I think solar power is a rip off!!

UrbandialectUrbandialect Solar Expert Posts: 107 ✭✭✭✭
These people are just as greedy as "big oil", the mark up on the solar products are ridiculous. Xantrex has everything over priced that they sell; especially those charge controllers w/the faulty software in them. And because you need the power companies to sign off on your installation in order to get any rebate the people who install your solar system are over charging you, basically taking the amount of your rebate.

Personally, I feel that since the market is pretty young to the residential side, people are taking advantage. The true cost of your solar system should be in the storage system (batteries).

You crooks that are out there better pray that I don’t take a real interest in solar, cause if I do? I’m coming into the industry to drive prices down to the true cost. Jesus, how much are you trying to profit off one installation? 5 or 6 thousand dollars? Ridiculous..
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Comments

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,994 admin
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    Not trying to defend any one company--Everyone knows that there are trade-offs made during design/production/sales cycles.

    Rather than this thread turn into an open ended rant--or even "please OBMSBSXWYZ", fix this plea...

    Raise the questions/issues you (or others) have about particular applications or products and how they may be addressed.

    I made a post a week or so ago comparing the costs that I, as a small computer system designer, paid for a 1kW 2 output switching power supply in the early 1980's vs what a consumer pays for much more sophisticated power supplies today... And on a $$$/Watt basis--there was not much difference (even after 25+ years of inflation and huge improvements in microelectronics).

    It is actually pretty amazing to me we get what we do today.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Joe_BJoe_B Solar Expert Posts: 318 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    I installed all my own stuff. it was not a trivial thing. I believe that installers have a hard job with lots of liability. Ever try to lug many hundreds of pounds of panels and racks up on a roof? ever damage one? Its a multi disciplinary field, not only do you have to do things right, you have to guarantee yields. I dont install these systems for a living but if I did, I would be getting paid well for it.
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    These people are just as greedy as "big oil", the mark up on the solar products are ridiculous. Xantrex has everything over priced that they sell; especially those charge controllers w/the faulty software in them. And because you need the power companies to sign off on your installation in order to get any rebate the people who install your solar system are over charging you, basically taking the amount of your rebate.

    Personally, I feel that since the market is pretty young to the residential side, people are taking advantage. The true cost of your solar system should be in the storage system (batteries).

    You crooks that are out there better pray that I don’t take a real interest in solar, cause if I do? I’m coming into the industry to drive prices down to the true cost. Jesus, how much are you trying to profit off one installation? 5 or 6 thousand dollars? Ridiculous..

    Well I'm extremely happy with my system. Did all the design work and installation myself with a lot of help from the folks on this form, and built my micro hydro myself, from scratch. Plus I'm off-grid and neither got, expected nor wanted any taxpayer to hand over money to pay for any of it. I've also done a lot of free and volunteer work for others over the decades, but it was other work, which paid a profit, that put food on my table and a roof over my head. And no, I've never ripped anyone off, to the best of my knowledge. I'm far from rich, but I'm happy, and after that, what else really matters. I truly consider myself very lucky, especially when I look around the world and see the pure hell in which so many others exist, and are destined to remain until death.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    Oh the irony of posting such a rant on a forum which daily hands out thousands of dollars worth of engineering consultation for free. :roll:
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,994 admin
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    Marc,

    I am getting my "cut"--Aren't you? :p

    -Bill "The moderate Moderator" B. :roll:;)
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • UrbandialectUrbandialect Solar Expert Posts: 107 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    I'm not talking about the people on "this site".. sites like this is everything "right" with solar, the crazy prices that people want to charge for equipment and installation is what's wrong
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    Oh the irony of posting such a rant on a forum which daily hands out thousands of dollars worth of engineering consultation for free. :roll:

    True Coot, but what good is that free engineering consultation, help and advice if those who request it, then point blank refuse to listen, refuse to learn from the experience and knowledge of those of whom they asked the question? It has always amazed me how so many folk will ask experts for help or clarification on issues, then turn right around and argue with said experts. It's truly astounding and at the same time hilarious. I've always tended to just turn my back and walk away from people like that, let them learn the hard way, but doing that on a form like this, allows the misinformation to stand, where it can be taken up as fact by others less knowledgeable in the field, and that's a disservice to all.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    I'm not talking about the people on "this site".. sites like this is everything "right" with solar, the crazy prices that people want to charge for equipment and installation is what's wrong

    Your complaint about there being unscrupulous people in the RE business is entirely valid. The number of times we've exposed such shysters on this forum is mind-boggling. We also know there are installers that take advantage. But tell me; can you name even one industry about which the same isn't true?

