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Old 06-26-2012, 05:43 PM   #1
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Solar Install Costs...$8k

Just received a quote for the installation of a 400 watt charging system from an AM Solar dealer in my area: $8,343!

That's about $2k per 100 watt. No question, it would be top drawer, but is this typical? (I almost choked on my coffee when he got back to me with this price!)
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Old 06-26-2012, 05:47 PM   #2
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Go price a pair of 2000 watt generators. They will work when the sun DOESN'T shine!


Seems way high to me.
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Old 06-26-2012, 06:41 PM   #3
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You can get a 100 watt panel from Northern Tools for $400. 400 watts seems a ton. What are you doing watching tv?
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Old 06-26-2012, 06:50 PM   #4
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Mike, that is totally out of hand. Get another quote from somewhere else if you are not up to doing the job yourself.
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Old 06-26-2012, 06:57 PM   #5
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Plus you can get a charge controller for $90 that does up to 450 watts. You could do it yourself for less than $2000. or buy the stuff for $1,700 and have someone else install it.. $8,000 they must be crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:33 PM   #6
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My 250 watt system, including charge controller and Bogart monitor set me back about $1800 on a do it yourself basis.
At that time 8 years ago panels were going for about $5.00 a watt.Now they are below $2. a watt. Have actually seen them pushing $1.00 a watt a few places
Either he has a high markup or a very high labor charge
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:33 PM   #7
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You need to spell out details on what the system you chose to be quoted was - and what labor charges were called out on it too...

Either of their 100w panels are pretty much a deal at $1.90 or $2.50 a watt when bought separately.

Their prices on the Magnum line of pure-sine inverters and chargers are low/middle of the pack too, and thats a great inverter.

Their mounting systems are a little pricey but come complete except for sealants.

Their battery line is only AGM type and they have a full selection with that 'full' list price schedule too.

Some how $8000+ does not compute unless you requested upgrades to every available option!!



Stay far far away from the harbor freight / northern tools panels 'thin-film' panels.
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:41 PM   #8
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Check out this site lots of info and good prices.

RV and Marine pre-packaged solar power kits

IMO $8000 is out of line.
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Old 06-26-2012, 08:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wabbiteer View Post
You need to spell out details on what the system you chose to be quoted was - and what labor charges were called out on it too...
Some how $8000+ does not compute unless you requested upgrades to every available option!!
Labor charges were about a third of the total price. There are all kinds of variables here, I realize, but without getting into all the details, I basically wanted 400 watts of power, installed. No upgrades involved. Thanks, everyone, for your replies!
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Old 06-26-2012, 09:50 PM   #10
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My 150 watt AM Solar system with a 200W Morningstar Charge Controller with remote readout and all the wires clips connectors etc. etc. cost about $1,500. I installed it myself. BTW the installation of the panels and Charge Controller was very easy. Hardest part was having to remove the pantry / Microwave cabinet in order to install the wire. For the record I ran the wire from the roof down the fridge vent (using a grommet in the alum on the side of the vent coming out of the roof). Anyway your quote sounds way high. I also want to say that I was very happy dealing with AM Solar. Good folks and very helpful with the pre and post purchase questions.
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Old 06-26-2012, 09:52 PM   #11
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I have some friends in the 'green' business. Things are busy for them, so they quote high. That's why they are called quotes - get a few of them to see who is screwing you the least.

The local RV dealer here does 150 watts for $1200 installed... adding more/bigger panels is pretty much just an increase in the parts...
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Old 06-26-2012, 09:58 PM   #12
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I don't get it.
You've got a 3 ton camper being pulled by (I'm guessing) a 3 ton vehicle.
Probably gets 12 mpg on the road.
Is this an attempt to go Green somehow or are you really doing that much boondocking?
It seems that a 2KW generator at $800 and 200 gals of fuel at $4/gal = $800 would last you about forever. And that's not counting the increased air drag from all the paraphernalia attached to your roof.
What am I missing here?
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Old 06-26-2012, 10:06 PM   #13
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One more datapoint for you, AM Solar 300 watt system, with upgraded 45A morningstar controller and cables, in the event I wanted to add more panels some day. Materials $2500, and a weekend of my time to install.

To store the output of your 400 watts, are you upgrading/adding batteries as well? Adding an inverter? Those components could account for part of the quote as well.

A description of my install is at the link in sig.
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Old 06-26-2012, 11:17 PM   #14
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I built a solar system for my 1.5acre property in northern Az. I have a 1974 30ft Silver Streak trailer with a 12x20 attached living & bed room building.. I have 3 used panels totaling 285 watts, 10 - 6volt deep cycle batteries,3000 watt inverter which cost me less than $2500.00 For my 25ft AS Caravanner I'm installing 1- 100 watt panel and 2-Ge 6volt Trogan batteries aprox $500-600 That should be good for boondocking for a few days. Generator back if longer stay without shore power....Tee
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Old 06-27-2012, 12:18 AM   #15
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Like I said at the beginning, What are you trying to run? a tv. 100 watts will charge your batteries no problem during the day. 200-300 watt is more than you will probably ever want. If you need energy that bad get the generator and a propane kit for it.

