Here’s Proof From A Tesla Owner That Switching To Solar Is A Win

Tesla Model X and Solar Roof

SEP 30 2017 BY EVANNEX 29

Tesla Solar Roof – Tuscan Tile


Electric cars and solar panels are like peanuts and beer: the one increases your appetite for the other. A survey by CleanTechnica of 2,000 EV drivers in 28 countries found that 28-40% of respondents had installed home solar panels.


Tesla Model S powered by solar panels at home (Image: Alba Energy)

As is the case with electric vehicles, solar panels are a more attractive purchase in certain regions, where generous local incentives can offset a large chunk of the up-front cost.

Tesla Model S owner Shiva Singh told Green Car Reports about his very lucrative experience with solar panels. Shiva owns no less than five electric cars, including two Model S, and has three 240-volt Level 2 charging stations in his garage. He lives in Fremont, California, home of Tesla’s assembly plant, and the city with the highest concentration of electric-car ownership in California (and almost certainly in the US).

He had been thinking about solar for some time, but what really convinced him to take the plunge was the fact that the city of Fremont now requires all new homes to have solar panels and EV charging stations. He figured that, when it came time to sell, solar would make his house more competitive in the market.

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Charles Morris.


Getting your home’s power from the sun (Image: Ecowatch)

Shiva’s local utility, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), offers a time-of-use plan, which means that electric rates are lower during off-peak hours. Deals like this, which are available in a growing number of areas around the country, are tailor-made for EV drivers, who can set their vehicles to charge during the cheapest rate period (for Shiva, that’s 11 pm to 7 am on weekdays, when the rate drops to $0.10 per kilowatt-hour, half the maximum rate).

That’s not the only local incentive in solar-friendly Fremont. Several regions in California offer a program called PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy), which allows homeowners to finance renewable energy projects by attaching the debt to the property and paying it back through their property tax bills. The interest portion can be taken as an itemized deduction on the homeowner’s federal tax return.

And of course, taxpayers in any state can take advantage of the 30% federal tax credit for solar energy systems. Unlike the EV purchase tax credit, the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit carries over to future years, so you eventually get the full amount of the credit, no matter how high or low your tax bill.


Tesla Model S powered by sunlight (Image: Florida Solar Design Group)

Shiva ended up buying a system with an output of 7.26 kW, consisting of 22 330-Watt LG panels, placed on the west and south sides of his roof. The after-tax cost worked out to $2.45 per Watt. The system covers his family’s monthly usage of about 1,500 kWh, and even produces a small excess, which PG&E refunds at the end of each year.

The most critical number for anyone considering solar (or any other money-saving home improvement) is the payback period – how long it takes for the monthly savings to equal the up-front cost. Shiva has calculated his at less than six years.

Shiva’s experience is basically a best-case scenario – not only does he live in what is probably the most solar-friendly locality in the US, but he has a large house (5,000 square feet) and high electric usage. Your author, in sunny but solar-averse Florida, has a much smaller home, and the local utility offers no time-of-use program. Estimates from several solar installers have worked out to a payback period more like ten years. The only way to know if solar is a good deal for you (financially) is to do some research.


With solar, you can charge your Tesla to drive on sunshine (Image: Chase)

However, Shiva does have some good advice for anyone who’s thinking about going solar: get estimates from several companies, including local outfits, not just the national chains. Read the fine print, and be particularly careful about financing. In general, home improvement companies don’t make loans themselves – they partner with finance companies, which are expert at making the deals sound better than they are.

Of course, saving money isn’t the only reason to go solar, any more than it’s the only reason to drive electric. Elon Musk has had several opportunities to sell out and retire a multi-millionaire, but that’s not where his interests lie. The philosophy behind Tesla, SolarCity and SpaceX has never been about making money – it’s about changing the world. If you’ve got the money to invest, why not change your little corner of it for the better?

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX, Check out the site here.

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29 Comments on "Here’s Proof From A Tesla Owner That Switching To Solar Is A Win"

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I also live in Nor Cal and am considering solar. I have 1 EV and plan to add a second. My cost will apparently be smaller but my estimate recover period is 7 to 8 years. That’s not a bad deal considering solar panels are guaranteed for 20 years and should last much longer.

I got a loan so I could go solar. My loan payment equaled my typical electric bill, at the time. Electric rates went up for electric utility customers after I put in my system. They didn’t go up for me, since I get my electricity from the sun and not the utility. So, I am paying less than I would pay if I remained an electric utility customer. When my loan is paid off, I’ll have free electricity.

This in my opinion is the single most revolutionary aspect of going electric.

EVs are the only vehicle you can make your own fuel for.

This is a game-changer and breaks the oil and electrical utilities cartels’ backs and this is the main reason that fossil fuel interests and their minions along with their useful idiots are constantly attacking this progress.

It is the basically the ultimate synergy and the more that people realize it and take advantage the faster we will have a better society and planet.

If anyone doubts the advantage of installing solar just do the math for yourself and don’t believe the no sayers.
My system in SoCal is producing about 9000kWh/year in average and costed 12600 after the fed credit. Between household consumption and gas savings the system is saving $1700/year in costs (7000kwh for house at base rate of 0.17c and about 2000kwh for ev or about 7500 moles) making the payout time between 7 and 8 years. The truth is that the savings are even higher since i will never go into Tier 2 rates at 0.22c and the gas prices will only go up from here making my numbers better as time passes.This is a small 5.4kWh system but bigger systems have even faster payouts. The only downside is that you have to have the cash to buy the system upfront as financing extends your payout and a lease is just an insult.

