I think solar power is a rip off!!

13

Comments

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

    Again.....depends on how many "units" you are talking about. You mention many "fixed cost" but do not mention how many units these cost are spread into.

    If I have $500K in fixed cost and spread it into 40 units....it is very high.....if I spread the same fixed cost over 4000 units it becomes competitive with other industries labor/permit etc. cost.

    Nobody is denying there are fixed cost. But do you try and recover all your fix cost on each install?

    I can be rich as hell with a kazillion nickles or go broke trying to get big bucks for a few jobs.

    As any successful business will tell you. One must have a business plan that reflects a healthy/competitive/affordable product (PV parts/installation etc. in this case) that will drive larger volumes of buyers. If your business model requires larger per job margins you will restrict yourself to much fewer customers. Not a sustainable business model IMHO.

    Rebates and Government incentives are a non sustainable business model. Having a target market of customers who have large disposable incomes is also a difficult marketplace. Being lean and mean with fixed cost and reducing pricing to make it affordable for a middle class environment thus spreading out your fixed cost over many more units is a much more long term profitable business model.

    Your business model may be the best out there. I think this thread is talking about folks who want to charge $6K to install $2K worth of equipment and that is a issue with the overall success of the industry, as a whole.
  • raydiasraydias Solar Expert Posts: 68 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    I was quoted by 2 companies $15k for a 2kw system and they each tried to make it sound like a great deal. Their bid would quote Only $5 per what after rebates. I looked over the equipment and it was sub par panels and an inverter I never heard of.

    I think the issue is that anyone that joins a forum like this and does their research will find it hard to understand by a system would cost so much from an installer. for the 2kw system I was looking at the materials cost would be ~$2.50 a watt and that's padding for incidentals and permits. so where does the other $5 per watt come from...

    People who do research vs. people who don't it seams that there are more installers who are taking advantage of their client base.

    When I asked for a breakdown of the costs into materials, labor, etc I got a terse response of we don't do that. My car mechanic does, even doctors, dentists, etc will break down costs. Maybe that's what is needed is a requirement that any bid be broken down so consumers can make a comparison.

    I for one am learning what I can and plan to hire an electrician to do the electrical work, a roofer to do the roof work, and a contractor to do the permits. I know what I want and how I want my system to go. I estimated I can get the 2km system installed for $3.50-$4 per watt. almost 50% savings then I can get the tax credit.

    It is almost as if the tax credits are driving the over priced behavior??? I saw that when they had the cash 4 clunkers program. Cars that you could haggle down all of a sudden had an uptick in price and the sales person would show how much of a great deal it was after the tax credit.
  • UrbandialectUrbandialect Solar Expert Posts: 107 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    Thank you Raydias for driving home my point even further
  • UrbandialectUrbandialect Solar Expert Posts: 107 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    And just to prove my point even further, it appears that some of the installers are building their own panels and still charging an arm in a leg.. example is this thread..


    http://forum.solar-electric.com/showpost.php?p=26338&postcount=1

    basically the guy said he had a 2Kw system installed and it caught fire, he posted pics of the fire and the panels.. clearly the panels are homemade

    DSC_2689.jpg
    DSC_2696.jpg
    DSC_2699.jpg


    Before the fire
    IMG_1392s.jpg
    After the fire
    IMG_1441s.jpg
  • raydiasraydias Solar Expert Posts: 68 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    What I hope to do once I have more experience is go to my home owners association and put together a plan that would set a base price for solar at ~$4-4.50 per watt (or less). As part of this effort i would get he local planning dept involved and work together to come up with a template so that they don't have to spend a lot of wasted time rejecting plans. We would get the local utility in on the mix to ensure all the required paperwork is in a template format so all you have to do is enter the size.

    Out of 2500 homes if I get 10% to commit or even 5% that would be 125-250 installs within a small radius. and even if only 10% of those actually sign the contract that's still 12-25 installs

    Do you think and installer would sign up for that?

