Are Tesla Solar Panels Worth It? We Talk To The Experts


Are Tesla Solar Panels Worth It?

Going solar is a big investment. Naturally, you want to ensure that the company you go with offers reliable and quality service. Tesla has made a big name for itself in recent years with electric cars, but as far as solar goes, the company’s prestige is more questionable.

Whether or not Tesla panels are worth the investment comes down to a balanced view of your preferences and needs. Tesla panels are definitely worth it for their aesthetic quality, but you would be encouraged to look elsewhere for panels with better efficiency and affordability.

No matter who you choose to install solar on your home, you will want to take a deep dive and consider all of your options at length. You want to feel long-lasting confidence about such a significant decision. Read on to learn the pros and cons of Tesla solar panels to decide if choosing Tesla is worth it for you.

Are Tesla Solar Panels Worth It?

The short answer here is yes, solar panels are a great investment. As of now, it is the quickest way to self-sufficiently power your home. You will still see returns on your investment if you stay in your house long enough (usually 10 or more years).

Let’s look at some of the major pros of having Tesla solar installed on your home.

Increased Self-Sufficiency

If you choose to install one or multiple batteries for your home solar system or opt for an entirely off-grid system, you will be the main or sole proprietor of your energy. This means that as long as the sun shines more often than not, you will have power no matter the external circumstances.

With unpredictable blackouts such as those that have been sweeping through California in recent years, having the means to provide your own power is a huge win. It is even more impressive when your power is not dependent on unreliable sources.

Lower Your Electric Bill

If you invest in solar but are still hooked up to the grid, you will still receive a monthly bill. However, there are incentives to use solar energy even while hooked up to the grid.

  • Solar net metering credits are given to solar customers by some energy companies when energy is sent back to the grid during the sunny season. In the darker months, solar customers use these credits to borrow energy from the grid.
  • While you will always have to pay energy companies a maintenance fee while hooked into the grid, you may not have to pay for the actual energy you use at all if your solar system allows you to be completely autonomous.
  • Electric bill costs will significantly decrease even when hooked up to the grid since you will no longer be paying for 100 percent of your home’s energy usage.

If you are completely off-grid, which means you have enough solar  to run your home and fully charge your backup batteries, your electric bill disappears. This is because you do not have to be hooked up to the electric company’s grid at all, and do not have to pay any of their fees.

Help the Environment

A great idea behind the invention of solar panels was to lessen the effects other non-renewable energy sources were having on the environment. One of the most considerable ways we individuals contribute to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the environment is through our personal energy consumption.

If you install solar, all of the energy you use is renewable. It may be argued that the investment is worth it simply because it benefits the planet and, thus, society as a whole. This is also why there are so many incentives given to those who invest in solar.

Solar not only has a net-positive cost-benefit for those states that incentivize individual investment. It also helps reduce smog and pushes the country forward on a competitive journey to reducing global emissions.

Returns on Investment

While the upfront cost of installing an entire solar system, especially with batteries included, can seem massive, the returns really do trickle in over the years. Depending on the size of your solar system, your geographic location, and your personal energy usage, you could start to see returns in as little as 10 years.

Electricity prices are also rising each year, and this means the sooner you jump on the solar power bandwagon, the quicker you will start saving money. Plus, if you provide the bulk of your own power, you also provide yourself with peace of mind. No more worrying about what the next energy bill might look like because you left the AC on too long.

How Do Tesla Solar Panels Differ From Competing Companies?

Tesla has big dreams for reinventing solar panels, but so far, the company has fallen short of providing anything more efficient or high-powered than the many other solar panel options already on the market.

The main factors that make a solid solar panel are

  • Cost
  • Efficiency
  • Longevity

Overall, the biggest difference between Tesla solar panels and other companies on the market comes down to looks. Tesla is not significantly more or less affordable than other brands, nor are the panels more or less efficient. In almost all areas of what makes a solid solar panel, Tesla hovers somewhere around the middle.

Here is a categorized look into how Tesla either stands out or blends in with competing solar manufacturers.

Aesthetic

As with most of Tesla’s products, their solar panels are incredibly eye-pleasing. Tesla has opted for a sleek, black design for their solar panels, which blends in well with most standard roofs.

