While Tesla Energy—the renewable energy subsidiary of Tesla—is still relatively new to the solar power industry, the company has quickly established itself as one of the most popular and recognizable names in the solar energy space since its 2016 acquisition of SolarCity.
In this review, we will go over important information about Tesla Energy, including the company’s products and services, equipment, installation process, warranties, cost and financing, customer reviews, and whether or not we think Tesla Energy deserves your business.
Tesla Company Overview
Although predominantly known for its electric vehicles (EVs), Tesla has made quite a splash in the solar power industry when it acquired SolarCity in 2016, which had already been an established brand in the solar power business for more than 10 years prior.
Outside of acquiring SolarCity, Tesla also first unveiled the company’s solar roof in 2016. Tesla’s solar roof consists of sleek, minimalistic, low profile solar panels that replicate the looks of regular roof shingles. This modern solar panel design and technology, combined with the company’s global appeal, has quickly made Tesla a force to be reckoned with in the solar energy space.
Tesla has built a reputation of providing advanced high-quality residential solar arrays, batteries, inverters, and other solar offerings. With its solar energy offerings and electric cars, Tesla has arguably become the poster child for environmental preservation.
Products and Services
At its core, Tesla’s solar offerings include:
Solar Panels: regular panels that most people associate with any residential solar installation
Solar Roof: a low profile solar array that resembles the appearance of a traditional roof
Powerwall: industry-leading energy storage solution that works in conjunction with Tesla solar systems to maximize panel efficiency and provide a steady supply of electricity at night and during power outages
Tesla App: smartphone app that allows you to monitor, control, and set customer preferences for your Tesla solar system and any other Tesla products.
Today, Tesla’s solar offerings are available nationwide, although the service areas do vary in all 50 states. It’s best to check with a Tesla representative to determine whether the company's solar services are available in your location.
Tesla provides full-service residential solar solutions—from the production of top-tier solar panels, batteries, and inverters, to the installation and maintenance of its residential solar systems.
Standard Solar Panels
Tesla’s most basic and most familiar offering is the company’s standard monocrystalline solar panels. Tesla designed these solar panels to be absolutely minimalistic with zero visible grid, a concealed edge, and a sleek low profile to add to your property’s curbside appeal.
Having gone out of its way to make the process of shopping for solar panels incredibly simple and straightforward, Tesla offers the panels in standardized solar system sizes: small (12 panels), medium (24 panels), large (36 panels) and extra-large.
Tesla’s standard monocrystalline solar panels are some of the most efficient on the market with an average efficiency rate of 19.6%. Tesla panels generate 425 watts and can operate from minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit to 185 degrees Fahrenheit.
A true and arguably better alternative to the standard monocrystalline solar panels, Tesla’s solar roof consists of small solar panels that also acts as low-profile roof shingles. These solar shingles have no visible grid and, when interlocked, can pretty much replicate the appearance of a traditional roof.
Three times more durable than regular monocrystalline panels, Tesla’s solar roof is less likely to get damaged from storms and other environmental challenges.
Compelling as it is, however, Tesla’s solar roof isn’t necessarily the obvious choice for everyone. Using the solar roof would require a complete roof replacement, so the solar shingles don’t stand out from the rest of the roof tiles. However, the solar roof is perfect for customers who are planning or are willing to install a new roof; as the solar shingles would essentially cover the entire rooftop, your solar system would be capable of generating so much more electricity for your home.
Tesla’s Powerwall is arguably the most reliable and the most popular solar energy storage solution on the market. Powerwall is the absolute industry-standard when it comes to solar battery solutions, so much so that other major players in the solar industry offer the Powerwall with their installations.
Tesla’s Powerwall solar battery stores the excess energy that your solar panels generate, so you can use it as backup power for when the sun isn’t shining like during the nighttime, in low sunlight weather conditions, and utility outages. The powerwall is capable of storing 14 kilowatt-hours of energy and providing 5 kilowatts of continuous energy, as well as 7 kilowatts of peak energy for a limited time.. Solar Inverter Much like other standard inverters, Tesla’s solar inverter converts direct current electricity generated by your panels into alternating current electricity that powers your home and home appliances. However, unlike other solar inverters, Tesla's solar inverter is capable of consistently operating at 97.5% or 98% efficiency.
Finally, the Tesla app allows you to comprehensively integrate every component of your solar system—solar panels, solar roof, Powerwall—into one sleek-looking, user-friendly mobile platform, 24/7. Using the app, you can access information about your solar system’s live performance and historical production, and you can take full control of your home’s energy.
