Tesla announced it is launching a new option for homeowners to rent a rooftop solar system for as low as $50 a month. With no upfront installation costs or long-term contract, analysts say the move could help boost solar panel adoption in the United States, particularly among homeowners who have previously balked at the cost of solar systems.
Tesla’s new rental program is available to customers in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New Mexico. It includes free support, maintenance, and “other necessary hardware.” Customers will be able to cancel their plans at any time, though Tesla said it would charge users $1,500 if they want the system removed and their roof restored to its previous condition. If customers sell their homes, they can transfer the contract to the new owner.
“The bet they’re making is that electricity prices will continue to rise and that consumers ultimately won’t want to cancel,” Philip Shen, an analyst with Roth Capital Partners, told The Wall Street Journal.
According to The Verge, Tesla will charge renters $50 per month for a small, 3.8-kilowatt solar panel system that generates an average of 10 to 14 kilowatt hours of energy per day; $100 per month for a medium, 7.6kW system that generates 19 to 28kWh; or $150 per month for a large, 11.4kW system that puts out 29 to 41kWh per day. The average U.S. household uses about 28 kilowatt hours of electricity per day.
The new program is seen by industry analysts as Tesla’s latest attempt to shake up its struggling solar business. The company cut prices for its solar panels earlier this year, and also introduced the option of purchasing its residential systems in modular increments to help customers spread out the cost. According to TechCrunch, Tesla only installed 29 megawatts of new solar in the second quarter of 2019, compared to SunRun’s 103 megawatts and Vivint Solar’s 56 megawatts.