Solar City/Tesla Solar System is expensive!

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svusa11

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#1
Finally, I decided to go Solar. Honestly speaking to me it is more about economics than going Green. I started my research about 4 months back and being financially savvy ran quite a few models to understand true cost of ownership and if going solar is financially beneficial. I'm not big fan of lease or PPA so all offers I received were based system purchase. My break even point is about 6 years with tax incentives.

To my disappointment, Tesla/Solar City was very first company to bid on 10KW project and was most expensive. I also received offers from few other nationwide and/or NE companies.

Tesla Panasonic panels + centralized inverter was most expensive bid - $4.00/Watt (Before Tax Incentives) for technology that is not a proprietary or doesn't have a cool factor. Nearest nationwide competitor was about .40 cents less!! Needless to say I didn't pick Tesla but went with another solar company. I hope in future Tesla can come up with more aggressive pricing strategy to beat competition. You can't charge premium for more or less same product or service.

So, if you are thinking of going solar, at least get 4-5 quotes to see where market is trending. Your best price would be cash purchase (loan or home equity). Don't let sales guy trick you with monthly payment gimmick, ask for total cost of the system before tax incentives. At the end, I signed installation contact for $3.05/Watt for topline LG panels.

attached is graphical comparison of all different offers I received. Solar City/Tesla is P5 on the chart. All offers are before factoring local/state/federal tax incentives.

solar-pricing-png.5183
 
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Griff

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#3
Can you please share the companies that you got other quotes from? I'm close to pulling the trigger with tesla for a fee reasons, but if I could save a bunch of money, I'd consider someone else. I'm located in NY.
 

Impatient

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#4
I got a quote from Tesla/Solar City for a 10k system and their price was about $3.30/watt. I'm likely to go with a local company that's quoting around $2.50/watt. I'd love to give the $$$ to the mother ship, but I just can't bring myself to spend $8k more for an equivalent system.
 

svusa11

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#5
Can you please share the companies that you got other quotes from? I'm close to pulling the trigger with tesla for a fee reasons, but if I could save a bunch of money, I'd consider someone else. I'm located in NY.
1. Tesla
2. Trinity
3. SunRun
4. Momentum
5. SolarMe
6. Vaha Energy
7. All Season Solar

PM me if you would like to know which company I finally decided to go with. They are not cheapest but emerging as a major competitor. Also, I picked LG over some of other cheaper products as I know LG is going to be around for next 25 years. Other chinese panel manufacturers would throw 25 year warranty but how likely it is for those manufacturers to be around to service warranty claims?? So pay little extra to pick reputable panel manufacture.

Also, I learned through this process, if you decided to go zero downpayment finance route (Eg. Sunnova loans) there is typically 15% mark-up in the price to recover cost. So you get best deal if you bring your own financing through home equity or cash.

Getting my panels installed in first week of Feb so really excited to go solar!

@Impatient assuming $3.30 is before tax incentive it is not a bad price. try to bring them closer to $3.10 if you have patients to negotiate ;)
 

MelindaV

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#6
1. Tesla
2. Trinity
3. SunRun
4. Momentum
5. SolarMe
6. Vaha Energy
7. All Season Solar

PM me if you would like to know which company I finally decided to go with. They are not cheapest but emerging as a major competitor. Also, I picked LG over some of other cheaper products as I know LG is going to be around for next 25 years. Other chinese panel manufacturers would throw 25 year warranty but how likely it is for those manufacturers to be around to service warranty claims?? So pay little extra to pick reputable panel manufacture.

Also, I learned through this process, if you decided to go zero downpayment finance route (Eg. Sunnova loans) there is typically 15% mark-up in the price to recover cost. So you get best deal if you bring your own financing through home equity or cash.

Getting my panels installed in first week of Feb so really excited to go solar!

@Impatient assuming $3.30 is before tax incentive it is not a bad price. try to bring them closer to $3.10 if you have patients to negotiate ;)
but your LG panels (and anything else made outside the US) went up 30% today
 

svusa11

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#9
Alright.. step 2 of the process - Installation is now complete.

IMO - LG NeON2320W black panels looks decent. In a normal daylight appearance is more like black opaque glass. I think Tesla's Panasonic panels are of the same quality if not better. Other Chinese company would struggle to get you panels above 300W. You could certainly find cheaper blueish looking mono panels and reduce total cost of ownership but as a homeowner thats a choice you will have to make.

Attaching few sample photos if anyone is researching into Solar System - LG panels + IQ inverters. I really can't speak about other nationwide companies as only experience I have is with their sales team but based on price, benefits and review of companies I decided to get system installed by momentum solar and have no regrets. These guys are knowledgeable, professional and meticulous plan every minor details of the project. I had lot of technical questions about system design, preference and installation process - they patiently answered/addressed every single concern or request I had.. Thumbs up! :)

Attached Sample Installation Images: --
 

Bokonon

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#10
Received a call from a Tesla Energy rep last week asking me if I "had any questions about my reservation OR Tesla's residential solar products" and took the bait, knowing that the conversation would center around the latter. Our house will definitely go solar at some point, but the roof is due for replacement within the next 5 years, so we probably won't do anything before then. Nevertheless, I wanted to hear the pitch and get a sense for what our installation might look like, so I setup a video-call consultation that took place last Sunday.