    In defense of the major manufacturers, there's far more included in their prices than mere cost of parts and assembly. When you see similar products sold for less, often that company is taking advantage of the hard work already done by the higher-priced maker. It's called "reverse engineering" (the cheap companies making use of R&D done by others) and has been a thorn in the side of many companies for a long time.
  • The Only SargeThe Only Sarge Solar Expert Posts: 164 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    If you do not take care of due diligence, research, compare, ask questions you will get ripped off in about any industry I can think of.

    If you take care of the above items you will probably be happy with your investment.

    I had a "quote" for over $6K for my system. I did it myself for around $2K. Had a lot of fun actually and it works great.

    Now I am gonna take a sip off my $12 a gallon iceberg water and be happy with myself.:cool:
  • UrbandialectUrbandialect Solar Expert Posts: 107 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    If you do not take care of due diligence, research, compare, ask questions you will get ripped off in about any industry I can think of.

    If you take care of the above items you will probably be happy with your investment.

    I had a "quote" for over $6K for my system. I did it myself for around $2K. Had a lot of fun actually and it works great.

    Now I am gonna take a sip off my $12 a gallon iceberg water and be happy with myself.:cool:

    You did it yourself for $2k, and they were charging over 6k. that's my point! $4k in labor? come on.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    You did it yourself for $2k, and they were charging over 6k. that's my point! $4k in labor? come on.

    although on the surface it may seem like a ripoff you have to remember that guy has to not only do the install, pay his workers, fix anything that goes amiss, get permits and inspections, etc., but he also has to have a bit for those times the installs are not one after the other. he does buffer to stay afloat during off times. if you can do it then fine. i would have to agree on the $4k profit as being a bit excessive on a $2k install though.
  • garlicgarlic Solar Expert Posts: 43
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    The way I see it is that educating oneself is the key to not being "ripped off".

    Putting in a real effort to read,learn and research
    everything a body possibly can will serve one well.Only Sarge did it,I did it,and
    most others can too.The companies charge prices that people will pay.That's
    business.Not doing your homework and getting suckered into a bad deal is
    P.T. Barnum's way.
    You crooks that are out there better pray that I don’t take a real interest in solar, cause if I do? I’m coming into the industry to drive prices down to the true cost. Jesus, how much are you trying to profit off one installation? 5 or 6 thousand dollars? Ridiculous..

    I hope you do,and keep all of us posted on a weekly basis on all of your trials and tribulations.When you come up with your own product,and bring it before these folks
    for analysis(like Mark at Rogue Power Technologies did with his excellent charge controller),
    then you can say you have improved the industry.The proof is in the pudding.

    good luck...
  • bbbuddybbbuddy Solar Expert Posts: 125 ✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    We put in our own, and are extremely happy with it; without this forum it would not have happened, even though DH is an electrician. He didn't have time to learn the 12 volt business, and electrically ignorant me did the question asking and reading.
    I learned so much reading here! Everything, really.
    Magnum4024PAE, 2 Midnite Classic 150s, 3100watts solar, 432ah lifepo4 battery.  Off grid since 2004.
  • solarixsolarix Solar Expert Posts: 713 ✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    The solar industry is a lot leaner than your average utility, or car company, or medical provider etc, etc. We are actively working to reduce costs and prices to make this needed, clean resource affordable. I agree though that there is a huge difference between the cost of me building a system for me and me building a system for someone else. The difference is the regulatory and business overhead involved. Welcome to America.

    Building to code, documentation, inspections, utility requirements, incentives red tape, 10 trips to your house, UL listing standards, training costs, certification costs, insurance, warranty costs, workman's comp, working capital, all the overhead of running a business, advertising to find you, etc, etc. - all adds up to a lot. Yes, do it yourself and save on all this - I commend you because 10 times more people could afford solar if they could learn to do it themselves. However, most people won't or more likely can't take the time. If you add up all your time learning what I know (and it is mostly here on this forum) and charge yourself a decent wage for that time, you may be better off paying a pro to do it for you.

    What is expensive? Over the life of a solar system (25 years), you will pay less than half for it compared to continuing to pay your utility. Not to mention all the indirect costs the fossil fuel industry spews out.
  • Eric LEric L Solar Expert Posts: 262 ✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    You crooks that are out there better pray that I don’t take a real interest in solar, cause if I do? I’m coming into the industry to drive prices down to the true cost.