    I have seen an article in Home Power or another solar magazine talking about community buying. This would bring down the cost for both installer and buyer.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,579 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    And just to prove my point even further, it appears that some of the installers are building their own panels and still charging an arm in a leg.. example is this thread..


    http://forum.solar-electric.com/showpost.php?p=26338&postcount=1

    I don't think that is happening very much. I hope. That thread was several years ago, and I've not heard much like that since.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
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  • The Only SargeThe Only Sarge Solar Expert Posts: 164 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    And just to prove my point even further, it appears that some of the installers are building their own panels and still charging an arm in a leg.. example is this thread..


    http://forum.solar-electric.com/showpost.php?p=26338&postcount=1

    basically the guy said he had a 2Kw system installed and it caught fire, he posted pics of the fire and the panels.. clearly the panels are homemade






    Well now friend that is not totally correct. The OP of that thread clearly states it was not his installer "ripping him off".....
    http://forum.solar-electric.com/showpost.php?p=77687&postcount=73
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,994 admin
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    Yea--it was more complex... New to solar installer being hand-held by a con artist. And nobody involved recognized the problems (including building inspectors).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • JESSICAJESSICA Solar Expert Posts: 289 ✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    Juram wrote: »
    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.

    Poor guys!
    After reading your post I have changed my mind. I have concluded those installers are martyrs, or at least saints. Theirs is not a for-profit job: It is a mission from God!
  • The Only SargeThe Only Sarge Solar Expert Posts: 164 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    JESSICA wrote: »
    Poor guys!
    After reading your post I have changed my mind. I have concluded those installers are martyrs, or at least saints. Theirs is not a for-profit job: It is a mission from God!
    LOL...thank you from an old man burnt up from 60 years in the Texas sun. That was a perfect response kid....you done good.
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,348 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    JESSICA wrote: »
    Poor guys!
    After reading your post I have changed my mind. I have concluded those installers are martyrs, or at least saints. Theirs is not a for-profit job: It is a mission from God!

    LMAO! Of course they do get some benefit of scale, but $4.50 a watt is getting down in price pretty good if you consider wages, engineering costs and drawings required for each install, having personnel on site for inspections, standard business overhead like an office, phones, accountants, ...

    The margins are tight I would say.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    People, try and keep in mind it makes a big difference where the business is located too.
    The overhead costs vary greatly from place to place.
    Remember; they can quote you a price, but they can't make you buy. Being informed and shopping around is your best bet. You do not have to have solar (unlike gasoline which is curiously the same price at every station in town). :roll:
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,082 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    People, try and keep in mind it makes a big difference where the business is located too.

    Yes when I was a kid I always wondered how the New York City camera store had such cheap prices, I wanted to send them a check but the idea of sending most of my savings in an envelope wasn't even possible, but we visited my Grandmother in New Jersy and made the required trip to New York, My folks let my go to the store that had such great prices in the magazines, the store no bigger than most barber shops, I was one of 4 customers, My $250 purchase was a very small one compared to the other people in the store.

    I then understood the term "hand over fist". They did several thousand dollars of business in the 30 minutes I was in the shop.

    A big adventure for a boy of 15...
    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
  • troybrownriggtroybrownrigg Registered Users Posts: 18
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    I live on a farm! I put my UL solar panels on a shipping container, the battery bank is inside. and the wind mills are also attached to the outside! I've seen batteries explode and the fear of something like this keeps them away from my house! The shipping container is my mobile generator. It powers my well and electric fence, and goat pen lighting. When I get finished with it I will power some of my household unit needs from a distance! P.S. The most important piece of equipment is the fire extngushier.
  • bmetbmet Solar Expert Posts: 630 ✭✭
    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:

    That's one of the big surprises I got upon finding this site. Sometimes I have to read a thread a dozen times for the info to sink in, but I muddled thru it to successful power pack. The working environment in my shop is so much more pleasant, because of the contributions from this forum, and the power of the sun.
  • bmetbmet Solar Expert Posts: 630 ✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    I didn't see one of the shops until recently, in New Orleans. It was exactly as you described, except that there were no customers, and no sales tags on anything in the store. The one employee pulled prices out of the air, and they were all high. I then knew why this camera shop on the corner of Bourbon Street was usually empty.
    Photowhit wrote: »
    Yes when I was a kid I always wondered how the New York City camera store had such cheap prices, I wanted to send them a check but the idea of sending most of my savings in an envelope wasn't even possible, but we visited my Grandmother in New Jersy and made the required trip to New York, My folks let my go to the store that had such great prices in the magazines, the store no bigger than most barber shops, I was one of 4 customers, My $250 purchase was a very small one compared to the other people in the store.

