Tesla Solar in Hawaii – A Buyer’s Info Guide


Tesla Solar in Hawaii - A Buyer’s Info Guide

It should come as no surprise that Tesla Solar is operating in the sunny island state of Hawaii. Whether you opt for Tesla’s traditional solar panels or the new iconic solar roof, installing solar is a major decision. You need to be informed if you want to make the most of your investment.

Tesla Solar has several products from which to choose:

  • Solar Panels
  • Solar Roof
  • Powerwalls

Because Hawaii is home to other competing solar companies you will need to consider the potential benefits and drawbacks. The state is also home to some unique solar incentives of which buyers should be aware.

What makes Tesla Solar different? What obstacles or benefits will you encounter when going with Tesla Solar in Hawaii? There are a lot of questions to answer and things to consider before purchasing Tesla Solar in Hawaii, but we have got you covered! Keep reading for everything you need to know!

Why Tesla Solar in Hawaii?

If you live in Hawaii should you be interested in Tesla Solar in the first place? Hawaii is one of the best places to reap the full advantages of a residential solar system for several reasons.

Hawaii As An Island

We often associate island life with extensive beaches and palm trees, but islands are also isolated. Anything that an island needs which cannot be found there must be imported at a cost. Electricity costs in Hawaii are the second-highest of any state because of the cost to import fuels like coal.

Solar takes advantage of a fuel that Hawaii does not have to import: sunlight! Residential solar systems help to alleviate the high electricity costs in Hawaii, making them a smart investment for many homeowners.

Hawaii Likes Solar

Because of the high cost of importing the necessary components for generating electricity in other ways, Hawaii is actively seeking to grow its solar energy sector.

This not only means that Hawaii is investing in large solar installations, but also that the state encourages residential solar systems as well. There are several incentives for homeowners that choose solar in Hawaii, which we will discuss in further detail below.

Hawaii Is Sunny!

The truth is that solar just isn’t as practical of an investment in some locations due to a lack of sunlight. Luckily Hawaii does not have that problem! This island state gets plenty of daylight (around 8% more than the average of the other states) and sunny weather to make a solar system an effective energy source.

Tesla Is Currently Operating in Hawaii

Depending on your location some people have found that getting Tesla Solar to service their home is problematic. Luckily for Hawaiians, Hawaii is one of the states in which Tesla is fully operating. Tesla even has some installers set up to operate in Hawaii such as Rising Sun Solar.

What Can You Buy from Tesla Solar in Hawaii?

When you set out to buy a solar system from Tesla in Hawaii, you will soon discover that you have several options. Tesla offers two solar solutions: solar panels and the solar roof. Besides these energy production systems, Tesla also has a storage system: the Powerwall.

When deciding to buy with Tesla you will need to decide which of these products you wish to purchase. You will also want to compare Tesla’s products to other solar companies.

Tesla Solar Panels

Tesla’s solar panels are similar to other companies’ panels in terms of efficiency. However, Tesla’s solar panels are different because they are standardized.

How Much Do Tesla Solar Panels Cost?

Most solar companies see solar panels as a fully customized product. They will send out a team to your house for an inspection to provide you with an estimate of the cost and the size of the solar system required for your needs.

To reduce price, Tesla has streamlined this process by offering four standard sizes: small, medium, large, and extra-large. These sizes correspond to a particular number of panels and power.

SizePower (kW)Number of Panels
Small4.0812
Medium8.1624
Large12.2436
Extra Large16.3248

Based on the size of your home and your average monthly electricity bill, Tesla will recommend one of these sizes as the best fit for your solar needs.

Through this standardization, Tesla has been able to offer rather competitive prices on their solar panels. The cost of Tesla’s solar panels breaks down to around $4000 per 4.08kW. Thus a small system costs around $4000, a medium is $8000, a large is $12,000, and an extra large is $16,000. These prices are further affected by tax incentives which we will discuss at length later.

What Are Tesla Solar Panels Best For?

If your current roof is in great condition, then Tesla solar panels are probably the better choice for you over the Tesla Solar Roof. With the solar roof, you will be buying both a solar system and a new roof, which will be both more expensive and a more extensive construction project than the solar panels.

