I think solar power is a rip off!!

24

Comments

  • SevenSeven Solar Expert Posts: 292 ✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    Where do you come up with your cost estimates? People charge what people will pay. That is the way it has always been, that is the way it always will be, doesn't matter what it is. Much of the cost of any product is R&D, then machining costs.


    I spent $8000 on a machine that cuts keys. That is all it does. But it is so much better than the old machine I used, that I don't have a problem with it. Buy once, cry once. You can get cheap stuff, and you normally get what you pay for. At least that has been my experience.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    Let's see how the OP did on his estimates. ("Raw" prices: no shipping or taxes.)
    (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

    135 watt Kyocera $337.50 = $2.50 Watt http://www.solar-electric.com/kyso130wa12v.html X4 = $1350. Difference: OP $1250 high
    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)

    Morningstar Prostar 30 PWM controller w/display $172.00 http://www.solar-electric.com/ps-30m.html Difference: OP $28.00 high
    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

    Xantrex 1000 Watt MSW inverter $299.99 (CDN) http://www.canadiantire.ca/AST/browse/4/Auto/SolarPortablePower/Inverters/PRD~0111867P/Xantrex%252B1%25252C000W%252BInverter%252BCharger.jsp?locale=en Difference: OP $99.99 low
    You can't do GT with MSW and GT inverters are much more complex than you think. Cheap, 750 Watt SMA $1405. Difference: OP $1000 low.
    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.

    Crown 225 Amp hour 6 Volt $163.00 http://www.solar-electric.com/crrepoba6vo2.html X2 = $326. Difference: OP $126 low
    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

    This is really too variable to do any sort of quoting on, as distances involved in any particular install will change the size of the wire as well as length and therefor price. In this theoretical system you would only need fusing on the controller output and inverter input, so it should be quite simple.

    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?

    No idea on this one as I don't have to deal with code inspection - other than the critique of a passing moose. :p

    Of the items we can get a price on the OP was high in his estimates by $178 over-all. That's not too far off in my opinion.

    This system, which is quite a sensible small 12 Volt set-up, represents about $2150 in main components. Personally I'd spend another $150 for pure sine (Samlex $451 http://www.solar-electric.com/sa10wa12vosi.html). With luck you could get the wiring for $700 and still be looking at $3000. To pay for install would be by the hour, and this is easily a three day job for two guys in my opinion (but I'm old, slow, and careful). That's 48 hours at whatever the going rate is for electrical install where you are. Inspection only would be one guy for about two hours (depends a lot on the install accessibility). Around here the full install would be as much as the equipment (the equipment would cost more here too). The post-install inspection only would be about $75.
  • The Only SargeThe Only Sarge Solar Expert Posts: 164 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    (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?

    125 watt panels are $299 each and that included shipping.
    True Sine Wave was $250'ish
    Everything else is close.....Equipment I have no cost issue with frankly.

    What do I think it should be for the install? No more than $1000. I spent one day (6 hours or so) and did the entire install. Used an existing earth ground.

    My old man ran air conditioning companies for 50 years. We installed a kazillion before I was 16 years old. Today I can get a A/C installed with furnace, new plenum for less than $1000 labor. That includes the permits.... all of it. I think the solar installation "business" will allow competition and that will drive down the installation cost frankly. Just like it has in other businesses/industries/verticals.

    But on the price of panels I wish they would offer a 2-5 year warranty and the option of a buy up for 25 year warranty. Make the 2-5 year warranty panel much cheaper I would venture a guess.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    so you hired somebody to wire it, but who put the pvs on the roof and are you just laying them there to have the costs of mounting them not included? there is much to a solar installation that goes far beyond just buying parts and wiring it. it goes without saying that if one can do the work themselves that they will save quite a bit, but that's if they know what they are doing.
  • The Only SargeThe Only Sarge Solar Expert Posts: 164 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    niel wrote: »
    so you hired somebody to wire it, but who put the pvs on the roof and are you just laying them there to have the costs of mounting them not included? there is much to a solar installation that goes far beyond just buying parts and wiring it. it goes without saying that if one can do the work themselves that they will save quite a bit, but that's if they know what they are doing.
    Not sure if your comment is directed to me or not....

    I used S5 clips on the metal roof and ran the wire myself.

    sorry sarge as that was to urbandialect. niel
  • Dr. StrangeloveDr. Strangelove Solar Expert Posts: 49
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    Seven wrote: »
    Where do you come up with your cost estimates? People charge what people will pay. That is the way it has always been, that is the way it always will be, doesn't matter what it is. Much of the cost of any product is R&D, then machining costs.

