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Solar panel installation: Tesla vs local company

newmedia | Posted in General Questions on


I’m considering installing solar panel on my roof. The local solar company said they have 25 year labor warranty. The owner is very friendly, and he is a great person to talk to. The thing is I don’t know whether they will be in the business in 10 years from now.  Because of this reason, I’m considering Tesla as an option. What do you think about this option. If you have any experience about problems with a small solar company, please let me know. I would like to hear your story. 

Thank you!

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  1. tommay | | #1

    Since maintenance is pretty low once panels are installed, most installation companies tend to go out of business and/or pass on their contracts to other businesses who then do the same. I find the same happens to grid tied contractors. So I wouldn't put to much faith in a 25 year labor contract....

  2. newmedia | | #2

    Hello Tom,

    Thank you so much! Yes. I think I will go with Tesla. They are pretty responsive to the customer request.

    1. Expert Member
      MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #3


      I'm struggling to think of what warranty issues would be labour related after a couple of years or so. I'd be inclined to use the local guy if they offer good initial service. Using Tesla is a bit like getting your building project done through Home Depot contractors.

    2. Expert Member
      BILL WICHERS | | #4

      +1 for using the local guy. You’ll probably get better service when you’re getting up and running. Once your system is up and running, it will be pretty much “set and forget”. Any warranty issues will probably be with manufacturers of the equipment anyway.

      Tesla may be a bigger name, but their survival over the next 25 years is in no way assured, either. They have had their own financial issues, and are really more of a startup still than they are an established company like one of the major automotive manufacturers. That is in no way meant to demean Tesla as a company, and I like some of their stuff, but I wouldn’t make purchasing decisions of Tesla vs local solar installers solely based on concerns about longevity of the company over a 25 year period.


  3. joenorm | | #5

    +2 for the local guy.

  4. this_page_left_blank | | #6

    +3 for the local guy.

    Tesla is good at marketing, and charging premium prices, kind of like Apple. Not quite as good at delivering on their promises. Anyone remember those solar shingles Musk promised would be ready for market a couple of years ago, would cost less than a standard shingle roof? Anyone remember the stories of Tesla roof solar installations catching the roof on fire and almost burning the house down, and then Tesla disavowing any responsibility?

  5. walta100 | | #7

    I like Tesla amazing ability to do what seems impossible.

    I do not find their support policies customer friendly.

    Buying Tesla auto parts was all but impossible and now it is merely difficult.

    You buy the self driving option but when you sell the car Tesla disables the option until the new owner pays again.

    Tesla decided any car totaled by an insurance company can never be repaired well enough to use any fast charging system and black ball the car from their network and all other fast chargers.


  6. Expert Member
    KOHTA UENO | | #8

    Anyone remember the stories of Tesla roof solar installations catching the roof on fire and almost burning the house down, and then Tesla disavowing any responsibility?

    Here are some links to the JLC writeup of a solar array fire on the Cape, installed by Solar City (now Tesla). Seems like their customer service was pretty abysmal.

    This seems consistent with Tesla (Motors) problems--cutting edge technology, but unable to provide a trained workforce on the sales side to match their requirements.

  7. Mwheeler602 | | #9

    I learned a lot about the solar industry and what actually matters.
    1. How to compare prices. You compare price per watt.
    2. What you need to look for in panels. Warranties most have a 25year warranty and 25year production warranty. If they don't I would not buy them. Most companies will leave out what is actually cover warranty. The solar panel is but some panels will not cover shipping or labor
    3. Efficiency. A good panel should be above 19.5%.
    4. The specs of the specs of the panels.
    I used this is awesome for comparing panels. The end of warranty output should be above 89%
    5. DO NOT go through a solar broker or enter your information or get a quote online. I still get calls and I'm even on the federal do not call list.
    6. Do not pay for a name. All the companies with big names (tesla, sun run, etc) past the advertising cost to the consumer.
    7. Use the BBB to find a company.
    8. Have realistic expectations. Don't let them tell your not going to have bill. There is fees from your electric company( mine is $28-39 depending on the plan and time of year) you can get to zero but your ROI will be longer.
    9. Don't go with a company that will try to sell you energy upgrades with solar. You can get it done for less and get a bigger solar system.
    10. Don't waste your time with a company that will not tell you price per watt without a consultation.
    Just follow these steps and the decision should make itself. It's ultimately your decision and YOUR MONEY. I just try to help people out by sharing my process and my experience. I got 18 quotes( 10 were in person consultation). From first to the last quote was a difference of $8000. I went with LG 350n1c with the enphase micro inverters. The older LG panels DO NOT cover labor and shipping. The inverters also have 25year warranty but I have to pay $100 for labor to replace it. Panasonic makes good panels they were second on my list followed by the new rec that have a 25year warranty(older only have 20) and then sunpower.
    Just a tip if you want tesla and save money go with panasonic. They make the solar cells tesla uses in their panels and in the U.S. panasonic panels are made at the tesla plant.

  8. thrifttrust | | #10

    "The inverters also have 25year warranty but I have to pay $100 for labor to replace it."

    The newest Enphase microinverters sell for about $120. So... I recently had a scare with my system. One of the panels was not producing. I looked into the Enphase return policy. As a DIY system I'd have to get it checked out by a professional solar provider. They gave me names of three companies in another state and one local who did't return my call. Luckily, it turned out that I had't pushed one of the inverter's connectors all the way home. This highlights another advantage of a microinverter system. From the comfort of my desk I was able to identify the faulty panel. Had it been a string inverter system I'd have had no way to pinpoint the loose connection save removing random panels till I found the problem.

    Panasonic solar panels cost double the price of the Silfab panels I used in my system. I can't imagine an advantage that would justify the increased cost.

    In spite of my cheap panels and DIY installation my 10KW Enphase system cost about $15,000.
    Interpolating between Tesla's Medium and Large installation, 10KW works out to around $20,000. That seems a hard price to beat.

  9. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #11

    I wouldn’t base my purchase decision on a super long warranty. I’d be happy with 5 years. Oftentimes warranties are used as selling points, and it’s like buying insurance. If you look at the overall reliability of these systems, paying extra for extremely long warranties is often money that could have been better spent elsewhere. How much risk you’re willing to accept is up to you, but keep in mind that the trend has been decreasing prices for solar equipment, so any potential future replacement equipment is likely to be cheaper than you’d pay for and equivalent piece of equipment today.


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