On the video call, the rep walked me through the proposal, and the numbers came back slightly higher than @svusa11's quote: $38.7K for a 9.1 kW system before incentives, or about $4.25/watt. (Net cost with incentives was about $17K.) Going into the call, I expected Tesla's price tag to be on the higher end on the spectrum, but not that high, and I told the rep as much when he asked for my thoughts on pricing. (He did not sound surprised at my reaction and, naturally, pivoted to emphasizing the value of the entire package.)

My impression is that Tesla Energy's pricing strategy centers around bundling a premium product with a generous parts/labor warranty and production guarantee, and then hoping they'll come out ahead at the end. It seems roughly equivalent to buying a car from a traditional dealership along with a 5-year service plan, extended warranty, and detailing service. That said, I haven't shopped around enough to compare what the equivalent price for the same parts, warranties and guarantees would be from Tesla's competitors.

The other question that lingers in my mind is: if low-profile panels are going to run me $4.25/watt, then what's the price going to be for the solar roof? Granted, we're now talking about a roofing job combined with solar, as well as a system with (presumably) lower power output, so it's an apples-to-oranges comparison. But based on the price for panels alone, I'm thinking the whole job is easily going to run north of $50K before incentives, despite the Solar Roof calculator's estimate of ~$40K. I guess we'll have to wait and see on this one, since Solar Roof isn't even available here yet...
 

JWardell

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#11
I really wish I could have solar by now, too, but I was hoping to wait a few years when production goes up and cost goes down. My roof is various ages but all overdue for replacement, but this week we have a new hole chewed in the roof by a raccoon, so I need to do something ASAP. Really wishing that solar roof was already shipping in quantity and low cost now.
 

Bokonon

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I really wish I could have solar by now, too, but I was hoping to wait a few years when production goes up and cost goes down. My roof is various ages but all overdue for replacement, but this week we have a new hole chewed in the roof by a raccoon, so I need to do something ASAP. Really wishing that solar roof was already shipping in quantity and low cost now.
Yikes! Those vicious little critters...:mad: Sounds like your roof's "various ages" are about to get a little more various. :)

Yeah, hopefully production -- and competition -- will kick up a notch over the next couple of years... It seems like more and more companies are trying to bring their own photovoltaic roof tiles to market.

The other thing we have to keep an eye on from a net-cost perspective the 30% federal tax credit for new solar installations, which is currently scheduled to start phasing out in a few years: 26% in 2020, 22% in 2021, 10% (!) in 2022, and 10% for commercial systems only starting in 2023. The credit was last extended in December 2015, but conditions were a little more favorable back then...:confused:
 

svusa11

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Yikes! Those vicious little critters...:mad: Sounds like your roof's "various ages" are about to get a little more various. :)

Yeah, hopefully production -- and competition -- will kick up a notch over the next couple of years... It seems like more and more companies are trying to bring their own photovoltaic roof tiles to market.

The other thing we have to keep an eye on from a net-cost perspective the 30% federal tax credit for new solar installations, which is currently scheduled to start phasing out in a few years: 26% in 2020, 22% in 2021, 10% (!) in 2022, and 10% for commercial systems only starting in 2023. The credit was last extended in December 2015, but conditions were a little more favorable back then...:confused:

Yep.. without Fed Tax Credit and State SRECs, solar is money losing investment. Price has to drop substantially (like more than 50%) in order to make it favorable without any type of subsidies. Unfortunately, we are on reverse path with introduction of roof tile which is out of reach for most the people.
 

Drax

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#14
Tesla definitely prices their premium systems as a premium product, but they will also try to price-match! I sent my sales rep a copy of a quote I received from a small, local company which was substantially less than Tesla’s initial offer and they were able to match it. We got our 10.2kW system (without powerwall) for $26,520, and couldn’t be happier with it. Based on current pricing from the utility, our current usage, estimated future usage, degredation, and loan interest, we’re still saving a close to $5000 over the 20 year loan term. If we include the tax credit in this, we end up “saving” ~$13K. It’s crazy.
 

JWardell

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The other thing we have to keep an eye on from a net-cost perspective the 30% federal tax credit for new solar installations, which is currently scheduled to start phasing out in a few years: 26% in 2020, 22% in 2021, 10% (!) in 2022, and 10% for commercial systems only starting in 2023. The credit was last extended in December 2015, but conditions were a little more favorable back then...:confused:
So it sounds like 2019 is the year I should target for a solar install? (2018 is off the table because of a certain expensive car)
 

Bokonon

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#16
So it sounds like 2019 is the year I should target for a solar install? (2018 is off the table because of a certain expensive car)
2019 would be ideal, 2020 not so bad, 2021 okay but not great, 2022 ugh why did I wait?!