    The OP is complaining that the installers, because they have the MONOPOLY on the installation tax incentives, price themselves to swallow up all the incentives. You install them yourself, even with oxygen-free gold plated wires spun by Nordic virgins on permafrost (from Monster Cable, of course), even if they do pass the vageries of your local clue-free inspector normally used to examining new 240V dryer outlets, and you get A FISTFUL OF SQUAT. Because they MUST be installed by a LICENSED, RECOGNIZED installer.

    That's the OP's beef. His gripe about panel prices is about 2 years out of date. Here in Hawaii, some of the local monkey installers proudly advertise that you can get a 1kW GT-only (micro inverter) system installed for $2K - $3K* (*after tax incentives). With a total of 65% tax incentives, that make the price per watt $6 to $9 installed. Knowing that panels can be purchased in volume for close to $2/W, if you add $1/W for inverter & wiring and $0.50/W for racking, you get $3.50/W for stuff, $2.50 - $5.50/W for the installer ($2.5K to $5.5K for a 1kW GT install). That's wrong.

    They are costing it to suck up all the incentives - in effect, the incentives are for roofing and other contractors to hop into the RE business. Not for the consumer.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    Or you could live in Canada. Incentives? Rebates? HAHAHAHA!
    Pay, pay more, pay again. Don't forget the HST.

    If the installer is inflating the price to eat up the "incentives" then that's your incentive for doing it yourself and saving the dough.
  • solarixsolarix Solar Expert Posts: 713 ✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    I would love to have the same regulatory hassle as an A/C installlation.

    Around here we have to submit a wet-stamped (structural engr) CAD (nothing hand drawn please) documentation package (about 30 pages total) for a solar permit. The utility has seen a 10-fold increase in the number of installers because of their rebate incentives and some of these are rip-offs so have instituted a whole wonderful array of regulation to try and weed out the bad ones. I long for the day of just taking a customer's job, submitting a sketch and paying a fee, and go out and do the job like the A/C contractor's do. But no, solar is new and not to be trusted. We need to have a lengthy complex process to get everyone's permission and spend more time doing the red tape than the actual job and drive up the cost of the job to upset customers like the OP here.
  • Dr. StrangeloveDr. Strangelove Solar Expert Posts: 49
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    Or you could live in Canada. Incentives? Rebates? HAHAHAHA!
    Pay, pay more, pay again. Don't forget the HST.

    Yeah, but isn't your grid power pretty decently priced? The incentives here are for only grid tied, because I think the assumption is that they will relieve grid demand, especially at peak hours.
    If the installer is inflating the price to eat up the "incentives" then that's your incentive for doing it yourself and saving the dough.

    But in many places, if not all, your grid tied system must run through the regulatory hoops of fire (as Solarix notes). Doing it yerself is not an option. As a matter of fact you can't even fish for the best prices on hardware. Most of the "new to the business" (nearly all) chumps out here insist that they supply all materials, so they can double bill that too - and then you get what is best for them. You want an XW6048? Sorry, you get a Fungtron 73. You want a hybrid inverter, you get micro inverters. You want tracking, you get fixed. I haven't noted a single Hawaii-based installer on these boards; in fact, I haven't noted any on any of the Q&A RE fora I've searched. They must be so fantastically well informed that they don't need to share information with other professionals. Maybe that's too harsh, but at a recent major home construction show, I talked to ever single solar system/installation vendor present, and I only found one that had more than half a clue. It turned out that he was the same guy that my engineer/architect was referring me to.

    Here's the gripe in a nutshell: No installer, no grid tie. No DIY, no see rebates/incentives. It's a rigged game.

    Sorry about the language, it seemed that people were being deliberately obtuse. Yes, the OP came off as a hot head, but I've had those moments too.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    Our BC Hydro is $0.10 per kW hour. They allow grid tie. Guess what the payback rate is? Not worth it.
    In Ontario they buy for $0.80 per kW hour, and sell it to consumers for $0.20 per kW hour. Strangely enough they are going broke and need to raise taxes/prices.

    It's the same all over, vis: it is different everywhere. In some places the utilities are obstructive because they just don't want to deal with it (or don't know how to). I rather think both countries need to get their act together with some unified energy plan that addresses these issues, including unrealistic pricing and the ever-present rip-off artists who pop up the moment there's any opportunity to make some money.

    But it isn't really the solar industry at fault here, it's the usual suspects: the politicians who don't understand what they're making laws about and the shysters waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting participants in the latest game of "find the lady".

