If you are looking to invest in solar energy, you may be wondering which solar companies will best fit your needs. This article takes a look at Tesla Solar and Costco Solar to help you determine which company is right for the job. This article helps to answer your questions about price, financing options, efficiency, and more.
Tesla’s Solar Roof is overall more expensive, mainly because the solar panels replace your old roof. Costco’s Solar options are less expensive because the panels are not replacing your roof (but not due to a lack of quality). Both have high-quality solar system options.
Tesla merged with SolarCity in 2016, and now Tesla manufactures solar panels and Solar Roof tiles for residential homes. Costco, on the other hand, has a partnership with the popular solar company, Sunrun. This article will mainly compare Sunrun to Tesla, though other Costco partnerships will be discussed as well.
Tesla Solar: What You Need to Know
Tesla and SolarCity launched the Tesla Solar Roof in 2016. Tesla’s main selling point is the visual appeal of its solar roofing. Tesla’s Solar Roof blends seamlessly into existing roofs and does not look like traditional solar panels.
Tesla’s Solar Roof comes in different colors and textures to match your house. It is durable and designed to withstand harsh weather. Tesla boasts that its solar roofing is actually stronger and more durable than regular roofing or shingles. It also comes with a 25-year warranty.
Tesla currently has the lowest price per watt out of any national provider. Its solar roofing has built-in connectivity, and the Tesla Solar Inverter continues to improve its efficiency with regular automatic software updates. Tesla also offers residents the use of Tesla Powerwall, which stores excess power from the panels or the grid.
Costco Solar: What You Need to Know
Sunrun is, as of right now, America’s largest solar provider. It has teamed up with Costco in attempts to make solar energy accessible for the average family. Costco is also in association with Grape Solar and Goal Zero. There are two different options for utilizing solar energy with Costco: DIY installation and professional installation.
The first option is to buy solar equipment from Costco and install it on your own. These DIY kits are from third parties like Grape Solar and Goal Zero. The second option is to have solar panels installed by Sunrun. If you choose to have Sunrun install your solar system, you will also be provided with warranties and system monitoring.
Installing a solar system through Costco will give you in-store benefits and cash-back. However, Costco does not cover warranties. Instead, warranties are covered completely by Sunrun. Costco offers financing and leasing, just like Tesla.
Tesla Solar Vs. Costco Solar: Cost and Installation
This section details the overall cost of Tesla Solar and Costco Solar, including panel prices and installation fees.
|Company||Average Price Per Watt Before Installation||Average Cost of a Full Roof of Panels (10kW), Including Installation||Average Cost of Installation|
|Tesla Solar Roof V3||$2.01 per watt||$45,000 (Including inactive shingles; not including battery)||$0.85 per watt|
|Sunrun (via Costco)||$2.80 per watt||$34,000 (Not including battery)||$0.30 per watt|
|Grape Solar (via Costco)||$2.26 per watt||$25,000 (Not including battery)||$0.00 (You install it yourself)|
Tesla Solar Roof is more expensive than its competitors because users are getting a full roof replacement. This may be the way to go if your roof is nearing the end of its expected lifespan because you will get a new roof, in addition to a fully functional solar system.
If you purchase a roof of panels through Sunrun or Grape Solar, you are not getting a roof replacement but instead are getting panels to attach to your existing roof. The price of installation for Sunrun is much lower than Tesla’s because the entire roof is not being replaced. Grape Solar has no installation fees because you are doing it yourself.
Tesla Solar Vs. Costco Solar: Financing
Both Tesla and Sunrun via Costco offer loans, leasing, and PPA, where homeowners do not have to pay the upfront costs of the solar system. Grape Solar does not offer rental options.
Tesla’s monthly rental rates vary from $50-$200 depending on wattage and location. Renting Sunrun solar panels averages out to about $100 a month as well. Tax credits, rebates, and solar renewable energy credits are yours to keep unless you rent your solar system. If you rent your equipment, credits and rebates go back to the company.
If you choose to buy (and not rent) your solar system with Tesla, you will have access to federal tax credits and incentives. If you rent and then choose to buy your solar system, you still will not have access to federal tax credits. Instead, if you rent your solar system with Sunrun and then decide to buy it, you will still be eligible for federal tax credits.
