Why are Tesla solar panels so much cheaper?
Tesla solar panels: the complete review
When evaluating your solar panel options, it’s essential to compare what’s available so you can be confident in your solar investment. Let’s look at Tesla’s solar panel technology and how it compares to other leading solar panel brands available today.
What’s in this article?
- Tesla solar panel series
- How do Tesla panels compare to other manufacturers?
- How much do Tesla panels cost?
- Advantages & disadvantages of Tesla solar panels
- Finding the best price on Tesla panels
Tesla solar panel series: what series are available?
After Tesla acquired SolarCity in 2016, they manufactured their panels with solar cells from Panasonic, producing them in their Gigafactory in Buffalo, NY. The partnership ended in 2020, though the two companies still collaborate on battery technology for Tesla’s vehicles and Powerwall home batteries. Tesla then began sourcing solar panels for its installations from multiple solar providers, including Q CELLS. Currently, Tesla offers two lines of solar panels: the S-series and the H-series.
The system also includes “skirts” that create a beveled edge wrapping around the solar panel installation, making the system appear more integrated into the roof. While neither the skirt nor the low-profile mounting panels are Tesla-exclusive innovations, they help Tesla maintain its sleek branding across renewable energy-based verticals.
Tesla’s H series panels also come in three different output ratings: 395 W, 400 W, and 405 W. This series is more efficient than its counterpart, with a maximum efficiency of 20.6%. The H series has the same black finish and uses the same mounting technology and skirt system as Tesla’s S series.
It’s also important to note that Tesla panels are only available through Tesla, and Tesla solar systems are only available in four sizes:
- Small, 4.8 kW, 12 panels
- Medium, 9.6 kW, 24 panels
- Large, 14.4 kW, 36 panels
- Extra-large, 19.2 kW, 48 panels
We’ll dive into the efficiency ratings, performance, and warranties of Tesla solar panels below.
How do Tesla solar panels compare?
There are four key metrics that you should review as you evaluate solar panel quality and determine the best solar panels for you: efficiency, performance, warranty, and price. We’ll explain what each of these means and why they’re important – and show how Tesla solar panels stack up against each other and other leading brands in the solar industry.
The term “solar panel efficiency” or “conversion efficiency” refers to how well a solar panel captures sunlight and converts it into usable photovoltaic electricity. In the same conditions, a high-efficiency solar panel will produce more electricity than a lower-efficiency panel of the same size. So, if you’re choosing between panels, the ones with higher efficiency ratings are generally preferable.
The efficiency of your Tesla solar panels will vary depending on the specific model you choose for your system. Tesla panel efficiency ranges from 19.3% to 20.6%. SunPower claims the top spot on the EnergySage Marketplace regarding panel efficiency, with its M Series 440W panels boasting the highest efficiency rating of any home solar panel on the Marketplace at 22.8%. Tesla’s panels are middle of the pack in terms of efficiency range but still have adequate efficiency for panels being offered on the market today.
Tesla panel series efficiency
|Tesla panel series||Efficiency rating|
Performance (temperature coefficient)
Temperature coefficient is an indicator of how well your solar panels perform in less-than-ideal conditions. Solar panels, like other electronic equipment, perform better when kept cool (ideally around 25°C/77°F). The temperature coefficient tells you how much your panel’s performance will change during hot, sunny summer days.
For every degree above 25°C (77°F), your solar panel’s electricity production will decrease by its temperature coefficient. The temperature coefficient of Tesla’s H series is 0.34%/°C, while the temperature coefficient of the S series is 0.331%/°C. This means that if your panel’s temperature increases by one degree from 25°C (77°F), its electricity production will decrease by 0.34% for the H series and 0.331% for the S series; if its temperature rises to 35°C (95°F), electricity production will reduce by 3.4% for the H series and 3.31% for the S series.
Your solar panels will likely see more than a few hot and sunny days each year, so ideally, they will have the lowest temperature coefficient possible. For comparison, the most popular brand of solar panels on EnergySage, Q CELLS, offers panels with a temperature coefficient of -0.34, while Panasonic panels all have a temperature coefficient of -0.26.
Tesla panel series temperature coefficient
|Tesla panel series||Temperature coefficient|
Whether you’re buying a TV, a car, or solar panels, the brand should stand behind its product with a strong warranty. A solar panel’s materials warranty (sometimes referred to as the product or equipment warranty) is a guarantee from the company that they will replace your panel if it fails due to manufacturing defects or environmental issues.
Tesla offers a 25-year warranty, guaranteeing that their panels will still produce at least 85% of their original output by the end of the warranty term for the S series and 86% for the H series.
As with most warranties, Tesla’s warranty covers the degradation of the panel quality but not any corrosion from elements like salt water. You can see the degradation warranty coverage of all of Tesla’s panels in the table below.
Tesla panel power output warranty
|Tesla panel series||Annual degradation (%)||Power at year 25 (%)|
How much do Tesla solar panels cost?