However, you should also be aware that there are some roof types on which Tesla solar panels cannot be installed. These include:

  • Corrugated Metal
  • Slate
  • Wood Shake
  • Clay Tile
  • Metal Shingle

If you have one of these types of roofs, and you want a solar system from Tesla, you will need to go with the solar roof option rather than solar panels.

Tesla Solar Roof

Tesla’s solar roof is Tesla’s attempt to shake up the residential solar industry. The solar roof uses solar roof tiles rather than panels to give you a roof that both protects your home and produces energy, all while looking stylish.

How Much Does the Tesla Solar Roof Cost?

Unlike the standardization of their solar panels, the Tesla solar roof is a more customized job. The roof has to fit your home exactly, so it is harder to estimate the cost. Still, Tesla can offer base prices based on roof size, solar needs, and roof complexity.

The size of your roof will play perhaps the most obvious role in the price of your solar roof. The more roofing you need the more it will cost. Using Tesla’s price estimator, we calculated that every 1000 square feet of roof space costs an additional $14,000 to $16,000 regardless of solar power ability.

Your solar needs will also affect the overall price of your solar roof. A solar roof with a power of 6kW costs about $6000 more than the same size roof with 3kW power. A 12kw roof of the same size is around $12,000 more than the 6kW. It boils down to around $2000 added cost for each additional kW of power in your solar roof.

The complexity of your roof refers to how many different segments it has. A roof made up of lots of smaller segments will cost more than a roof that is simply one large sheet. In fact, based on Tesla’s estimates, the difference between the cost of a simple roof and a highly complex roof of the same square footage can be as much as $10,000.

What does all this mean? A Tesla solar roof of 12kW power costs around $26 per foot for a simple roof or around $52,000 total without including incentives. This number fluctuates based on the power you need and your roof itself.

What Is The Tesla Solar Roof Best For?

It is quite obvious that the solar roof is a good deal pricier than the solar panels, but this does not mean that the solar roof is a bad deal! Remember that with the solar roof you are getting both an energy solution and premium roofing.

A solar roof is thus a great option for anyone building a new home or for someone who needs to replace their roof and is also interested in adding solar. The aesthetics of the solar roof are also a notable point in their favor. The solar roof gives your home a sleek modern look and avoids the bulky appearance of solar panels.

Powerwall

The third product that Tesla Solar sells is not an energy production system but rather is for energy storage. Tesla’s Powerwall allows you to store the energy from your solar system. Without such a storage system, the energy your solar system produces goes straight to the grid.

A Powerwall gives Tesla customers freedom from the grid. You can use a Powerwall as a backup system during outages or as a path to complete independence from the grid.

How Much Does a Powerwall Cost?

A Powerwall is a natural accompaniment to get the most out of your solar system, but it will cost you extra to install one. A Tesla Powerwall costs around $8000 to $10,000, and in most cases, you will need at least 2 or 3 to effectively store the energy created by your storage system.

Two Powerwalls to go with your solar system will cost around $19,000 and a third bumps the price to around $28,000. Needless to say, these energy storage devices are not cheap, but they do allow you direct access to the energy your solar system produces.

Can I Buy a Tesla Powerwall without Buying Tesla Solar Panels or a Solar Roof?

Being able to store the energy your solar system produces is a desirable commodity even for those who do not have Tesla solar panels or a Tesla solar roof. Other companies that install solar panels do not provide a battery storage solution, so Tesla’s Powerwall is a useful device no matter what company your solar panels came from.

Therefore, if you already have a solar energy system, but no form of battery storage, you may be interested in purchasing just the Powerwalls from Tesla Solar. While many people have done this, unfortunately, Tesla has currently put a stop to the purchase of Powerwalls independent of solar panels and the solar roof.

Because the demand for Powerwalls is so high, Tesla has currently ceased accepting independent orders for Powerwalls. If you order a solar panel system or a solar roof from Tesla, you may order Powerwalls to go with it, but, at the moment, you cannot buy just the Powerwalls from Tesla.