Financing plans ultimately determine how much money you will save over time with solar power. Because Tesla and Sunrun’s solar systems are very similar in efficiency, money saved is determined more by loan and leasing options, interest rates, and cost of add ons such as batteries and converters.
Tesla Solar Vs. Costco Solar: Efficiency/Money Saved
The energy produced by both Costco Solar partnerships and Tesla Solar directly powers your home and cuts down on your utility costs. But how much does each solar system provider save you in utility costs? Is it possible to earn money back from energy providers?
If you purchase a solar system with Tesla (instead of renting), then your monthly solar payment typically is lower than your utility bill costs. After purchasing a solar system with Tesla, it usually takes five years to begin to earn money from your solar power and save greatly on utility bills.
Sunrun’s savings per month are nearly identical to Tesla’s. You must understand that the quality of the solar panels is not in question here because both Sunrun and Telsa’s panels are among the most premium quality. Savings are determined by factors like:
- Location (sunniness)
- Price per system
- Interest rates on loans
- Pricing of leasing options
Benefits of Going Solar Through Costco
You may be wondering why you should buy a solar system through Costco, even though Costco does not cover warranties. Many people choose to go solar through Costco because they receive extra benefits from Costco.
If you purchase (not lease/rent) a Sunrun system through Costco, you will receive a Costco Cash Card, which you can spend in Costco stores. This cash card is worth 10 percent of your solar equipment costs. You can also receive an additional cash bonus if you are a Costco Executive Member.
If you are a frequent shopper at Costco, then buying a solar system through Costco might make sense for you in the long run. You will likely receive a couple of thousand dollars back that you can use with Costco. Costco also offers an impressive 15-year roof penetration warranty from Sunrun.
Batteries: Tesla Powerwall Vs. Sunrun Brightbox
Solar energy is a long-term investment. Savings can be increased more rapidly by purchasing batteries for your solar systems. By purchasing a battery, all extra energy harnessed from your solar panels will be saved for future use. With a battery, you rely less on the grid and can use your saved energy when the sun is not shining.
Tesla’s Powerwall has a 13.5-kilowatt-hour capacity, meaning that it can power an average-sized house for 12-15 hours. The Powerwall will cost approximately $12,000 after installation.
Sunrun has a smaller, 10-kilowatt-hour capacity and can power a house for 10-12 hours. Because the Brightbox is a relatively recent development, it can only be currently purchased in Hawaii, Arizona, California, New York, and Massachusetts. Sunrun’s Brightbox costs between $6,500-$8,000 and offers a 20-year full-service plan.
Tesla Solar Vs. Costco Solar: Durability and Appearance
Because Tesla Solar panels are actually created to be discrete roof shingles themselves, they score higher in terms of appearance. Tesla Solar offers four different roofing styles:
- Tuscan glass tile
- Slate glass tile
- Textured glass tile
- Smooth glass tile
Costco’s solar partnerships do not offer this integrated shingle design. Instead, the panels are laid atop the existing roofing. Sunrun’s solar system appearance is probably much sleeker and more integrated than Grape Solar (and other DIY options) only because professionals will be doing the installation.
Tesla’s Solar Roof received the highest possible ratings for hail, wind, and fire resistance. Sunrun has gotten high durability ratings but has had some issues with wind resistance. Sunrun offers a 25-year warranty on its solar systems, and Tesla offers a 30-year warranty, which is much higher than the industry standard.
Consumer Reviews Summarized
The following tables show compilations of data from different user reviews of Tesla Solar and Sunrun. These reviews come from online forums such as Reddit, EnergySage, SolarReviews, and more.
While specifications and prices might be a great way to form an opinion on which brand is better, customer reviews are always important. After all, the best system in the world does not matter if it is not installed or supported properly.
Tesla Solar Reviews
Below is a review summary for Tesla solar. These summaries reflect the opinions of several platforms on a multitude of categories:
|Review Category||Summary of Reviews|
|Installation/Customer Service||Most customers were happy and impressed with Tesla’s sales process and installation process. There are many rave reviews for Tesla’s hardware installation teams.|
|Cost||Overall, customers tend to acknowledge that Tesla is more pricey than its competitors, but still claim that it was worth the cost. Customers who needed new roofing were the happiest because Tesla offers the two for one deal of a new roof and a solar system.|
|Appearance||The appearance of Tesla’s Solar Roof is what most customers rave about. They love the seamlessly integrated look of the roofing and like having multiple roof style options.|
|Overall Satisfaction||Most customers were happy with their choice to buy or lease with Tesla. Some complained that there were downsides to buying through such a large company, mainly related to customer service and response times. Many customers have praised Tesla’s warranty and design.|
Tesla had overall positive reviews, particularly in areas of customer service and the sales/signing process. Though Tesla is more expensive than its competitors, customers were happy to make the investment because of the added bonus of roofing replacement.
