Tesla Powerwall vs Solar Panels Only – Is One Better Than Another?

Tesla Powerwall vs Solar Panels Only - Is One Better Than Another?

If you are interested in Solar Energy; one of the main companies speaking about it would be Tesla. In this article, two different sources of Solar Energy will be compared and determined if one is better than another. The Tesla Powerwall and traditional Solar Panels only. Is there one that could be better than the other?

When comparing Tesla Powerwall and a traditional Solar Panel, there is only one question that needs to be answered. Which one will save the customer the most money each year? Having a Tesla Powerwall seems to be the better option because of its different features it has versus a traditional Solar Panel.

Seems like an obvious choice that Tesla Powerwall was picked over the traditional Solar Panel setup. However, there are different features that a Tesla Powerwall has than a traditional Solar Panel; and here, in this article is where you will be able to determine for yourself if one is better than the other.

Why Buy A Tesla Powerwall and Not a Solar Panel?

The brief explanation of what a Tesla Powerwall is, is that it is a system that is designed to give you the ability to use Solar Energy with or without the sun. At night, it uses the stored energy that was received during the day to keep everything running and just refuels when the sun rises again.

So essentially, during the day it is not only supplying you with power using energy, but it is also storing energy for later when the sun goes down. Of course Tesla would try to up the Solar Energy industry. This would be a remarkable thing to consider if you are trying to decide whether you would choose the Tesla Powerwall or the traditional Solar Panel.

With a traditional solar panel during the day, it is using the sun to produce energy. At nighttime, it is tapping into your electrical panel and using the electricity from that and your meter will keep track of this as well. So it is saving you money throughout the sunny days  and not on cloudy days.

Both options are great but it seems like the Tesla seems like the better option right? An extra bonus of the Tesla Powerwall is that if you happen to own a Tesla you can also charge your car as well. Now it is a known fact that any Tesla product can get very pricey, so next is going to be about the cost of the Tesla Powerwall.

Cost and Energy Incentives For Tesla Powerwall vs Solar Panels

According to research, the price for two Tesla Powerwalls is around 17,000 dollars,that is before installation and  you may need more Powerwalls depending on how much energy you want stored and how big your home is. The price for the solar panel installation can average between $13,000 to $25,000 dollars, depending on location.

With the Tesla Powerwall and Solar Panels, you also get Energy Incentives. It will help lower the cost of your overall purchase for either option. Here are some of the incentives that come with it with both options:

  • The Federal Tax Credit
  • California Self- Generation Incentive Program *for california residents*
  • SGIP Budget
  • What does it all mean?

Understanding the Energy Incentives

Each energy incentive stated has its many benefits, the Federal tax Credit in being one to save you thousands of dollars. Each one will be explained so that you can further understand how beneficial each incentive is.

Some of the energy incentives do depend on what state you live in, like the California Self- Generation Incentive Program. But do not let that be discouraging to still try to save as much money you can, there are so many different programs that you can look into.

The SGIP Budget is what they call a developer cap. This means that each developer for your system can only cap at 20% of each step’s budget. That is nice that the developers have a max of how much they can take out.

Whichever route you choose to take for the energy incentives is up to you. Both can be chosen, neither, or just one to save you money. Each incentive has its own set of requirements and timeline for how long it would take to receive the incentives.

The Federal Tax Credit

This tax credit automatically applies when you purchase the Tesla Powerwall, this is a guaranteed save. However, the Tesla Powerwall does not seem to qualify only if the Powerwall was installed without the solar or if it was installed after the Powerwall. Just make sure that you look into the correct one.

You always want to ask questions to the right professionals so that the savings can be maximized as much as possible. You do not want to miss out on them. Do your own research as well too so that you can be fully prepared.

The rate for what percentage you can claim for your system can vary depending on the time frame. It does decrease overtime, so do your research and try to act quickly if you can to get the highest percentage that you can claim since there is no maximum that can be claimed.

Overall, the number one benefit of converting to solar energy is the Federal Tax Credit. There are even more options for more savings depending on which state you live in. Check to see which applies to you and research which ones you would like to partake in.

California Self- Generation Incentive Program

With this energy Incentive, it helps reduce the cost of storage to consumers. This was used to bring in more residential storage deployments to California. The residential storage batteries, like the Powerwall, helps reduce the strain on the grid and can help reduce the need for fossil fueled power plants.

With this, Tesla and Tesla Certified Installers have a developer cap on the SGIP budget. There is a maximum thought that they can reserve on each step of the budget you are on, which is about 20%.

This program has allocated funds for smaller scale residential installations. There is a size requirement for the storage system in order to be considered residential. There are other requirements in order to be considered for the program as well. Just do your research.

The SGIP Program has a goal of wanting to reduce greenhouse gas usage and they want to make sure that whoever they choose to join the program keeps that same goal in mind. There is also something called a cycling requirement, meaning you would have to fully charge and discharge at least 52 times a year, if you were to buy the Powerwall.


Even if you meet all of the requirements, you still may not get selected. The program seems to be pretty popular and they have their own ways of prioritizing customers.The application process of the SGIP Program can start as soon as you complete the purchase of the Powerwall.

