesla will take your address, your current electric bill cost, and they are going to charge 100 on your credit card:

    tesla, solar, panels

    This will get the process started toward your Tesla solar installation.

    In order to reduce costs, Tesla is asking a little bit more out of homeowners ahead of an official quote and installation. They will ask to send some pictures of your house and things like your electrical panel in order to learn more about your needs.

    Before or as you go through that process, you should also seek a quote from another solar company or many if you have the time.

    Tesla does price matching since 2020 and you could be surprised by some local solar installers.

    We suggest using our partner Understand Solar (click here) who compares many installers in your area. You enter the same information that Tesla is asking and they will match you with a top solar installer in your region who will give you a quote for free.

    After having both the Tesla quote and one from another supplier, you can negotiate the best deal and decide with which company you prefer to do business before you give the green light for the installation.

    Why Choose Tesla over other Solar Companies

    To be honest, Tesla doesn’t really offer that many advantages over the competition when it comes to solar rooftop installations.

    tesla, solar, panels

    Other companies use similar panels, offer similar warranties, and all the same features.

    Tesla has commoditized the solutions a little more than local installers, who might be able to add some extra panels or give extra options, usually at a higher price.

    But one thing that I really like about Tesla’s solar system is their user interface:

    Other companies have similar mobile apps to monitor your solar system, but I’m a big fan of Tesla’s design.

    tesla, solar, panels

    Some would also say that the Powerwall is also a Tesla advantage, but the company also supplies the home battery pack to many other solar installers.

    There’s no major advantage to buying the Powerwall from Tesla directly. You still get the app access if you buy it from another company.

    Also, if you decide to go with a Powerwall, the wait time will be greater and return on investment could be longer.

    Although, if you want to protect your household against power outages and maximize your solar power, it’s a great product. Also if your local energy company offers incentives for time shifting your energy usage, you could save a lot of money by powering your house off the powerwall during peak periods.

    Tesla Solar Roof

    The solar roof tiles are where Tesla differentiates itself with a unique product in the solar industry.

    Again, it’s not for everyone. It addresses the market of people who want residential solar power and also need a new roof relatively soon.

    The solar cells are embedded into roof tiles – creating a very aesthetically pleasing roof that produces solar power:

    Last year, Tesla launched version 3 of its Solar Roof tiles, which they now also call Solarglass, and it saw a significant price decrease through optimization and faster installation.

    A 12.3 kW system, the same as the solar panel system quoted above, ends up costing 48,128.

    It is expensive but it needs to be compared to a brand new premium roof and a 12.3 kW solar system.

    The ordering process is the same as the Tesla solar panel as described below.

    However, Tesla solar roof tiles are not available in as many markets as Tesla’s solar panels and lead times may be longer.

    The company is still hiring and training roofers in many markets and it is expanding fast.

    Tesla’s regular solar panel installations are more easily available.

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    When it comes to service delivery, nothing beats what Tesla has to offer.

    Tesla manufactures its own solar panels and has its own installers. The company also rents solar panels to customers who prefer to lease.

    On the contrary, Sunrun does not manufacture its own solar panels, and they usually subcontract their installers.

    When you purchase a solar system from Sunrun, you have to contend with the fact that your installer might just be any other local electrician.

    The only comparable factor as far as service delivery is concerned is that both companies have the same footprint in the country. Tesla operates in 23 states while Sunrun has branches in 21 states.

    Industry Experts Feedback

    Feedback from industry experts as well as customers obviously has to vary. Some experts have very good words for Tesla while others prefer Sunrun.

    However, looking at reviews from sites like,, and, Tesla certainly has an upper hand over its greatest rival, Sunrun.

    The fact that Sunrun deals in all types of solar systems and provides rooftop and ground-mount solar installations makes them a popular choice with most industry experts.

    Even though they do not produce their own solar panels, you can always count on them to deliver when it really matters.

    Customer Support

    Installing solar energy in your home or commercial premise is a solid investment and you require all the support from your preferred installer to ensure that you make the most out of your new power supply.

    The good news is that both Sunrun and Tesla solar have invested heavily in customer support and you can always be sure of getting the right help in case of any problem.

    You can contact customer support via chat, email, or phone at any time and expect to get the help that you need.

    Both companies also have a mobile app that provides round-the-clock solar panel monitoring and you can contact customer representatives via the same application for instant help.


    Choosing between Tesla Solar and Sunrun can be a bit of a challenge since both companies have their fair share of upsides and downsides.

    Besides, both companies are stable, reliable, and they always stick to their word in terms of service delivery.

    However, if you want to buy long-lasting panels at affordable rates, then always consider Tesla. Sunrun can be a good fit for property owners who want to lease their solar panels.


    I am an environmentalist based in Ontario.

    I work hard to make this website an informative and a good resource for beginners who care about the environment.


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