Tesla Solar Reviews, Panels, and Installation
Do Tesla’s solar panels live up to the hype? Read our in-depth review to get all your questions answered.
- Fast Facts
- Benefits Drawbacks
- Tesla Solar Reviews
- Tesla Overview
- Cost Payment
- Our Recommendation
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Although Tesla started as an auto company, it made a name for itself in the solar industry when it unveiled its solar roof in 2016. The product has a modern, eye-catching roof design that uses small solar panels to mimic the appearance of regular roof shingles. This sleek look, combined with Tesla’s widely recognizable name, has made it a popular choice among homeowners. But how good are Tesla solar panels, really?
We analyzed solar panel specifications, industry trends, customer service reviews, and more to determine the top solar energy companies available to put this to the test. This Tesla solar panels review covers the company’s products, payment options, reputation, services, and more.
Important Note: Tesla makes solar panels and batteries, but it doesn’t install them. Choose from one of the Tesla certified installers below to install your Tesla solar products.
Offers unique solar roofs for low-key aesthetic Offers 24/7 active monitoring Produces its own solar battery, the Powerwall
Available in 50 states Has been in the industry since 1985 Provides its own monocrystalline solar panels
Available in 23 states 25-year warranties for the product, labor, and inverter Power protection guarantee
25-year workmanship and product warranty Perks for new construction homeowners Available in 20 states
Benefits and Drawbacks of Tesla
We analyzed the 100 most recent additions to Google Reviews for Tesla ’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California. Overall, the reviews were mixed, with 47% being three stars or less. However, these reviews also covered Tesla’s cars, not just its solar products. Customers primarily complained that Tesla doesn’t have human customer service representatives. People also had difficulty scheduling repairs for products like its solar battery, the Powerwall. positive reviews praise the quality of Tesla’s products and the company’s efforts to make renewable energy accessible. Read what some customers had to say below.
“ Absolutely love our … Solar Panels : We had a 5 kW system and upgraded to 10 kW, customer service was top notch, and the whole experience was delightful (both times). Powerwalls : A MUST if you’re getting solar … love the app, look at it three times/day. Always a fun challenge to get below net grid usage. Welcome to the future built by Tesla. … We are largely energy independent. Thank you, Tesla Team! ” —Aaron Nutten via Google Reviews
“ The salespeople are very helpful, and they answer all questions you may have…. ” —Libby Chang via Google Reviews
“ I’ve called customer service four separate times, and I still don’t have access to automatic billing in my Tesla Account. Terrible customer service. ” —Brandon T. via Google Reviews
“ Tesla energy use[s] deceptive practices and conman sales tactics! First off, it took over two years from the date of the deposit to installation of the two Powerwalls ! And before installation they were going to finance the project at 2.5% and get me the SGIP rebates. I was told in emails and verbally that Tesla would file the SGIP rebate documents with the utility company…. Now after the project is completed I’m being told that they can no longer file the SGIP forms, and I will have to pay full price for the project. ” —Jay Garden via Google Reviews
What is a Tesla Solar Roof?
The Tesla solar roof is the latest innovation from Tesla, which allows your rooftop to generate solar energy and earn you savings.
It is the same as a solar panel but blends in as a typical granite-looking rooftop which is the highlight of this Tesla product.
Each tile comes with a lifetime of the house warranty and 30-year power generation guaranteed. After the electricity production, Tesla estimates that its solar roof will be cheaper than regular tile roofs or virtually pay for itself through electricity savings.
Now let’s talk about choices. In general, each solar roof tile comes with a “color louver film” covering. The unique film allows the Tesla solar roof tiles to blend into the roof while exposing them to the sun above. Lastly, each tile has tempered glass on top for durability. Talk about icing on the cake.
As of the moment, Tesla Solar Roofs come in four flavors: Textured Glass Tile, Slate Glass Tile, Tuscan Glass Tile, and Smooth Glass Tile.
How Does A Tesla Solar Roof Work?
So how does a Tesla Solar Roof Work exactly? Simply put, through its solar energy business companies, SolarCity and Tesla Energy, Tesla introduced a natural-looking solar panel variation. It works precisely like a solar panel, using high-efficiency solar cells and modules integrated inside textured solar roof tiles.
They are meant to compete more with traditional roofs that need replacement than their solar panel cousins. However, one cannot avoid comparing whether you are an enthusiastic clean energy supporter or a rational investor.
How Much Does A Tesla Solar Roof Cost?
According to Tesla itself, a typical homeowner can expect a rate of 21.85 per square foot when they decide to replace their existing tiles with Tesla Solar Roofs.
The latest solar tile model (version 3) is 114 cm long by 43 cm wide and is rated at 58 watts. Each tile costs about 6.49 per watt.
Solar Roof Tiles. What Are The Pros and Cons?
Many factors play into the pricing so expect some variations. Still, electricity bills, system size, roof complexity, and location have the most significant impact overall. You can play with these dials yourself using Tesla’s website.
We want to point out that this online calculator often recommends add-ons such as a Tesla Power wall. It’s not bad, but we still want to inform you about this feature.
How Does the Tesla Solar Roof Work with the Federal Solar Tax Credit?
When it comes to the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Tesla claims it can be applied to their entire solar roof and their home storage battery the Powerwall. This is not necessarily the case. The issue here is that this type of solar technology doesn’t fit into the structure of the current ITC. For this to change, a special appeal process is necessary to decide which parts of the solar roof fall under the ITC.
This all depends on how the IRS decides to view Tesla’s new solar roof. If they determine the non-solar tiles are “so specifically engineered that it is in essence part of the machinery or equipment with which it functions,” then the entire roof will fall under the federal solar tax credit.
