why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?

Do any of you install solar for a living?
Why do installers quote $7/watt to install?
I can get a 4.4KwH System from Sunelec for $2.90 a watt
http://sunelec.com/index.php?main_page=pv_systems&id=1160

That puts 4400x(7-2.90)= $18.000!!

the aluminum mounting brackets, conduit, breaker box, etc might be $500 to $1000
And although I've never done an install I figgure it might take a couple of days, max 3.

Seems like $6000 would be a more realistic install cost.

Maybe since I've never done it I'm missing something, but it's almost as if they think, the government is paying for half of it, so lets take advantage of it!?

Comments

  • CariboocootCariboocoot Posts: 17,615Banned
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?

    Not to be impolite but, do you know how to do it?

    Frankly if you do you can do it yourself and save some money.

    Otherwise you are paying people who (hopefully) have had some significant technical training and (hopefully) experience in the field so that things are not only fastened down properly but also wired up properly.

    Although this is in doubt considering the number of inquiries we get here about problems that can be traced to bad installation. :roll:
  • icarusicarus Posts: 5,070Super Moderators admin
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?

    Install cost comes with some significant hidden costs, including, but not limited to, engineering, labour, specialty hardware, inventory costs, specialty tools, insurances, overhead, profit, warrantee costs etc.

    I may complain that my car guy gets $75/hour until I realize that he has $100,000 worth of shop and diagnosis tools that allow him to solve a problem quickly and efficiently the first time instead of him having to spend time diagnosing by replacement.

    Yes, you can do it yourself, and many are more than competent to do so, but if you are looking for a proper install that is properly warranted etc there is a reason why the raw panel cost is only one factor.

    Tony
  • ggunnggunn Posts: 1,972Solar Expert
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?
    icarus wrote: »
    Install cost comes with some significant hidden costs, including, but not limited to, engineering, labour, specialty hardware, inventory costs, specialty tools, insurances, overhead, profit, warrantee costs etc.

    I may complain that my car guy gets $75/hour until I realize that he has $100,000 worth of shop and diagnosis tools that allow him to solve a problem quickly and efficiently the first time instead of him having to spend time diagnosing by replacement.

    Yes, you can do it yourself, and many are more than competent to do so, but if you are looking for a proper install that is properly warranted etc there is a reason why the raw panel cost is only one factor.

    Tony
    All true, but $7/W seems a bit steep to me, even if it's installation PLUS equipment for a straight grid-tied system.
  • icarusicarus Posts: 5,070Super Moderators admin
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?

    I am not arguing that the ~$7/watt is a reasonable installation, but merely pointing out that on top of the raw panel cost of ~ $3/watt is but one factor in the cost. Pretty simple, add up the cost of the hardware, they you can see what the installer is actually charging for the installation. Granted, if you are buying the hardware from the installer, there is some profit in the hardware as well. As with anything, consider the calibre of the installation as compared to other installers to find out where the best value is. I contend it is not always related to the least expensive installed price.

    We have seen examples of many poorly thought out installs that don't take maximum advantage of the solar potential.

    Tony
  • BB.BB. Posts: 24,643Super Moderators admin
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?

    I guess people are getting $6 per watt quoted costs... And, already, lots of companies and manufacturers are going out of business--with 30%+ or more subsidies.

    Something is not right.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • ggunnggunn Posts: 1,972Solar Expert
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?
    icarus wrote: »
    I am not arguing that the ~$7/watt is a reasonable installation, but merely pointing out that on top of the raw panel cost of ~ $3/watt is but one factor in the cost. Pretty simple, add up the cost of the hardware, they you can see what the installer is actually charging for the installation. Granted, if you are buying the hardware from the installer, there is some profit in the hardware as well. As with anything, consider the calibre of the installation as compared to other installers to find out where the best value is. I contend it is not always related to the least expensive installed price.
    No argument from me. Ever get the timing belt replaced in your car? Did you look at the itemized bill? ;^)
  • dreesdrees Posts: 479Solar Expert
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?
    BB. wrote: »
    I guess people are getting $6 per watt quoted costs... And, already, lots of companies and manufacturers are going out of business--with 30%+ or more subsidies.
    solar_dave got a quote for $4.90/watt installed w/Enphase microinverters...

    http://forum.solar-electric.com/showthread.php?p=76208#post76208

    Of course, not knowing specifics of the install it's hard to know if $7/watt is fair or not, but it's certainly not out of the ball park (yet).
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott Posts: 755Solar Expert
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?

    i know how to do most of it, and have an electrician friend who could help me wire it all up.