For many homeowners, the final decision around the solar equipment they choose rests on cost. The total price you pay for a solar energy system with Tesla panels will vary depending on the other equipment (such as inverters and mounts) used in the installation, as well as the characteristics of your roof. Tesla produces its own inverter and racking systems, which factor into your total cost estimate in your quote, along with installation costs.
Based on data from the EnergySage Marketplace, we know that Tesla systems are typically priced between $3.03 and $3.35 per watt. Since Tesla systems are offered in pre-set sizes, we’ve estimated cost ranges for all four system sizes below.
Tesla system cost ranges
|Tesla system size||Cost range (pre-incentives)|
|4.8 kW (small)||$14,544 — $16,080|
|9.6 kW (medium)||$29,088 — $32,160|
|14.4 kW (large)||$43,632 — $48,240|
|19.2 kW (extra-large)||$58,176 — $64,320|
Notably, most homeowners end up paying much less than the total gross cost. There are plenty of solar incentives and rebates to help reduce upfront costs, including the 30% federal tax credit for solar. Tesla also offers a price match guarantee if you provide a cheaper quote from another solar company for the same system size within 14 days of receiving your Tesla quote.
Tesla solar panels vs. the Tesla Solar Roof
When considering price and efficiency, Tesla’s solar panels are more efficient and less expensive than their Solar Roof — a system of photovoltaic roof tiles that generate electricity while blending in with your roof. Due to their lower efficiency, these tiles are less likely to completely meet your home’s energy needs, meaning you could still experience fluctuating energy costs on your electricity bill. However, a Solar Roof may make sense if you have a smaller roof or were already planning on installing a new roof along with your solar installation. As with many emerging technologies, the Solar Roof has had a slow rollout since it was announced in 2016 and has only been installed on about 3,000 homes. Learn more about the difference between the Tesla Solar Roof and traditional panels.
Advantages & disadvantages of Tesla solar panels
As with any product that is such a significant investment, Tesla panels have advantages and disadvantages to keep in mind before deciding to make a purchase. Whether your primary motivation for switching to solar is sustainability or lowering your electric bills, it’s important to weigh your options.
Pros of Tesla solar panels
- Integration with other Tesla energy products: a Tesla solar panel system is installed entirely by Tesla, from the Tesla solar inverters to the Tesla solar battery (if you choose to have battery storage). You can easily integrate it with a Tesla Wall Connector EV charger if you have a Tesla EV, and can easily monitor all of your energy consumption with the Tesla app.
- Cost: Tesla panels are affordable compared to other panels on the market, and with their price match guarantee, you’ll be able to get a good deal on them if you are set on going solar with Tesla.
Cons of Tesla solar panels
- Unpredictability: the Tesla solar installation process is not as easy as with many other solar companies. As with many of Tesla’s products, you’ll likely be put on a waitlist before you can move forward with the solar installation process.
- Efficiency: Tesla panels are not a standout in the market when it comes to efficiency, so if that is your main concern, you should consider exploring other options.
- Set sizing: Tesla systems are only available in four pre-set sizes, as we outlined above. The size you end up installing will depend on the size of your existing roof. It also may not end up meeting your full electricity needs, leaving you to fill in the gaps on your utility bill.
What to know about the Tesla Powerwall
Are Tesla solar panels worth it?
If you’re a diehard Tesla fan willing to wait out possible production delays, it may be worth looking into Tesla solar panels. But you should never make a final decision on their solar purchase without comparing multiple offers from different solar installers. Use the EnergySage Marketplace to receive multiple quotes from vetted installers near you. If you’re interested in specific equipment in your quotes – Tesla or otherwise – simply make a note in your profile when registering.
More reading on EnergySage
Solar shingles: what you need to know
2023 expert guide to solar panels for homes
Tesla Solar Roof: the complete review
Tesla Solar Roof cost vs. solar panels
Solar farms: what are they and how do they work?
Posted on March 30, 2023 by MaryElizabeth Mooney .
Tags: Panasonic, solarcity, Tesla
About MaryElizabeth Mooney
MaryElizabeth is an EnergySage writer focused on making clean energy accessible, covering topics from community solar to smart home gadgets. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Boston College in Communication and Economics. MaryElizabeth is passionate about making our world cleaner and more efficient and spends a lot of her time researching renewable energy solutions.
Impending Drop In Solar Panel Prices An Exciting Prospect for Tesla Solar
The demand for renewable energy basically skyrocketed last year, encouraged by constant increases in energy costs, and by events such as the war in Ukraine. Now, the main manufacturers of solar panels indicated that in 2023 we will experience a sharp drop in the cost of PV solar panels, thanks to the dramatic drop in the prices of materials such as silicon. This, in turn, will greatly favor Tesla Solar shingles and panels production.
