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Considering Tesla Solar + PW, but ouch...those reviews are REALLY bad...

shelly24

New Member
Sep 8, 2020
3
2
San Jose
It seems the bad reviews tend to fall into a few buckets:
1. I gave my $100 and then waited...and waited...and waited...for months and months and months
2. The installers broke things, damaged my roof, etc.
3. I had an issue and cannot get ahold of someone in customer service who can actually help me
4. The monitoring app isn't reporting accurately, so I need to set up SolarEdge monitoring instead (this one seems to crop up on this forum, though I haven't seen it on the big review sites)

#1 seems *maybe* to have been from a year or more ago, and someone suggested it was because of Puerto Rico and Tesla dropping everything to try to help there...anyone have any more thoughts on the current state of lag time? I want to get my system installed before the year is out.

#2 is the one I am most concerned about as that sounds really bad and coupled with #3 could be a terrible nightmare.

#3 Yeah, this seems to just be true.

#4 Doesn't sound ideal, but there is a workaround (if you can get it working)


Given that, I have a feeling the local crew can make a big difference in how your install goes, anyone in the San Jose area have experience installing Tesla solar panels and PW lately?
 

getakey

Active Member
Jan 28, 2020
1,247
413
95762
I used 3rd party to install solar (non Tesla panels) and then added PWs thru 3rd party as well
Have had good service
 

cwied

Member
Jan 13, 2015
870
621
San Mateo, CA
I went through a highly-rated non-Tesla installer for my solar system about four years ago and #2 and #3 apply to me as well. I went through Tesla for my Powerwalls two years ago, and experienced #1 and #3 with them.

I think that there is a lot of variability in people's experiences with Tesla. I found them frustrating to deal with, but ultimately their installation and product are satisfactory. If I had to do it over, I'd probably use Tesla for the solar system as well if they'd do it. The price difference is worth a certain amount of hassle, and I think that ultimately Tesla does have good intentions on the customer service front, even if their execution on them is pretty atrocious at times.

I don't think independent solar installers are a panacea. Note that I do have a particularly hard roof to work with (slate), so it may be that the roof damage was explainable, but two months of stringing me along for two months on an optimizer replacement when they already had the part reminded me of the Tesla behavior mentioned in those reviews.
 
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Southpasfan

Member
Jun 2, 2019
424
539
Pasadena
Based on my experience a solar powerwall install, with Tesla or anyone else, is a major construction project, and it is not, I would repeat, not, anywhere close to purchasing an item, such as a car.

If you have had experiences with doing a major construction project on your house, like, say, tearing out the entire kitchen and moving a few walls around, I don't think you will find anything out of the ordinary with a Tesla solar/powerwall install.

If this is your first major construction project then it might be quite an eye-opener.

I would say that in may experience, ordering through Tesla at last has the possibility that everything will go smoothly AND, more importantly, won't end up costing 50% to double what you thought you would be paying.

Frankly, its sort of in its own world halfway between buying a car and remodeling a kitchen, because there are no reviews where Tesla quoted $50k, and halfway through said, "ooops, that will be $100k" -- a form of which happens in construction all the time.
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
8,856
9,864
Riverside Co. CA
Based on my experience a solar powerwall install, with Tesla or anyone else, is a major construction project, and it is not, I would repeat, not, anywhere close to purchasing an item, such as a car.

If you have had experiences with doing a major construction project on your house, like, say, tearing out the entire kitchen and moving a few walls around, I don't think you will find anything out of the ordinary with a Tesla solar/powerwall install.

If this is your first major construction project then it might be quite an eye-opener.

I would say that in may experience, ordering through Tesla at last has the possibility that everything will go smoothly AND, more importantly, won't end up costing 50% to double what you thought you would be paying.

Frankly, its sort of in its own world halfway between buying a car and remodeling a kitchen, because there are no reviews where Tesla quoted $50k, and halfway through said, "ooops, that will be $100k" -- a form of which happens in construction all the time.


There is one here that I remember... (50% upcharge story). His situation sounds very complicated but that thread is here:

Tesla surprises with a $4800 bill on existing $5300 install contract
 

BrettS

Active Member
Mar 28, 2017
2,109
2,512
Orlando, FL
I haven’t really seen a lot of reviews other than in this forum, but most of what I’ve seen here seems to boil down to customer service issues. People waiting longer than they should for permits or inspections and such, or people being frustrated with support after the install, especially in relation to getting the monitoring app to function.