    I guess if they have a solar show room I would understand the pricing, but I think $7/watt is excessive, $4.90/watt is more reasonable.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Posts: 17,615Banned
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?

    A lot depends on where you are too. We pa $4.90/Watt just for the panels here! :grr
  • solarixsolarix Posts: 713Solar Expert
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?

    It used to be $7/w around here until module prices dropped from $3.50 to $2.00 and the utility rebate was cut in half. Now competitive prices here are sub $5/w. Still seeing a lot of get rich quick companies trying to keep their margins up though.

    I agree with you though. Sometimes I marvel at how much we charge for about 7 man-days of work on a typical residential job.
    Then I think of all the costs involved in:
    being reputable, having a storefront,
    all the unproductive red tape,
    finance costs from jobs taking forever because of all the fingers in the pie,
    advertising costs to stay up with all the wannabees trying to get into the business,
    every job a custom installation because houses were not designed with solar in mind (we are doing a job right now and discovered the roof has - I kid you not - 14" of foam on the roof),
    utilities that are downright uncooperative to tying to "their" grid,
    local AHJ's more interested in funding their permitting process than having a sustainable community,
    governments with no long term energy plan that keep whipsawing the industry from boom to bust,
    time spent educating the community to our new technology,
    time spent keeping up with a fast changing field (by reading this forum of course)
    homeowners with wasteful lifestyles,
    dogs ready to eat meter readers at the service entry,
    mounting panels so that neighbors will not have to look at those awful PV panels.
    I'm sure something will come up tomorrow I haven't thought of.

    I love my business - its not boring!
  • jcgee88jcgee88 Posts: 154Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?
    Why do installers quote $7/watt to install? I can get a 4.4KwH System from Sunelec
    for $2.90 a watt...

    That puts 4400x(7-2.90)= $18.000!!

    the aluminum mounting brackets, conduit, breaker box, etc might be $500 to $1000
    And although I've never done an install I figgure it might take a couple of days, max 3.

    Seems like $6000 would be a more realistic install cost.


    I would tend to agree that $7/watt is high. But, I sense that the
    logic you use to estimate $18K as the amount contractors would
    (over)charge to install this particular PV bundle is incomplete. Based
    on my own experience, there are numerous important deliverables
    that a contractor provides which may not be itemized on their quote
    and which you have not taken into consideration.

    Your formula for the total install is basically this:

    Price of professional installation = ($7/watt installer proposal)
    minus ($2.90/watt your cost for panels) minus ($500-1000 for
    cost of balance of system)

    Let's look at all three items. First, your $7/watt price:

    You didn't mention where your $7/watt price came from. Normally,
    a quote is specific to the location (state or city) where you are
    installing and specific to the nuances of the installation site as well.
    My observation is that $7/watt was the going rate about a year
    ago for most places with average installation difficulty. That price
    drifted downwards by more than $1/watt since then. My own
    installation in June 2010 came in at $6.60/watt, and one of my
    relatives installed for $5.60/watt in December 2010. So your
    starting point of $7/watt seems high to me, notwithstanding
    that you didn't mention anything about your site that might
    justify the higher price.

    Now, your $2.90/watt bundle:

    The $2.90/watt price is on a specific bundle. Sunelec may
    have priced it especially aggressively, i.e., it might be a loss leader
    type bundle, which, if you can use it is great for you. However, it
    may not be representative of what you need or want. I see at least
    three items which would either further inflate this price or deflate
    the value. First, it does not include shipping. The 24 panels themselves
    weigh about 500 lbs, so the total package probably weighs 700 lbs.
    The second issue is that the PV panels at 185 watts/panel are
    essentially prior generation/older technology. 225-250 watt panels
    are the sweet spot right now. If you go with the lower density panels,
    you use up more roof space (less room for future expansion), and it
    may be hard to get spares or extras if this older technology
    discontinues soon. Lastly, the bundle is described as "for tropical
    climate only." I'm not sure why they categorize it as restricted to
    such climates, but taking them at their word, are you in a tropical
    climate? Net net, your $2.90/watt "PV hardware cost" seems low.