The main thing that Tesla solar customers complained about was the fact that Tesla is such a huge corporation. Consumers tended to prefer the interactions and long-term upkeep of smaller, family-owned solar suppliers. Many complained about Tesla’s after-sales technical support.
Sunrun also has its own fair share of customer reviews. Below is a summary of some of the reviews separated into categories, just like with Tesla.
|Review Category||Summary of Reviews|
|Installation/Customer Service||Sunrun has had some negative reviews related to customer service. Many have complained that sales agents were not clear about pricing for leasing or loans. Multiple negative reviews have also been found complaining about the installation process.|
|Cost||Overall, customers are most satisfied with Sunrun’s solar system pricing. Customers highly praise Sunrun’s warranty and appreciate its partnership perks with Costco.|
|Overall Satisfaction||Customers who have not had misleading sales interactions are generally happy with their Sunrun Solar systems. The main issue that customers have, highlighted across forums, is carelessness and insincerity from customer service reps and salespeople.|
It seems as though Costco-Sunrun customers are collectively frustrated with Sunrun’s customer service and sales process. Many complain that Sunrun’s motives are shady and take advantage of people’s naivety by not fully highlighting contract details.
While Sunrun does offer cost-efficient and quality solar systems, its customer service force may come as a drawback to its purchase. To avoid this, make sure you are going through all documents before signing them and clarifying the circumstances of your purchase. Also, be wary that equipment issues may not be quickly/efficiently resolved.
Who Should Buy Tesla’s Solar Roof?
If you are looking to replace your roofing and go solar, then Tesla solar is the right company for you. Tesla’s pricing is higher than the industry average because you are replacing your entire roof. Buying Tesla’s Solar Roof is quite economical if you are also in need of a new roof.
If you rent your home, then buying (not leasing) Tesla’s Solar Roof may not be the best idea. You want to be able to maximize your assets, and owning a roof but not a house is not the best investment. If you are renting your house, you can always choose to lease Tesla’s equipment. Leasing, though, will not save you as much money in the long run.
If you are looking for the most modern, cutting-edge solar system equipment, then Tesla Solar is right for you. Tesla’s Solar Roof is the first of its kind (to integrate solar panels into actual roofing shingles) and has rave reviews on all levels of user experience.
Be wary, though, that cutting-edge technology like this typically can have greater issues with software and hardware malfunctions. After all, this technology is still quite new and will likely take a few years to be dialed in.
Who Should Buy a Sunrun Solar System Through Costco?
If you are a Costco member and are looking to go solar and receive cash-back benefits for Costco, then this purchase is right for you. Purchasing Sunrun equipment through Costco really only makes sense if you are an avid Costco consumer and would be able to really reap the benefits of Costco’s partnership.
Costco does not provide warranties or rebates for its solar products–the solar companies do. It may be tempting to think that a huge corporation like Costco has streamlined and perfected the solar sales and installation process, but a big name does not necessarily equal great quality service and products.
Sunrun is cheap and provides extended warranties to its users. It has been around longer than Tesla Solar, and therefore its products likely have fewer bugs. However, before committing to Sunrun, you might want to check out the pages and pages of reviews criticizing its customer service and sales process.
If you plan to go solar through Costco, you might want to start with a DIY kit (like Grape Solar), then monitor your energy and Costco savings. Once you have had the DIY kit for a couple of months, then you can decide if a larger, more permanent, and professionally installed solar system is right for you.
Tesla’s Solar Roof is not for everybody. Likewise, Costco-Sunrun Solar systems are not for everybody. If you plan to invest in a solar system, make sure you do your research on each company, as different states are eligible for different discounts and deals.
The main attractions of going solar are usually the prospects of saving on electric bills, helping the environment, and not having to rely on the grid for energy. Costco solar options and Tesla Solar both provide these benefits, but at different costs. Both offer leasing and loan options, but contracts between the two differ greatly.