Can You Get Tesla Solar Panels for Free?
With a mission to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy,” Tesla has been a major player in the rooftop solar industry since 2016.
During that time, Tesla has offered a handful of leasing, renting, and financing options to reduce the solar panel cost barrier and increase adoption of its home solar and battery systems. Somewhere along the way, rumors sprung up that the company was offering free solar panels.
In this article, we’ll debunk the myth that homeowners can get free solar and battery equipment from Tesla and explore its origins.
Is Tesla solar free?
There’s no sense in beating around the bush: No, neither Elon Musk nor Tesla are giving away solar products for free,
In fact, it’s pretty easy to pinpoint where this misinformation began. In February 2023, at least two Facebook pages – operating under the names Solar Panel Rate and Adam Andersson – started running ads claiming that Elon Musk and/or Tesla was not only giving away free solar systems, but paying a certain amount of people to install and test new solar technology.
These claims have been debunked by Reuters and Lead Stories, a third-party fact checker for Facebook. Both instances are believed to be schemes for collecting personal information from social media users.
The Solar Panel Rate post mimicked a live breaking news broadcast that claimed Elon Musk was paying 100 homeowners to test free Tesla Home Technology. When clicked, it directed Facebook users to a website where they are asked to input their zip code to see if they qualify.
According to the Facebook transparency report, the Solar Panel Rate page was created in October 2022 and is run by three page managers located in Indonesia. It had, at one time, 31 separate ads featuring the fake news broadcast.
Adam Andersson had several false ads circulating, including a staged “Dox News” broadcast featuring Elon Musk’s face and claims that homeowners are getting paid $2,591 to test solar technology as part of the the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
These are not the first or only bogus social media ads for free solar panels, nor will they be the last.
Solar incentives vs free solar panels
It’s worth noting that the Inflation Reduction Act did strengthen the 30% solar tax credit and other home electrification incentives. However, there is a big difference between incentives that reduce solar panel cost and giving away “free solar panels.”
There are also solar incentives offered through local governments and utility providers that can reduce the cost of solar. However, only a small number of niche programs for low-income and underserved communities cover the cost of solar entirely.
Is the Tesla Powerwall really free?
There’s another myth floating around the internet (especially YouTube) that homeowners can get a free Tesla Powerwall. This too is false: The Powerwall is not free, and neither Elon Musk nor Tesla are giving them away.
However, this myth is based more in reality than the free solar panels scam. That’s because, in the past, Tesla actually has given away free Powerwalls in two different ways.
First, in previous versions of Tesla’s solar panel referral program it would give away one Powerwall per referrer that made 10 or more referrals. This program applies only to Tesla customers that ordered solar panels between July 15, 2020 and September 17, 2021.
Second, Tesla offered free Powerwalls to Solar Roof customers that experienced sudden price increases in 2021 in an attempt to prevent them from canceling their contracts. This was a very niche scenario and, in many cases, the value of the Powerwall was less than the price increase of the Solar Roof.
Finally, it is possible for eligible Californian’s to use the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) rebate to cover part or all of the cost of buying home battery storage, including the Tesla Powerwall.
This rebate is worth up to $1,000 per kilowatt-hour of battery storage installed for homeowners that meet certain criteria, such as living in a Tier 2 or 3 firezone and having a life-threatening condition that requires a qualifying medical device. So, in theory, a 13.5 kWh Powerwall 2 could qualify for a $13,500 rebate which may or may not cover the entire cost of the battery and installation.
Does that mean Tesla is giving away free Powerwalls? No. Because the SGIP rebate applies to many brands of energy storage systems and is distributed through a government program.
The bottom line
As a rule of thumb, Tesla does not give away free products. And if it did, it probably would not recruit random Facebook pages and YouTubers to distribute such promotions.
There countless ads and scams promising free solar panels on the internet, and if you haven’t seen one yet, you certainly will after reading this article.
Some of these scams, like the ones mentioned above, are designed to collect and sell your information. Others twist the truth about government incentives to lure homeowners into signing lengthy solar lease agreements that aren’t as favorable as owning the system.
The best way to avoid free solar scams is to get multiple quotes from solar companies with good standing in your community. By comparing multiple quotes, you’ll get a sense of a fair price and easily be able to weed out scams.