    Now let's look at the Balance of System costs. This is where
    your formula is the most problematic, I sense.

    You feel that installation should take at most three days.
    For mine, with 13 panels, the onsite part took five days, with two
    installers. Off site, my contractor ordered, received and consolidated
    the hardware from the various suppliers, and loaded a trailer full
    with equipment and tools. There's also his time spent doing onsite
    surveys which included PathFinder shading analysis, the engineering
    design which included PV-Watts predictions, schematics, the wind load
    analysis, and the permit submissions with the county and the utility
    company. Finally, after the installation was done, my contractor
    came back for three inspections and spent another half day
    making changes that the county inspector requested. If you add
    this all up, you are on the order of 15-18 man-days of labor.

    And that's not all of the deliverables. Icarus listed these:

    >...specialty hardware, inventory costs, specialty tools, insurances,
    overhead, profit, warrantee costs...

    In addition to the above, my contractor had these further costs to
    account for or to pass along: sales tax on materials, hauling away trash
    from the install, custom safety labels on both the interior and exterior
    circuit boxes, 8' lightning rod, customer support (Q&A before/during/after
    the install). He provided a five year onsite warranty for his materials
    and workmanship, and a five year subscription to the web management
    software.

    At the end of the day, I received a turnkey system that was optimized
    for the shading conditions for my site, verified by software analysis to
    be safe for 90 mph windload, fully operational, inspected and approved
    by the governing authorities, and warranted to be cost-free to me for
    maintenance and repair for five years (longer for the PV panels and
    inverters).

    So I'm not trying to defend your contractor's price. I am saying that
    prices in the $5.50-7.00/watt range seem fair, if you are getting the
    full range of deliverables that a job done right entails. You can
    certainly do things cheaper with DIY and/or by giving up deliverables,
    that's up to you.

    John
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott Posts: 755Solar Expert
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?

    Excellent points. My system is going to be on the ground on flat sunny land about 50 feet away from the meter and is probably a lot less complicated than a roof mount system. I don't think the person who quoted me $7/watt over the phone took that into consideration. I'll probably get one or two more quotes, but it seems like installing this myself is the way to go, since I have all the resources and skills to do it, with some help from my electrician friend.
  • SteveKSteveK Posts: 277Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?

    It was enlightening to me that any Federal/State tax credit I would've gotten amounted to the near exact dollar cost of three installation quotes I received. This on the labor line item.

    I felt that the installers had the labor quoting down to a science to match these credits....and then the blank stares at the request for some battery backup....sheesh. Answers like "I know someone who did that" does not provide confidence in a customer willing to shell out 18K for a 2.4KW system while on grid power is available 'till it goes dark....then the grid tie is useless.

    We treat our storefront the same as any other portion of the company, a profit center. If not it is a cost center and needs to be evaluated as such.
  • jcgee88jcgee88 Posts: 154Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?
    My system is going to be on the ground on flat sunny land about 50 feet away from the meter and is probably a lot less complicated than a roof mount system.

    A second relative of mine did a ground mount last year.
    His 10kw array sits about 100 feet from his home. His site
    prep included: grading, putting down gravel, and trenching
    for running the power cables to his circuit box (he rented a
    trencher and did that himself). Next, the contractor came
    onsite and he anchored the rack mounting posts into the
    ground; this step involved concrete work and caused some
    wait time for the concrete to cure.

    At this point, the install proceeded similarly to a roof mount.

    Once done, the county inspector showed up, and he approved
    the installation. However, he did require that a fence be put
    up around the array. My relative went ahead and did this, but
    then found that the fence he put up was deemed "too low,"
    and he had to do it over again. Because the fence ended up
    to be (I recall) in the 4-5 foot height range, he then had to
    re-consider its location, to avoid it casting shadows on the
    array.

    Not counting his own DIY expenses, he paid $7.20/watt.
    That's pretty high, and I can't tell if you should attribute
    that higher cost to the ground mounting. It was done in
    early 2010, so industry prices hadn't drifted down at that
    point. [His state pays the highest SREC fees in the nation,
    so he wasn't as price sensitive as most people.]

    John
  • vcallawayvcallaway Posts: 157Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?

    My local power company held a seminar on grid tied solar last year. A couple of installers participated and the very same question came up.