However, what I don’t see is complaints about the actual install itself. In fact, the vast majority of the comments I see about the systems being installed are very positive. The products being installed work and work well and the install teams are very professional and do a great job on the installations. I really don’t see complaints or problems with the actual hardware that is installed.

So I think what it comes down to is whether you are willing to deal with the frustrations of the customer service issues to save money (and potentially a lot of money). As long as you can get past the customer service issues then I believe that you will be happy with the system that they install.
 

holeydonut

Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
1,515
890
East Bay NorCal
I'm in the process of trying to get PV + Battery in East bay and have another wrinkle to add to your search. Trying to do both at the same time seems like the smart move, but it is suuuucchhhh a headache that I don't recommend doing both together even if you found the most hands-on-best-service company to work with.

I researched numerous options for my modest 8 kW system (Tesla, regional shops, Sunpower, and Sunrun). I'm not kidding - I got wildly different spec'd builds from each one and it was borderline impossible to get them to do the install that I actually wanted. PV is a complex item that is customized to your home. Battery is also a complex system that is customized to your home. While you would assume a company that sells both would understand how to manage these complexities; but my experience was just not the case. I feel like you're better off getting an installer to put PV in then add Powerwall later. Maybe you'll pay a bit extra for the permits but the amount of Advil you'll need is much less.


1) Tesla.
On the PV side: they said my concrete tile roof was too complicated and wouldn't accommodate my request for tile-replacement mounts instead of their bargain bin tile hooks.
On the Battery side: Tesla kept pushing 4x Powerwalls on me even though I said I wanted a partial home backup since I couldn't get my AC manufacturer to OK the soft starts without voiding my condenser warranties.
Tesla also nickel-&-dimed on a bunch of extra costs the other installers didn't tack on, so they weren't really that much cheaper.

2) Sunpower Local Dealer .
On the PV side: they were probably the easiest to deal with. They were super chill on all my requests around mounting hardware and conduit runs. They were rather pricey, but otherwise actually tried to get me what I wanted.
On the Battery side: they would only do 2x Powerwalls or fewer and could not commit to creating a system that could "back feed" stored Powerwall energy or clean PV energy to my non-backup loads when the utility was operating normally.

3) Non-Affiliate local Installer.
On the PV side: they refused to use anything but tile hooks.
On the Battery side: they could only source 1x Powerwall from Tesla

4) Non-Affiliate local Installer.
On the PV side: they quoted me like $5 per kW and the 1x Powerwall was like $15,000.

5) Non-Affiliate local Installer.
On the PV side: they were very chill and provided a very nice quote for solar that accommodated everything I wanted. I almost went with them; but they couldn't do the Battery portion.
On the Battery side: they would only do Generac whole home backup which didn't seem anywhere near as good as Tesla

6) Sunrun (I ended up going with them)
On the PV side: they were not the easiest to work with ... but eventually came around to accommodate all my requests around conduit, tile mounting, and got me the 1.2 DC:AC ratio that I felt was reasonable for maximizing production on my roof.
On the Battery side: They didn't even know what a Gateway 2 was. I had to spend hours and hours and hours with them trying to get them to do a partial home backup that could also backfeed the non-backup loads when the utility were running. The amount of pain here is indescribable.


Anyway, if I had all this to start over and do "correctly" - I would first start with the local installer from #5 above for the PV side. And for the battery I'd go with @Vines since he so far has been the only certified Tesla installer that seems to know what the heck the Powerwall is capable of doing and not capable of doing.
 
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mnsweeps

Member
Aug 3, 2019
555
135
Los Angeles
I ordered 7.28 and still in permitting phase. Tesla permit was rejected 3 times asking for corrections by LA county. Mine is standard solar panels (8.16kwh) + 2 PWs. Tesla must have so much experience with this configuration and mine is a relatively new house build in 2003. Last I heard Tesla resubmitted corrections on 9.3. With holidays I guess I will have to wait for whole week to hear from L.A county.
 
