Tesla Solar Panels in 2021: Are They Worth It?

Tesla solar panels on a house

As Tesla releases more new products, it’s becoming an increasingly popular company around the world.

In 2020, the sustainable automobile giant sold 499,535 electric cars – a 39.56% increase compared to 2019. Tesla also currently operates 2,649 supercharger stations, spread across 40 different countries – up 80.45% over the last two years.

To top it off, so far the company has installed more than 3.6 GW of solar energy across 400,000 roofs.

Tesla, it turns out, is more than just fancy cars. But are their solar panels actually worth it? Let’s find out.

Bear in mind that Tesla’s Solar Roof and solar panels are currently unavailable in the UK. In the meantime, if you’re after more affordable (and just as efficient) solar panels, we can help.

Use our quick comparison tool to receive free solar panel quotes and find the best deal for you. All you have to do is fill out a few simple questions about your property, and we’ll get you in touch with our suppliers.

Tesla solar panels

A view of Tesla's sleek solars panels. Photos courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

Does Tesla manufacture solar panels?

Tesla installs both solar panels and solar roof tiles. Although the company isn’t exactly transparent about this on its website, it doesn’t manufacture solar panels but, instead, supplies and installs them.

For a while, the tech giant partnered with Panasonic to create its solar cells, but this partnership came to a close in 2019. With Panasonic out of the picture, Tesla is now working with a company called Hanwha to manufacture their solar panels.

If you’re looking to buy some of these panels, expect sleek, all-black slabs, with a 25-year warranty.

Unlike other companies, which usually let you buy individual panels, Tesla currently supplies set solar panel bundles, which we’ve outlined below.

SizePower ratingNumber of panelsTypical roof area covered
Small4.25 kW10235 square feet
Medium8.50 kW20470 square feet
Large12.75 kW30705 square feet
Extra large17.00 kW40940 square feet

Does Tesla manufacture solar tiles?

As well as traditional solar panels, Tesla also supplies solar tiles, which blend into your roof seamlessly.

Whilst the Tesla website insists that the company creates solar tiles in its factory in Buffalo, New York, there has been a lot of scepticism around this claim. In fact, in a bid to figure out how accurate this claim is, PV Magazine looked into the tiles’ origins and found that they were shipped from China.

Close up of Tesla panels A close up of Tesla's solar panels. Photos courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

How good are Tesla solar panels?

Tesla currently installs Hanwha Q CELLS’ Peak Duo Black solar panels – more specifically, the Q.Peak Duo Blk-G6+ modules – which are not exclusive to Tesla.

This specific model has an ‘up to 19.5%’ efficiency rating – a pretty average figure, which doesn’t quite match some of the best solar panels on the market, which have efficiency ratings of around 22%.

However, if you’re searching for aesthetically pleasing panels, Hanwha might be the way to go. The panel’s sleek black body has no visible gridlines, and its concealed edges make it blend into the roof nicely.

Plus, Tesla’s mounting hardware uses 30% fewer anchor points on the roof, compared to a traditional installation, making the solar panels less prominent.

An additional feature that many solar panel owners will find useful is Tesla’s smart solar inverter, which has Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity. This means it can easily integrate with Tesla Powerwall and the Tesla app, and users can manage their solar system from anywhere in the world.

Tesla solar roof vs solar panels

Tesla’s Solar Roof and its solar panels are both popular options – although the tiles take up most of the limelight. But what are the pros and cons to them both?

 

Solar Roof

One of the most attractive qualities of Tesla’s solar tiles is the fact they can blend into the existing roof much better than panels can. Homeowners can choose from four different styles – textured, smooth, Tuscan, or slate – which integrate well with non-solar tiles.

Plus, there is a 25-year warranty on the tiles themselves, the Powerwall battery, and weatherisation (if the tiles get damaged by weather over the years). That said, Solar Roof tiles are pretty durable, since they’re over three times stronger than standard roofing tiles.

Unfortunately, Tesla has not released exact data on the efficiency of the Solar Roof, which makes it difficult to compare against the company’s panels.

Tech website Electrek interviewed homeowners that had recently installed a Tesla Solar Roof, costing a grand total of $83,000 (£60,503), and found that the installation saved them over $400 (£291) during the first few months.

 

Solar panels

On the other hand, you’ve got Tesla’s solar panels. Whilst they won’t blend in completely with your roof, they still look great on a modern home.

The sleek stretch of panels can be installed on top of existing roofs, and they’re significantly cheaper than Tesla’s Solar Roof – though still expensive, compared to other solar panels on the market.

So, how much energy can these panels generate? Well, they have a 425 wattage.