    Oh, please do (don't let us stop you)! 8)
  • JESSICAJESSICA Solar Expert Posts: 289 ✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    These people are just as greedy as "big oil", the mark up on the solar products are ridiculous. Xantrex has everything over priced that they sell; especially those charge controllers w/the faulty software in them. And because you need the power companies to sign off on your installation in order to get any rebate the people who install your solar system are over charging you, basically taking the amount of your rebate.

    Personally, I feel that since the market is pretty young to the residential side, people are taking advantage. The true cost of your solar system should be in the storage system (batteries).

    You crooks that are out there better pray that I don’t take a real interest in solar, cause if I do? I’m coming into the industry to drive prices down to the true cost. Jesus, how much are you trying to profit off one installation? 5 or 6 thousand dollars? Ridiculous..

    Well, to be honest, I have to agree with you.
    Just one example:
    The government of Puerto Rico announced last month a new round of incentives for people who install pv systems. This new incentive goes up to 60%. Wanting to take advantage of it, I emailed and then called a Certified installer. His quote was for $19,500. So I asked my best friend, the Internet, for solar panels and grid tied inverter prices (those included in the installer’s quote), and about any other stuff included in the quote (Trina solar panels; Sunny Boy inverter, racks, cables, etc.). The price of EVERYTHING, including shipping to Puerto Rico: Aprox. $9,600 (That would be MY price, presumably higher than his.). This means this guy would be profiting about 10 grand for his one-day job. Wow! That is certainly a reap-off.
    If I buy and install the system myself I will have to pay about the same I would finally pay if I “take advantage” of the incentives program. The big money does not go to my pocket but to the installer’s pocket.
  • rabbit_39rabbit_39 Solar Expert Posts: 43
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    I have to say that while I'm sure there are a lot of rip offs out there (in any industry too), there are a lot of hidden costs for the installers.

    Currently I'm in Indonesia, and this industry is highly unregulated. Yes, I said UNregulated. I know what the costs are for shipping to Indonesia and the purchase price directly from some manufacturers (Ritar batteries, Suntech, etc).

    Because we actually have engineers who are trying to learn, get training and actually be safe, our margin is a lot smaller than the next guy. But we have to compete with the other guys who would put in AC circuit breakers for DC disconnects (just upsize it by 3-4 times), use non sealed batteries in enclosed rooms (some are occupied), cut/splice/solder and tape wire connections, use car batteries in daily use systems, etc etc. Plus we have insurance for our jobs so the customers are also protected in case something happens.

    Oh I forgot to mention the lightning rod grounding cable that goes to the bus bar before going to earth.

    Having said that, I think that in the Puerto Rico example, assuming our cost would be $7000 for materials and shipping, we would charge a customer about $10-11,000. Plus installation costs. So $19,500 is on the high side, but not that high... Maybe we're part of the crook network too ;-) If I had to guess wildly, based on average percentage of installation costs vs project cost, we would charge around $3-4000 for the install.

    Then again, we don't usually deal with individuals, we work with commercial customers.
  • jeffkrusejeffkruse Solar Expert Posts: 205 ✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    JESSICA wrote: »
    Well, to be honest, I have to agree with you.
    Just one example:
    The government of Puerto Rico announced last month a new round of incentives for people who install pv systems. This new incentive goes up to 60%. Wanting to take advantage of it, I emailed and then called a Certified installer. His quote was for $19,500. So I asked my best friend, the Internet, for solar panels and grid tied inverter prices (those included in the installer’s quote), and about any other stuff included in the quote (Trina solar panels; Sunny Boy inverter, racks, cables, etc.). The price of EVERYTHING, including shipping to Puerto Rico: Aprox. $9,600 (That would be MY price, presumably higher than his.). This means this guy would be profiting about 10 grand for his one-day job. Wow! That is certainly a reap-off.
    If I buy and install the system myself I will have to pay about the same I would finally pay if I “take advantage” of the incentives program. The big money does not go to my pocket but to the installer’s pocket.

    How is the new incentive program worded? Can you buy the equipment then have a certified installer do the install. I know two certified installers here at work, Elvin Rodriquez and Eliezer Acevedo. They don’t do installs as a business, just for the occasional person.

    You are absolutely correct about the local Puerto Rico solar companies. 2 ½ years ago I wanted to buy my equipment from them but their prices were way to high AND they would have had to order all the equipment for me. If any brick and mortar store has to order something for me I will just go on the internet and buy it there.
  • JESSICAJESSICA Solar Expert Posts: 289 ✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    jeffkruse wrote: »
    How is the new incentive program worded? Can you buy the equipment then have a certified installer do the install. I know two certified installers here at work, Elvin Rodriquez and Eliezer Acevedo. They don’t do installs as a business, just for the occasional person.

