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Is Tesla bound to the Powerwall Purchase & Home Improvement Agrement?

RKCRLR

Member
Apr 13, 2020
434
168
Garden Valley, CA
I've committed to purchase and install 2 powerwalls from Tesla. I'm concerned that they've underestimate the installation cost since my system is more complicated than most. I've tried to communicate my concerns with Tesla but communication is a one way street with them.
Can they refuse to install the powerwalls unless I pay them more money even if I've notified them about some complications?
 

Ampster

Active Member
Oct 5, 2012
1,780
477
Kenwood, California
I've committed to purchase and install 2 powerwalls from Tesla. I'm concerned that they've underestimate the installation cost since my system is more complicated than most. I've tried to communicate my concerns with Tesla but communication is a one way street with them.
Can they refuse to install the powerwalls unless I pay them more money even if I've notified them about some complications?
I would be more concerned with their ability to process the SGIP money since they have been out of that program since they capped out several years ago in the regular SGIP steps. For that reason I got proposals from LA Solar and Swell Energy who were willing to do something in Sonoma County.
 

RKCRLR

Member
Apr 13, 2020
434
168
Garden Valley, CA
I would be more concerned with their ability to process the SGIP money since they have been out of that program since they capped out several years ago in the regular SGIP steps. For that reason I got proposals from LA Solar and Swell Energy who were willing to do something in Sonoma County.
I'm applying for the Residential Equity Resiliency SGIP Incentive. There is no developer cap for the Equity Resiliency incentive. However, PG&E opened up for applications on May 1 (they have a $44M allocation) and the funds were over 40% allocated as of this morning. My incentive application was submitted on Monday so hopefully my application for a reservation of incentive funds will be approved (it is on a first come, first served basis). But the application was for $18,122.25 vs up to the $26,400 that I'm eligible for.
That is why I'm concerned about Tesla revising their cost. If they do it now it would likely be covered (assuming I get approved for the incentive). If they do it later and refuse to honor the purchase price the difference would come out of my pocket.
 

RKCRLR

Member
Apr 13, 2020
434
168
Garden Valley, CA
Of course they reserve the right to make changes to the quote.
That's just it, it isn't a quote - it's a purchase contract. I read through it and couldn't find anywhere it said they could come back and ask for more money. There are clauses for for change orders, etc. The only thing listed in the cancellation section is I only had 3 days to cancel which makes me a little nervous since I will cancel if I don't get the incentive. Nothing about Tesla's right to cancel. Tesla's representative verbally told me that I could cancel anytime prior to start of installation but I don't see that in writing anywhere.
It's signed by RJ Johnson, Senior Director, Energy (probably a scanned signature).
 
Jun 22, 2017
527
337
Bay Area, California
@RKCRLR First step, talk to the design center and absolutely sure that the design is requires the said changes. Perhaps you need to lower your customer requirements and expectations.

I signed up for a bare bones quote with Tesla. After reviewing the whole home backup expectation, the system designed could not be done and triggered upgrades and up-charges. I am a self-taught electrical engineering (electrical wasn't my discipline) having been on the install list for roughly two years. I realized that by relaxing the whole home backup requirement, the original quote was achievable. As for the Tesla designers, outstanding folks by the way, they are NOT there to provide you a trade study listed with options. After a few talks, Tesla & I finally came to grips about how to execute the original plan as quoted. If your electrical setup, is not mainstream or special (my case no main breaker service panel), it might accidentally get misidentified and treated as a mainstream roadmap for electrical upgrades--as mine was.

Last step, if the price isn't right, you'll have to reapply for the SGIP. Regarding possible conflicts of interest, Tesla never held the SGIP over my head saying you are getting a good deal anyway as a way to increase price. It's okay to commit to Tesla pending approval of SGIP. I am sure Tesla can resubmit your SGIP application if things end up costing more. Better them than you. (<--long story on that one)
 

RKCRLR

Member
Apr 13, 2020
434
168
Garden Valley, CA
I would LOVE to be able to talk to the design center but I don't have their phone number and they don't respond to my emails. I've been working through an advisor who is doing her best but they don't respond to her either. She had to escalate to get my SGIP application submitted and get a copy of the design to me.
I've reviewed their design and they've captured the overall requirements. They caught they would need a separate generation panel on my outbuilding (My service entrance and solar system is on my outbuilding and that is where the powerwalls will be - My residence is 250' up a slope from the outbuilding).
My concern is they later determine that I need a critical loads sub-panel. That will require either pulling more wire through the 2" underground conduit (not sure if that is possible) or trenching for a new line to the house. Either of those would be expensive but if in the plan now the cost (or a good portion) would be covered under the SGIP incentive. At the current burn rate the Equity Resiliency incentive will be completely allocated in a couple of weeks.
If they think it might be necessary it should be put in the plan now. It will be easier to give some money back if not necessary than to get more money once the budget has been depleted.
I'm not trying to drive them to what I think the design should be, I just want to make sure the design will work without throwing my money at it.
 

bkp_duke

Well-Known Member
May 15, 2016
5,235
17,085
San Diego, CA
Are you actually to the point where you have designs in hand and have signed a contract? If so, at least based upon my experience 3 years ago, you should be golden.

