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Any benefit to be a solar city customer?

Discussion in 'Tesla Energy' started by 18seeds, Apr 16, 2017.

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  1. 18seeds

    18seeds Member

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    I've gone full circle with solarcity twice and I'm having a hard time finding a reason to pay their premium. I'm a cash buyer and at some point will have a tesla. The solar roofs would have made up my mind but I can't wait because I have a major renovation going on and need a new roof in the near short term. The new panels are nothing special in fact they may be the same as the Panasonic 330's (although the efficiency rating of the panasonics are better than the solar city ones).

    The warranty and company brand that they sell on is so weak.

    Anybody see any benefits or future benefits on going with solar city?
     
  2. AEdennis

    AEdennis Active Member

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    I have my service through Real Goods Solar and have Sharp Panels and Enphase Microinverters. At the time I did my deal (a pre-paid PPA, almost four and a half years ago) I was originally with Solar City until engineering said I needed a new roof. Since this was an out clause for the deal, Real Goods was able to come in and offer a better deal than Solar City and cover the replacement roof as well as better cost per kWh.

    In the end, I am happy with the microinverters because even with a single failure, the rest of the system is still running while one panel was out for service. (Just happened this past month and I will be publishing a post on my blog soon.). Now I have 3 PowerWall 2 on order and seeing whether it will work. So we'll see if there is any penalty for having non Solar City service for a pending storage customer.
     
  3. miimura

    miimura Active Member

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    I also declined to accept a SolarCity quote. In 2012 when I did my solar, their PPA was not competitive with a SunPower Prepaid Lease or the purchased system I ended up installing. Their purchase offer was ridiculous. In addition, they would/could not give any technical details about how they were going to install until after I had signed the contract and I had certificate of occupancy on the house. My system was pre-wired while the walls were open during construction and the solar standoffs were installed before the roofing was done.

    I placed a deposit for a PowerWall with SGIP rebate through Swell Energy and they said that it will work very will with my Enphase inverters.
     
  4. abasile

    abasile Independent Software Eng.

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    It appears that Tesla/SolarCity estimates for PowerWall installations are quite competitive. And there is something to be said for dealing directly with the product manufacturer rather than going through a third party. Going with a SolarCity bid for both PV and storage could have advantages. On the other hand, I hope and expect that Tesla will prove to be responsive and proactive in serving PowerWall customers who may have gone elsewhere for solar.

    As I've partially described elsewhere, I tried going with SolarCity for PV last autumn, paid their deposit, had them come out for a site evaluation, and waited for their engineering proposal. This took several weeks. At this point, however, SolarCity "disqualified" our home; they told me that we have just a bit too much shading for them to agree to install PV on our roof. I was not willing to cut down trees to meet SolarCity's threshold, so we went with another installer.

    We used the Pick My Solar platform to solicit PV bids, and went with LA Solar Group. They did a great job with the installation of SunPower 360W panels with micro inverters, plus a service panel upgrade. While not cheap, this setup maximizes production on our limited roof space, the warranty is very good, and there's a first year production guarantee. So far, our production seems to be very roughly on track, but we'll see. Even in our case, PV will pay for itself - it'll just take longer (maybe 10-12 years). From our perspective as homeowners, everything did work out for the best.

    From the perspective of a TSLA shareholder, however, I was disappointed that SolarCity walked away from our business instead of simply downgrading the production guarantee to match our shading. We weren't leasing or financing, so this should not have been an issue. My hope and expectation is that as Tesla/SolarCity moves toward premium PV products, they will avoid unnecessarily saying "no" to customers who may be willing to pay a bit of a premium to generate their own clean energy. And they also have a key opportunity to use PowerWall installations to deepen (or initiate) customer relationships.
     
  5. TheTalkingMule

    TheTalkingMule Active Member

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    Depends.

    If I'm a cash buyer, I'm much more likely to pick my hardware and then poke around to find an installer to do it at the price point I like. Staying involved in the install plan and literally(on the roof) watching them do every step takes most of the worry out of picking the right installer. The hardware warranty covers you enough.

    Down the line(especially in CA) you're going to need/want "energy services" such as integrating battery storage, aggregating your excess supply with other homeowners for sale on the wholesale market, basically dodging any punches the utils throw at you during their death spiral. So being part of a solar-as-a-service org like Tesla has it's benefits.

    To me, there's not much reason to pay a premium if you're buying outright. The simplicity of the solar lease option has merit, but if you have cash and are OK with legwork you should just source a good cheap install. The installer is likely never to be heard from again, but that's fine these days.

    Installing on a straight purchase with SolarCity(Tesla) to me is for people who want premium installs with no chance of major ongoing headaches or people who have no idea what they're doing and don't want to bother learning it all. Both massive markets, but don't sound like you.
     
  6. abasile

    abasile Independent Software Eng.

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    Having been involved in perhaps more than my share of residential construction projects, I've increasingly come to value "premium" service. While I like to be involved in the design and in the selection of key materials, I appreciate contractors who "just get the job done" without excuses. Constantly checking on workers to make sure they are doing their job, spending time on high roofs, and dealing with red tape are things I've found I'd really rather leave to others. If something goes wrong, it's ideal to have worked with a contractor that stands behind their work. So, SolarCity appealed to me from this standpoint. Likewise, LA Solar Group seems to have an excellent reputation as a regional installer in SoCal, and I was quite happy with their service in our PV install. (At the risk of coming off as biased, I believe that LA Solar Group and Pick My Solar pay for referrals, so feel free to PM me if you want one.)
     
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  7. TheTalkingMule

    TheTalkingMule Active Member

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    It all depends on the spread. If SC quotes at $3.16/W and a local installer at $2.97/W then I maybe go with SC because the premium is worth it. Today's spreads are wider in most places from what I understand.

    I do think Tesla will do a lot of work in 2017/18 to narrow the price gap considerably on straight installs of "normal" panels. If they can shave their sales cost to something in line with local installers, then the whole dynamic sharply flips again. They should be able to accomplish that leveraging the existing Tesla brand/reach and simply being smart about growth and pricing.
     
  8. 18seeds

    18seeds Member

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    The difference in price isn't that much overall. SC is at $3.41 and the other company is at $3.01.

    Sc panels have a 19.4% efficency and the other with panasonics have a 19.7% rating
     
  9. Snerruc

    Snerruc Member

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    Solar City is unusable in my area. They wanted $35,000 for a 6 kW system with no information on what they would install and just write us a check for $35,000 attitude. Furthermore, the person who came out couldn't even run their computer to do the dog and pony show. Will probably go with Sunrun of Kumu Kit, or an experienced local electrical contractor here who Tesla recommends for charging installs.
     

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