    You are absolutely correct about the local Puerto Rico solar companies. 2 ½ years ago I wanted to buy my equipment from them but their prices were way to high AND they would have had to order all the equipment for me. If any brick and mortar store has to order something for me I will just go on the internet and buy it there.

    Jeff:

    In Spanish we have this proverb: Qué pequeño es el mundo! (How small is the world!)

    I am César, Jessica is my wife. About one month ago we went to see the property that you have for sale in San Germán. We are both professors at the Inter American University, road 459.

    So, Hello again!

    I have not read the text of the law. But the installer I mentioned (I bet you know him: Road # 2, just after the airport of El Maní, half a Kl before the Añasco intersection) told me that “everything” must be done by a certified installer in order for me to get the refund. I also called “Casa Solar”, in Bayamón, and their quote was unbelievable .

    If the law allows for the customer to buy the panels and stuff, and then have someone authorized do the installation, please feel free to give my number to those friends, so that we may reach an agreement about price, etc.

    Give my regards to Katrina.
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,082 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    Gosh,...

    So I'm an old fart, paid $7+ per watt for my first panel almost 20 years ago, was amazed when prices hit less than $5 a watt around the turn of the century, when I was happy to buy some still productive 20 year old panels for $3 a watt, about 5 years ago I puchased a 900 watt array(blems) for right at $3 a watt delivered, wow what a deal and the goverment gave me 30% tax credit!, 2 years ago I added 1030 watts at $2 a watt delievered, nice!.

    Looks like the right direction to me, but I'm old....

    As for Pulse energy>Trace>Xantrex>Schnieder They have competion but still draw a good market share, I'm happy with my 1800 watt Prosine inverter, and my PC250 power center, both bought new old stock for a fraction of what new costs are, just smart shopping. $250 for the power center, $400 for the inverter
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • jeffkrusejeffkruse Solar Expert Posts: 205 ✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    Here is the link for the incentives for PR http://www.aae.gobierno.pr/

    But as I understand it they ran out of money on the first day. You would need to get in line for the next installment of money.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    To the OP,

    Get real!

    Figure out what kind of mark up your average retailer gets for anything! The PV biz is a specialty business, where carrying costs, inventory costs, shipping, handling storage. Plus for installers, vehicles, labour, tools, insurance, bonding etc all cost money!

    It's like the people who would phone me and say they would like to get their kitchen done (and maybe a bathroom too!) and they didn't want to spend more than $5k. When I gave an estimate what it would cost, they would counter by saying,, "Joe down the street moonlights swinging a hammer for $5/hour why are you more expensive?"!

    In short, you get what you pay for. If you want to save money,, do it your self!

    Icarus

    PS. Don't forget the cost of warranties and,, god forbid, profit!

    Tony
  • UrbandialectUrbandialect Solar Expert Posts: 107 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    LOL.. are serious???? Warranting your own work, the solar panels carry their own warranties from the manufactor.. you having to come back out and redo someting you messed up on? other than gas and time where's the cost in that? Please!!

    right now solar power is real affortable, NOT!!! lower the prices and you'll raise the damand. instead of doing 2 instulations a week or month, you'll be doing 2 or 3 a day.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    LOL.. are serious???? Warranting your own work, the solar panels carry their own warranties from the manufactor.. you having to come back out and redo someting you messed up on? other than gas and time where's the cost in that? Please!!

    right now solar power is real affortable, NOT!!! lower the prices and you'll raise the damand. instead of doing 2 instulations a week or month, you'll be doing 2 or 3 a day.

    "Lower the prices and you'll raise demand."

    Which, in accordance with the fundamental principles of economics, will raise the prices.

    I'll hazard a guess you've never run your own business; your understanding of the principles of operation are somewhat lacking. The cost of a product is much more than just the expense of the components, regardless of type.

    Solar panels and related components have come way down in price over the past few years, and the quality and performance of them has likewise improved. There is still quite a ways to go before solar is actually economically viable vs. grid power. What the future holds we can only guess at, and wait to see if we're right.

    In the meantime, let's keep the posts civil. :cool:
  • UrbandialectUrbandialect Solar Expert Posts: 107 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    supply and demaned, normally as the demaned goes up and the supply is limited the price will go up, right now the supply is plentiful and the demand is up as well but the price to install is insane thus causing the damaned to go away.