What They Don’t Tell You About Tesla Solar Roofs
Determining the solar roof and its impact on the ITC will certainly be a lengthy process. As customer service advocates at Pick My Solar, we can only hope that Tesla will take care of the entire process for their homeowners.
The federal solar tax credit, however, is going to start scaling down at the beginning of 2020 and be completely phased out in 2022. When taking into consideration the buying and installation process of the newly released solar roof, a large number of homeowners may miss out on the chance to claim the federal solar tax credit.
“Taking pre-orders for this unproven technology will undeniably have a negative impact on the adoption of solar,” says Solar.com CEO Max Aram, “By leveraging Tesla’s sexy brand Elon Musk can lure a few thousand homeowners off the solar market. Many of these homeowners may never get their system turned on before the expiration of the Federal Tax Credit. The difference between Solar Roof and Model 3 is that Tesla has already proven they can manufacture great cars and Model 3 is coming at an affordable price point. With solar roofs, he hasn’t proven either.”
Solar Roof Efficiency vs. Solar Panel Efficiency
The brand new solar roof will be entirely manufactured in the United States. Tesla plans to manufacture all of their solar tiles at their Buffalo facilities using solar cells provided by their partner, Panasonic. Peter Rive, the CTO at SolarCity had previously claimed the efficiency of one of their solar tiles was equivalent to a standard panel. However, according to SolarCity’s website the colored film of the solar tile “allows the cells to blend into the roof while minimizing solar efficiency loss.” While it appears this would mean the efficiency of solar tiles would be lower than those of solar panel, this isn’t necessarily the case.
Currently, Panasonic’s N3300 HIT modules have an efficiency of 19.7%. The have developed solar cells as efficient as 23.5% in their labs. The solar industry average for solar panels is approximately 16%, while Pick My Solar’s installers come in at around 19.5%. So even if the colored film of the solar tiles lessens the efficiency by a few percentage points, the solar tiles efficiency still may be equivalent to that of standard solar modules.
When it comes to the efficiency of Tesla’s solar roof in comparison to standard solar panels, there is no clear cut winner. Just make sure that if your home is very limited in regards to roof space, you go with the highest efficiency module possible to power your home.
How Much Do Tesla Solar Tile’s Weigh?
Per Tesla, their new solar tiles will be approximately half the weight of a standard roof tile. This is a hard claim to make without defining the “standard roof tile” being used in this statement.
To understand the range of tile weights, let’s look at this:
- Concrete Tiles – between 9.5 – 12 lbs. per square foot
- Asphalt Shingles – between 2.5 – 4 lbs. per square foot
- Spanish Tiles – between 6 – 19 lbs. per square foot
- Slate Tiles – between 7-10 lbs. per square foot
Our approximation when taking all of the solar tiles components into consideration is that the tiles will weigh about 15 – 20 lbs. This is a rough estimate due to Tesla’s ambiguity when discussing the weight of their solar tiles.
We reached out to one of our excellent roofing partners, Chandler’s Roofing, to get their perspective on Tesla’s new solar product;
“Aesthetically the Solar Roof is beautiful, but we’ll need to wait and see how Tesla will resolve taking it to market,” says Trevor Leeds, President of Chandler’s Roofing, “Roofing is a different animal than solar. There are different variables that have to be considered like waterproofing and the roof-attachment method. Compliance codes for roofing are also much different than solar. Will Tesla figure out how to be a national roofing contractor? Is Tesla looking to assume this liability and overhead? All of these unknowns will need to be worked out.”
Production / Efficiency
Tesla Solar Roof: E fficiency numbers for Solar Roof are not readily available. In a recent analysis, PV Magazine estimated Solar Roof efficiency between 4-11%. Overall system production depends on the density of solar tiles to non-solar tiles throughout the roof.
Traditional Solar: Most modern solar panels operate between 15% to more than 22% efficiency, depending on the panel. Overall production depends on the total number of panels installed. In short, you get much more energy per footprint with traditional panels.
Tesla Solar Roof: Solar Roof pricing is the sum of two categories – roofing materials and solar components. Remember, not all solar roof tiles produce electricity. In both categories, final pricing is heavily influenced by roof size and complexity. General cost guidance for the roofing side is roughly 10-14 per square foot, with higher costs dependent upon roof complexity. On the solar side, pricing is estimated at 3.50 per watt. The more solar tiles in the design, the higher the price and power production. Tesla estimates the total project price by producing preliminary designs that include both the minimum and maximum density of solar tiles. Customers may choose any achievable amount between those two values.
Traditional Solar: Cost estimates for solar panels are significantly more straightforward than Solar Roof. In Arizona, around 3 per watt is an average cash purchase price for a fully installed solar energy system.- about half that of Solar Roof with the same production capacity.
Tesla Solar Roof: Solar Roof will not work on flat roofs or roofs with too many architectural features. Also, as a new technology, Solar Roof is new to many building and fire authorities, power utilities, and HOAs. This may slow the approval and permitting process in some areas.
Traditional Solar: While most people find modern solar panels to be more aesthetically pleasing than older panels, Solar Roof’s fully integrated glass tiles offer a more seamless visual aesthetic that appeals to some customers.
Tesla Solar Roof: 25-year warranty against manufacturer defects and system failures. 10-year workmanship warranty from SVSS, including roof penetrations.
Traditional Solar: Up to 30.year warranties against manufacturer defects and system failures. 10-year workmanship warranty from SVSS, including roof penetrations.
If you’re wondering if solar is right for you, we invite you to download our free guide, Is Solar Right For You? In it you’ll find various factors that contribute to a solar purchase.