It remains to be seen whether this new policy will be permanent or is just an effort to help Tesla manage demands. The popularity of the Powerwall technology would seem to suggest that Tesla would be wise to allow people to purchase just the Powerwalls again at some point. Hopefully, Hawaiians will be able to get the Powerwall by itself again in the future.

The Benefits of Solar in Hawaii

As we mentioned earlier, Hawaii is interested in expanding its renewable energy sector. Hawaii has a goal of reaching 100% renewable energy by 2045. As such, the state provides various incentives to its residents who choose to install solar panels. If you want to buy from Tesla Solar in Hawaii, you should make note of these benefits.

Tax Incentives

The most obvious and perhaps largest incentive homeowners receive for installing residential solar systems are the tax credits. In Hawaii, you can take advantage of both the federal tax incentive and a state tax incentive for solar.

In 2021 the federal tax incentive for solar is at 26%. For a $52,000 solar roof installation from Tesla, a customer would receive $13,520 as a federal tax credit.

Unlike many other states, Hawaii also has a state tax credit for solar. In 2021, the Hawaiian state tax incentive is 35%. On that $52,000 installation, you would receive $18,200 in a state tax credit.

To make things even better, these credits stack. This means on your $52,000 solar roof from Tesla you would receive both the federal tax credit of $13,520 and the state tax credit of $18,000 for a total credit of $31,520.

Solar Property Tax Exemption

One thing you may not have thought of, but which can certainly be an unpleasant shock is the effect a solar installation may have on your home’s value. How much value a solar installation adds to your home depends on how much money it saves you.

In a state like Hawaii where electricity bills are high, a solar system saves you a lot which means that adding one to your home will increase its value quite a bit. Unfortunately, adding value to your home also means increasing the property taxes you owe.

This increase in property tax could be a major reason not to get solar panels or a solar roof, so Honolulu has found a way to alleviate this. The City and County of Honolulu gives a 25-year property tax exemption for solar systems. Since Honolulu makes up 70% of Hawaii’s population this means most people are covered.

If you want solar and you don’t live in Honolulu, you should still check into property tax exemptions. It seems that many people were still able to get an exemption!

No Net Energy Metering in Hawaii

If you have looked into how a solar system might affect your electricity bill, then you may have heard of net energy metering. Net energy metering is when the power company pays a homeowner for the surplus energy their residential solar system feeds into the grid. You only get money in net energy metering if your solar energy output is greater than your electricity usage.

While many states do use a net energy metering system as a way to encourage residential solar, Hawaii no longer uses this system. Instead, there are three other systems from which Hawaiians may choose.

  • Customer Self Supply: Under this system, all of the solar energy you produce must go to powering your home. Having a battery storage system, the Powerwall, is vital under this system to avoid waste.
  • Customer Grid Supply: This system has you sending all of the energy your solar system produces to the grid and Hawaiian Electric (HECO). HECO pays customers a wholesale price for the energy they send to the grid.
  • Customer Grid Supply Plus: This system was added in 2019. It allows customers to use the electricity from their solar system to power their house and return the excess to the grid for credit.

This switch from net energy metering to the customer self supply and grid supply system occurred in 2015 and was the result of HECO’s inability to handle the amount of solar energy flooding into the grid during peak daylight hours. The addition of the Customer Grid Supply Plus in 2019 gives some indication that the industry might be moving forward.

What Has the End of Net Energy Metering Done to the Solar Industry in Hawaii?

Whatever the reason, the abandonment of net energy metering has not proved beneficial for Hawaii’s residential solar industry. The number of PV (photovoltaic) permits has decreased since net energy metering was ended.

There does not seem to be a clear solution to this problem right now. Some argue that self supply and battery storage will fix the issues with the grid’s ability to handle surplus energy from solar, but others maintain that such a view is far too simplistic.

What this means for the consumer is that net energy metering is not likely to return and that Hawaii’s solar industry will need to find a better solution if the state truly wants to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2045.

If you are buying from Tesla Solar and choosing whether you want to take the Customer Self Supply, Customer Grid Supply, Customer Grid Supply Plus route, know that these policies may be subject to change in the coming years as Hawaii’s solar electric industry looks for a way forward.

How Long Is The Wait for Tesla Solar Roof?