Yeah, 2018 is definitely a no for us too. Hopefully 2019, but something tells me it will be 2020.

Good to hear per @Drax that it is actually possible to negotiate with Tesla Energy -- that thought didn't even occur to me, given that you can't negotiate the price of their cars. Hopefully that will help make the numbers work.
 

MelindaV

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#17
as another data point... earlier this year I talked to Tesla and got a couple different options but the one that was designed following a survey was for (18) 325w Tesla panels (from the new GF2!) for 5.85kw at $19,598.
My roof is squarely west/east with misc vents scattered all around, but my sales guy assured me the west/east would not be an issue and panels can span over most roof vents. Tesla also guarantees the energy generation, so it seemed the lack of a south elevation would not be horrible - if the panels don't produce what Tesla's designer estimates they would reimburse for the difference annually.
Following the roof survey and designers layout, I found out the vents WOULD be a problem, and the only layouts they could do would not be rectangular, but panels all over the place with vents between for a very messy looking layout unless I wanted to go down to 14 or fewer panels (which I already decided 18 was the fewest that made sense financially). If it were not for my sales guy saying the panels could span over the top of these, I would NOT have paid the $500 for the survey, which kinda left me with a pretty negative feel about the whole thing.

so between all of that and not having enough tax liability to cover both the car and solar to go toward my 2018 taxes, I just wasn't comfortable carrying over part of the solar tax credit to 2019. So instead may look at it again next year. I still would like to check if panels can be installed on an awning style frame on the south elevation instead.
 

Bokonon

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#18
Following the roof survey and designers layout, I found out the vents WOULD be a problem, and the only layouts they could do would not be rectangular, but panels all over the place with vents between for a very messy looking layout unless I wanted to go down to 14 or fewer panels (which I already decided 18 was the fewest that made sense financially). If it were not for my sales guy saying the panels could span over the top of these, I would NOT have paid the $500 for the survey, which kinda left me with a pretty negative feel about the whole thing.
Wow, thanks for mentioning that... I did not know that there was a charge for the site survey. My sales rep did not mention anything about that. He told me if I signed onto the initial proposal, they would do the site survey, and only then would they provide the final, binding contract, which I could theoretically not sign and thus halt the process... but I guess that doesn't preclude there being a $500 survey charge if you do not proceed beyond that step. :grimacing:

so between all of that and not having enough tax liability to cover both the car and solar to go toward my 2018 taxes, I just wasn't comfortable carrying over part of the solar tax credit to 2019. So instead may look at it again next year. I still would like to check if panels can be installed on an awning style frame on the south elevation instead.
That sounds promising. How many panels could you fit that way?

FWIW, there's a solar-paneled house in our neighborhood with an east-west roof, and unlike all the other east-west solar homes in our neighborhood, they've angled the north end of the panels up to face south. I've always thought that they'd done this to squeeze a little extra efficiency out of the panels, but now you've made me wonder whether they're actually trying to work around irregularities in their roof that prevented the panels from laying flat.

If your vents are flat enough, could there be a way to mount the panels such that they're all propped up on one end, so that they both avoid running into / blocking the vents while still maintaining a generally orderly appearance? (I recognize that I am suggesting this as someone with no design aesthetic to someone who excels in that domain, so raised eyebrows and/or dismissive laughter are acceptable if they are warranted. :))

Alternatively: cozy up to the neighborhood association and mount a large, arcing solar canopy over your roof, kind of like the huge rain canopy at PDX.
 

MelindaV

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#19
I did not know that there was a charge for the site survey.
I don't know if it was because I would be paying cash (or paying part in cash and financing the rest myself) or if the $500 hits everyone.

That sounds promising. How many panels could you fit that way?
up to 14 panels if across the upstairs and downstairs south windows. so that plus a few on the roof would be great. When I first began talking to the Tesla sales guy, I mentioned this and he quickly said they couldn't do that. And I've not checked further into why (maybe he just meant they could not engineer the frame...)

Alternatively: cozy up to the neighborhood association and mount a large, arcing solar canopy over your roof, kind of like the huge rain canopy at PDX.
creative ;)
 

Grashelm

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#20
Tesla definitely prices their premium systems as a premium product, but they will also try to price-match! I sent my sales rep a copy of a quote I received from a small, local company which was substantially less than Tesla’s initial offer and they were able to match it. We got our 10.2kW system (without powerwall) for $26,520, and couldn’t be happier with it. Based on current pricing from the utility, our current usage, estimated future usage, degredation, and loan interest, we’re still saving a close to $5000 over the 20 year loan term. If we include the tax credit in this, we end up “saving” ~$13K. It’s crazy.
Whereabouts in Florida are you located?