Can anyone give suggestions on some solar quotes I’ve received?

JustinChase

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Feb 10, 2022
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I know enough about electricity to replace an outlet or switch and not to stick my hand in the breaker panel with the door off, but not much more.

I’m preparing to build a new house and would like to make solar part of that, but have no confidence in my ability to learn enough quickly enough to feel comfortable doing much or any of it myself. However, I’ve been watching YouTube videos on the subject and the ideas an concepts make sense to me enough to consider maybe doing at least part of this work. With that said, I’ve obtained a few quotes from solar installers and the prices seem way higher than I think they should be. I also don’t know if the components they suggest are good, are overkill, redundant, incomplete or anything really.

So, I thought I’d ask here if anyone might want to have a look and give me any feedback as to whether their systems are good, terrible, reasonable or just outright taking advantage of the illiterate.

I really do like the idea of hiring professionals to do some things, and get a warranty for that extra cost, but it’s not worth it to spend 3x for said warranty.

My main goal of solar is to help offset or eliminate my utility bill, but more importantly, to have power through the occasional power outage. I don’t really know how much power this new house would use in a year, so sizing a system is guesswork at this point. I’d also like the ability to charge an EV or 2 with a system, depending on cost to do so. I realize a battery system will be required to handle power outages, and the prices they give for battery systems seem insane, based on what I’ve seen in Will (and others’) videos.

I don’t know if I’d want 24V or 48V, and I also don’t know what these systems are providing. My understanding is that 48V is not considered low voltage, but that a well-designed system will use smaller (and cheaper) cabling and is generally more efficient than 12V or 24V systems.

Anyway, below is the information from a few quotes I’ve received so far.


Quote 1 – 10.36 kW system using (28) Tital Solar SIL-370 NX panels and a SolarEdge SE1000H-USRGM inverter, for a total installed cost of $25,882

Quote 2 – 7.03kW system using (19) Silfab Solar SIL-370 BK BC Series panels and an Enphase Energy IQ7A-72-2-US-240 inverter, for a total installed cost of $20, 598

Quote 3 – 7.04 kW system using (22) REC REC320NP Black panels and an Enphase Energy IQ7PLUS-72-x-US-208 inverter, for a total installed cost of $20,064


All of these prices are before any tax rebates. I’m not sure if I would qualify for these rebates if I did some/all of this myself, and didn’t use a licensed company to do the work.

All companies offer a 25 year labor warranty (for whatever that’s worth). The Tital and silfab panels have a 30 year warranty, the REC offer 25 year output warranty.

With whatever option I choose, I plan to DIY my own battery backup system, unless it's obviously a stupid idea, given my current ignorance of this topic, and feel free to tell me so if that's the case :)

I’d love any feedback, including places to learn more about this for myself. Thanks in advance for your help!
 

sunshine_eggo

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My main goal of solar is to help offset or eliminate my utility bill, but more importantly, to have power through the occasional power outage.

What is your power company's metering policy? 1 for 1 exchange used to be pretty commonplace, but as solar has proliferated and utlities feel the pinch, they are now paying you less for the kWh you produce than they charge you, so you don't get the same benefit.

Concerning having power for power outages, very few grid-tie systems offer this. If grid goes down, you have no power.

HAVE YOU CONFIRMED THAT THE THREE QUOTES DEFINITELY ALLOW OPERATION WHEN GRID IS DOWN?

I don’t know if I’d want 24V or 48V, and I also don’t know what these systems are providing. My understanding is that 48V is not considered low voltage, but that a well-designed system will use smaller (and cheaper) cabling and is generally more efficient than 12V or 24V systems.

For the wattages you've listed, 48V is the only option; however, none of the quotes include 48V inverters or batteries, so your primary purpose of being online when grid is down is likely unfulfilled.

Anyway, below is the information from a few quotes I’ve received so far.

Quote 1 – 10.36 kW system using (28) Tital Solar SIL-370 NX panels and a SolarEdge SE1000H-USRGM inverter, for a total installed cost of $25,882

Quote 2 – 7.03kW system using (19) Silfab Solar SIL-370 BK BC Series panels and an Enphase Energy IQ7A-72-2-US-240 inverter, for a total installed cost of $20, 598

Quote 3 – 7.04 kW system using (22) REC REC320NP Black panels and an Enphase Energy IQ7PLUS-72-x-US-208 inverter, for a total installed cost of $20,064

Not outlandish for non-DIY. Seems pretty typical, $2-3/W

All of these prices are before any tax rebates. I’m not sure if I would qualify for these rebates if I did some/all of this myself, and didn’t use a licensed company to do the work.

You need to check with your local/county/state/utility to confirm you have that option, or how difficult they make it for you.

You should quality for tax rebates either way. Confirm that the installation contracts are not claiming the rebates.

With whatever option I choose, I plan to DIY my own battery backup system, unless it's obviously a stupid idea, given my current ignorance of this topic, and feel free to tell me so if that's the case :)

It's not a stupid idea; however, it's something you should likely gain a layman's understanding before you embark on this delicious nightmare.

 

JustinChase

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Feb 10, 2022
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What is your power company's metering policy? 1 for 1 exchange used to be pretty commonplace, but as solar has proliferated and utlities feel the pinch, they are now paying you less for the kWh you produce than they charge you, so you don't get the same benefit.

Concerning having power for power outages, very few grid-tie systems offer this. If grid goes down, you have no power.

HAVE YOU CONFIRMED THAT THE THREE QUOTES DEFINITELY ALLOW OPERATION WHEN GRID IS DOWN?