No one wants large metal rectangles jutting up from their roof with wires trailing every which way. This is why Tesla’s panels are made to hug snugly to your roof, covering all wiring and unsightly hardware. The grid pattern is also hidden by matching the black frame to the black panel color.

Tesla also offers a complete roof overhaul that matches perfectly with its Solar Roof panels. The roof uses black tempered glass, which gives it a shiny, though not blinding, glow when the sun hits. It creates an overall more futuristic quality. The Tesla Solar Roof truly has that signature sleek Tesla look.

Efficiency

While capturing 100 percent of the solar energy that hits the surface of a solar panel is not yet feasible with current home solar panel technology, some companies are able to capture a bit more than 20 percent. How much energy solar panels capture is what determines their efficiency.

Tesla roofs are around 19.6 percent efficient. They are not as efficient as some of the top solar panels available, such as those from SolarPower, which boast a 22 percent efficiency rate. But Tesla panels are more efficient than some of the cheaper options, which hover around 17 percent efficiency.

Tesla panels, as with all panels on the market, are also designed to function under extreme weather circumstances. Just as your smartphone can overheat, panels that take the brunt of the elements need to be able to withstand high and low temperatures. Efficiency will fluctuate during extremes, but the design helps to fight these effects. 

Affordability

Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk has made many claims of revolutionizing solar technology throughout the years since acquiring SolarCity in 2016. So far, almost all those claims have fallen through. While Tesla has not convinced many consumers that it has more to offer than its competitors, its solar panels are competitively priced.

  • In the fall of 2020, Tesla dropped its price for solar panels fairly drastically, from $2.85 per watt to $2.01 per watt
  • This makes Tesla solar panels cheaper than many of its competitors
  • The Tesla Solar Roof, an entire roof made up of solar panels, is priced competitively alongside other full roof replacements

Installation

As with most solar installations, you will automatically be able to track your energy production and usage on your smartphone’s Tesla app. You are also able to do this through net metering.

If you are hooked up to the grid, a net metering device will be installed on your system. Once you are given the OK from your energy provider to receive solar net metering (NEM) credit, you can track your balances on your energy provider’s app.

There are mixed reviews regarding the actual installation process of Tesla’s solar panels. Some have reported that their installation was completed in days, while others say the process took months. Since Tesla runs through third-party installers, it is not entirely in their hands to resolve this issue. It does, however, show some weakness.

Tesla needs to streamline its process since it is still pretty clunky at the moment. In response to the less than satisfactory wait times, Tesla has begun canceling installation requests altogether. This is not an adequate solution for most consumers.

Manufacturing Process

As with all solar panel companies, Tesla operates through third-party manufacturers. In the past, Tesla worked with Panasonic to manufacture its solar cells for the solar panels but has since moved on to other providers. Tesla does manufacture the housing for the panels, hence why they are so aesthetically pleasing.

As for the Solar Roof, all components are manufactured by Tesla. The Solar Roof is also where Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk feels the company’s solar investments will shine brightest.

Tesla Powerwall

In the event of a blackout, which are becoming increasingly common in states like California due to rampant wildfires, you will be covered by your Tesla Powerwall or other battery. If you have a Tesla vehicle, this is especially important as you will need to be able to charge your car overnight without having access to the grid for many days.

However, your panels need to be strong enough to power your house while also storing energy. That means you must invest in a solar panel system that is at least 13 kW so that you can fully charge your Tesla Powerwall while also running your own home during the day.

Since Tesla, like all solar companies, goes through third-party installers, these installers do not always opt for the Tesla Powerwall and instead provide their own batteries. So, there are other options available on the market. However, as with most technology, using the same brand across the board usually simplifies the process.

  • The Tesla Powerwall stores energy
  • The Tesla Powerwall detects power outages
  • The Tesla Powerwall can power your home with stored energy

While solar batteries are worth the investment, remember that, as with all batteries, they do eventually lose their storage capacity and need to be replaced. However, it could take up to two decades before a replacement is needed, and their warranties last for 10 years.