    I then understood the term "hand over fist". They did several thousand dollars of business in the 30 minutes I was in the shop.

    A big adventure for a boy of 15...
  • Mariner777Mariner777 Solar Expert Posts: 29
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    At the end of the day money is an abstract little game homo sapiens play with each other all day long. What has true value is the habitat that we are destroying for all the other species on the planet. Solar power helps free the food chain of mercury from burning coal, lowers emissions of carbon etc Money is not worth much in itself so no matter what it takes or how the game is rigged its still better then not installing solar systems. You wont look back and regret that some company swallowed the tax rebate to stay afloat in such harsh economic times but you might look around and regret you didn't go solar when you had the chance some time on down the line... By requiring certified installers the government is creating jobs - buying components on ebay/ online and putting it up yourself only enriches China and further hurts the US economy.
  • solarixsolarix Solar Expert Posts: 713 ✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    I want to say that the real ripoffs are when:
    - we thru our utility industry wreck the environment because we want "cheap" but dirty power,
    - or when a guy I know who was such a big jerk they did not want him dealing with customers, that the utility he worked for allowed him to just sit all day in his service truck doing nothing as it was not viable to fire him because of the union.
    - or allow companies to do incredibly risky things like drill holes a mile deep in the ocean because we "have to have" cheap fuel,
    - or risk the lives of countless poor souls spending their days in deep underground coal mines because you can always find desperate people for bad jobs,
    - or risk untold damage by siting nuke plants in earthquake / tidal wave zones because they need cheap access to water,
    - or worst of all, ripoff the economy of the world by allowing a small financial elite the privilege of printing money out of thin air thus causing an inflation tax upon all those who haven't figured out access to the trough.

    Please don't disparage the solar industry for trying to work the system of government subsidies to achieve the good result of clean sustainable power.
    Plus (and what they hate the most) is that it is a technology that can be non-centralized. With a little knowledge that we give out here for free - you can very affordably put solar to use yourself and "do the right thing" with out ripping off anyone.
  • SlappySlappy Solar Expert Posts: 251 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    one to add........................ fracking, then there will not be any clean water left to drink.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    Let's be careful about wandering down the political path, for it is fraught with dangerous traps.
  • The Only SargeThe Only Sarge Solar Expert Posts: 164 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    Coot......we should have a "lounge" section where things "not solar" could be discussed.
    I mean we have a mature good group of folks and no place to share thoughts, discuss topics not to be laid out in the sun :-)
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    Coot......we should have a "lounge" section where things "not solar" could be discussed.
    I mean we have a mature good group of folks and no place to share thoughts, discuss topics not to be laid out in the sun :-)

    That idea has been bandied about before. It keeps getting turned down. I think due to the large number of other places available on the 'Net for socio-political discussions and partly because of the swiftness with which a group of mature folks can deteriorate into bickering babies when certain controversial subjects come up. :roll:
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    I am absolutely with 'Coot on this. We should NOT have an lounge or off topic section. I have seen too many otherwise good forums destroyed by trollish behavior off topic that it taints the conversation on topic. I say something off topic that you don't like, you respond with something that I don't like, and pretty soon, our impression of each other (and the comments given on topic) are tainted by that experience.

    There are plenty of plenty of places on the web to argue/debate/bloviate/opine etc on everything from politics to religion to social policy, to environmental policy to everything in between.

    Let's leave this great forum a sanctuary of quiet in the otherwise noisy world.

    Tony
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    icarus wrote: »
    I am absolutely with 'Coot on this. We should NOT have an lounge or off topic section. I have seen too many otherwise good forums destroyed by trollish behavior off topic that it taints the conversation on topic. I say something off topic that you don't like, you respond with something that I don't like, and pretty soon, or impression of each other (and the comments given on topic) are tainted by that experience.

    There are plenty of plenty of places on the web to argue/debate/bloviate/opine etc on everything from politics to religion to social policy, to environmental policy to everything in between.

    Let's leave this great forum a sanctuary of quite in the otherwise noisy world.

