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.
I've had my panels installed on my home late in 2015. The installation went very smooth. I am able to monitor the production and it appears to be running great. This Arizona heat is a killer and I am happy to see my electric bills go down. They may deserve five stars but too early to tell. Overall very happy customer.
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