Solar Roof vs. Solar Panels

One thing that Tesla offers that changes the solar panel game is the installation of an entire roof that seamlessly incorporates solar technology. While solar panels have traditionally been seen as more of a roof accessory, Elon Musk is looking to reimagine roofs as we know them.

Solar Panels

Although Tesla works with various companies to produce the solar technology that goes into each panel, the difference comes down to how Tesla designs and installs the panels. As mentioned above, the solar panels are black and installed low to the roof, so while they are still noticeable, they are far more unassuming than typical panels.

While the largest solar panel installation of 48 Tesla panels with 16.32 kW will cost less than the average Solar Roof, which provides 10 kW, read on to see if the roof may be a good option for your home.

Solar Roof

In 2017 Tesla gave word that they would release a new Solar Roof installation option to the public, and production began at the beginning of 2019. Aesthetically, the roof is a masterpiece.

The roof is made of black tempered glass with some pieces that are solar and others that are non-solar, all identical in size and style. In the end, you will have a sleek roof design, and your panels will be imperceptible.

Currently, Tesla lists the new roof’s price at around $42,500 for 2,000 square feet. This includes a kW power somewhere in the medium to large range offered for standard solar panel installation packages. Tesla offers a calculator on their website since personal energy consumption and roof size will affect the total cost.

Apart from the added solar tiles, the roof installation costs about the same as a traditional full-roof replacement, and it will probably turn out to be the best-looking roof in your neighborhood. However, if you are not in the market for a new roof, investing in Tesla’s Solar Roof would simply not be worth the cost.

How Much Does it Cost Overall to Invest in Tesla Solar Panels?

Tesla offers four standard solar panel sizes ranging from small to extra large, or 12 to 48 panels. The average household will typically need somewhere between 25-35 panels to provide their own energy usage in full.

SizePower in kWNumber of PanelsApprox. Cost
Small4.08 kW12 panels$8,200.00
Medium8.16 kW24 panels$16,400.00
Large12.24 kW36 panels$24,600.00
Extra Large16.32 kW48 panels$32,800.00

These numbers do not account for the federal tax credits that, as of 2023, will equal around 22 percent of the overall cost, solar batteries included. A Tesla Powerwall 2 battery including installation will cost around $7,600.00, although sometimes two batteries are recommended, depending on your household consumption needs.

You can trust that Tesla will not overcharge. Tesla will offer you cost estimates based on the size solar system you will need by analyzing your previous monthly electricity bills. The company will match these up as closely as possible so that you will not pay for more solar power than you need or want for your home.

Tesla’s Solar Warranties

Tesla solar panels have a workmanship warranty of 12 years. There is then the additional 25-year warranty that covers panel replacement if the panels drop below 80 percent power capacity during this time period. This same 25-year warranty applies to the Tesla Solar Roof.

A 10-year warranty is also provided for the Tesla Powerwall. Batteries inevitably lose power over time, so the guarantee is that if your battery drops below 70 percent capacity during the 10-year time period, you will receive a replacement free of charge. The warranty also covers any inherent product flaws.

What Are The Payment Options For Tesla Solar?

Fortunately, Tesla covers all the bases when it comes to paying for your home’s solar system. Tesla has options for the following payment methods:

  • Leasing
  • Financing
  • Out-of-pocket

Renting or leasing is currently only available in six states: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and New Jersey. The monthly subscription cost will vary depending on the size of the solar panel system you are renting, and will also account for installation prices.

You can cancel your subscription and have your panels uninstalled at any time for a fee of $2,500.00. Typically, this is a better option for those who plan to move out of their home in less than a decade. Note that the only way to receive state tax incentives is to purchase the panels outright. While leasing, these incentives will be paid to Tesla.

How Much You Can Save By Investing in Tesla Solar?

Tesla, energy companies, federal, and state governments all offer incentives to those investing in solar power. Some of these include:

  • A $1,000 discount from Tesla when you include a Tesla Powerwall in your Solar Roof installation package
  • Net metering credits from energy companies that reduce your electricity bill equal to the amount of energy you send back to your local grid
  • Federal and state tax credits that cover over 20 percent of the cost of your total solar installation

While Tesla solar panels charge less per kW than the bulk of solar brands, you will still see similar returns on your solar investment over the years as you would with almost any other system. You will eventually make your money back and more or less own your energy apart from maintenance fees or replacement panels and batteries.