    What surprised me was the almost $2k in permit costs. In addition to that each installer had a full time staff member that did nothing but paperwork. There are about a half dozen agencies involved in the various tax credits and rebates. Tons of paperwork for each.

    I went and watched a couple of installs being done. It is not quite as simple as you might think. Roof installs carry liability for leaks and storm damage. Pole mounts require additional permits.

    Doing things right costs money, it is just that simple.
  • dreesdrees Posts: 479Solar Expert
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?

    Yep, I don't think you can assume that a ground mount is cheaper than a roof mount. You can only assume that the costs will be different.

    Someone here posted a video of how quickly his installers installed his roof mount system - they had the system physically mounted on the roof in a day with a team of 4-6 guys. 2nd day was spent doing wiring with 2 guys. And these guys obviously had a good system in place for what's probably a best case scenario for a roof install.

    I can't see a ground mount getting done that quickly easily - at least you are going to need some heavy equipment for hole and trench digging and concrete pouring. All seems more difficult (certainly more heavy labor involved) than a roof mount system.
  • ggunnggunn Posts: 1,972Solar Expert
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?
    drees wrote: »
    Yep, I don't think you can assume that a ground mount is cheaper than a roof mount. You can only assume that the costs will be different.
    IME, the racking for ground mounted systems is significantly more expensive than for roof mounted ones. With a ground mounted system, you have most of the components you would use for a roof mounted system, plus you have the supporting infrastructure itself to build.
  • sub3marathonmansub3marathonman Posts: 297Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?
    Do any of you install solar for a living?
    Why do installers quote $7/watt to install?
    I can get a 4.4KwH System from Sunelec for $2.90 a watt
    ...
    Seems like $6000 would be a more realistic install cost.
    ...
    Maybe since I've never done it I'm missing something, but it's almost as if they think, the government is paying for half of it, so lets take advantage of it!?

    I too wondered about installation costs. When I was doing mine in 2008, I found one competent installer who was willing to work with me, and if I supplied my own materials he would install them, get the permit, and supply wiring for $1/watt. I passed on that offer, thinking that $5000 was still too high. In the end, I saved some, but I was also extremely fortunate that I was able to enlist the help of Solar Guppy (an industry expert who just happens to live a few miles from my house) and without his help I really don't know if I could have gotten it done.

    I decided to get the permit myself. I made some drawings, brought them down to the permit office, and was told they weren't good enough. So I went back home, spent many nights until 3 a.m. reading up about PV installations and also the NEC codes, made more drawings with every detail drawn, and was promptly rejected a second time. The mounting hardware I was going to use was certified for Texas, but not for Florida. So I had to pay a local PE to give his stamp of approval. After that I got the permit! It was a very happy and satisfying day. And, so there is no misconception, the local permit people were very helpful and patient with my questions, and were great to work with.

    So I hired a roofer to install the roof-mounts, rails, and the panels. He said sure, he'd done several solar PV installs. I wondered when he started and didn't snap a chalk line, but figured he knew what he was doing, after all, he's the "expert." Well, the roof-mounts ended up looking like a snake going across the roof, and he never came back to do anything else, despite me waiting two separate days that he assured me he was coming out. So I had to get on the roof, loosen just about all of the bolts, and adjust the mounts. After doing that it was relatively straight, at least straight enough for the rails I had to install. Then I had to get the 21 panels up to the roof myself with no help from anybody. I was desperate and finally figured out how to lift them up using the ladder for support, and carefully carrying them over to where they were supposed to be mounted. Luckily I forgot about my fear of heights, and ended up with the panels perfectly installed. And the roofer wasn't paid the entire bill, so it ended up being less money but more work and headaches.

    My "licensed" electrician friend was supposed to get the equipment and then I would help him install everything. The first sign of trouble was when I looked on the computer and saw his license wasn't valid. I asked him about it, and he said he was surprised. The next red flag was after a couple of months when he got the license again. He came over to help with the conduit. He said he didn't remember exactly how to bend it, since it had been awhile since he installed any. The people at the Electrical Supply place were saying, "Fire the electrician," and finally I had to. So I put the conduit up myself and did a fine job. I mounted the inverter and it was fine too. Now all I needed to do was run the wire. That's where I ran into trouble. It seems that the NEC allows the EGC to be conduit, so I figured that's what I would do. I went down to the inspectors just to double check. The head man said that wasn't allowed, there had to be an EGC wire. So all my conduit wire calculations were thrown out the window.