    Why does everything have to be such a battle? (Rhetorical question.) :roll:
  • oil pan 4oil pan 4 Solar Expert Posts: 766 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    Here's the gripe in a nutshell: No installer, no grid tie. No DIY, no see rebates/incentives. It's a rigged game.
    I agree its rigged.
    This makes it easier to zero out your checking account or owe a bank a ton of money.

    Solar hybrid gasoline generator, 7kw gas, 180 watts of solar, Morningstar 15 amp MPPT, group 31 AGM, 900 watt kisae inverter.

    Solar roof top GMC suburban, a normal 3/4 ton suburban with 180 watts of panels on the roof and 10 amp genasun MPPT, 2000w samlex pure sine wave inverter, 12v gast and ARB air compressors.

  • garlicgarlic Solar Expert Posts: 43
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    "Incentives" are a political,bureaucratic trap for those that somehow
    believe a free lunch is to be had.Incentives,in the end benefit the creators
    and enslave the supposed beneficiaries,as is evident by this discussion.
    If one demands a free ride,don't expect to be holding the steering wheel.

    Grid tie systems are technically very interesting and a cool solution,but
    the bureaucratic back half of the animal is too ugly to bear for those
    of us that like to maintain their own steerage.

    I built my functional,safe off grid system for as low a cost as system
    integrity,and quality would allow.If I had involved anyone in the chain
    of the "solar installation" industry/bureaucracy cabal,I would have to
    give up any expectation of economic conservation or design freedom.
  • UrbandialectUrbandialect Solar Expert Posts: 107 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    Here's the gripe in a nutshell: No installer, no grid tie. No DIY, no see rebates/incentives. It's a rigged game..

    ^this is what my grip is, i'm not sure why i just didn't say it like this
  • solarixsolarix Solar Expert Posts: 713 ✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    As much as I gripe about the red tape and regulations, there is a reason why DIY'ers are not allowed to do grid installations. For the safety of the few that would get themselves killed doing it. There is a price to be paid for the privilege of a society interconnected with electricity. The electrical utility is the master / you are the slave. Get over it or go off-grid.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    Just a freindly reminder, we are veering perilously close to a political polemic. We get it,, some folks don't like the rules and regs of GT. Let's leave it go at that.

    Tony
  • The Only SargeThe Only Sarge Solar Expert Posts: 164 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    What is wrong with you guys? Turn your man card in at the door.
    Government subsidies? Rebate programs?
    Tell your wife you are saving up for plastic surgery to make yourself look like Tom Seleck. Then when she ask what all them square thingys are on the roof tell her they are the Hallmark Channel antennas.:cool:
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    What is wrong with you guys? Turn your man card in at the door.
    Government subsidies? Rebate programs?
    Tell your wife you are saving up for plastic surgery to make yourself look like Tom Seleck. Then when she ask what all them square thingys are on the roof tell her they are the Hallmark Channel antennas.:cool:

    you must be single sarge because my wife would ask first thing why or, more specifically as she'd mean it, for who else i'm improving my looks for? next thing would be where did you get all of that money to do that with that she didn't know about and lastly she'd demand i fork it over or else. she isn't stupid and women stop their husbands from being men except when it suites them.:cry::p
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    I live in B.C. Canada. No government subsidies, no rebates.
    My wife likes solar power.
    She would not like it if I looked like Tom Selleck.

    I'm good with all of that. :cool:
  • The Only SargeThe Only Sarge Solar Expert Posts: 164 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    niel wrote: »
    you must be single sarge because my wife would ask first thing why or, more specifically as she'd mean it, for who else i'm improving my looks for? next thing would be where did you get all of that money to do that with that she didn't know about and lastly she'd demand i fork it over or else. she isn't stupid and women stop their husbands from being men except when it suites them.:cry::p

    You just wait...Some Canadian will be along in a minute telling us his wife loves the way he looks and loves solar. You just wait.

    Been married forever.
  • The Only SargeThe Only Sarge Solar Expert Posts: 164 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    icarus wrote: »
    Just a freindly reminder, we are veering perilously close to a political polemic. We get it,, some folks don't like the rules and regs of GT. Let's leave it go at that.