If you need to install a new roof, investing in a Tesla Solar Roof could save you money since you will be paying a similar amount for solar and roofing as you would for a traditional roof replacement.

Who Should and Should Not Invest in Tesla Solar?

While we may wish for a world where everyone could afford solar, for some, the investment is just not realistic. Solar is still not widely available to the bulk of the general public, but even those who have the option should take the time to assess the potential financial outcomes before jumping the gun.

Who Should Invest in Tesla Solar

The answer to who should invest in solar comes down to environmental concerns, income, savings, location, and length of stay. Whether you have already decided to invest in solar or are stuck on deciding between Tesla and a different brand, see if one or more of the following points apply to you.

  • You love the Tesla aesthetic.There is no denying that Tesla solar panels are prettier than the rest. If curb appeal is high on your list of priorities, then Tesla is the winner for you.
  • You are a huge Tesla fan. There is nothing necessarily wrong with supporting a brand so much that you will choose never to purchase their competitor’s products, especially since Tesla’s solar panels are a solid solar choice.
  • You will be living in your house for many decades to come. You will see the greatest returns on your investment when you live in your house for longer than 10 or so years. The longer you plan to stay, the more valid your purchase.
  • Electricity is expensive where you live. This point relates to the previous. If you plan to stay in an area longer, it is better not to continue to give away so much money each month if you can afford to produce some or even all of your own electricity.
  • You own a Tesla or other electric vehicle. Since you probably invested in an electric vehicle to cut fuel costs entirely, the next step would be to cut electricity costs entirely. The two have a symbiotic relationship.

Another new factor that comes into play in light of recent natural disasters whether or not you experience a lot of power outages. Being cut off from power altogether, especially if you own an electric vehicle, can be stressful, frustrating, and scary. It is valid to invest in solar to avoid these situations.

Who Should Not Invest in Tesla Solar

Anyone looking to invest in Tesla solar must have a fairly significant amount of wealth stored away to pay for the upfront cost of parts and installation. However, even those with the deepest pockets might choose not to opt for any solar installation, let alone Tesla, for the following reasons.

  • You are moving out of your home in less than 10 years. Typically, you will not begin to see a return on your solar investments for at least ten years after the initial purchase. If you move out before then, there is a chance for a significant loss.
  • You can only afford to lease the panels. Solar really only pays if you own it in full. Instead of going into your pocket, tax incentives will go to Tesla, which you already pay monthly for the solar panels on your roof.

Also, consider if your area receives enough sun for panels to be worth it for the bulk of the year. Tesla may also not service the area in which you live, so be sure to check with the company as they have been known to deny installation even after approving an offer.

The Future of Tesla Solar Panels

The idea of Tesla reinventing roofs as we know it feels like a huge leap forward into the future. Imagine entire neighborhoods with roofs optimized to capture the sun. Electricity bills would be a thing of the past. However, this reality may be a long way off.

Tesla still has plans to make big moves in the future around solar engineering, but so far, there is no reason to count on these actions happening anytime soon. As of right now, Tesla does not appear to sell too many Solar Roofs. While their solar panel sales are good enough to keep them in the positive, they are not extraordinary.

If you have done an assessment and you are willing to go ahead with what is currently offered by Tesla, then you should not worry about missing out on the next big reinvention of solar technology.

With electricity prices rising and tax incentives dropping, it is better to invest in solar as soon as possible to see your returns roll in faster. If you are reading this article, you probably already know that you should definitely compare companies and their quotes before making the full jump into solar investment.

Conclusion

Tesla panels will be most worth it to you if you are a big Tesla fan, or simply appreciate their care for aesthetically pleasing designs. Otherwise, there are more efficient panels on the market. Tesla is, for the moment, the best at manufacturing cars. The company will need some time before it is on par with other companies in the solar market.

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Greg

Hi, I'm Greg. My daily driver is a Tesla Model 3 Performance. I've learned a ton about Teslas from hands-on experience and this is the site where I share everything I've learned.

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