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njhtran

Member
Jun 11, 2020
366
131
Temecula
I
However, what I don’t see is complaints about the actual install itself. In fact, the vast majority of the comments I see about the systems being installed are very positive. The products being installed work and work well and the install teams are very professional and do a great job on the installations. I really don’t see complaints or problems with the actual hardware that is installed.

So I think what it comes down to is whether you are willing to deal with the frustrations of the customer service issues to save money (and potentially a lot of money). As long as you can get past the customer service issues then I believe that you will be happy with the system that they install.

I might be the exception. I have a system that is generating about 1/2 of what it's supposed to, thus far. If i were to do it over again, i would look for a company that can promise the output of your solar system (within a reasonable %) at the very least from the beginning of the system's lifetime. Tesla apparently gives you an estimated # in your design document that apparently means nothing because they can't promise to any degree that the system will output that.
 
Last edited:

Southpasfan

Member
Jun 2, 2019
424
539
Pasadena
I'm in the process of trying to get PV + Battery in East bay and have another wrinkle to add to your search. Trying to do both at the same time seems like the smart move, but it is suuuucchhhh a headache that I don't recommend doing both together even if you found the most hands-on-best-service company to work with.

I researched numerous options for my modest 8 kW system (Tesla, regional shops, Sunpower, and Sunrun). I'm not kidding - I got wildly different spec'd builds from each one and it was borderline impossible to get them to do the install that I actually wanted. PV is a complex item that is customized to your home. Battery is also a complex system that is customized to your home. While you would assume a company that sells both would understand how to manage these complexities; but my experience was just not the case. I feel like you're better off getting an installer to put PV in then add Powerwall later. Maybe you'll pay a bit extra for the permits but the amount of Advil you'll need is much less.


1) Tesla.
On the PV side: they said my concrete tile roof was too complicated and wouldn't accommodate my request for tile-replacement mounts instead of their bargain bin tile hooks.
On the Battery side: Tesla kept pushing 4x Powerwalls on me even though I said I wanted a partial home backup since I couldn't get my AC manufacturer to OK the soft starts without voiding my condenser warranties.
Tesla also nickel-&-dimed on a bunch of extra costs the other installers didn't tack on, so they weren't really that much cheaper.

2) Sunpower Local Dealer .
On the PV side: they were probably the easiest to deal with. They were super chill on all my requests around mounting hardware and conduit runs. They were rather pricey, but otherwise actually tried to get me what I wanted.
On the Battery side: they would only do 2x Powerwalls or fewer and could not commit to creating a system that could "back feed" stored Powerwall energy or clean PV energy to my non-backup loads when the utility was operating normally.

3) Non-Affiliate local Installer.
On the PV side: they refused to use anything but tile hooks.
On the Battery side: they could only source 1x Powerwall from Tesla

4) Non-Affiliate local Installer.
On the PV side: they quoted me like $5 per kW and the 1x Powerwall was like $15,000.

5) Non-Affiliate local Installer.
On the PV side: they were very chill and provided a very nice quote for solar that accommodated everything I wanted. I almost went with them; but they couldn't do the Battery portion.
On the Battery side: they would only do Generac whole home backup which didn't seem anywhere near as good as Tesla

6) Sunrun (I ended up going with them)
On the PV side: they were not the easiest to work with ... but eventually came around to accommodate all my requests around conduit, tile mounting, and got me the 1.2 DC:AC ratio that I felt was reasonable for maximizing production on my roof.
On the Battery side: They didn't even know what a Gateway 2 was. I had to spend hours and hours and hours with them trying to get them to do a partial home backup that could also backfeed the non-backup loads when the utility were running. The amount of pain here is indescribable.


Anyway, if I had all this to start over and do "correctly" - I would first start with the local installer from #5 above for the PV side. And for the battery I'd go with @Vines since he so far has been the only certified Tesla installer that seems to know what the heck the Powerwall is capable of doing and not capable of doing.

This is a very useful post. Holeydonut lists exactly what I have experienced on every single major home improvement project.

I would say the starting point is not really researching Tesla v. other companies, the starting point is getting yourself up to speed enough to know how complicated or not complicated your particular install is going to be, then compare it to what Tesla is offering in their packages then go from there.
 

