Tesla defies global price plunge, raises prices on solar roof and home batteries

Puzzling strategy from the the EV pioneer and reluctant residential solar company.

  • Link copied to clipboard

A week after Tesla announced it is making a major design change to its solar roof (its fifth since 2016), the EV pioneer and reluctant residential solar company raised pricing on its solar roof product by more than 30 percent.

While global pricing of rooftop and utility-scale solar has plummeted precipitously over the last decade, Tesla is heading in a different direction with a contrarian pricing move on its solar roof. It’s another puzzling turn in the development and marketing of its SolarCity-spawned solar business. 

Subscribe to receive Canary's latest news

According to posts at the online community Tesla Motors Club, contracted solar-roof customers recently received a letter that included some bad news. Tesla has initiated a tiered pricing model based on roof installation complexity.

We have increased the price of Solar Roof and have added adjustments for individual roof complexity.

This TMC commenter saw an increase of $20,000 as a result.

I’ve had a solar roof reservation since March 2020 (in MN). My purchase agreement was signed in April 2020. Today I got the note below which shows a new agreement which is just about $20k more than the original. No change in the proposed design.

Here’s the initial contract.

Here’s the amended version with the price increase.

This commenter claims this constitutes a 34.5% price increase after the purchase agreement was signed.

My Purchase Agreement was signed on 8/21/20. Original Net Cost after the solar credit was $52.7K. […] Today I got the attached, with a new price of $70.8K, or a 34.5% increase. […] I’m not sure it makes financial sense anymore, quite apart from being really pissed off at Tesla’s awful customer treatment on this whole thing. 

Storage products are not immune from the price inflation.

[Tesla] even increased the [Powerwall] battery storage price by ~$1,100 (~$8,666, original was $7,500) and the website is showing them as $5,800 with a solar project.

Tesla solar pricing up, installations down

While U.S. residential solar installations doubled from 2014 levels to 2020’s 3 gigawatts, Tesla’s residential solar deployments have tumbled by half in that same time period. Tesla’s fourth-quarter 2020 solar deployments did show some signs of life with 86 megawatts deployed, but by any measure, the company is no longer a leading player in residential solar. 

Image: John Engle

Although it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, Tesla has quoted post-tax-credit prices of $1.49 per watt for a traditional solar panel installation
(roof not included), while the solar roof clocks in at about $3.50 per watt post-subsidy. 

Building and installing a residential roof with integrated solar is difficult. Photovoltaic panels and roofing play very different roles, and combining the two typically compromises both — and at a premium cost. Tesla has demonstrated this in the false starts it has made with its still-in-development and expensive solar roof product. 

Eric Wesoff is the managing editor of Canary Media. He's a prominent industry journalist, analyst, writer, consultant, speaker and expert witness in the renewable energy field.