Tesla Solar Update – Cancelled

So, I just got off of a support chat with Tesla, and cancelled the project. I’m sad, but also relieved. Here’s what went down…

We last left off with the new installation date was scheduled for March 14th, and while Tesla and I were on the same page for that date, it was still an unknown if Austin Energy’s representative would make it. My take was if it happens, great – and if not, we’ll just set a new date. I understood that this was my utility’s scheduling fuck-up and not Tesla’s.

But this morning, March 4th, I received a text from Tesla:

Hi Warren, Tesla has completed the layout of your solar panel system. Please review or make changes to your order while Tesla prepares your project for permitting. tesla.com/teslaaccount

This was a very unexpected text, I had already approved the design back in August, and the permits had already been pulled last year.

I logged into my account and the number of panels and layout hadn’t changed. The estimated system size had dropped from 8.925kW to 8.4kW, but I couldn’t figure out why. I know the calculation is Number of Panels X Estimate Panel Output Wattage, so the 8.925kW system was using the Tesla T425 panels. Tesla’s panel offerings are T420/425/430, so it wasn’t adding up that I would have 21 panels at 400W?

I opened Tesla Chat Support and asked them what had changed, and the representative said that due to supply chain shortages they are using an “unknown” 400W panel for my design. (Unknown is my addition.) They also pointed out that my system cost had gone down, but as far as I could tell, it was only reduced ~$1,000. So a loss of 525W only netted me a grand, not to mention this new panel being used with unknown specs.

Given how this whole process has gone so far, and how Tesla has handled the aspects that are within their control, I opted to cancel. To Tesla’s credit, they made cancelling easy.

Some thoughts:

  • I went into this knowing that Tesla’s way of doing business when it comes to their solar offerings were problematic and I had read many, many online posts from upset individuals. My experience was not terrible, but Tesla needs to really make it more transparent and easier to talk to someone when a potential customer has questions. Understanding what the win conditions are with a solar installation are difficult for many.
  • The delays and difficulty with getting anything done with my particular case lay at the feet of Austin Energy. The AE market is apparently slammed with residents installing solar or backup generators, which has caused a >6 month delay with getting the AE representative to do the needed power disconnects and inspections. I have no doubt that these huge delays have cost Tesla customers and money.
  • The global supply chain shortage is impacting everyone, and while I am understanding of that, how Tesla’s process is for the customer experience is terrible. The new panel information was nowhere to be found on the system design page, which is the reason why I was on that page to approve or make changes. Again, transparency.

I think the Tesla solar solution with Powerwalls is great, and I’d like to have that. I’m gonna give them a year or so and revisit how things are going once we’re past this global situation.

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