Tesla entered the solar industry in 2016 when the Elon Musk-led company acquired SolarCity and began offering home battery storage and solar installations. Making the jump from electric vehicle manufacturer to a broad clean energy solutions provider, Tesla continues helping homeowners achieve energy independence. In addition to their popular Solar Roof, which replaces traditional roofing materials with small photovoltaic solar shingles, Tesla also offers traditional solar panels. In this review, we’ll dive into the specifics of Tesla’s solar offerings and what it looks like to go solar with Tesla.
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.
This is an unbiased review: EnergySage is not paid to review brands or products, nor do we earn money from affiliate advertising in this article. The content of this blog is based on research and information available at the time of writing. Learn more about our mission and how we make money as a company.
Tesla solar panels range in efficiency from 19.3% to 20.6% and they have 25-year workmanship and performance warranties.
Tesla solar panels cost between $3.03 and $3.35 per Watt on the EnergySage Marketplace – that’s $29,088 to $32,160 for a 9.6 kW system (the median size system offered by Tesla) before the federal solar tax credit.
Solar panel installations with Telsa panels are only available in four pre-set sizes: 4.8 kilowatts (kW), 9.6 kW, 14.4 kW, and 19.2 kW.
Shop for Tesla solar panels (and many other brands!) today on the EnergySage Marketplace.
What’s in this article?
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.
Tesla’s S series panels come in three different output ratings: 420 Watts (W), 425 W, and 430 W. The maximum efficiency of this panel series is 19.8%, but it varies based on output. The panels are available in a black finish without visible grid lines and also include Tesla’s low-profile installation technology. This technology stemmed from their 2016 acquisition of SolarCity, which had previously acquired Zep Solar in 2013, a company that manufactured low-profile solar panel mounts.
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 seriesEfficiency rating Tesla T395H20.1% Tesla T400H20.4% Tesla T405H20.6% Tesla T420S19.3% Tesla T425S19.6% Tesla T430S19.8%
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 seriesTemperature coefficient Tesla T395H0.34%/°C Tesla T400H0.34%/°C Tesla T405H0.34%/°C Tesla T420S0.331%/°C Tesla T425S0.331%/°C Tesla T430S0.331%/°C
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 seriesAnnual degradation (%)Power at year 25 (%) Tesla T395H0.5%86% Tesla T400H0.5%86% Tesla T405H0.5%86% Tesla T420S0.54%85% Tesla T425S0.54%85% Tesla T430S0.54%85%
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 sizeCost 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
Many homeowners choose to install an energy storage system as a source of backup in the event of a power outage or to reduce their reliance on the grid. Tesla’s Powerwall batteries are a popular choice and can be paired with other brands of solar panels as well. If you purchase your solar system through Tesla’s website, you’ll encounter a recommended number of Tesla Powerwall batteries to add to your installation. Tesla doesn’t require you to add battery backup power to your solar power system unless you choose a Tesla Solar Roof over solar panels.
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.