After a first part of the year where solar PV costs had risen, in December 2022 the price of silicon — the key raw material for making solar panels — began to fall, a decline way stronger than expected so far in the market. This has had the consequence that dense mono-crystalline materials have gone from $45,091 per tonne in October 2022, to $25,964 per tonne as of last week; a 42.4% decrease in just three months.
In January, the price of poly-silicon, a lower quality blend of silicon from different sources, fell below $22,103 per ton, a drop of more than 50% from the previous month. These data comes from China, the world’s leading producer. The Ministry of Industry there carried out a sharp price reduction, which came at a time of increasing local production capacity: according to the China Photovoltaic Industry Association, in 2022 China’s polysilicon production was around 811,000 tons, a year-on-year increase of 65.5%. Two factors that have actually helped bring costs down.
But will Tesla and other manufacturers be able to produce cheaper solar panels or solar shingles in 2023? According to several experts, the price of silicon is likely to continue to decline in 2023, eventually settling in the range of $12,000-$18,000 per ton. Something that should be accompanied by a general drop in the final prices of the product.
On the one hand, silicon materials will not become a bottleneck restricting demand; the first impact of lowering costs usually being an actual increase in production. These lower production costs in turn will inevitably boost demand in the photovoltaic industry. The lower prices of raw materials are already affecting the industry: last week, an executive from a Chinese photovoltaic company told a Bloomberg reporter that «companies in the upper and middle reaches of the industrial chain have started to significantly reduce» their prices by as much a surprising 30%.
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Rumors in Chinese mainstream media indicate that many solar panel producers have already started ramping up production and are expecting a rapid increase in demand from February on, due to lower costs. This means that China’s PV industry could even break new records in 2023, with expectations to exceed 100 GW of new capacity, surpassing the previous 2022 record of 80 GW.
We start 2023 with high expectations. #Solar energy demand is set to increase up to 2023, according to Bloomberg Intelligence
The other big question is whether these reductions will also be felt in prices outside of China. According to experts this in fact should be the case, since Chinese manufacturers have between 50 and 80% of their market outside their borders. Over the past month, the price of solar panels has fallen from $0.5 per watt to $0.23 per watt, down 54%. Industry experts expect the price on the European market to drop to between $0.22 and $0.17 per watt from the second quarter of 2023 on.
Something that should mean a sharp reduction in the costs of solar panels in the second half of the year as current stocks run out. By the end of 2023, the prices paid for photovoltaics in Europe may be as much as 50% lower than they were at the beginning of the decade. This decrease in solar panel costs could be a great opportunity for Tesla Solar, which long ago launched its own line of solar shingles and roof tiles. With the prices of the raw materials falling, Tesla may be able to pass on the savings to its customers, becoming a major player in the solar industry.
All images courtesy of Tesla Inc.
Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.
Tesla slashes solar price again, now starts at $6K, bigger systems see price increase
Tesla has updated its solar panel pricing again, slashing the price of its base system to just $8,200, but bigger systems are now a little more expensive.
Over the last few weeks, Tesla made some massive changes to its solar panel price structure after introducing a new more efficient solar panel last month.
Prices went down significantly. Now Tesla has updated pricing again.
The biggest difference is that the base solar system that someone can buy, a 4.08kW system, starts at just $8,200, or $6,000 after incentives.
That’s a $1,800 price drop before the federal tax credit.
On the other hand, Tesla has increased the price of its bigger systems, seemingly to maintain the same price per watt across the board.
Generally, solar systems become cheaper per watt as you make them bigger and increase their capacity.
Here are Tesla’s new prices for the bigger solar rooftop panel systems:
- Medium 8.16kW system got a $400 price increase to $16,400 before incentives
- Large 12.24kW system got a $1,100 price increase to $24,600 before incentives
- Extra Large 16.34kW system got a $2,800 price increase to $32,800 before incentives
Although these systems are seeing price increases, Tesla has also started offering price matching, so you can shop for a lower price if it’s available in your market from another solar installer.
Also, as we reported earlier this morning, Tesla has doubled its referral reward for solar roof and panel installations in a new push to expand its solar business.
$6,000 for a solar panel system deployed is very affordable, but a 4kW system is going to be small for a lot of households.
However, if you are already energy-conscious and limit your electricity use, a system as small as 4kW could have a big impact.
Some solar installers don’t even install systems that small, so I like that Tesla has a well-priced solution to serve the smaller-household market.
As for the bigger systems, I actually think that you might be able to find cheaper prices, as the price per watt normally comes down a lot faster for big 12-plus kW systems.
But now that Tesla offers price matching, you could still probably get yourself a good deal.
Tesla Solar and energy storage products might be a great solution for your home or business, and you can use our code (frederic5610) for a $100 award on your solar roof or Tesla solar panel installation after activation of the system.
However, we suggest getting quotes from more than one installer to make sure you get the best energy solution for your place. UnderstandSolar is a great free service to link you to top-rated solar installers in your region for personalized solar estimates for free. Tesla also offers price matching now, so it’s important to shop for the best quotes.
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