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How does Project Solar compare with a big name like Tesla when it comes to solar panel price and quality?
While Project Solar may be a new name to you, you’re probably familiar with Tesla because you’ve seen their electrical vehicles, come across “Elongated Muskrat” memes, researched solar panel options, and more.
Tesla product ownership can give customers a sense of pride and an air of social awareness. Even if someone doesn’t own a Tesla, just being familiar with what’s new with the company can increase social capital.
When a company gives customers a sense of power, that is powerful in and of itself. Tesla’s brand identity is strong because it envelops something more than just products and services—it is a story to follow.
Tesla’s brand identity has significantly factored into its popularity and high demand for products like their Powerwall energy storage systems.
Whether you identify as a MuskRat (CEO Elon Musk’s equivalent of Swifties) or not, it is important for any consumer to analyze the product and service they are receiving—separate from their feelings for a brand.
A big name naturally nurtures trust, but it’s still important to determine whether a popular company measures up to its hype. Here, we’ll compare and contrast Tesla solar panels with Project Solar’s products and services.
Who is Project Solar?
Project Solar is a startup based in Utah’s Silicon Slopes that is venture-backed to disrupt the solar industry. Project Solar’s groundbreaking vision is turning heads as they have been featured on Forbes, Uncrate, LA Weekly, Gear Patrol, and Tech Times.
Project Solar has built their business model around e-commerce principles, and consequently, they have no sales or commissioned employees at their company.
The company started out by emphasizing their DIY installation offer with a focus on technology to optimize and streamline the quoting, permitting, and engineering stages for solar customers.
Then, they built out the world's largest network of fully vetted installers to offer customers full install with warranty at an amazing rate.
How Will We Compare Project Solar and Tesla?
This comparison is not a competition that will have a declared winner at the end.
This article’s purpose is to lay out these companies' strengths and weaknesses. Different solar customers have different needs and goals, so when armed with information, those in the market for solar can wisely pick a company that is a good fit.
This is why it's so significant that solar sales are going online. Consumers should be encouraged and given the space to research and make decisions.
At the end of the day, both Project Solar and Tesla are helping the solar industry progress in the right direction.
In this article, we’ll be evaluating each company based on these factors:
- Energy storage options
- Solar system inverters
- Price per watt
- Sales strategies and customer service
Energy Storage Options
On April 22, 2021, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted, “Starting next week, Tesla Solar Panels & Solar Roof will only be sold as an integrated product with Tesla Powerwall battery.”
Since Powerwall and solar systems are now a package deal, you can’t buy one without the other. While the Powerwall is a great product, its price in addition to panels spikes a customer’s grand total.
Project Solar offers Enphase Encharge batteries, but you are not required to buy one along with your system. This allows people interested in solar to still get panels even if a battery is financially out of reach. The option to buy a battery or not is in the hands of the consumer, and this helps keep panels accessible to more people.
Solar System Inverters
Solar inverters are the part of the system that converts the sun’s energy into something usable; it converts direct current (DC) to AC (alternating current), which is the current that most homes use. The inverter tracks panels’ stats and is paired with the brains of the system.
The two most common types of inverters offered by companies are string inverters and microinverters.
String inverters can sometimes be problematic because when a panel is underperforming due to shading or any other kind of obstruction, the whole array can only produce electricity at the level of the underperforming panel. In other words, the issues of one panel can undermine the whole system’s production.
Project Solar uses Enphase microinverters that offer robust 25-year warranties. Microinverters are known to help solar systems operate more efficiently than string inverters because there is a separate inverter attached to each individual panel.
Price Per Watt
Both companies’ average prices per watt are about half of the national average, which is huge.
Project Solar offers solar for about $2/watt for a full-service install and $1.50/watt for DIY installation (both before incentives).
Tesla's panels also cost about $2/watt for a full-service installation (excluding the cost of energy storage).
Tesla’s Solar Roof is another solar option that replaces your roof’s shingles with photovoltaic (PV) shingles. This sleek design so far is not quite as efficient as panels when it comes to energy production, and it is far above the national average price per watt, but these downsides haven’t completely deterred customers from piling onto waitlists.
Both Project Solar and Tesla offer aesthetically pleasing, all-black panels. Tesla panels come with front skirting which conceals hardware and panel edges.
This skirting cleans up the array’s appearance and helps prevent debris from accumulating under the panel. Project Solar’s panels don’t come with skirting, but wire mesh critter guards are available as add-ons.
Project Solar uses IronRidge racking, but Tesla uses rail-free mounting. This means that interlocking brackets are used to fasten panels together and form one solid array.
Sales Strategies and Customer Service
Both Project Solar and Tesla are working to keep things simple at a low cost. For example, both companies don’t use solar salespeople, and their operations are entirely online. Since salespeople and their commissions bloat the price of solar, both Project Solar and Tesla are able to offer solar at a fair and appropriate price.
Many reviews of Tesla's solar services also reveal that while customers are usually satisfied with their products and installation, there are some long-term customer service issues that have discouraged consumers.
Continue to Research Your Solar Options
The solar industry as a whole has some issues. When people think of the solar industry, pushy salespeople and confusing, inconsistent prices can come to mind. Both Project Solar and Tesla are companies that are improving the solar industry by breaking out of harmful practices.
Tesla is a thriving and well-known company, but it is still important to understand their solar products. With its microinverters and optional battery purchase, Project Solar offers many of the same advantages as Tesla along with its own perks.
We believe in the intelligence of the average consumer. We encourage you to do your research, compare offers, and learn about the different equipment. Below are a few links that provide further details on Project Solar's offer.