Our install had numerous things that came up which Tesla just ate the cost on:
1) NGOM meter (because of the regulations at the time, if we installed more than 3 PW2s we had to have a separate meter for just the solar).
2) multiple drywall repairs - we paid Tesla $1000 extra to hide the electrical conduit behind the walls. I'm absolutely certain they spent $4,000 in labor on this
3) multiple city inspector revisits

In the end, we had 3 electricians and 2 helpers on site for 8 days total, and the install costs were way under-estimated by Tesla. They never once came and asked to increase things because everything they did was in the contract. If you keep within the scope of work specified in the contract, they should have no legal recourse and would have to eat any cost over-runs.
 

RKCRLR

Member
Apr 13, 2020
434
168
Garden Valley, CA
^^^
I have a design "layout" (as top level as it is - 4 pages - it captures the overall configuration, where components are located, which components are existing, and which components are new).
I'm at the point of submitting for a permit - I was told that they were going to submit for a permit today.
As I said, I have a signed "Powerwall Purchase & Home Improvement Agreement". As far as I can tell that is a contract.
 

bkp_duke

Well-Known Member
May 15, 2016
5,235
17,085
San Diego, CA
^^^
I have a design "layout" (as top level as it is - 4 pages - it captures the overall configuration, where components are located, which components are existing, and which components are new).
I'm at the point of submitting for a permit - I was told that they were going to submit for a permit today.
As I said, I have a signed "Powerwall Purchase & Home Improvement Agreement". As far as I can tell that is a contract.

Yep, that's a contract. As long as what they do doesn't deviate beyond what is agreed up on in there, they should not be able to charge you extra.

***Note: I'm not an attorney. I do read contracts for my business. If you are really concerned you would have an attorney read things over for you.
 

arnolddeleon

Supporting Member
Jul 21, 2012
841
909
SF Bay Area
I've committed to purchase and install 2 powerwalls from Tesla. I'm concerned that they've underestimate the installation cost since my system is more complicated than most. I've tried to communicate my concerns with Tesla but communication is a one way street with them.
Can they refuse to install the powerwalls unless I pay them more money even if I've notified them about some complications?

They tried raise the price of main panel upgrade and I pointed to the signed contract and they honored it. I also had fairly complicated install (two existing solar systems, one Solar City and the other not). I did my best to make sure the designer understood everything about my system as much as could because like you I didn't want any surprises. I'm sure I came out ahead on the install labor as well. I think they work on the averages, they can't afford to spend extra custom engineering time on all the installs. Hopefully they just average out for them (and me since I'm stockholder).
 
Jun 22, 2017
527
337
Bay Area, California
I would LOVE to be able to talk to the design center but I don't have their phone number and they don't respond to my emails. I've been working through an advisor who is doing her best but they don't respond to her either. She had to escalate to get my SGIP application submitted and get a copy of the design to me.
I've reviewed their design and they've captured the overall requirements. They caught they would need a separate generation panel on my outbuilding (My service entrance and solar system is on my outbuilding and that is where the powerwalls will be - My residence is 250' up a slope from the outbuilding).
My concern is they later determine that I need a critical loads sub-panel. That will require either pulling more wire through the 2" underground conduit (not sure if that is possible) or trenching for a new line to the house. Either of those would be expensive but if in the plan now the cost (or a good portion) would be covered under the SGIP incentive. At the current burn rate the Equity Resiliency incentive will be completely allocated in a couple of weeks.
If they think it might be necessary it should be put in the plan now. It will be easier to give some money back if not necessary than to get more money once the budget has been depleted.
I'm not trying to drive them to what I think the design should be, I just want to make sure the design will work without throwing my money at it.
@RKCRLR The critical loads sub-panel is included. I have yet seen an install that didn't use one. It's a very compact Eaton 200A panel which was smaller than the Murray 125A one it replaced (garage sub-panel installed for prior solar). A lot of circuits can drop into the Eaton. In fact, the house sub-panel is fed by the Eaton.

I assume you have 100A service with the 2" underground. There should be enough conduit fill leftover to pull more cable. If it's 200A service, then trenching is needed.

Inside the house doesn't use more than 80A, so the inside is fed from a simple 125A branch breaker on the Eaton.

I'll drop you a PM about Tesla Design Center.
 

