In a blog post dated June 19, Tesla introduced changes to its rooftop solar business that will allow it to offer the lowest prices on residential systems. Note that the post makes no mention of the company’s vaunted Solar Roof. It is all about rooftop systems that utilize conventional solar panels and racking systems.
Tesla is doing for rooftop solar what Henry Ford did for making automobiles — offering a “one size fits all” package that substantially reduces sales and engineering costs — except in this case there are four system sizes available. Here’s how Tesla explains things:
“Our new pricing is made possible by several simple improvements to a decades-old industry. We made ordering and installing solar easy by moving to fixed sizes that customers can order with a single click online — no more need to spend hours in consultations reviewing old utility bills. More than 80 percent of our customers move forward with the standard size recommended by our website, and the move to a digital experience helped cut our sales and marketing costs by 64 percent.
“We used these savings to make solar more affordable for customers, and also to build software that improves the experience of going solar. Our internal software platform now automates solar panel placement for energy optimization on a roof, significantly reducing the time needed to design a new system. We also continue to invest in core technologies that raise the efficiency of our solar systems, including new premium panels with higher power and efficiency, as well as integrated software and hardware that reduces the cost of solar interconnection and makes pairing solar with Powerwall easier than ever.”
The result, Tesla says, is that its rooftop solar systems are now about one third less expensive than the industry average and come with a lowest price guarantee. If you get a quote from a competitor that is lower than Tesla’s price, Tesla will meet it or beat it. Of course, there are terms and conditions and interested customers should read Tesla’s offer carefully, but in essence it says it will not be undersold in a straight up “apples to apples” comparison.
Tesla is also offering something unique in the industry, so far as we know. If within seven days after installation is complete the customer is unhappy with the new rooftop solar system, Tesla will remove it and issue a complete refund. In sales, that is known as the puppy dog close — let customers use the product for a limited time without having to pay for it on the theory that they will like it so much they won’t want to give it back. It’s like giving someone a warm, cuddly puppy. Who would ever want to return it? Yes, there will be a few who reject the product, but they will be so few and far between the whole process will be profitable despite those few givebacks.
Getting free electricity from your rooftop is obviously a good idea, but how much it is worth will vary depending on where you live. Mostly, it depends on how much you pay for electricity and other local variables like feed-in tariffs. If your cost of electricity is high, the time it takes for the system to pay for itself is shorter than if your cost of electricity is low. Whether or not you have trees shading your roof is also relevant.
“With our new pricing, an average customer buying a large system in California will make their money back in only six years by reducing their electric bill, ultimately making an average of $88,000 over the system’s lifetime,” Tesla says.
“In New Mexico, that same system will make an average of $55,000 over its lifetime and in Vermont, $47,000. All systems, in all states, generate more value than ever when purchased with cash or financed with a solar loan. Savings will vary based on state laws and local utility rates. We also offer low-cost subscription solar for a fixed monthly payment in six states that you can cancel anytime.”
Ready to get started? Visit the Tesla rooftop solar design page, type in some basic information, and Tesla will take it from there. Permitting, arranging for the installation, connecting your solar system to your home, and creating the necessary leasing or loan paperwork will all be done for you. If you want to add a Tesla Powerwall to your system, Tesla will be happy to make help with that as well. Your ticket to reducing or eliminating your monthly utility bill is only a click away.
Again, this is all about conventional rooftop solar power systems, not Tesla’s unique Solar Roof option. If you’re more curious about the solar tiles, we recommend this thorough rundown and you can always ask CleanTechnica VP Kyle Field about it — he has a Tesla Solar Roof (plus two Powerwalls).