    I then found a great electrician, and they were able to run a second set of conduit. They also didn't say anything when I told them I was upsizing the wire, and they managed to get everything finished up and working. I did catch where one of the guys was going to put a wire on incorrectly, he said it really wouldn't have mattered, but said that I was correct where it should be installed.

    So yes, I did save some money, but in terms of the hours I spent many would wonder if it was worth it. I still would do it myself, since I now know the entire system and can fix it myself if I have to. I made some "rookie" mistakes, but it all worked out in the end, and there is a real sense of accomplishment that you don't get paying somebody else.
  • jcgee88jcgee88 Posts: 154Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?
    drees wrote: »
    Someone here posted a video of how quickly his installers installed his roof mount system - they had the system physically mounted on the roof in a day with a team of 4-6 guys. 2nd day was spent doing wiring with 2 guys. And these guys obviously had a good system in place for what's probably a best case scenario for a roof install.

    Drees,

    The above "good case" install is pretty close to my own situation.
    Based on your description, the install in the video required 12
    man-days of onsite labor. (The offsite work is not described.)

    My install consisted of two installers doing the following:

    2 days to physically install all of the equipment on the roof;

    2 days of electrical work;

    .5 day of cable management, conduit work, site cleanup;

    .5 day of system initialization (working with Enphase for web
    registration and access), and system test & debug.

    ---

    If you exclude the work engendered by the post-install
    inspections, the total onsite installation time for mine was
    10 man-days. If you do include the after-installation effort,
    it works out to 12-13 man-days. My install wasn't perfect;
    it had two hiccups involving parts which added a man-day
    to the 12-13 man-days.

    John

    P.S. I saw that video and the one thing I didn't like about
    their install was that they ran an ugly exterior conduit from
    the roof to the circuit boxes.
  • Knd870Knd870 Posts: 32Solar Expert
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?
    jcgee88 wrote: »
    Drees,

    The above "good case" install is pretty close to my own situation.
    Based on your description, the install in the video required 12
    man-days of onsite labor. (The offsite work is not described.)

    My install consisted of two installers doing the following:

    2 days to physically install all of the equipment on the roof;

    2 days of electrical work;

    .5 day of cable management, conduit work, site cleanup;

    .5 day of system initialization (working with Enphase for web
    registration and access), and system test & debug.

    ---

    If you exclude the work engendered by the post-install
    inspections, the total onsite installation time for mine was
    10 man-days. If you do include the after-installation effort,
    it works out to 12-13 man-days. My install wasn't perfect;
    it had two hiccups involving parts which added a man-day
    to the 12-13 man-days.

    John

    P.S. I saw that video and the one thing I didn't like about
    their install was that they ran an ugly exterior conduit from
    the roof to the circuit boxes.

    John,
    Based upon your signature block, 13 man-days @ $1 per watt works out to $270 per man day, or about $33 per man hour (8 hour days). 12 man-days works out to $294 per man day, or $37 per hour.
  • jcgee88jcgee88 Posts: 154Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?
    Knd870 wrote: »
    John,
    Based upon your signature block, 13 man-days @ $1 per watt works out to $270 per man day, or about $33 per man hour (8 hour days). 12 man-days works out to $294 per man day, or $37 per hour.

    Actually, my original install was 13 panels, even though my
    sig block has 15. I had two more installed last month.
    My installer's "time & material" rate is $80 per hour, although
    of course, he didn't bid my job, nor did I pay, by the hour.

    John
  • dreesdrees Posts: 479Solar Expert
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?
    jcgee88 wrote: »
    The above "good case" install is pretty close to my own situation.
    Based on your description, the install in the video required 12
    man-days of onsite labor. (The offsite work is not described.)
    My self-install was similar. 4 people, we got the system installed 3 days, though we worked a bit more than 8 hours/day. We could do it a lot faster the second time.

    None of that counts the hours spent drawing up plans (lots of time over multiple months), getting the permits submitted and approved, etc, etc.

    Sure you can DIY - but in many cases I don't think you save all that much money once you figure out how much time you spend on it - and how much extra time you spend because you don't do it for a living...

    Would I do it again? Totally - it was well worth it for the learning experience! But I certainly wouldn't recommend it to everyone.
  • jcgee88jcgee88 Posts: 154Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?
    Then I had to get the 21 panels up to the roof myself with no help from anybody. I was desperate and finally figured out how to lift them up using the ladder for support, and carefully carrying them over to where they were supposed to be mounted.