    Tony

    Totally agree! We should keep this one as it is.
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,348 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!
    icarus wrote: »
    I am absolutely with 'Coot on this. We should NOT have an lounge or off topic section. I have seen too many otherwise good forums destroyed by trollish behavior off topic that it taints the conversation on topic. I say something off topic that you don't like, you respond with something that I don't like, and pretty soon, or impression of each other (and the comments given on topic) are tainted by that experience.

    There are plenty of plenty of places on the web to argue/debate/bloviate/opine etc on everything from politics to religion to social policy, to environmental policy to everything in between.

    Let's leave this great forum a sanctuary of quite in the otherwise noisy world.

    Tony

    DITTO! Agree whole heartedly. I have left forums that allowed that mostly for the above reasons.
  • The Only SargeThe Only Sarge Solar Expert Posts: 164 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    Guys.....I really don't care...but understand I am asking Coot if we could have a section for discussions outside of the solar/tech sections to get to know each other and discuss non-solar topics. Talk about your Grandkids or what type of motor oil works best for you....I dunno....ban any religion-politics in that forum also so folks do not get their ankle bracelets all in a bundle......sheesh!

    You guys sound like I am advocating political- religious-gun rights post throughout the entire forum and that is silly.

    I just find it rather counter productive to have every other thread (exaggeration to make a point) discussing Government rebates or incentive programs (however they come up or whatever context they may be in) we have a moderator shutting down a good discussion because "it is the slippery slope of politics"......New folks to solar want to know about incentives/rebates and do not understand what the issue is. New folks want to know what you "experts" have to say or think on the subject and that is verboten and goes unanswered or discussed.

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

    Here's the problem,you have solar technology,that in of itself is a fantastic thing that we
    are fortunate to be living in the age of.Solar technology, though, attracts the extreme
    opposites in ideology,right wing "survivalist " types on one end and abject Marxists
    on the other.In the somewhat middle you have the moderators who have a tough job
    in keeping things civil when you don't have to stray very far off of a very fine line
    to end up in a minefield of conflict.They have to keep it civil because in the end
    the main purpose of this forum being here is to sell products,and that makes the fine
    line even finer.Having said all that,It still remains one of he finest and most factual
    sources of solar info anywhere.

    So I guess the best way is just keep it technical,and emulate Mr. Spock best you
    can so everyone can benefit from the knowledge at hand and Wind & Sun can
    maximize it's revenue.
  • The Only SargeThe Only Sarge Solar Expert Posts: 164 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    Well put garlic. Well put.

    Example is this discussion here.
    I ask a simple question.
    Coot answered it.
    Question answered and it is over.
    Then here comes the crowd to offer their opinion like it is a poll or something.:cool:
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    Actually the main purpose of this forum is not to sell product. It is to disseminate truthful information about solar and wind power. That's why this is probably the only "solar forum" on the 'Net that advises people to buy generators for back-up power when that makes more sense. None of that "everybody should buy a billion Watts of solar panels and save the world" hyperbole.

    We moderators are volunteers; no connection with NAWS whatsoever. We're here to keep the spam out and keep the forum running smoothly. That includes the rather tricky issue of decorum.

    Once again I will point out that the good folks as NAWS have never given the slightest indication that we must "push product". We do repeatedly link to their store, as it is at least a good starting point for people looking for products and technical information - including prices. Many people here have purchased from NAWS happily, a few have not been so satisfied. Some of us don't even live in the same country, or indeed on the same continent, which makes it a bit more problematic.

    Regardless, the information is the same; as accurate as possible and free to all.
  • SlappySlappy Solar Expert Posts: 251 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: I think solar power is a rip off!!

    We moderators are volunteers; no connection with NAWS whatsoever. We're here to keep the spam out and keep the forum running smoothly.

    That is what I like about this forum, the mods are very helpful and full of great knowledge, and I have learned alot at just by reading the treads in this forum. and of course hands-on, but reading and researching, before I purchased the first part, then went from there. as I think that I have it down pat (sort of speaking), some one will have a issue same as mine, then there goes the monkey wrench getting tossed in the gears.:cry: .But thumbs up to the mods for keeping this forum under control, and on subject on renewables!;)

    But solar is not a rip off if you have done your home work, and it does have it's own limitations just like any thing else.
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