Oh, and you know what happens after the payout period? I get yearly dividends for the next at least 20 years which would make it at least a x2 investment return.

That’s what I do: saving money and investing it in energy saving technology. But of course you need to become an expert yourself, in order not to waste your money on useless technology or poor craftsmanship.

There is no way a 7 kW system would cover his family’s (outrageous) 1500 kW electricity usage in one month. At best maybe half of it, if he’s using a battery.

Yeah, my calcs show he needs around 12kW to cover 1500 kWh monthly usage on average.

I have an 10.5kw system in Ontario… Canada and it outputs over 1600kw many months of the year

My 5.4kwh system in SoCal averages 700-800 per month. His system can definitely deliver close to 1500 in the summer months from May to October.

My best month -June- is usually just avove 1000kwh.

There is good probability it would as my 10.3 Kw array produces over 16,000 kWh per year in central Illinois at44 deg latitude.

All well and good if you are fortunate enough to own a home. What about the 50%+ of the population in cities who have to rent?

Not sure if the return period estimates here are factoring in the gas savings that solar affords EV others, but I suspect it will trim the payback period by 10-20%.

EV ‘owners’.

The owner sells solar power to the utility via net metering at the highest rate during the day, but charges cars overnight using the lower rate. This, in combination with other regulations and subsidies, makes solar in CA very attractive.

They would save even more money if they didn’t use EVs (lowering their electric bill still further), but that’s not really a responsible position to take, especially for someone so rich.

Completely disagree with the last remark. In my case, gas is x3 compared to what i would pay for electric. Under NEM1 i give them 1kwh and they give it back when i need it, price doesn’t matter so it’s best to pump as many ev as you need to drive.

I don’t think this owner will have their EVs long enough to recoup the cost of ownership (50-100K), specially on the Teslas. See:

Who the hell recovers costs on their cars? Any cars! What are you talking about, man? You recover the system cost faster if you don’t have to pay for gas each year…but you wouldn’t know that because your ev is imaginary.

PG&E is phasing out TOU E6 and replacing it in 2018-2020 with an anti-solar TOU plan.

The reverse will occur – your solar output during the day will be credited at 1X while your heavy usage in the evening will be 3X.

EV charging will still be at 1X since you can set your EV/EVSE to charge at any time.

You can’t avoid cooling down your home and cooking in the evening. That’s a typical home’s biggest energy usage.

When that happens, a Tesla Powerwall will start making a ton of sense economically allowing one to cover peak demand periods using stored solar power.

That should spur Tesla battery sales.

There is a product that was supposed to be available this year for residential use that, would allow you to shift your cooling load by making ice at the low price times and use the ice for cooling at the high price times.

I have not been able to pin down price and availability for the residential product but, the commercial/institutional product has been available for a few years. I expect this type of system to become a huge market as solar PV gains market share.

You are looking for the ice bear system. Don’t know it’s cost, but it is available.

While payback period is an oft-quoted metric by which to evaluate an efficiency equipment purchase, it’s the least sensible for most potential buyer of residential PV systems. Not only does it disregard, favorably for the investment, the time value of money, and does it ignore completely, unfavorably for the investment, all savings beyond the payback period, but even more importantly it disregards completely the increased sustainability of the home power and personal transportation fueling. The faulty metric (payback period) so oft-quoted should be considered evidence that most residential PV systems are not strictly financial considerations. This is all without considering externalities of other home/vehicle power solutions, nor even the change in home resale value due to the PV system upon disposal of the residential property. While the details about the individual financial effects of a residential PV system are interesting, this story makes a foolish claim about what type of financial metric is important, and ignores that the non-financial benefits of such a system exist in many other U.S. localities where the after tax cost per installed watt quoted in the article ($2.45/watt) are not impossible to match. The combined costs of PV systems and more value-priced EVs make it… Read more »

Interesting article. My 9120 watt system (38 cheapie 240 watt panels installed in 2014) produces roughly 9,300 kwh/year – but then here in Buffalo NY I couldn’t get a south-facing orientation, and Buffalo gets as much sun as Alaska or Germany – can’t compete with sunny california.

However, with tax credits – my purchase cost will eventually be about $1 / watt. (I can’t imagine someone paying $2.45 per watt – but then in California he gets much more production out of each kw of solar panels). At 10 cents/ kwh 24/7/365 currently, my payback would be around 10 years IF I NEEDED all the electricity. Even with 2 cars I can’t seem to drive enough, hehe. So, seeing as I only get less than 2 1/2 cents/kwh on my excess generation, my real payback will be around 15 years or so, but that’s ok. It is an interesting ongoing science project.

Bill, lots of things changed since 2014 so today’s numbers are much better. Personally, i have a hard time believing that your 9000kwh system costed about $9000 in 2014….that is way too low unless you did all the work. The lowest price i have seen in Cali today was 1.7/w after fed credit with a payout of 4 years. It’s getting ridiculous!

Well, let us be clear with couple things:

1. That guy’s family is a millionaire which lives in a multi-million dollar neighborhood.

2. His parent works for PG&E which has extra discount.

3. His 5 EVs would have pushed him into a way expensive tier level that is prohibitive to stay without solar.

4. His solar installation is on average 2x to 3x larger than typical installation.

5. He lives around a relatively sunny area of the SF Bay Area.

The top image is an Alba Energy solar customer who saw his power bill go down to almost zero despite charging his Tesla daily. More pics of his install at