Working with a local solar contractor?

beckkl

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Jun 9, 2020
Messages
144
I am considering putting in a grid-tie system in my house, and would like to do as much work as possible. My wife will not let me on the roof, so that is out. The local muni also is CRAZY strict (can't even call to ask them questions if not a lic. electrician), so I will need to work with a local solar installer. Knowing the massive markup on this vs DIY, I would like to have them do the least amount possible. Ideally they would just mount the solar panels on the roof and leave, but I don't think anyone is going to bit on that.

Anyone else experiment with this strategy?
 

schmism

Solar Addict
Joined
Jul 13, 2020
Messages
1,039
Location
Central IL, USA
I have. I wanted a contractor with the special post pounders to drive the C channel posts for a ground mount and or drive ground screws. No one wanted to do that part. They all wanted to charge like $3K for that part or like $6K for a completely installed with panels system.

When I talked to local installers they didnt even do the work, and they refused to give me any names of people in my area they contract with.
They clearly want to hang on to the large markup they have and are unwilling to do the hard stuff for nominal rates without the several thousand dollar markup on the rest of the equipment.

Both supply houses I contacted for my Iron ridge racking, were very persistent about asking me if I needed anything any other equipment to go with the racking. As in, we have minimal markup we can put on this racking because we have to compete with the other suppliers for it, so just buy the panels and inverters from us and we can just add the thousands of mark up on that instead

The industry has done a good job of making it difficult for the DIY guy to handle the "easy" parts of the job.

As for your municipality, in the US I dont know of any that prevent homeowners from pulling their own permits. so they basicly HAVE to talk to you if you pull your own electrical permit. Many dont want to do that, however they likely dont have rules that flat "outlaw" homeowners pulling their own permits.
 

740GLE

Solar Addict
Joined
Apr 30, 2021
Messages
628
So once the racking and panels would be installed, who’s doing the roof wiring? Then what’s left, the wiring of the inverter and interconnect/disconnect?

Racking and solar mounting is probably 3/4 the work

Quite frankly there’s probably going zero people other than a local handy man who’s never done that type of job might give it a try and charge you for his flat hourly rate.

Then you still have to deal with the muni for the net meter.

This seems like asking a plumbing guy to just plumb up your toilets and you’ll do the sink and tub, sometimes it’s not worth their hassle to do a small part of a full job. Their time is worth money too.
 

beckkl

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Jun 9, 2020
Messages
144
As for your municipality, in the US I dont know of any that prevent homeowners from pulling their own permits. so they basicly HAVE to talk to you if you pull your own electrical permit. Many dont want to do that, however they likely dont have rules that flat "outlaw" homeowners pulling their own permits.
The electrical and plumbing inspector in mine require the licensed contractor pull the permit. The plumbing inspector is a special kind of asshole. Even a simple code question is met with "Your licensed plumber will know the answer to that question."

I
So once the racking and panels would be installed, who’s doing the roof wiring? Then what’s left, the wiring of the inverter and interconnect/disconnect?

Racking and solar mounting is probably 3/4 the work

Quite frankly there’s probably going zero people other than a local handy man who’s never done that type of job might give it a try and charge you for his flat hourly rate.

Then you still have to deal with the muni for the net meter.

This seems like asking a plumbing guy to just plumb up your toilets and you’ll do the sink and tub, sometimes it’s not worth their hassle to do a small part of a full job. Their time is worth money too.
I get it. Mostly I just want to source the equipment myself, and pay for time and materials. I've done that before with contractors.... Where I had the material on site, some of the work done, etc. Most are still happy to charge me an fair hourly rate for their work.

Example: I've already run a chase from the attic to the basement, and I have a spool of wire ready to go. I can have the panels delivered and ready, etc.
 

740GLE

Solar Addict
Joined
Apr 30, 2021
Messages
628
Ahhh you might be able to get some small outfit to get you a quote. Just be mindful they still value their time, what mark up they don’t get on materials, they might get on their hourly labor.
 
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