Tesla sells its electric cars and solar batteries in the UK, but what about Tesla solar panels and solar roof tiles?
Tesla is probably the world’s best-known maker of electric vehicles, so it’s no surprise that Elon Musk’s company is in the solar electricity generation game, too. Unfortunately, Tesla solar panels and solar tiles aren’t yet available in the UK – but that is likely to change.
Meanwhile, there are ways for us Brits to go solar with Tesla. Tesla’s solar battery system, the Powerwall, has been available in the UK for nearly eight years. The Powerwall now works with solar panels of all brands, not just Tesla panels, so you can use it to charge your electric car or store any excess energy your panels generate.
In this article we’ll take a closer look at the Tesla Energy range of solar and electric products, discover why its rather expensive panels aren’t available in the UK yet, and highlight the best alternative solar panels you can buy.
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What are Tesla solar panels like?
If you’ve ever salivated over the high-end looks of a Tesla car, then it won’t surprise you to learn that Tesla solar panels score 10/10 for aesthetics.
There are no visible lines on the sleek black body of each 400 watt panel, and their concealed edges help them blend neatly with your roof. Tesla’s mounting hardware uses 30% fewer roof anchor points than a standard installation, making an array of Tesla solar panels look less bulky than the average solar PV system.
Another big plus point for Tesla solar panels is their ‘smart’ solar inverter, which has Wi-Fi and mobile connectivity for easy interaction with the Tesla app and other products such as the Powerwall solar battery. The smart inverter comes with a 12.5-year warranty, and the panels themselves have a 25-year production warranty.
Tesla solar panels are fairly average when it comes to efficiency ratings. According to industry data from EcoWatch and Forbes, Tesla’s 2023 panels have an efficiency rating between 19.3% and 20.6%, a couple of points lower than most of the panels in our roundup of the best solar panels you can buy. The Tesla smart inverter, however, has an efficiency rating of 97.5%, much higher than the average 93%-96%.
Does Tesla make its own solar panels?
No. Tesla previously partnered with solar panel manufacturer Panasonic, but now it uses the latest sleek black version of the Q CELLS Peak Duo monocrystalline solar panel (pictured below), made by Korean firm Hanwha. These panels are not exclusive to Tesla. In fact, we included a previous edition of them in our roundup of the best solar panels you can buy in the UK.
You can buy Q CELLS Peak Duo panels from many UK suppliers, including ITS Technologies (£158 per 400W panel including VAT) and USolarShop (£162). These prices are in line with average solar panel prices, but don’t include the cost of installation or additional system components such as the inverter.
How much do Tesla solar panels cost?
Tesla solar panels are much more expensive than average, despite the fact that Q Cells Peak Duo panels are relatively affordable when bought direct. Tesla doesn’t publish prices on its website, but business resource MarketWatch calculated that the average Tesla solar panel system costs $25,000-$30,000 (£19,700-£23,600, January 2024). That’s about four times the price of the average non-Tesla solar panel system, including installation.
This price does seem unusually steep, so we wanted to check by submitting our details for a quote from Tesla itself. However, UK visitors to Tesla’s website can’t even see a page about solar panels, let alone get a quote. It’s almost as though Elon Musk doesn’t want us knowing he sells panels at all.
There’s more: Tesla solar roof tiles and batteries
What is a Tesla Solar Roof?
If you visit Tesla’s website from the UK, you’ll see info on Tesla cars, charging ports, the Powerwall battery – and a preview section for the Tesla Solar Roof.
The Tesla Solar Roof is not the same as Tesla solar panels. Rather than being made up of panels, the Solar Roof is made from solar roof tiles, which come in various modern and classic finishes. From ground level it looks like a normal roof, making it an ideal solar option for listed buildings and homes in conversation areas.
Roof tiles are more durable than solar panels or standard roof tiles, but slightly less efficient than panels. But their main downside is cost. In August 2023, Forbes calculated that a 6.31kW (kilowatt) Tesla Solar Roof would cost over $87,000 (£68,500). The average UK solar array is smaller, around 3.5kW, but if you equate the prices that would still come out at well over £30,000.
If the prospect of an eye-watering bill doesn’t put you off, sign up for Tesla Solar Roof updates on Tesla’s website. Alternatively, check out our in-depth article on solar roof tiles to discover the UK providers who charge a relatively affordable £15,000 for a 3.5kW system of solar PV roof tiles.
What is a Tesla Powerwall?
The Powerwall is Tesla’s compact residential solar storage battery. Unlike Tesla solar panels and tiles, you can already buy the Powerwall in the UK, probably because Tesla manufactures it as well as selling and installing it.
The latest version available in the UK, the Powerwall 2, has a higher than average storage capacity of a 13.5kW. This is about enough to keep an electric car, which doesn’t have to be a Tesla, on the road for a day. The battery also lets you store up the energy generated by your solar panels during the day, so you can use it to power your home after dark.
The Tesla Powerwall 3, which comes with its own solar inverter, is on sale now in the US and is expected to reach the UK in 2024.
A Powerwall currently costs around £11,000 including installation. This is much higher than the average price of solar batteries, which are widely available in the UK.
READ NEXT: Best solar battery storage UK
When will Tesla’s solar panels be available in the UK?
That’s the million dollar question. Musk previously said he’d start selling solar panels in the UK in 2018, and then 2019. In 2024, we’re still waiting.
Tesla solar panels will be available here eventually, but they’re likely to be much more expensive than non-Tesla equivalents. As mentioned above, you can buy the Q CELLS Peak Duo, the panels Tesla currently sells a version of to its US customers, for affordable prices through UK retailers. You can also buy more efficient solar panels, such as the SunPower Maxeon 6, for around £350 each excluding installation.
If you’d like to switch to solar, our advice is to find a reputable local installer who will work with you to source the best solar panels for your energy usage, your roof and your budget.