Tesla Solar Panels Review: Worth The Cost?

Solar panels are a great way to make your home eco-friendly and off-grid. Tesla and its chairman Elon Musk are well-known for their grand technologies – and their solar panels are no exception. After merging with SolarCity in 2016, Tesla Energy announced its plans with solar technology and has since become the largest installer of residential solar panels in the United States.

SolarCity currently sells third-party brands of solar panels, so finding an exact source on what you actually get when you purchase Tesla Solar panels can be a bit of a hassle. Written in June of 2019, this article serves as a guide to address the details of Tesla solar panels.

Tesla Solar Panels and Energy History

Toward the end of 2016, Tesla established a manufacturing agreement with Panasonic, which is known for its top-notch solar panel technology. Panasonic’s solar panels are known as some of the most efficient on the market. Upon finalizing this agreement, Tesla released some details regarding the panel’s technical information in 2017, but little has been released since. The solar panels were said to be 325-watt models with a top-quality efficiency of 21.75%. At the time (and to this day), this level of power is comparable to other premium solar panels in the industry.

Tesla finally revealed their solar panel product in April 2017. Unlike other products, the company did not trumpet its announcement. The Tesla Energy website was edited to include a page dedicated to solar panels and other energy-related products like the Tesla Solar Roof and the Powerwall. However, back in 2017, the Tesla solar panel price was not publicly announced. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) addressed the situation with research explaining how large installers normally price products at a premium of 10 to 20 percent compared to local installers.

It’s important to note that Tesla offers solar panels and the Solar Roof, which are both separate products. The Solar Roof is an integrated solar tile roofing system that looks chic and high-quality. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to apply on existing homes. The solar panels are typically better for a standard solar installation that’s being placed on an existing roof.

Tesla Solar Panel Breakdown

Tesla solar panels are manufactured at a purpose-built factory in Southern Buffalo, Gigafactory 2. This 1.2-million SQ feet factory includes over 500 people working and cashing paychecks in the Panasonic and cell production areas. This shows us that the Buffalo Gigafactory 2 has ramped up this year and will further produce its top-quality solar panels.

Due to its partnership with Panasonic, the solar cells integrated into Tesla solar panels are not manufactured by Tesla. Instead, Panasonic HIT cells are incorporated into the Tesla solar panels, which are among the top efficient solar cells on the market. Tesla decided to work with Panasonic’s solar cells due to their already-established relationship with Panasonic’s lithium-ion batteries found in Tesla’s selection of electric vehicles.

Despite the increased production of solar panels, as well as Tesla’s Solar Roof, there’s one important thing to note regarding Tesla’s installation process. Normally, you would contact your solar installation company for a quote regarding solar panels for your home. Chances are, if you give Tesla a call, they won’t provide you with a quote. This is why many people in the market are confused – announcements have been made regarding these exciting products, but when contacted with inquiries, Tesla will transfer you to a salesperson from SolarCity, the old business that has always sold third-party units. Tesla stuck around with the solar company for the commercial benefits, but it makes it hard for people to get started with the installation process.

In order to get a quote on the price of your future Tesla solar panels, you need to request information on the “Tesla panels brand with SolarCity-branded Panasonic modules,” which are the Panasonic cells. If you specify this information, you should be able to get in touch with someone that can help you. But consumers have reported calling customer service 2 to 3 times before obtaining a quote.

Aside from installation inquiries, Tesla solar panels are very aesthetically-pleasing in appearance. The panels feature skirting, which is used to hide any mounting hardware from ground view. The panels are also black in color to ensure they look as sharp as possible.

Solar Panel Efficiency

Tesla solar panels are considered extremely efficient, offering a 19.4% solar panel efficiency. SunPower’s solar panels achieve 22% efficiency while a majority of Chinese tier 1 producers achieve 17%, so you get what you pay for.

On top of its efficiency, the panels are built with HIT technology that permits a 0.258% temperature coefficient. These are market-leading numbers – This means that your panels’ power falls 0.258% for every degree Celsius above 25 degrees. With SunPower achieving a 0.29% temperature coefficient, these are impressive numbers. The Tesla solar panel’s temperature coefficient helps your home absorb even more power, saving you money and energy.