BrettS

Active Member
Mar 28, 2017
2,109
2,512
Orlando, FL
I might be the exception. I have a system that is generating about 1/2 of what it's supposed to, thus far. If i were to do it over again, i would look for a company that can promise the output of your solar system (within a reasonable %) at the very least from the beginning of the system's lifetime. Tesla apparently gives you an estimated # in your design document that apparently means nothing because they can't promise to any degree that the system will output that.

I’ve seen your posts and I believe that this is still very recent and you are still working to try to get to the bottom of why your production is so low. It is difficult to judge annual production based on only a week or two of operation. I don’t mean to minimize your issues and you certainly have every right to be upset if your system produces far less than what was promised, but I think that given your system is so new that you will likely be able to figure out what’s going on. I think at this point this fits more into the customer service category of trying to get through to the right people at Tesla so they can do some additional diagnostics and make sure that everything is connected and operating properly.

The other thing to note is that very few installers will guarantee an annual production number. And the ones that do tend to be very expensive. Before I went with tesla I got several quotes from other companies and the one company that did guarantee production was nearly twice the per watt cost of everyone else. Additionally, the annual production number that they were guaranteeing was also much lower than the estimated annual production numbers for similar systems provided by other installers.
 

jboy210

Supporting Member
Dec 2, 2016
5,097
3,169
Northern California
I think getting it done by the end of the year a stretch. With their price drop and the drop in tax credit, Tesla seems slammed. And if you want any customization it seems your project moves to the end of the line, or gets rejected.
 

njhtran

Member
Jun 11, 2020
366
131
Temecula
I think getting it done by the end of the year a stretch. With their price drop and the drop in tax credit, Tesla seems slammed. And if you want any customization it seems your project moves to the end of the line, or gets rejected.

agreed. i placed my order in may (BEFORE the price drop push) and didn't get PTO until September
 

jboy210

Supporting Member
Dec 2, 2016
5,097
3,169
Northern California
...
I don't think independent solar installers are a panacea. Note that I do have a particularly hard roof to work with (slate), so it may be that the roof damage was explainable, but two months of stringing me along for two months on an optimizer replacement when they already had the part reminded me of the Tesla behavior mentioned in those reviews.

Every day I count myself lucky that Petersendean was so unresponsive that we decided to try Tesla and their SolarRoof V3. With P-Ds chapter 11 I would not want to have $60K tied up in the roof and panels they failed to be able to deliver in a timely fashion. At least with Tesla, I could sue them for stock!:cool:
 
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wjgjr

Active Member
May 11, 2020
1,218
952
Silver Spring, MD
Frankly, its sort of in its own world halfway between buying a car and remodeling a kitchen, because there are no reviews where Tesla quoted $50k, and halfway through said, "ooops, that will be $100k" -- a form of which happens in construction all the time.
I think this is something that doesn't get enough attention sometimes. Tesla really seems to be bringing true upfront pricing to the construction industry, which is pretty revolutionary. It seems extremely rare for Tesla to try tacking on surprise extras after the contract has been signed, and their installers seem to have flexibility to do the job right, even if it slightly varies from the plans in favor of the customer. As am example, we did discuss fascia replacement with Tesla, but an exact amount to be replaced was not specified. When Tesla arrived, it sounded like the installers felt more needed to be replaced than they had expected. But instead of asking for a few hundred (or more) bucks, they just got some more materials and took care of it. There were other points in the project where options were discussed and where I was expecting them to try and tell me how much more the "good" option or unexpected issue would cost, but that never did happen.

No doubt Tesla factors this into their pricing, but I really appreciate that they aren't trying to nickel-and-dime you. I also appreciate that the price is the price - no negotiating or games.

They still really need to improve their customer service, but there are some really good things they are doing, and the way they price things is one of them.
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
8,856
9,864
Riverside Co. CA
My own personal experiences with tesla ( I have a vehicle, solar city / tesla PV, and now powerwalls installed by tesla) is that, there was never any "malice" or what I felt like was an attempt to defraud. There were / are, many times, what I would categorize as a failure to communicate effectively, or enough, but that never felt like "malice".

I always tried to be understanding that " hey this person is likely NOT making a bunch of money off my particular install, unlike in a situation where a contractor is trying to win my business". "no sales" means that there isnt someone who will or wont make a bunch of money if you do or dont sign on the dotted line. For US its a large purchase. For them on the other side, its "just another customer on top of the pile of work I already have".

