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Tesla Low-Profile Solar Panels

Jessica PirroMay 7, 20191700

Tesla isn’t just manufacturing cars, in fact they have been planning on making solar panels for years. The company is creating a factory in Buffalo, New York, specifically to manufacture the Tesla solar panels and Tesla Solar Roof. But until recently that was all that was known about these plans.

Tesla solar panels: Everything you need to know

In addition to manufacturing multiple kinds of electric cars, Telsa will also offer solar panels available for your property. Tesla offers solar installs for their low-profile panel option that has sizes ranging from 4 kilowatts (kW) to 16 (kW), they are increments of 4 (kW).

In most cases, it comes out between 12 solar panels and 48 solar panels, in increments of 12 panels. Tesla also recommends that you add Tesla Powerwalls to your solar installation.  

As of now it isn’t clear exactly who is manufacturing Tesla’s solar panels. Elon Musk had previously stated that Tesla Solar Roof production at the Buffalo Gigafactory 2 will increase in 2019.

Tesla solar panel prices decline close to the national average

Tesla announced a new price cut and philosophy to its solar panel business. The head of Tesla’s solar, Sanjay Shah, said that the reason that they were able to reduce the price was because of the new methodology.

This new methodology includes standardized system prices and having homeowner upload photos if their electric meters, breaker boxes and other equipment to lower the need for site visits.

Shah stated, “We spent hours and hours and days and days on the process. It adds cost. It adds time. We needed to have a very streamlined process.”

Tesla’s solar panel prices  

System size (kW)

Tesla solar panels cost (Before incentives)

Cost Per Watt ($/W)

4 kW

$11,400

$2.85

8 kW

$22,800

$2.85

12 kW

$34,200

$2.85

16 kW

$45,600

$2.85

These prices do not include the federal investment tax credit (ITC) that can lower the cost on a solar installation by 30 percent.

Cost of Tesla solar panel system post-ITC

System Size (kW)

Tesla solar panels cost after incentives

4 kW

$7,980

8 kW

$15,960

12 kW

$23,940

16 kW

$31,920

Tesla’s solar panel product history

At the end of 2016, Tesla finalized a manufacturing agreement with Panasonic. Panasonic’s solar panel technology is known for having some of the most efficient solar panels on the market.

Tesla released detailed information about these solar panels back in 2017 and hasn’t given information since then. Their panels were supposedly 325-watt models with a very impressive 21.76% efficiency. These efficiency levels are bringing them inline with some of the most premium solar panel options on the market.

In April 2017, the solar panels were revealed. Instead of announcing the product, Tesla decided to quietly update their Tesla Energy website, to include a page that is specifically dedicated to solar panels that are alongside its other energy products the the Tesla Solar Roof and Powerwall.

What was not released back in 2017 was how much the Tesla solar panels would cost. There was research that was done by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) that found that the larger solar installers are typically pricing their solar products at a premium of 10 to 20 percent, when compared to smaller local installers.

There was also word of mouth information that stated that Tesla solar panels were being quoted at around $3.25/W, which placed a 6kW at about $19,500 before tax credits, rebates or incentives.  

Back in January of 2019, Tesla was mainly using their own Tesla-branded solar panels that were manufactured by Panasonic in quotes for installations. In 2018 a report done by Electrek, it revealed that Tesla’s deal with Panasonic to produce at Gigafactory 2 began to speed up.

The report said, Tesla’s purchasing of panels from other suppliers dropped, while the share of installation done by Tesla with Tesla-branded panels jumped over the second half of 2018. The company reported to have installed 93 megawatts (MW) of solar panel capacity in Q3 2018.

Notably the solar panels that were revealed on Tesla’s website that are a distinct product that is very different from the Tesla Solar Roof that was announced in October 2016.

The Solar Roof is an integrated solar tile roofing system. The look of these tiles is very chic and aesthetically pleasing, but when installing them on an already existing roof, they tend to be more complicated. The solar panels that are manufactured by Tesla, are more suited for standard solar panel roof installations.

Why are Tesla’s low-profile solar panels special? 

One of the main differences between Tesla’s solar panels and the other solar products on the market today, is how they look on the roof. Images of Tesla’s solar panels show a product with a sleek all black finish.

But Tesla is not the only company that offers an all black solar panel, the premium panel manufacturers LG and SunPower both have been producing black panels for years.

It isn’t the black panels that set Telsa apart from the others, but the design of the system itself makes them distinctive. The Tesla website states that “Our solar panels blend into your roof with integrated front skirts and no visible mounting hardware.”

The Telsa solar system also includes “skirts” that will create a beveled edge that wraps around the solar panel installation, making the system almost appear that it is built into the roof. Neither the skirt nor the low-profile mounting system are only available to Tesla, it is very clear that Tesla has spent a significant amount of time and resources to create an aesthetically pleasing panel install.  

These panels also come with integrated functionality to the Tesla app. This app will allow property owners to monitor their panels from a smartphone or another device. One of the biggest benefits of Tesla-branded products is that they continue to be their usability and overall experience.

It also seems that their low-profile solar panels aren’t any different when it comes to ease of use and modernization.

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