Whether you choose to go through Tesla or a Certified Tesla Installer, they have to start the initial paperwork in order to get everything started for the Tesla Powerwall. It may take awhile to get your funding available, it can be dependent on various things.

They will then have the ability to install, commission, and gain approval for your Powerall. Once that’s all done then they send in the final paperwork administrators at SGIP. Then the good part comes and you get your money on the way straight to your wallet.

If you want to try to apply to be your own developer, think again. This program does not want the customers to apply to be their own developer and wants Tesla to make sure that that does not happen.

 What Does it All Mean?

There are a ton of different options for the energy incentives. Each one has its own set of requirements and the amount you can receive in a rebate differs as well. The more the merrier when it comes to money.

Whichever route you choose to take; whether it is the Tesla Powerwall or the Solar Panel there are numerous ways to save money. Each state has its own programs.

They also provide some type of loan program so that you could set up payments. You can decide if it would be beneficial to just go for the Powerwall option or the solar panel.

For a 4-bedroom home, if you wanted to store enough energy for a day, you would need 3 Powerwalls and that is where it could really add up.If you would like to just get the Solar Panel just to simply try it out to see if it really saves you money, then go ahead and do so. However, both opportunities provide savings in the end.

The Downsides Of Purchasing A Tesla Powerwall vs Solar Panel

There has to be a downside to purchasing the Tesla Powerwall. They have great cars and they are a very well known brand, but what else can they offer to reel you in?

What are the downsides of purchasing the Powerwall? Would you be better off buying the traditional Solar Panels? These are the questions many people who seem to be skeptical of the Tesla Powerwall have.

  • The Increase In Price For The Tesla Powerwall
  • Timing To Get Started And Completed For The Tesla Powerwall vs Solar Panels
  • Before You Buy A Solar Panel
  • Are You Better Off With The Solar Panel vs The Tesla Powerwall

The Increase In Price For The Tesla Powerwall

There is no secret that if you come across anything with Tesla’s name on it, you are paying big bucks to have that luxury. This Tesla Powerwall seems to be a little bit over pricey according to consumers and to make matters even worse, it was reported that there has been an increase on the prices for the Tesla Powerwall as well.

It seems that the increase is happening pretty frequently and people are not too happy about that since it is already expensive to begin with. There seems to be a $500 increase each time. The total at the moment is $7,500 for just the battery pack, add $1,000 for the Gateway (the brains), and finally add an extra $3500 for the installation.

The reason for this constant increase is because of it being so popular; they are not producing The Tesla Powerwalls as fast as the people are ordering them. Hopefully there are no further increases, but that most likely will happen again.

Timing To Get Started And Completed For The Tesla Powerwall Vs Solar Panel

As mentioned before, since the Tesla Powerwalls are so popular and they are not producing enough of the Powerwalls, it can take a while longer to get started.The time has already ranged from 1-5 weeks, maybe even more for the paperwork to get through to start the installation and now there is an even longer wait?

It is unfortunate, but if you want the Tesla Powerwall, you are going to have to wait for it. You can always contact their customer service for an update whenever you would like. This may not seem like the worst downside to have, but to some, maybe even most, it is enough to make them turn away and that would not look good for the company.

SInce the solar panels are more well known and they are producing enough, the time frame to get it installed is faster as well. It can take anywhere from 1 to 3 days for the solar panels to be installed onto your roof. This depends on if it is not that complicated of a design and how many panels you are needing to be installed.

The time frame for installation for both the Tesla Powerwall and the solar panel are drastically different. The plus side of the solar panels instead of the Tesla Powerwall is that there are numerous solar panels companies waiting for your call to hurry and get started. With Tesla, it is all mainly going to be through that one company, Tesla.

Before You Buy A Solar Panel

Before you buy a solar panel, there are some downsides to it. Now, besides if there is no sun there is no energy being produced, what are some other downsides to choosing solar panels over the Tesla Powerwall?

If you are planning to move within the next 5 to 10 years, just remember that you cannot take that solar panel with you to your new home. The price for your home would increase with the solar panels attached but if you wanted to have it for your new home, you are going to have to go through the process over again.

You could just want to test it out for those years and see if it would be worth it to get again in your newer home whenever you chose to move. The decision is yours to make but just keep that in mind before purchasing the solar panels. Even if you do not think you are going to move anytime soon; you just never really know.

Just like with the Tesla Powerwall, the solar panels’ upfront cost can be high for most people, but it does seem to be a cheaper route to take compared to the Tesla Powerwall at least. As mentioned before, the price to get the solar panel installed can be somewhere around $15,000 to $25,000.

Are You Better Off With The Solar Panel vs The Tesla Powerwall

There are numerous downsides to both the Tesla Powerwall and the solar panels. There are even downsides to solar energy altogether, but is it enough to not want you to purchase either one?

The question if the Tesla Powerwall is better than the solar panels kind of depends on your situation and how much you can contribute to it. If it is more beneficial to go the Tesla Powerwall route for you then do so; but for most american families, it is too pricey.

