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.
HORRIBLE Customer service
I contacted them originally and after reviewing my property they decided it was too shady to be profitable to them so they declined to install panels. Fine. But then they called back a few months later to find out why I hadn't gone with them to install panels. I explained the situation and they said (paraphrasing): "Oh, let's look at it again; I think we might be able to make something work." So they send a guy out to inspect my house again. But wait; we've done that. They can't keep their records straight. I need special approval from a historical commission, and I go and Solar City has sent the wrong specs to the commission. I get conditional approval, but I still have to go round and round with at least 4 different people--who can't keep track what I've said to the last one--to get clear on what needs to be done to conform to the historical commission standards. Finally, I dealing with one guy, Josh, who asks me to identify a large number of photos taken from my roof so that engineering can do their best to design something. I wait, he tells me they're on it. I wait, he doesn't reply. I ask what's going on. He doesn't reply. I contact my other main contact, Bree, she doesn't reply. I say on voicemail and email: Just have the decency to tell me what happened. Nothing. Finally I threaten to sue for wasting my time... THEN I get a reply that they'll have to send it up to "legal." JERKS. Basic point: once they determine they can't make money off me, I'm not worth a phone call. Watch out!! BAD COMPANY, instructing its employees to act like BAD PEOPLE. STAY AWAY!!
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