Tesla Solar Roof Vs. Costco Solar Panels Compared


Tesla Solar Vs. Costco Solar Compared

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 Roof and Costco Solar Panels to help you determine which company is right for the job. This article helps to answer questions about price, financing options, efficiency, and more.

Tesla Solar Roof Vs. Costco Solar Panels: Tesla seems to be the better choice for solar because it has the best prices, the best reviews, and the most advanced solar technology. Tesla’s Solar Roof is technically more expensive, but that’s because it’s using solar roof tiles not solar panels, and it replaces your entire existing roof. Costco’s solar panels are less expensive because the solar panels are simply being installed on top of your existing roof (but not due to a lack of quality).

Tesla merged with SolarCity in 2016, and now Tesla manufactures both 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.


IMPORTANT: Tesla offers both Solar Roof and Solar Panels.

Tesla Solar Panels are more similar to Costco solar panels, whereas the Solar Roof is a different offering all together. The Solar Roof has tiny solar panels hidden inside roof tiles. Tesla Solar Roof includes removal of your existing roof, and an entirely new roof installed (with built in solar panels of course).

For a comparison of Tesla Solar Panels vs Costco Sunrun Solar Panels, read this article instead.


Tesla Solar Roof: 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 (both for Solar Roof and Solar Panels). Its solar roofing has built-in connectivity, and the Tesla Inverter continues to improve its efficiency with regular automatic software updates. Tesla also offers residents the option of a Tesla Powerwall, which stores excess power from the solar into an external battery mounted in the garage or on the side of the house.

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 professionally 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.

» MORE: Does Tesla Offer Discounts on Solar?

Tesla Solar Roof Vs. Costco Solar: Cost and Installation

This section details the overall cost of Tesla Solar and Costco Solar, including panel prices and installation fees.

CompanyAverage Price Per Watt Before InstallationAverage Cost of InstallationAverage Cost of a Full Roof of Panels (10kW), Including Installation and Sales Tax
Tesla Solar Roof$2.10 per wattVaries by Roof Size$45,000 (Including removal of old roof, and install of entire new roof; not including battery)
Sunrun (via Costco)$2.80 per watt$0.30 per watt$34,000 (Not including battery)
Grape Solar (via Costco)$2.26 per watt$0.00 (You install it yourself)$25,000 (Not including battery)

Tesla Solar Roof is more expensive than its competitors because customers 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.

For a cheaper option, consider looking into Tesla Solar Panels (not Tesla Solar Roof) because they cost the same $2.10 per watt, but that includes the install price, making them the cheapest option available.

Tesla Solar Roof 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.

» MORE: Do You Have to Order Tesla Solar From Tesla?

Tesla Solar Roof Vs. Costco Solar: Efficiency/Money Saved

The energy produced by both Costco Solar partnerships and Tesla Solar Roof 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?

After purchasing a solar system with Tesla, it usually takes five years to “break even” and 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 (peak sunlight hours)
  • Price per watt
  • Price of install
  • Interest rates on loans

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 typically worth 10% 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.

» MORE: Tesla Powerwall Review | How Much Does It Cost?

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, like at night or during power outages. 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 $10,000 after installation and comes with a 10-year warranty.

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 a select few states. Sunrun’s Brightbox costs between $6,500-$8,000 and offers a 20-year warranty.

» MORE: Can a Tesla Powerwall Power My Whole Home?

Tesla Solar Roof Vs. Costco Solar: Durability and Appearance

Because Tesla Solar Roof is 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 like traditional solar panels.

Sunrun’s solar system appearance is 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 and Tesla both offer a 25-year warranty on its solar systems, which is much higher than the industry standard.

» MORE: The Tesla Solar Market Share No One Saw Coming

Consumer Reviews Summarized

The following tables show compilations of data from different user reviews of Tesla Solar Roof 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 Roof Reviews

Below is a review summary for Tesla Solar Roof. These summaries reflect the opinions of several platforms on a multitude of categories:

Review CategorySummary of Reviews
Installation/Customer ServiceMost customers were happy and impressed with Tesla’s sales process and installation process. There are many rave reviews for Tesla’s hardware installation teams.
CostOverall, customers tend to acknowledge that Tesla Solar Roof is more pricey than its competitors, but still claim that it was worth the cost because they get an entire new roof. Customers who’s current roof was at the end of it’s lifespan were the happiest because Tesla Solar Roof offers them the ability to get solar power and a new roof at the same time.
AppearanceThe 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 SatisfactionMost 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’s Solar Roof is more expensive when compared to traditional solar panels, customers were happy to make the investment because of the added bonus of roofing replacement.

The main thing that Tesla Solar Roof 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.

Sunrun Reviews

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 CategorySummary of Reviews
Installation/Customer ServiceSunrun 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.
CostOverall, customers are most satisfied with Sunrun’s solar system pricing. Customers highly praise Sunrun’s warranty and appreciate its partnership perks with Costco.
Overall SatisfactionCustomers 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 about solar 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.

» MORE: Tesla Solar Equipment Buyers Guide

Who Should Buy Tesla’s Solar Roof?

If you are looking to replace your roof entirely, and go solar, then Tesla Solar Roof is the right solar system for you.

Tesla Solar Roof pricing is higher than the industry average because you are replacing your entire roof, not just buying and installing solar panels on your existing roof.

If you are in the market for a new roof, and in the market for solar, it is actually less overall cost to combine both at the same time by choosing the Tesla Solar Roof.

If you are looking for the most modern, cutting-edge solar system equipment, then Tesla Solar Roof 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 potential for 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 solar panels through Costco really only makes sense if you are an avid Costco consumer and would be able to really reap the 10% cash-back 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 affordable and provides good 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.

It seems the Costco-Sunrun solar sales process leaves more to be desired. Reports that salesmen are overselling and taking advantage of customers who are new to solar is not comforting.

If you plan to go solar through Costco, you might want to start with a DIY kit (like Grape Solar). 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.

» MORE: Does Tesla Offer Discounts on Solar?

Does Tesla Offer Discounts on Solar Roof?

Tesla solar is already the lowest cost-per-watt solar on the market, but are there any other ways to save money when ordering?

In short, the only way to get a discount on Tesla solar products is by using an existing Tesla owners “referral link” when ordering.

Tesla has did this same “referral program” concept with it’s vehicles and essentially it allows new customers to get a discount on their purchase by using an existing customers personal referral link.

In regards to Tesla solar discounts, using a Tesla referral link when ordering will save you $300 off solar panels or $500 off solar roof.

The referral discounts are typically only available for a limited time before Tesla stops offering the discount, so take advantage of the savings while you can.

tesla solar panel discount

Conclusion

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 Roof both provide these benefits, but at different costs and offerings.

At the end of the day, Tesla seems to be the better choice for solar because it has the best prices, the best reviews, and the most advanced solar technology. Tesla offers both Tesla Solar Roof and Tesla Solar Panels, so you can choose which fits your needs best.

Solar Discounts:

Greg Gottfried

The articles here on ThatTeslaChannel.com are created by Greg Gottfried, a Tesla vehicle and Tesla solar expert with nearly half a decade of hands-on experience. Being a Tesla owner allows Greg to fact-check information and personally try new scenarios out before publishing an article explaining the process.

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