The Tesla Powerwall can be moved to your new home if you are going to be moving in the future. However, that is even more costly to do so. If that is a gamechanger for you then you might want to consider just selling it as a part of the home when it comes time, but you can be the judge of that.

However, with the solar panel, that is pretty much your only option to sell it along with the home, if you choose to move. You can definitely increase your home value by at least $10,000 when it comes time to sell it, you just cannot move the solar panels.

How Consumers Feel About The Tesla Powerwall?

After doing some slight digging, consumers really have been given more negative reviews about the Tesla Powerwall than you would like.

How could there be so many negative reviews about the Tesla Powerwall? Some of the reviews are stating that:

  • The Powerwall Stops Working?
  • A Yearly Percentage Degradation
  • What Could A Performance Degradation Lead To?
  • The Pros Of The Tesla Powerwall

Why Does The Powerwall Stop Working?

It has been reported by consumers that after about a year or so the Tesla Powerwall just suddenly stops working. When customer service for Tesla’s Powerwall is called they are not much help.

The source of the problem seems to be the inverter needing to be replaced constantly which can be both timely and costly. Hopefully Tesla gets to working to resolve that issue very soon, because you still need to pay off the loan for it, even if it is not working at the moment.

There Is A Yearly Percentage Degradation

Some have reported that there has been at least a 5% performance degradation. So if your system delivers at specific kilowatts per hour then each year that will decrease, causing you to produce less energy than what you paid for it to produce.

If this is not fixed properly and promptly, it could lead to a lot of issues down the line. Which could cause you a lot of monetary troubles with the Tesla Powerwall.

What Could A Performance Degradation Lead To

There are many issues that would be caused by a performance degradation including failure in the hardware.

They claim it is just normal degradation, according to an article talking about the customer service experience. However, this is a yearly thing and the warranty provided by Tesla after purchasing the Powerwall is 30 years. How much degradation is needed to happen before the Powerwall system turns faulty?

If you are experiencing any type of problem with your Powerwall, similar to this or not, make sure to contact Tesla right away about it. But do not expect to just get your money back right away or for them to come out to fix it right away either because that does not seem to be how others have experienced it.

The answer is unknown at the moment, but people hope that Tesla will do right by its customers and resolve the issue or at least issue some sort of payment if something were to go wrong with your Powerwall and you are unable to use it.

What Are The Pros Of The Tesla Powerwall

Others have claimed that the whole process is a lot easier than people make it seem and the customer service was great in providing any information that they needed. Here are some of the other pros to the Tesla Powerwall that are worth mentioning.

The Tesla Powerwall can be used at nighttime unlike with the traditional solar panels. That could explain the reason for the price range amongst other things. The Tesla Powerwall has certain settings that a traditional solar panel does not have.

It has a storm watch setting, so your system is connected to the weather service and so it can save its energy for any upcoming storms that might be headed your way. This perk alone can save you the hassle of trying to figure out when storms would hit since the weather can definitely be unpredictable.

Another unique setting that it has that should be mentioned is that with the Powerwall it has a preconditioned feature that you can set it to. The battery will heat up enough to store more energy during those colder times. With many traditional batteries, the cold weather can affect it in a negative way and can even cause issues with it charging.

How Much More Information Do You Need To Decide?

At the end of the day, do what fits you and your family’s needs. If you only need one Solar Panel instead of the 2 Tesla Powerwalls then that is fine too. They are both really great for the environment regardless and both come with a bunch of different energy incentives.

Purchasing a traditional solar panel would probably be less of a hassle to get installed when compared to the Tesla Powerwall. Do some calculations and make sure you have set aside some time to fully understand how the process works and if you would have time to complete it all in a timely manner.

Just try to figure out how much would be needed to fully power your home and would it be worth it in savings for you. You can do calculations and compare to your cost of your electricity bill to see if there really is a difference in savings.

There are probably hundreds of sites ready to help you get to the next step of your solar energy journey. Just try not to spend too much time in the research phase and not actually get it started if it is something that you are truly interested in. Because, again, the time frame can vary on many things.


Overall, both the Tesla Powerwall and the solar panels are great options for anyone wanting to get into solar energy and have the money to get started with it all to reap the maximum benefits.

Which option would you choose to best fit into your lifestyle? How much money are you willing to put upfront? If you have the money, live in a state that has good weather, and if you have an already high utility bill then this solar lifestyle could be more beneficial to you.

If you have any more questions about the Tesla Powerwall or the solar panels, just browse around to get more information or see if any of your lovely neighbors might want to share their experience with it, if they have solar panels or a Tesla Powerwall and can recommend you a company.

If you are still unsure about your decision on whether to choose between the Tesla Powerwall or the solar panels; just think of the pros and cons for each. Both have their faults but which one would be worth it to you to try out for your home?

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The articles here on ThatTeslaChannel.com are created by Greg, a Tesla vehicle and Tesla solar expert with nearly half a decade of hands-on experience. The information on this site is fact-checked and tested in-person to ensure the best possible level of accuracy.

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