Acquiring a Tesla Solar Panel System

As of: 11/27/2021

I’m going to post a more detailed write-up after the system is up and running, but for now here’s a quick timeline of the process so far on ordering a Tesla solar panel system.

  • 8/15/2021 – Began the ordering process. Website config was 12kWh and 2 Powerwalls.
  • 8/16-18/2021 – Took photos and uploaded as part of the Home Assessment step.
  • 8/25/2021 – Tesla solar design available for review. Design group calculated 9kWh and 2 Powerwalls.
  • 8/30/2021 – Credit check, Approval to Install, and Permits filed.
  • 8/31-9/14/2021 – Kept checking the Austin Permit website for status change.
  • 9/14/2021 – Email to Tesla about permit issue. Tesla promptly replied it was forwarded to the Permit Coordinator.
  • 9/15/2021 – Tesla update that permits were approved.
  • 9/30/2021 – Tesla portal shows install date of 1/5/2022, confirmed with Tesla.
  • 10/1/2021 – Called Austin Energy to confirm the installation date. AE claims I wasn’t on the schedule, but confirmed the backlog due to massive solar and generator installs in the area. I emailed Tesla this information.
  • 10/2/2021 – Tesla portal now shows an installation date of 2/4/2021.

Going into this, I knew that working with Tesla for a solar panel system was likely to be problematic, as the online reviews and posts state Tesla’s very poor customer service. The one bit of advice I kept seeing was the customer (me) needed to act as if they are the project manager, as the PM’s with Tesla are either inept, overworked, or both.

I get the impression that Tesla Energy is experiencing massive growth and are playing it fast and loose. In Texas alone there has been >1 gigawatts of solar installed since the February 2021 “winter event”, compare that to the South Texas Nuclear Project’s annual production of 1.28 gigawatts. Many posts online show that it’s a bumpy ride to install day, but once the day arrives, it’s a swift install and the crews are really great to interface with.

There have been two main issues so far that I’ve had to be proactive with Tesla on: the permitting and the installation scheduling. I’m confident if I hadn’t been checking on the permit status or the scheduling with Austin Energy, my install date would be further out in 2022.

The system design process was quick and I have to say I’m impressed. I was sent the engineering drawings, and was able to confirm that the Powerwalls will be installed inside the garage. Tesla is defaulting PW installs to outside, but given that my natural gas meter was close to my electrical meter, Tesla had to put them inside.

…to be continued.