Per my provider...
When a customer chooses net metering, we replace the meter at the customer's home with a bidirectional meter that measures two-way flow of electricity. Net metering customers are charged only for the "net" power that they consume from the electricity service provider that has accumulated over a designated period or, if their renewable energy-generating systems make more electricity than is consumed, they may be credited or paid for the excess electricity contributed to the grid over that same period.

For the wattages you've listed, 48V is the only option; however, none of the quotes include 48V inverters or batteries, so your primary purpose of being online when grid is down is likely unfulfilled.

I guess I'll need to address this with them, should I choose to go this route, thanks.

Their quotes all include battery backup as an option, but they are all 15k plus for this option, which seems too much. I do assume (need to verify) this means i can have power when grid goes down. I was very clear up front that this was my main goal, but it's good to verify.

If they don't include 48V inverters, and that is the only option, how would their systems work?

Not outlandish for non-DIY. Seems pretty typical, $2-3/W



You need to check with your local/county/state/utility to confirm you have that option, or how difficult they make it for you.

You should quality for tax rebates either way. Confirm that the installation contracts are not claiming the rebates.



It's not a stupid idea; however, it's something you should likely gain a layman's understanding before you embark on this delicious nightmare.

Thanks for your feedback, it's very much appreciated. I'm going to review your link about the AC coupling, and will keep reading to learn more.

If I were to decide this is a project I'd like to take on, what is a realistic expectation of how much I'd spend to build a similar (let's say 10 kW) system. Something with good panels, an appropriate inverter, racking, wiring, etc. A complete system, not including the battery backup.

How much for battery backup system appropriate for this type of system?

I realize any answer is necessarily approximate, but would it be half the cost of these quotes? ballpark.

thanks again!
 

sunshine_eggo

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Per my provider...

That looks like a pretty favorable option. I looked at grid tie here in AZ, and a system that could provide 70% of my annual consumption only reduced my bill by 30% due to unfavorable fees and net metering.

I guess I'll need to address this with them, should I choose to go this route, thanks.

Their quotes all include battery backup as an option, but they are all 15k plus for this option, which seems too much. I do assume (need to verify) this means i can have power when grid goes down. I was very clear up front that this was my main goal, but it's good to verify.

If they include battery backup as an option, you may be limited to those systems' backup options, i.e., you may not be able to substitute a DIY system. Furthermore, NEC2020 requires that all energy storage systems that are not lead acid be UL listed, i.e., if you go with something besides lead acid, the batteries will need to be UL listed.

If they don't include 48V inverters, and that is the only option, how would their systems work?

That's the question.

If I were to decide this is a project I'd like to take on, what is a realistic expectation of how much I'd spend to build a similar (let's say 10 kW) system. Something with good panels, an appropriate inverter, racking, wiring, etc. A complete system, not including the battery backup.

I recommend you contact altestore.com. They will design a system for you using options they sell, and you can decide to DIY with their products or substitute your own components.

When I was considering grid-tie, that's what I did. I procured 10kW of used panels from a local supplier and had them quote everything else. The price was around $11K, so just a little more than $1/watt.

And that did not include battery backup. Batteries can easily more than double the system cost depending on what level of grid-down function you want.

How much for battery backup system appropriate for this type of system?

No idea. If you don't utilize the grid-tie's options for backup, you're generally limited to AC coupling. Essentially, you disconnect your house from the grid and provide your own grid with the off grid inverter. This allows you to use the existing grid-tie array. This can be very costly as well as you essentially have a second system.
 

JustinChase

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Feb 10, 2022
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That looks like a pretty favorable option. I looked at grid tie here in AZ, and a system that could provide 70% of my annual consumption only reduced my bill by 30% due to unfavorable fees and net metering.
Ouch! I guess the see the writing on the wall and are trying to save their profits

If they include battery backup as an option, you may be limited to those systems' backup options, i.e., you may not be able to substitute a DIY system. Furthermore, NEC2020 requires that all energy storage systems that are not lead acid be UL listed, i.e., if you go with something besides lead acid, the batteries will need to be UL listed.
I guess I'll need to discuss this in detail, along with the AC Coupling situation.

I do plan to use UL listed devices in either case, so not a problem I think.

That's the question.
What exactly is the issue, so I can explain my concern without just saying "some person on the internet said this won't work with anything other than a 48V system" :)

I recommend you contact altestore.com. They will design a system for you using options they sell, and you can decide to DIY with their products or substitute your own components.

When I was considering grid-tie, that's what I did. I procured 10kW of used panels from a local supplier and had them quote everything else. The price was around $11K, so just a little more than $1/watt.

And that did not include battery backup. Batteries can easily more than double the system cost depending on what level of grid-down function you want.
That's a great idea. I didn't know they'd do this for me. I'll reach out to them today, thanks.

No idea. If you don't utilize the grid-tie's options for backup, you're generally limited to AC coupling. Essentially, you disconnect your house from the grid and provide your own grid with the off grid inverter. This allows you to use the existing grid-tie array. This can be very costly as well as you essentially have a second system.
Hmmm, I need to do more reseach here it seems. A second system seems too expensive for the occasional benefit.
 

Mike 134

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JUST an FYI since the house is being built make sure the structure engineer sizes/and or notes the roof trusses will carry the required snow loads and solar load. (About 3PSF on the heavy side)
 

Mike 134

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Something to consider how long are your power outages? You'll need to shed loads to make the batteries last longer.
Natural gas generator might be a better option depending on duration of the power outage.
 

Brett V

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I believe if solar is part of the initial home construction, you won't qualify for the 26% tax credit...you may wish to bounce this off of a tax expert
 
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