Some people do better with that than others, but I have always gotten the opinion that the phone support people are all fairly overworked. The "boots on the ground" however, especially with the energy products, I have been extremely happy with, and most here report the same.

you have to be willing to manage your own project somewhat, and be patient, which is hard when you are spending what for many is a Boatload of money.
 
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SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
9,066
9,784
SF Bay Area
More south SF bay here but we went with Tesla and just signed our interconnection agreement, waiting for a few maintenance things to be completed and then inspection. Teams have been great, pretty accommodating, nice work, cleaned up area before leaving, nice teams of guys—both solar and PW. We had a more complicated install with equipment going inside our garage and due to other existing equipment and lack of wall space some of it placed on a opposite wall. Also our city required a panel upgrade during permitting and another one when we decided to add an additional PW. As you can tell from comments every job will be different and likely have a few ways it can be installed.

I will say if you have not already signed a contract this late in the year for solar and PWs here in the bay area, I question if you will be able to get an install by years end at this point. Tesla may have sufficient inventory of PWs left that aren’t already committed but by the sounds of posts third party installers have run through their allotment and don’t have any to be able to commit to for this year.

As for working with Tesla, they are super busy with orders and installs. Heard this from advisors and the installers. Install teams in our area even working on Saturdays and one of our Solar guys said he helped complete a job on a Sunday (not sure if that is typical). A lot of time goes into the design, contract, permitting and install phases regardless who you go with. Tesla tried a few different customer service approaches over the time since we first put down our deposit, going from assigned advisor, to team access, and now back to advisor. With covid and now the wildfires (one install date rescheduled due to air quality) we’ve just realized patience is a good thing. That said we’ve found our communication with staff to be reasonable and received responses within a few days. We had two roof layouts done before we accepted the second one. And our solar team leader was able to make a small adjustment to placement on one of our roof sections at time of install my husband asked if could be done.

Tesla won’t reach out to you to let you know each step going on behind the scenes, like in permitting for example, but will communicate by email or text (sometimes with us by phone) when the need arises from their end. So after solar layout and contract, there maybe be a period you don't hear from them for a while while they work on other orders. Their design team could be backed up and not reach out for a period after deposit but back in January things weren’t as busy so that went pretty fast for us. We received an email asking us to call to schedule an install date. Once that happened we had more communications leading up to their arrival on site.

If you go with Tesla I would suggest asking for a site inspection to start off with. We elected to send in photos and info but it would have been better in our case to have had that. We always planned on having PWs, GW and Inverter on our far garage wall, thought we had communicated that early on but apparently not, so they hadn’t planned on the extra run length of conduit. Not a problem and taken care of but did increase our installation time which I am sure affected scheduling of teams beyond ours. But again everyone’s job will be different, some less straight forward than others.
 
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jboy210

Supporting Member
Dec 2, 2016
5,097
3,169
Northern California
I think this is something that doesn't get enough attention sometimes. Tesla really seems to be bringing true upfront pricing to the construction industry, which is pretty revolutionary. It seems extremely rare for Tesla to try tacking on surprise extras after the contract has been signed, and their installers seem to have flexibility to do the job right, even if it slightly varies from the plans in favor of the customer. As am example, we did discuss fascia replacement with Tesla, but an exact amount to be replaced was not specified. When Tesla arrived, it sounded like the installers felt more needed to be replaced than they had expected. But instead of asking for a few hundred (or more) bucks, they just got some more materials and took care of it. There were other points in the project where options were discussed and where I was expecting them to try and tell me how much more the "good" option or unexpected issue would cost, but that never did happen.

No doubt Tesla factors this into their pricing, but I really appreciate that they aren't trying to nickel-and-dime you. I also appreciate that the price is the price - no negotiating or games.

They still really need to improve their customer service, but there are some really good things they are doing, and the way they price things is one of them.

They did something like that for our roof. We had this funny jog in the roof that a previous contractor did. It always looked a little strange. The Tesla team extended the rafter tails and added about 12 sq feet of roof decking to square this off. It looks much better and made it a little easier for them to install. Win-win. And no extra costs to us.
 

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