Review for Tesla / SolarCity
Thoughts on SolarCity from the SolarReviews editors:
SolarCity is the largest installer of residential solar panels in America. It was founded by Lyndon Rive and Peter Rive in 2006 but has since been acquired by wall street darling Tesla Motors. Tesla started as an electric car company but is now a clean energy conglomerate selling Tesla solar panels, the Tesla Powerwall home battery and solar roof tiles alongside their electric cars.
However, selling solar panels to consumers is a very different business to selling a consumer an electric car because tradespeople are needed to climb up ladders and install solar panels on the roof of their customers all over this vast country. Logistically this is a difficult thing to do and this is the reason few roofing or air conditioning companies are truly national.
SolarCity rose to become the largest solar installer because they were one of the first companies to offer zero down solar leasing and also PPA contracts. However, the market has now changed and with solar prices much lower than they were a few years ago most homeowners want to buy their solar panels outright rather than be tied to a 20 year payment. Consumers have now realized they are better to buy their solar system and collect the solar tax credits themselves. It took Solarcity quite a while to start to offer customers competitive prices for outright purchase.
What is the biggest issue with Solarcity and what can we learn from SolarCity reviews?
Ironically, size and geographical coverage are the biggest problems for SolarCity because of the need to have skilled salespeople and installers in a wide variety of locations. Commission only sales people are a recipe for disaster because they receive little training and tend to say whatever the client wants to hear in order to get a signature. It also means they have to use a wide array of third-party contractors as installers and it is difficult to manage quality where this is the case.
Would I buy solar panels from SolarCity (Tesla) or would I choose another solar provider near me.
I am a big fan of Elon Musk and Tesla for their vision of the seamless integration of a package of renewable energy solutions that together can allow customers to live a carbon neutral life. Their company probably does more to tackle climate change than any other company or government in the world and their battery factory in Reno, Nevada is doing more to make battery storage of renewable energy possible that anyone else in the world. Their Powerwall 2 home battery is clearly the best solution on the solar battery market.
However, I would not buy a residential solar power solution from SolarCity because there are lots of really good small and mid-sized solar companies out there that have their own dedicated install crews and who I trust more to take care of my roof and the solar equipment when installing it.
Although SolarCity reviews on our site are poor it needs to be remembered that happy customers tend to say nothing whereas angry customers leave reviews. As such your odds of having a good experience buying solar panels from Tesla are probably better than their reviews suggest.
8 week reinstall time
I had to have my roof replaced due to hail damage this summer. When I called to schedule the removal, there was a 6 week lead time. They came on the day sheduled and had it off in one day. I was not alowed to schedule the reinstall untill after the new roof was on (one day after the removal) which I did- only to have an 8 week wait! The excuse? "Not enough crews to get this done faster" Really? in a country, let alone this city, that had a HUGE unemployment problem- they can't get enough staff? AND - they still require MY payment of the lease during this down time- when I have to pay the increased electric bill. To top this off- my solar is out due to some malfunction, which they made me aware of (thank you for that) and they can't get someone out here to fix it for another week. Lack of customer service.
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