RKCRLR

Member
Apr 13, 2020
434
168
Garden Valley, CA
I have a 400 amp service entrance panel on the outbuilding. One 200 amp branch (de-rated to 150 amps because the solar is tied in there) is on a load center integrated with the service entrance panel and has all the breakers for the outbuilding. The other 200 amp branch runs 250' underground through 2" conduit to my 200 amp sub-panel/load center that feeds the house. I would need to de-rate the house sub-panel and pull all new wire through the conduit if I needed a critical loads sub-panel at the house; or trench for the critical loads sub-panel.
There is currently no separate critical loads sub-panel in the plan.

One thing I'm curious about (I'm sure this is crazy talk) is if Gateways can communicate with each other. It would be theoretically possible to use a 2nd Gateway at the house as a transfer switch and connect the critical loads sub-panel to it. That would eliminate the need to run additional wire to the house.
 

CA-Gbm84

Member
Oct 22, 2017
39
34
Bay Area
I have a 400 amp service entrance panel on the outbuilding. One 200 amp branch (de-rated to 150 amps because the solar is tied in there) is on a load center integrated with the service entrance panel and has all the breakers for the outbuilding. The other 200 amp branch runs 250' underground through 2" conduit to my 200 amp sub-panel/load center that feeds the house. I would need to de-rate the house sub-panel and pull all new wire through the conduit if I needed a critical loads sub-panel at the house; or trench for the critical loads sub-panel.
There is currently no separate critical loads sub-panel in the plan.

One thing I'm curious about (I'm sure this is crazy talk) is if Gateways can communicate with each other. It would be theoretically possible to use a 2nd Gateway at the house as a transfer switch and connect the critical loads sub-panel to it. That would eliminate the need to run additional wire to the house.

Can you add a rough drawing of the main service panel and how they feed the out building and main house.

Sounds like you have a 2x 200A service - with the solar on one side and the house on the other. That could be tricky because the gateway is only rated for 200A so you would not be able to backup both the house and the solar on the same gateway (kinda defeats the point)
 

RKCRLR

Member
Apr 13, 2020
434
168
Garden Valley, CA
^^^^
The outbuilding won't be backed up. They are going to re-route the house branch through the Gateway, add a generation sub-panel at the outbuilding that goes into the Gateway, and move the solar to the generation panel along with the Powerwall breakers.
Let me know if this answers the question. If not, I'll try to figure out how to delete my personal information from the design layout and post it.
Thanks
 
Last edited:
Jun 22, 2017
527
337
Bay Area, California
^^^^
The outbuilding won't be backed up. They are going to re-route the house branch through the Gateway, add a generation sub-panel at the outbuilding that goes into the Gateway, and move the solar to the generation panel along with the Powerwall breakers.
Let me know if this answers the question. If not, I'll try to figure out how to delete my personal information from the design layout and post it.
Thanks
Keep in mind the drawing states it is proprietary (something like that), so it's best to draw up a single line diagram to not create a stir.
 

slazinger_7

Member
Oct 7, 2020
32
4
California
We've had an awful experience with Tesla - our installation was not run of the mill, and I spent quite a bit of time educating the sales people about how our system would work with a whole home backup (they would not let me talk with engineering directly). It probably took 3-4 months to get a build-out, and the cost increased about 75% (almost double), and included a "pad", which sales couldn't explain to me why it was needed.

Needless to say we were NOT happy, but decided to accept the new pricing given that PSPS was a few months off. Tesla submitted and got permits approved and the install date was set 2-3 months later.

On install day, the electrician decided the project required moving a sub-panel to a different location due to height limitations in the work area to comply with code. This was despite the fact that I had sent Tesla pictures months earlier and provided the height of the room - they were well aware of these facts before they submitted for permits. The Tesla sales team said I had to sign a new agreement with another $7k price increase, but Telsa never sent it, the "field manager" pulled their team from the worksite (the powerwalls were onsite and ready for install) and I have received no substantive response from them since.

I'm told by sales that the "executive team" will reach out, but we never hear anything back - it's been about a month now and the install was supposed to be completed back in August.

I'd be curious if someone has an inside contact at the company.

We also applied for SGIP early on under the equity resiliency program, and Tesla since upped the price more than one in their revisions, so our current pricing doesn't match the SGIP application exactly. I'm not sure if this will bump us out, but we're under funded on SGIP at the moment. We can't reapply since the equity resiliency program in the PGE area is already maxed.

If we can't do SGIP, then we'll need to cancel since I'm not going to pay $52k out of pocket. This would be a massive bummer given that we started the process in early February.

And "yes", our house luckily survived the latest Glass Fire (barely) despite the fact that our new onsite water system was disabled due to the lack of electricity.
 

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