How Much Do Tesla Solar Panels Cost?
Whether you’re a fan of Elon Musk or not, Tesla is one of the most recognizable brands for rooftop solar, battery storage, and electric vehicles.
And when it comes to rooftop solar, Tesla is often one of the most affordable options, but have a reputation for less-than-desirable workmanship and customer service.
So, in this article we’ll explore the cost of Tesla solar panels and the Tesla Solar Roof, and weigh the pros and cons of hitching your energy costs to a massive operation versus a local installer.
How much do Tesla solar panels cost?
One nice thing about Tesla solar panels is that you don’t have to wait long to get a cost estimate for your system. Simply punch in your address and average electricity bill, and the Tesla solar calculator will spit out a few size and price options.
We punched in a random address in Irvine, California with an average electricity bill of $200 to get size and cost estimates from Tesla Energy.
|6.80 kW||9.20 kW|
|Price per Watt||$2.81||$2.81|
|Purchase price with 2 Powerwalls||$36,708||$43,452|
The key figure to focus on here is price per Watt (PPW), as this is the standard measurement for comparing solar quotes. In 2023, it’s common for solar installers to offer a pre-incentive PPW between $3 to $5. However, since entering the residential solar market by acquiring SolarCity, Tesla has offered an exceptionally low PPW solar panel cost.
Related: Solar Panel Cost Calculator: Estimate Your Solar Savings Online
So why aren’t Tesla solar panels a no-brainer?
Perhaps the best way to put it is that Tesla’s rooftop solar division is unpredictable, at best, and the name of the game for solar savings is predictability.
Most recently, Electrek reported that Tesla “canceled solar projects en masse across the US,” laid off employees in its solar division, and shut down operations in many markets. It also appears Tesla is shifting its strategy to rely more on third-party installers instead of handling installations themselves, which is being met with mixed emotions.
For example, a solar installer commented on the Electrek article above with the following:
There are also serious concerns over Tesla’s customer service, both before and after installation. Granted, every company has its share of good and bad reviews. But scouring Reddit threads, the latest Yelp reviews, and various comment sections reveals that it’s challenging just to get a Tesla representative on the phone – and it doesn’t always get better from there.
While there’s no harm in finding out how much Tesla solar panels cost, it’s worth asking how and why their price per Watt is so much lower than local installers that are more easily held accountable.
How much does a Tesla Solar Roof cost?
In addition to solar panels, Tesla offers the Solar Roof featuring sleek solar shingles that blend seamlessly into their surroundings.
Tesla solar shingles are a luxury product and require an entire roof replacement, so they are only competitive with solar panels if you need an entire roof replacement anyway. Also, Tesla does not offer upfront estimates for the Solar Roof like they do for solar panels.
So, I requested a Solar Roof quote from Tesla online and after a month of radio silence, a certified installer called and delivered an initial estimate of $100,000.
For reference, I already have a 4.5 kW solar system that offsets 105% of my electricity consumption. I paid $19,500 for it and claimed the 30% tax credit to reduce the cost to $13,650.
After explaining this to the salesman, he lowered his estimate to $75,000 and pointed out that “it’s a luxury product.”
Granted, I didn’t need a roof replacement. But even if I added a $30,000 roof replacement to my $19,500 solar system, a Tesla Solar Roof would have been $25,500 more than my traditional PV system with premium panels and inverters.
What are the drawbacks of tesla solar shingles?
The biggest drawback to Tesla solar shingles is the cost. The Solar Roof is a luxury product, and even factoring in the new roof, it’s often much more expensive than traditional solar panels.
The next drawback is that the Solar Roof pricing and customer service has been unpredictable in the last handful of years.
In 2021, Tesla abruptly increased the price of the Solar Roof by 30% to 150% – based on a “roof complexity” factor – and emailed customers with existing contracts that they would need to agree to the new price or cancel their project.
This type of unpredictability is the last thing you want from a solar installer that you’ve entrusted to lower your electricity costs.
The bottom line
Tesla is a tempting option given the low prices its solar panel cost calculator spits out. However, its track record of poor customer service and abrupt cancellations are worth considering before signing a contract.
The key to solar savings is to soak up as many rays of sunshine as possible – and that’s difficult to do if your system goes down and you get through to customer service, let alone schedule service to fix the problem.
There’s no harm in getting a solar quote from Tesla, but we highly recommend balancing it with quotes from local installers with excellent track records of workmanship and customer service.
Get multiple quotes from trusted local installers here.