Solar energy is one of the most popular forms of alternative energy out on the market for individual homeowners to use. Because there is little for the homeowner to do as far as day-to-day maintenance and operations, solar energy is easy to operate and get clean energy to power a house. Two popular brands, Tesla and Sunrun, offer solar panels to buy and install to use solar energy.
Compared to Sunrun, Tesla is a more recognizable brand, but it is not necessarily more popular, having just come into the solar business within the last five years. However, despite this, Tesla offers many unique features with their solar panels that are hard to find anywhere else.
While these are not the only two options for purchasing solar panels, they are some of the best options homeowners can find on the market. When looking for the best service, homeowners should consider the costs and pros and cons of the solar panel system they wish to purchase.
Tesla Solar Panels
Tesla is more known for its electric vehicles. Still, there are a few reasons why they have been successful and are becoming a common household name for solar panels, despite that they have only been in the solar energy business for a handful of years compared to their competitor, Sunrun.
Tesla entered the solar business after buying out SolarCity in 2016. They eventually partnered with Panasonic to manufacture solar panels on a large scale and now provide solar panels to several states in the east, southeast, and southwest.
Cost of Tesla Solar Panels
The cost you will pay for Tesla’s solar panels will depend on your location and energy needs. It is also worth noting that prices may vary based on the size of your home’s roof as well.
The below table breaks down the costs for a solar panel system based on a Texas home with an average electric bill of $150/month:
|Solar Panel||Daily Solar Production||Self-Powered||Cost|
|4.08 kW||13-17 kWh||35%||$6,068|
|8.16 kW||27-34 kWh||46%||$12,136|
|12.24 kW||40-52 kWh||46%||$18,204|
|16.32 kW||53-69 kWh||46%||$24,272|
In addition to the solar panels, Tesla recommends purchasing its Powerwall battery for solar energy backup storage, although it is not required. The average home may require at least two Powerwalls, which can add up to $15,000+.
Pros and Cons of Tesla Solar Panels
Tesla’s solar panels offer unique advantages and disadvantages compared to Sunrun, which are all worth considering before deciding which company to purchase solar panels from.
Pros of Tesla Solar Panels
- Tesla offers a longer extended warranty (25 years) than most other solar companies.
- Their solar panels are made with durable materials to ensure they last longer.
- The solar panels are low-profile and meant to blend in well with your home’s existing roof.
- Tesla offers multiple energy storage solutions with their Powerwall to pair with the solar panels. You can purchase additional Powerwalls depending on your average energy consumption or as you need them.
- Tesla has a mobile-friendly app designed to allow users to have complete control of their solar panel system.
Cons of Tesla Solar Panels
- Tesla’s solar panels have a significant upfront cost when you add up the price of the panels and their installation (not to mention the Powerwall add-on). However, Tesla does offer monthly payment plan options to help mitigate the cost.
- Existing customers have cited that Tesla’s customer service is unhelpful or unresponsive concerning issues with the solar panels.
- Some people have experienced installation delays after ordering their panels.
Are Tesla Solar Panels Better?
According to Consumer Affairs, Tesla solar is actually middle of the pack when it comes to customer reviews of their services. There are plenty of positives from the company, but the drawbacks might deter many buyers in the industry.
Despite this, Tesla solar panels may be best for those willing to pay premium costs for an eye-pleasing, durable solar panel system with backup energy storage solutions.
Sunrun Solar Panels
Sunrun solar is actually a finance company that specializes in solar power purchase agreements (PPAs) and solar leases, according to The Solar Guys. This essentially means that Sunrun owns the solar panels installed on the homeowner’s roof; the homeowner just pays Sunrun a monthly fee for using the solar panels. However, Sunrun now offers an ownership option for customers who wish to have their own system, although this is not as common.
Cost of Sunrun Solar Panels
As mentioned above, homeowners only have to pay a monthly fee to rent Sunrun solar panels; the exact costs will depend on your average electricity use. As far as installation goes for those wanting to own the system, you can expect to pay between $15,000-$29,000 upfront.
Pros and Cons of Sunrun Solar Panels
Like Tesla, Sunrun’s solar panels have their own set of pros and cons worth considering before making any commitments:
Pros of Sunrun Solar Panels
- Sunrun’s solar panels are incredibly durable, and the company performs regular tests to ensure that. In fact, a 2017 hailstorm only damaged one panel out of the 3,000 that were in the area.
- Because Sunrun continues to own the panels as you use them, they are responsible for the costs of installation, maintenance, and permits, meaning you should not expect any exorbitant fees upfront or during the life of your Sunrun contract.
- Sunrun offers plenty of flexibility in the way customers can pay their monthly bills.
- Sunrun will monitor your system for you—no app needed.
Cons of Sunrun Solar Panels
- The solar panels have a shorter warranty period, spanning 20 years.
- Customers are required to sign a contract to use Sunrun’s solar panels. In the event you no longer want to use your solar panel system, you will have to pay for the rest of the monthly costs left on the contract in addition to the costs of the system’s hardware. The final cost for ending a contract early will vary but can be as high as $25,000+.
- Sunrun’s Brightbox, their version of a battery storage solution, is said to be limited compared to Tesla’s Powerwall.
- Customers have complained that Sunrun’s customer service is difficult to reach when needed.
Are Sunrun Solar Panels Better?
According to Consumer Affairs, Sunrun is actually a lower-rated company than most solar energy businesses, including Tesla. Out of 130 reviews, Sunrun received a 2.4/5.0 rating overall.
However, despite these reviews, if you want to save on upfront costs and not have to worry about regular maintenance, Sunrun seems the way to go over Tesla. And although Sunrun requires locking into a contract, if you do not plan to move to a new home anytime soon, this should not pose a problem.
When it comes to solar panel systems, two of the top choices a homeowner could go for are Tesla and Sunrun. The two companies are giants in the solar power business but offer their own pros and cons.
Tesla has significant upfront costs that can quickly deter prospective customers. However, having the ability to control the system through a mobile-friendly app and its durable, aesthetically-pleasing appearance may make it well worth the cost for those who are willing to pay it.
Sunrun, in contrast, has minimal upfront costs, but they require customers to lock into a contract, which may pose a financial challenge should you decide that you no longer wish to use their services. However, because Sunrun owns the solar panels, the maintenance and installation process and fees associated with ownership are theirs to handle, so you will have less to worry about.