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

  1. #1

    Default 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_pa...ystems&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!?

  2. #2

    Default 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.
    1220 Watts of PV, OB MX60, 232 Amp hrs, OB 3524, Honda eu2000.

    Ohm's Law: Amps = Volts / Ohms
    Power Formula: Watts = Volts * Amps

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    Quetico, Ontario
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    Default 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
    Please note, being a moderator does not add any weight to my opinions 300 watts Siemens/BP panels,plus a Sun 90,, making ~400. ~30 amps into Rogue MPT-3024, 450 ah of Trojan T-105, Morningstar ts300 inverter, a Tri-Metric meter.a collection of antique generators, plus 2 Honda eu-1000i's (also a BS2512 IX controller) and assorted other stuff!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Austin, TX, USA
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    1,857

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

    Quote Originally Posted by icarus View Post
    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.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Default 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
    Please note, being a moderator does not add any weight to my opinions 300 watts Siemens/BP panels,plus a Sun 90,, making ~400. ~30 amps into Rogue MPT-3024, 450 ah of Trojan T-105, Morningstar ts300 inverter, a Tri-Metric meter.a collection of antique generators, plus 2 Honda eu-1000i's (also a BS2512 IX controller) and assorted other stuff!

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Location
    SF Bay Area (California)
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    21,557

    Default 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
    20x BP 4175B panels (replacement) + Xantrex GT 3.3 inverter for 3kW Grid Tied system + Honda eu2000i Inverter/Generator for emergency backup.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Austin, TX, USA
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    1,857

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

    Quote Originally Posted by icarus View Post
    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? ;^)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    San Diego, CA
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    Default Re: why is solar installation so expensive? $16,000 for a few days work?

    Quote Originally Posted by BB. View Post
    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/show...6208#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).

  9. #9

    Default 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.

  10. #10

    Default 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!
    1220 Watts of PV, OB MX60, 232 Amp hrs, OB 3524, Honda eu2000.

    Ohm's Law: Amps = Volts / Ohms
    Power Formula: Watts = Volts * Amps

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