The actual output will depend on how much sunshine your panels have access to, but if your roof gets five hours of direct sunlight per day, you can calculate your solar panel output this way:

  • 5 hours x 425 watts = 2,125 watts-hours, or roughly 2.12 kilowatt-hours (kwh)
  • Times this by 365 to see how much energy this would generate over a year
  • This results in 773.8 kWh of energy per year – enough to charge a 2018 Nissan LEAF 19 times

Similar to Tesla’s solar tiles, the solar panels come with a 25 year warranty, and the inverter has a 12.5 year warranty.

Generally, solar panels are the better option out of the two, since they generate more energy. They’re also more cost-effective, and take up less roof space.

Close up of Tesla roof tiles

A close up of Tesla's solar tiles. Photos courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

How long do Tesla solar panels last?

Solar panels usually last between 25-30 years.

Tesla provides warranty coverage on both the workmanship and performance of its solar panels and Solar Roof. You can expect a 10-year comprehensive cover and a 25-year panel performance warranty – though the panels might last a little longer than this, just at a less efficient rate.

How much do Tesla solar panels cost?

Unlike many other solar companies, Tesla has simplified the whole process of buying panels by creating set price packages. Rather than being able to buy one or two panels, users have to buy bundles for their roofs.

The set prices for these bundles are:

System size Cost
4 kW$8,200 (£5,977)
8 kW$16,400 (£11,954)
12 kW$24,600 (£17,932)
16 kW$32,800 (£23,909)

The above table includes the federal investment tax credit (only available in America) that can lower the cost of installing solar by 26%.

Compared to the price of solar panels for the average household in the UK (£5,940), these panels are pretty expensive.

As for Tesla’s solar tiles, they’ll set you back even more.

Size (in square feet)Number of floorskWEnergy storageTotal estimated cost
1,000Single story6.311 Powerwall$46,425 (£33,841)
2,000two-story12.572 Powerwalls$64,193 (£46,793)
3,000Three-story18.833 Powerwalls$81,961 (£59,745)

Data from Forbes, 2021

Clearly, not everyone can afford these solar tiles.

Readers should also bear in mind that these are cost estimates – the real price might be even higher. For example, the New York Times spoke to one customer who received an initial estimate of $60,000 (£43,737) for their roof, but then received a final quote of $112,000 (£81,642).

However, Elon Musk – Tesla’s CEO – states that these prices will pay off in the long run. And since the tiles are three times stronger than normal tiles, you shouldn’t have to deal with many repairs.

To help with the initial cost, users can also look into Tesla’s solar loan system, where they can make monthly loan payments. The following table outlines the estimated monthly payments for Tesla’s different solar system sizes:

System sizeDown paymentMonthly payment
4kW$1,870 (£1,363)$147 (£107)
8 kW$2,690 (£1,960)$212 (£154)
12 kW$3,510 (£2,558)$277 (£201)
16 kW$4,980 (£3,630)$392 (£285)

Are Tesla solar panels available in the UK?

Solar Roof and Tesla Solar are currently unavailable in the UK.

Elon Musk tweeted in Spring 2019 that Tesla’s solar roofs will reach the UK in summer 2019, but it's now 2021 and nothing's happened yet.

Do you need solar panels before buying a Tesla Powerwall?

Every solar purchase with Tesla includes a Powerwall, the company’s compact battery system that stores solar energy. This is particularly useful for when the grid goes down, or if you’re simply generating too much energy to use during the day.

You can buy additional Powerwall units – but it’ll cost you. The price of a Powerwall stands at $7,500 (£5,467) alone, and its supporting hardware costs $1,000 (£728), bringing the price of just the Powerwall and its associated components to $8,500 (£6,195) before installation.

Tesla is keen to point out that its Powerwall has a child- and pet-friendly design, with no exposed wires or hot vents, and is water-resistant.

Next steps

Tesla certainly is paving the way into sustainable tech – but the initial price is simply out of reach for many people.

We hope that, over time, Elon will consider more affordable options, and make Tesla’s solar panels and tiles more widely available outside the US.

In the meantime, if you’re after more affordable – and just as efficient (if not more efficient) – solar panel models, we’re here to help.

You can use our easy comparison tool to receive free solar panel quotes. All you have to do is fill out a few simple questions about your property, and we’ll get you in touch with our suppliers.

Beth Howell Writer

Beth has a real passion for green living. She’s been absorbed in eco research for over three years, and has become quite the expert. Whether you’re after a new set of solar panels, a home energy improvement, or you want to catch the latest eco news, she’s got your back.

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