If you have decided to invest in the Tesla Solar Roof in Hawaii you may be wondering just how long it will be between this decision and actually seeing your wonderful new energy-producing roof.

The first step will be to place your order online. This requires a $100 deposit, and you will have to give basic information such as your address, home size, and electricity bill.

Unfortunately, the wait time from placing your order and having installation begin is unclear. Some customers have complained of this taking months, and Tesla does not have a stated estimated time from order to installation.

This lack of certainty with the timetable means that if you are building a new home, some builders may very well refuse to allow a Tesla Solar Roof to be a part of their plans. Builders want to finish on time, so they can be paid. Involving a third party like Tesla that will not maintain strict dates could be a no for your builder.

Once installation begins, installing a Tesla Solar Roof takes around a week to complete. The company hopes to drastically decrease this time in the future, but it remains to be seen if that is realistic.

Problems with Tesla Solar in Hawaii

Although Hawaii has a large solar market, there are some potential issues that Tesla Solar might face when trying to compete in this state.

Already Existing Solar

Solar is quite popular in Hawaii with many residential solar systems already installed. Since Tesla’s current strategy is mostly appealing to those new to solar energy, it may lose out in Hawaii.

Tesla is currently not selling Powerwalls without solar systems, but many people in Hawaii may want storage systems to go with their already installed solar panels. Tesla will lose these customers to other battery storage options.

Competition from Other Solar Companies

Another problem Tesla may face in Hawaii is competition from other solar companies. As part of their strategy to reduce costs Tesla not only standardized their solar panel sizes, but they also drastically cut expenditure on advertising and marketing.

The result is a much cheaper solar panel system with Tesla relying on their brand power to carry their sales. However, Hawaii has a larger solar market than other states, which means more companies are vying for customers. Tesla Solar’s lack of advertising may make it a much less visible option in Hawaii.

The Uncertain State of Hawaii’s Solar Industry

As mentioned above, the end of net energy metering has caused a blow to the solar industry in Hawaii. Like all other companies, Tesla Solar will undoubtedly face suffering sales in Hawaii due to the end of net energy metering, but the problem goes deeper than that.

While Hawaii gets enough sunlight to produce plenty of energy, it lacks the needed storage infrastructure to fully utilize the solar energy produced. Hawaii needs to find a way to store its solar energy and reverse the decline in residential solar installations since the end of net energy metering.

Tesla Solar currently halting the sale of Powerwalls without solar systems could prove unwise considering Hawaii’s high need for storage. Hawaiians may have a much higher demand for the Powerwall than for other products from Tesla Solar.

Is Tesla Solar a Better Solar Choice than Other Options in Hawaii?

With electricity bills in Hawaii being so high and the state offering such a large tax incentive for residential solar systems, it is no wonder that many people choose to install solar panels in Hawaii. There are many solar panel companies available in Hawaii, so how does Tesla stack up against these competitors?

The price of Tesla’s solar panels is certainly competitive as long as you are okay with choosing one of their standard sizes. Tesla is also the only company from which you will be able to purchase the solar roof instead of solar panels if you wish.

Because Tesla is currently not selling Powerwalls independent of their solar systems, if you are interested solely in solar energy storage options then you will need to go with a different company at present. Considering Hawaii’s current solar energy situation, the need for a storage system could be pressing for many customers.

Tesla’s products receive excellent customer reviews, but it must be noted that their customer service could be better. Tesla is a large company, and thus it may be harder to get in touch with than a smaller company if you have issues. 

Conclusion

Tesla Solar certainly makes sense for many homeowners on the sunny island of Hawaii. Between the incentives and the high electricity bills, homeowners can truly cut costs with a residential solar system.

Choosing Tesla for your solar system gives you a variety of options with both panels and the solar roof and the ability to include a Powerwall to store that excess energy, but if Tesla Solar truly wants to take advantage of the Hawaiian solar energy industry they may need to reexamine their Powerwall sale policy.

Hawaii is facing some uncertainty with its solar energy currently, but there is little doubt that solar will continue to be important to the state in the future, making Tesla Solar a smart investment for many Hawaiians.

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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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