    I made some "rookie" mistakes, but it all worked out in the end, and there is a real sense of accomplishment that you don't get paying somebody else.

    Kudos to anyone who can do a complete PV system design
    and install! I watched my entire install, and it looked like a
    lot of fun (sort of like a giant set of tinker toys), except for
    when they played inside the circuit breaker box. Besides there
    being a lot of work taking place in a hot and hazardous location,
    it takes a broad skill set: roofer, electrician, carpenter, solar
    technologist. It must be a thrill for you (and Drees, Mr Radon,
    and others) when you walk outside and see it every morning.

    With regard to carrying the panels up to the roof, I was
    wondering myself how they would do that. I was thinking
    they would use a conveyor belt or at the minimum have
    a person carry it part way up and then hand it to someone
    already on the roof. Nope! All they did was have a fully
    anchored ladder, and then one guy carried each panel up.
    I have attached a couple of photos of how this looked.

    John
  • sub3marathonmansub3marathonman Posts: 297Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?

    That is one strong guy. I hope the wind wasn't blowing either. I could barely maintain the Sharp panels I had with two hands, and even in what I would consider just above a breeze I had to make sure the wind didn't catch the panels.

    Also, there is a proper method to carry the panels that states where to hold them to avoid damage. I don't know if the worker there is following those guidelines. I think it is on both of the long sides, or at least two sides, or something to that effect. Some of the experts here will probably be able to say.
  • ggunnggunn Posts: 1,972Solar Expert
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?
    jcgee88 wrote: »
    Kudos to anyone who can do a complete PV system design
    and install! I watched my entire install, and it looked like a
    lot of fun (sort of like a giant set of tinker toys), except for
    when they played inside the circuit breaker box.

    Many (most? all?) AHJ's won't let you muck about with the AC hookup unless you are an electrician. They might well fail your inspection if you can't show that the work was licensed.
  • dreesdrees Posts: 479Solar Expert
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?
    ggunn wrote: »
    Many (most? all?) AHJ's won't let you muck about with the AC hookup unless you are an electrician. They might well fail your inspection if you can't show that the work was licensed.
    Those rules vary greatly depending on where you live. In all of California you are allowed to work on your own residence specifically. You can't do work on others without a license.

    Either way you need to have the work inspected.
  • DerikDerik Posts: 82Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?

    I ran into the same thing last year here in San Diego Conty. The other thing here is that at that time not too many people knew what they were talking about and nobody had done an off grid system.

    I found a good solar supply place out of state that specialized in off grid and they designed my entire system, and walked me through the install.

    It was very very easy and anyone who believes in Green Jobs being high tech should install solar. The high tech part is being done in the engineering and manufacturing which isn't done here in the U.S. Installation is a matter of connecting a-b and c-d and with good diagrams and a little assistance I would think almost anyone can do it. Your on grid so your electrician would make the final hook up to the grid. Having said that my electrician who wired my house (licensed residential electrician) knew nothing I repeat nothing about solar. So don't assume these electrician firms who say they know solar do at least not here.. (land of the rip offs and pretenders).

    I heard the same thing about plans and permits and how much trouble that was, it's not true at least not in my case. I pulled all the plans for my house and for my solar. My solar guy who supplied me everything helped me draw up plans over the phone. Solar Permits are free here or were when I did it last year and I bet in your area they are very cheap. As far as rebates that was simple too. I didn't get the state (off grid exclusion) but I got the fed rebate.

    I am pretty sure the host of this web site can set you up and design a system and I bet they would walk you through the install. I used a Outback system Felx 500 and it was all plug and play.

    As far as it being hard physical work, that's not true, the panels are light, you may need to rent a lift for the rack or in my case a tractor but your still going to save a ton.
    If you ever watch a construction crew you decide if you can out work them.. Few here in Southern CA seems to work more than 5-6 hours a day.
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Posts: 2,206Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?

    It is expensive because you are paying for all the people who wasted the installers time and never bought anything from anyone. I think the question should be why are people so uninformed? Most do not even know what a KWH is.

    It is much easier to run a business offgrid. The first question I ask is,
    Do you want electricity? It puts everything in perspective.:roll:
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail offgridsolar@sti.net

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