Personally Solar for the house is not really cost effective, just like geo thermal. Takes to long to recoupe your money. Unless you live in the middle of nowhere and have no choice.

Same can be true for the AS. How much do you dry camp?
Generators are cheaper and provide more power. And are not effected by weather!!!!

I have a 15 watt panel on a tripod so I can move it around in the sun to recharge my battery. Cost me a $100 and works great. I like to camp in the shade if possible so having it on a stand makes since to me. If it was on top of the AS, it wouldn't work as well.
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Old 06-27-2012, 12:30 AM   #16
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Let's put this into perspective.

The system that was quoted contains quite a bit more than simply 400 watts of solar panels and a charge controller, but we can start there. Then add a Magnum MS-2012 pure sine wave inverter/charger with a 100 amp fully adjustable, temperature compensated 3-stage charging section and 2000 watts of inverter power.

Then add 2 new Lifeline GPL-6CT 300 amp/hour AGM batteries. Then re-wire the trailer to utilize the Magnum's battery charging capability and dump the garbage converter provided with the trailer. Then run a minimum of 6AWG wire (sorry, but the 10AWG from Airstream is good for one panel, maybe!) from the solar array to the controller, and then to the batteries. Use 4 AM Solar GS-100 panels which are the smallest, lightest and most efficient 100 watt panels currently available and mount them to the roof WITHOUT A SINGLE ROOF PENETRATION. After all, don't new Airstreams already leak enough right from the factory?

Then re-wire the AC circuits to power the inverter/charger and then connect it to the internal AC circuits that will be run by the inverter when no shore power is present.

Add in little things like proper fusing and circuit breakers in the charge lines as required by RVIA and NEC code, using 2/0 cable from the batteries to the inverter with a class T fuse and a new auxiliary 120VAC circuit breaker box for the new inverter circuits.

Add in 30-40 hours of installation labor plus materials and you now have a more complete picture of what is required for this type of system. This is a premium system and one that is generally not done by the DIY type. Also, the solar components from AM Solar are in a class by themselves and are not at all comparable with anything from the likes of Northern Tool of Harbor freight.

At peak sun, this system will put 30-35 amps into the batteries with the boost obtained by the MPPT controller and the 'hotter' voltages from the GS-100 panels.

Any questions?
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Old 06-27-2012, 02:22 AM   #17
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Here's what I really like about our 200W AM solar DIY installed system.... there's nothing to think about. I never worry about the noise rules, someone stealing my generator, carrying gasoline in my truck, etc. It just works; the batteries are charged 100% at the end of the day whether or not I remember that I've got solar panels.


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Old 06-27-2012, 05:21 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ultradog View Post
Is this an attempt to go Green somehow or are you really doing that much boondocking?
It seems that a 2KW generator at $800 and 200 gals of fuel at $4/gal = $800 would last you about forever. And that's not counting the increased air drag from all the paraphernalia attached to your roof.
What am I missing here?
For the most part, a trailer isn't practical either.

As for the cost, premium jobs cost a lot. A sub-premium set up like mine costs a lot less and is the toy we wanted.

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Old 06-27-2012, 05:58 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ultradog View Post
I don't get it.
You've got a 3 ton camper being pulled by (I'm guessing) a 3 ton vehicle.
Probably gets 12 mpg on the road.
Is this an attempt to go Green somehow or are you really doing that much boondocking?
It seems that a 2KW generator at $800 and 200 gals of fuel at $4/gal = $800 would last you about forever. And that's not counting the increased air drag from all the paraphernalia attached to your roof.
What am I missing here?
In our case we really do boondock that much. In fact usually only see electric hookups at rallies.

It is also quiet and requires little or no maintenance ( a bottle of windex). No rope pulling, noise, loading and unloading, gasoline to carry, security of generator etc.
But I do have to agree a generator is cheaper and having solar does not .eliminate the need for a small generator occasionally.
For our style of camping I would not like to be with out the solar because of the convenience.
" Green" was not a consideration at all in our decision to go solar.

If finances was the only factor in these things we would be driving an econo car and staying in cheap motels
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Old 06-27-2012, 06:42 AM   #20
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Quote:
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I don't get it.
What am I missing here?

Not much.....

IMHO.....most solor installz are ego based, not greenly inspired. Seems a lot of folks have a real aversion to pull cord power, we do not.

For us the dollars spent on a Sol panel install would take much too long to recoup here in the NE.
For others, not so much.

Pull-n-play awhile a day....I'm fine with that.

TETO


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