The Tesla app provides you a convenient way to stay on top of your energy. You can monitor how efficient and cost-effective your panels are at generating energy. As of writing, the Tesla app earns a 4-star rating on Google Play and a 3.8 in the App Store.
Tesla handles everything about the installation of your solar panels, following these seven-step process:
- Purchase: Tesla will suggest a solar array and Powerwall configuration when you enter your details on the company website. You can personalize this configuration by adding or removing solar panels and Powerwalls. Tesla will then provide a design mockup of the installation you choose, as well as a rough estimate of how much it costs.
- Survey: Tesla will ask you to send photos of your equipment and system spaces. Tesla will then use remote aerial imaging technology to confirm your roof’s area and slope.
- Design: Tesla will create custom designs for your solar installation that accounts for your home’s structure and energy requirements. Tesla will ask for your input and you will remain an active part of the design process.
- Permitting: Tesla will ensure that all the necessary inspections are completed. The company will secure all necessary permits and other relevant documentation in preparation for the installation of your solar system.
- Installation: Tesla will schedule an installation date that works best for you. A local team of Tesla certified installers will spend the day installing the panels on your roof. You will be required to be present for the first hour of installation.
- Inspection: Tesla will coordinate with your local building department to arrange a final inspection after the installation is completed.
- Activation: Tesla will coordinate with your local utility company to acquire the official Permission to Operate (PTO) for your Tesla system, and you will officially have access to clean renewable energy.
Note that if you’re unsatisfied with your system, Tesla gives you a return option for up to seven days after installation.
Tesla solar panels come with a 25-year performance guarantee that guarantees that the panels will perform for at least 80% of its maximum power capacity for at least 25 years, which is significantly much longer than the industry standard of 12 years.
Tesla also provides a 10-year comprehensive warranty that applies to all the components of your solar system, including: the solar array, Powerwalls, solar inverter, and roof mounting and leaks. For more than a decade after installation, the company will perform any maintenance or labor request for your solar system at zero cost.
Costs and Financing
To make the purchasing process simple and straightforward, Tesla offers their solar array offering in standard panel sizes:
Small (12 panels) 4.80 kW $20,147
Medium (24 panels) 9.60 kW $29,794
Large (36 panels) 14.40 kW $39,441
Solar Roof (2,329 sq. ft.) 14.12 kW $75,200–$87,400
Tesla’s prices will vary depending on a number of factors, including your location, system size, and selected solar equipment. You can order the Tesla Solar panels online through the company website; you just enter your details, and Tesla will provide a custom solar system recommendation based on your energy usage and requirements.
You can pay for your Tesla solar system using one of two payment options: You can pay for your Tesla solar system upfront with cash, or in select states, you can take out a solar loan through the company itself. Both payment options get you full ownership of your Tesla panels and therefore qualify you to take full advantage of the federal solar tax credits, any local incentives, and rebates.
Tesla Customer Reviews
Tesla, with its massive national presence, has a mixed bag of reviews that appears to be predominantly determined by customer location. For example, Tesla solar might have hundreds of satisfied customers who are very happy about the quality of Tesla’s solar systems in California, but the company might have hundreds of dissatisfied customers complaining about Tesla’s subpar customer service in upstate New York. It’s best to keep this in mind when going over Tesla reviews.
A significant number of Tesla’s reviews praises the company’s comprehensive solar system integration, top-tier equipment quality, helpful customer service representatives, and ability to deliver consistent energy savings. Note that since late 2020, there has been a noticeable influx of positive reviews for Tesla, which might hint that the company has implemented significant improvements on their sales and installation process, as well as their overall customer service.
Many of Tesla’s negative reviews criticize the company’s poor communication channels, spotty maintenance schedule, and inability to promptly follow up on post-installation issues. It seems that Tesla has some significant difficulties in rolling out consistent after-sales customer support across its wide geographic coverage.
The Bottom Line
Overall, Tesla is a solid option if you want to get the most solar for your money, even if it means having to deal with suboptimal customer service. With a significant number of positive customer reviews raving about the Tesla residential solar system and with resounding criticisms over the company’s customer service, it’s fair to say that Tesla's strengths lie mainly in its advanced solar technology.
Tesla’s highly-efficient and stylishly modern solar shingle and its vaunted Powerwall solar batteries make the company a leading player in the solar energy industry. If you want a solar power system that doesn’t take away from your home’s appearance and character, or if you put a premium on transparent pricing information, then Tesla is a good choice for you.
It’s worth noting that Tesla customers have the option of having Tesla solar panels installed by a qualified third-party installer. This might be the way to go if you want to take full advantage of Tesla’s industry-leading solar technology while benefiting from the reliable customer service, maintenance and backend support of a qualified local installer.