Pros and Cons

To narrow down some of the advantages and disadvantages of Tesla solar panels, we’ve created this short list for you to note before making your solar panel purchase.

Tesla Solar Panel Pros:

  • Impressive, market-leading efficiency
  • Sharp appearance
  • HIT technology
  • Top-notch temperature coefficient
  • Different financing options (cash, loan, and lease)
  • Tesla app compatibility

Tesla Solar Panel Cons:

  • Can be difficult to obtain a quote
  • Pricey, compared to other solar product companies

Solar Panel Price

Tesla and SolarCity charge different prices for SolarEdge equipment and the QCells in their panels. It all depends on the size of your system (kW). Additionally, federal investment tax credit (ITC) can lower the price of solar installation by 30%, dramatically reducing the price of your panels. Take a look at the two charts below regarding Tesla solar panel pricing.

Tesla Solar Panel Prices

System Size (kW) Cost (Before Tax Credit) Cost per Watt
4 kW $11,400 $2.85
6 kW $17,100 $2.85
8 kW $22,800 $2.85
12 kW $34,200 $2.85
16 kW $45,600 $2.85

 

Tesla Solar Panel Prices (After Investment Tax Credit [ITC])

System Size (kW) Cost (After Tax Credit) Cost per Watt
4 kW $7,980 $2.85
6 kW $11,970 $2.85
8 kW $15,960 $2.85
12 kW $23,940 $2.85
16 kW $31,920 $2.85

 

How Tesla Stands Out from the Competition

Tesla is not new to building sleek products. Their panels are created with an all-black finish and overall clean design. This design is not exactly unique to Tesla, however, premium solar technology providers LG and SunPower have been building black panels for years.

It’s not exactly the color that makes Tesla unique, but the design of the entire system. The Tesla solar panels are built to blend into your roof with “skirts” that hide any view of mountain hardware. This low-profile design includes “skirting” that uses a beveled edge wrapping around the panels, allowing it to look like it’s naturally part of your roof. The technology’s low-profile design isn’t new to the industry either, but it is a distinct feature that many providers do not offer.

Additionally, the HIT cell structure found in Panasonic’s cells is made with crystalline and amorphous technology. This thinner design allows cells to convert more of the sun’s energy into electricity, making it a higher-performing panel compared to competitors with traditional crystalline cells.

Tesla solar panels also include integrated functionality with the Tesla app. Inside the app, consumers can monitor panel specs from a smartphone or tablet. Basically, when you’re paying for Tesla products, you’re not just paying for high-quality technology. You’re also paying for the user-friendly, innovative experience.

Are Tesla Solar Panels Right for You?

The best way to answer this question is to first obtain a quote from SolarCity. Steps to get your quote can be found in the “Tesla Solar Panel Breakdown” section. Again, we highly recommend specifying that you’re interested in a quote for “Tesla panels brand with SolarCity-branded Panasonic modules.” If you don’t include this pertinent information, SolarCity might try to sell you other modules other than Panasonic. (We’ve seen it happen!)

After receiving your quote from SolarCity, we recommend comparing the prices to other solar installers. You can document your information on paper or simply use your search engine to find qualified solar installers near you.

If you’re an avid Tesla fan, then their solar panels are right up your alley. Just keep in mind that Tesla is notorious for production delays, so if you’re not interested in waiting a long time for your product (or paying a premium price), there are other options out there for you. For example, Panasonic is a great option, and they’re the ones working alongside Tesla!

Tesla Solar Panels Summary

While there are plenty of solar panel companies to choose from, Tesla’s solar panels deliver what they promise. Its sleek and low-profile design makes it aesthetically-pleasing, which is to be expected from Tesla products. On top of its appearance, Tesla offers one of the most efficient solar panels on the market. The panels feature market-leading specs like 19.4% efficiency and a 0.258% temperature coefficient.

Whether or not you want to pay for the Tesla name is up to you. If it is, then it’s worth the hassle. Tesla solar panels are unlikely to disappoint you.

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