    The price of solar panels is fair for the most, just a little over priced but the price of install is retarded IMO. Plus the price of solar products like inverters and Charge Controller is also Over priced.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    There's no question that what some installers are charging falls under that other economic caveat: "whatever the market will bear". Funny how the incentive values offered by some government programs just seem to disappear into the ether, eh?

    As with all purchases, you have to shop around. ;)
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    If you don't like the price of something,, find something else, or find somewhere else to buy it!

    I am a construction consultant dealing with remote site work. (A fancy name for a jack of all trades bush contractor!) People pay me to swing a hammer some of the time, but mostly they pay me (quite well on a per hour basis) to manage the details of the job. That is to apply what I know to get things done, on time and on budget. They can hire anyone to swing the hammer, but the value in what I do is making sure that the details are on site, on time. In my case, when I forget to arrange for a specific piece of hardware at a specific time, the work of the entire crew on the site might grind to a halt for days. At there very best, we are a full day to town and back, and then only if what I need is actually available.

    The point is, in some large measure, you get what you pay for. Find a cheaper installer, my guess is that you are likely to get a "cheaper" installation net/net. There is a difference between knowing the price of everything,,, and the value of something.

    The way I always approach hiring someone to do something for me is two fold. What would I be willing to do it for plus what is the value of the expertise required. My mechanic for example get ~$100/hour shop time. I can do a brake job on my vehicle in about 4 hours (or more if it needs machine work). His shop can do it in less than an hour. So what is the better bargain? Depends on how you value your time versus how you value your money.

    Tony

    PS I suggest that before you complain about the price of the hard ware like controllers, that you contact someone like Marc at Rogue Controllers, or BoB, or the boys at Midnight and find out how many hours of R&D and Beta go into their products. The value is not in the components, as they are fairly simple. The value is in the brain power that went into making that hard ware. The raw material in your computer is probably a few dollars, but I challenge you to build a PC that is cutting edge as the one you are using, using only the raw components (including software!)

    T
  • The Only SargeThe Only Sarge Solar Expert Posts: 164 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    LOL.. are serious???? Warranting your own work, the solar panels carry their own warranties from the manufactor.. you having to come back out and redo someting you messed up on? other than gas and time where's the cost in that? Please!!

    right now solar power is real affortable, NOT!!! lower the prices and you'll raise the damand. instead of doing 2 instulations a week or month, you'll be doing 2 or 3 a day.
    Lets ask from a different angle.

    What do you think the cost should be?

    (4) 125 watt panel
    35 amp controller
    1000 watt inverter
    battery(s)
    wiring/fuses/cable etc.

    Installed on the roof of a attached garage with all the equipment inside the garage. Walk in stand up attic above the garage. No permits required. Off grid.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    better yet let's ask urbandialect why he isn't an installer if it is as he says with outlandish profits?
  • UrbandialectUrbandialect Solar Expert Posts: 107 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    Lets ask from a different angle.

    What do you think the cost should be?

    (4) 125 watt panel
    35 amp controller
    1000 watt inverter
    battery(s)
    wiring/fuses/cable etc.

    Installed on the roof of a attached garage with all the equipment inside the garage. Walk in stand up attic above the garage. No permits required. Off grid.
    (4) 125 watt panels should cost around 2 dollars a watt but we all know that a 125 Watt solar panel is probably $650+ and i'm being nice on the price so $650 x 4 so that's $2600 in solar panels

    35 amp controller- should cost less than $100 in my Opinion, but we all know a 35amp is around $200.00 with all the bells and whisles( LCD screen, Amp and Voltage displace, dump load etc etc)

    1000 watt inverter- The closer you can get to sine wave the more expensive, but a 12volt 1000 watt inverter, again should be around $100 or $120 but i'm sure it's closer to $200, and if we go grid tie which is another solar product we're talking $400 to $500

    Batteries?? The cost of batteries are what they are and the solar industry has nothing to do with that cost, but for 2 deep cycled batteries 230 amp hour Lead Acid, $100 a battery so that's $200.00 for 230amp hours at 12 volts and do the math if you need more.

    Wire Fuses and cable.. Depending on distance, type of system etc ete, and all that will determine the price of the wiring.. but i've give a rough est of $750 in wiring and fuses cables, connectors, fuse box


    So lets say the customer buys everything, (the right UL regulated solar panels) mounts the solar panels themselves, but only needs the installer for the wiring to pass code, how much do you think an installer should charge?
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