    Tony

    Well Tony I am glad your happy cuz I am still trying to figure out what the heck GT is. Making me crazy. I was up all night Googling GT. I cannot sleep and am losing my mind. May you pitch your tent in a fire ant bed for this.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    GT=Grid Tie (As in grid connected (tied) PV solar)

    T
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    icarus wrote: »
    GT=Grid Tie (As in grid connected (tied) PV solar)

    T

    tony,
    you don't have to tell him as he can look it up in the glossary.:D:p

    http://forum.solar-electric.com/showthread.php?t=6136
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,984 admin
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    Tony--You got a Texan pulling your leg... ;) (pretty sure of that anyway).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • garlicgarlic Solar Expert Posts: 43
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    Well Tony I am glad your happy cuz I am still trying to figure out what the heck GT is. Making me crazy. I was up all night Googling GT. I cannot sleep and am losing my mind. May you pitch your tent in a fire ant bed for this.

    It is an acronym ,which stands for that 70's TV show GoodTimes.
    It has made a big cultural comeback.Where have you been shipmate!?
    It's even a acronym as well......
    I'll send you a JJ walker "dynomite" mug.

    My problem is last week when I was pulling a 20,000 lb. skid of
    Doug fir logs into the landing,my man card fell out of my pocket and I
    then ran it over with my John Deere 648 skidder.
    What do I do?Can I get hall mark antennas on ebay?
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,348 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    What is wrong with you guys? Turn your man card in at the door.
    <snip>
    Then when she ask what all them square thingys are on the roof tell her they are the Hallmark Channel antennas.:cool:

    Obviously you have not met the Greenest wife on the planet (Crazy Irish to boot). She would have a solar powered dog washer if would save the planet (and we don't even have a dog). I have to get my man card out and talk $$$ with her every so often. There always is the untangable value of "Happy wife, Happy life". I know it's weird but I think she would prefer I look like Jimmy Buffet and have $$$$ like Warren Buffett. :roll:

    But that being said, net zero on the electric bill makes the capitalist in me happy. :D
  • The Only SargeThe Only Sarge Solar Expert Posts: 164 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    BB. wrote: »
    Tony--You got a Texan pulling your leg... ;) (pretty sure of that anyway).

    -Bill

    Got me figured out dont ya Bill :p
  • JuramJuram Solar Expert Posts: 36
    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..



    LOL......solar is probably one of the lowest profit margin industries there is. Its extremely competitive and everyone from the manufacturers to the installers are trying to cut costs left and right so as not to get left behind. Not sure where you get your information, but its extremely inaccurate.
  • JuramJuram Solar Expert Posts: 36
    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



    What's crazy about the prices? Do you understand that with incentives included, often times people are getting whole solar systems installed for less than what the installer has to pay just for the panels themselves?

    $1.80 a watt for panels
    $0.50 a watt for inverters
    $0.50 a watt for mounting equipment
    Anywhere from $300-1500 in permitting fees
    $5 million dollar insurance policy/umbrella/vehicle....etc, as required to do work with most municipalities.
    Design/Engineering
    Overhead(lights/facilities/equipment storage)
    Transportation costs



    All of this to sell a system for $4.50 a watt.
  • JuramJuram Solar Expert Posts: 36
    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.




    Guess what, that installer also has to foot the bill for marketing(how else would they find you), having all the necessary paperwork and documentation,(thoser certifications aren't cheap) licensing, permitting(all solar requires permitting), insurance(you do want insured people working on your home, yes?), all the labor costs of installing the system, money to pay all the employees who are handling the paperwork, design/engineering and then of course, trying to make some profit to keep the lights on.


    You bought the parts and pieces for $10k, congratulations, now account for the thousands of dollars in labor costs, permitting, and everything else that you haven't accounted for.
  • The Only SargeThe Only Sarge Solar Expert Posts: 164 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    Juram wrote: »
    Guess what, that installer also has to foot the bill for marketing(how else would they find you), having all the necessary paperwork and documentation,(thoser certifications aren't cheap) licensing, permitting(all solar requires permitting), insurance(you do want insured people working on your home, yes?), all the labor costs of installing the system, money to pay all the employees who are handling the paperwork, design/engineering and then of course, trying to make some profit to keep the lights on.


    You bought the parts and pieces for $10k, congratulations, now account for the thousands of dollars in labor costs, permitting, and everything else that you haven't accounted for.

    Well if you are only doing 3 or 4 jobs a year then your rational would justify the mark up. I am bonded for over $3MM for less than a $1000 bucks a year.
    The solar industry is lacking the efficiencies of many of its cousin verticals. Difficult to justify "hidden cost" just due inefficiencies. "Paperwork" is one of the easiest to simplify as it is redundant. No permits required here for off grid of any kind. Grid Tie requires a simple .pdf form.

    I am all for a fella making a profit. I think this thread is more about the margins being seen in the industry being difficult to justify.
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