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Old 09-03-2020, 10:10 PM   #1
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Default Service upgrade, add generator inlet with existing solar array

Hello everyone,

I went today to give a price on a potential job for a service upgrade, the house has a 100 amp service with a solar array. The home owner wants to upgrade to 200 amp and add an option to connect a 10kw portable generator during the next power outage.

So I’m looking at the job just like a regular service upgrade and I’ll add an interlock kit, 50 amp breaker, and power inlet.

The guys friend tells me the homeowner has been getting high pricing, the homeowner tells me I’m the third one to look at the job. Now I don’t know what the other guys bid or what the homeowner thinks is high, but I’m starting to wonder if I’m missing something. This would be my first time working around a solar array.

I guess my question is: should I have to take anything special into consideration with the solar array? I’m guessing they’re just line side tapped since there’s no back fed breaker labeled solar, so I plan to put them back the same way and when the guy runs his generator the solar will be locked out by the interlock keeping the main breaker off.

Anyone think I’m missing something? For what it’s worth I’m just under $2k for the upgrade with generator inlet.

Thanks.
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Old 09-04-2020, 08:14 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by joedawson79 View Post
Hello everyone,

I went today to give a price on a potential job for a service upgrade, the house has a 100 amp service with a solar array. The home owner wants to upgrade to 200 amp and add an option to connect a 10kw portable generator during the next power outage.

So I’m looking at the job just like a regular service upgrade and I’ll add an interlock kit, 50 amp breaker, and power inlet.

The guys friend tells me the homeowner has been getting high pricing, the homeowner tells me I’m the third one to look at the job. Now I don’t know what the other guys bid or what the homeowner thinks is high, but I’m starting to wonder if I’m missing something. This would be my first time working around a solar array.

I guess my question is: should I have to take anything special into consideration with the solar array? I’m guessing they’re just line side tapped since there’s no back fed breaker labeled solar, so I plan to put them back the same way and when the guy runs his generator the solar will be locked out by the interlock keeping the main breaker off.

Thanks.
Correct on the solar.


He's only been getting 'high' prices because yours is so low.


Quote:
Anyone think I’m missing something? For what it’s worth I’m just under $2k for the upgrade with generator inlet.
Yes, the correct amount of profit. Services and generator connections are "premium services". FWIW, I was already charging 2k for a 100a service change 12 years ago.
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Old 09-04-2020, 08:41 AM   #3
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Correct on the solar.


He's only been getting 'high' prices because yours is so low.


Yes, the correct amount of profit. Services and generator connections are "premium services". FWIW, I was already charging 2k for a 100a service change 12 years ago.
Thanks for the reply, I think your right about me missing out on profit, I'm suppose to drop off my quote later today and I'm going to reprint it with another $400 on there. After thinking about it more I have to figure the service is worth about $2k alone and the generator option is at least $600. I just have the benefit of doing both at the same time.

Thanks again.
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Old 09-04-2020, 08:45 AM   #4
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Thanks for the reply, I think your right about me missing out on profit, I'm suppose to drop off my quote later today and I'm going to reprint it with another $400 on there. After thinking about it more I have to figure the service is worth about $2k alone and the generator option is at least $600. I just have the benefit of doing both at the same time.

Thanks again.
Where in CT are you? I'm East of New Haven.
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Old 09-04-2020, 09:00 AM   #5
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Don't concern yourself with how someone else bids. Price it out, add labour that includes travel and picking up materials then add 10-20 percent for the " what did I forget clause".
If you get the job, great and if you don't, that's OK because you don't work for free..

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Old 09-04-2020, 09:27 AM   #6
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Don't concern yourself with how someone else bids. Price it out, add labour that includes travel and picking up materials then add 10-20 percent for the " what did I forget clause".
If you get the job, great and if you don't, that's OK because you don't work for free..

Tim.
Thanks Tim, that's what I try to do but maybe I struggle with the 10-20 percent "what did I forget" part, I basically went to the supply house with a list of materials (meter can, panel, inlet, wire, etc.), added $100 to that for connectors and such, and figured it would be a long day so added $1000 to that for the labor and came out to $1900.

But when I think about the two jobs individually, a service upgrade being worth $2000, and a generator inlet and interlock being worth about $600, I'd lose sleep thinking I left money on the table.

Thanks again,
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Old 09-04-2020, 09:42 AM   #7
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Something I've learned over the years and now use to price smaller jobs like the one your looking at is" what's this job worth" and then I put a number down. Like you said, the panel change out is 2k plus the transfer switch. You're allowed to make money, if someone gives the job away then it's better that you don't get it.

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Old 09-07-2020, 07:50 AM   #8
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Where in CT are you? I'm East of New Haven.
Smack dab in the middle.
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Old 09-07-2020, 08:32 AM   #9
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Smack dab in the middle.
Thanks, and thanks for your advise about the price too. I reprinted my quote with an additional $500 on it, but before I went to see the guy he called me and we agreed on a price over the phone, $400 more than I was going to originally ask for.
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Old 09-07-2020, 10:28 AM   #10
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I haven't drawn this out to verify but I think you can (and would want to) have the solar system working when the generator is operating. In a power outage, the homeowner is going to want every amp he can get.

Since you are already doing a panel change, breaking the panel into a main panel and an emergency panel will allow this to happen. A transfer switch (either manual or auto) is inserted between the main and emergency. (You could also use an interlocked breaker in the emergency panel.) The genny is connected to the transfer switch. The solar line side tap goes in the emergency panel (or you could backfeed the bottom breaker in the emergency panel). Move as many amps as the genny can handle reliably into the emergency panel.

Last edited by Coppersmith; 09-07-2020 at 10:34 AM.
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Old 09-07-2020, 11:00 AM   #11
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I haven't drawn this out to verify but I think you can (and would want to) have the solar system working when the generator is operating. In a power outage, the homeowner is going to want every amp he can get.

Since you are already doing a panel change, breaking the panel into a main panel and an emergency panel will allow this to happen. A transfer switch (either manual or auto) is inserted between the main and emergency. (You could also use an interlocked breaker in the emergency panel.) The genny is connected to the transfer switch. The solar line side tap goes in the emergency panel (or you could backfeed the bottom breaker in the emergency panel). Move as many amps as the genny can handle reliably into the emergency panel.
Solar and generator do not play nice together and most solar controllers will detect the generator feed and automatically disconnect.
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Old 09-07-2020, 12:15 PM   #12
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Solar and generator do not play nice together and most solar controllers will detect the generator feed and automatically disconnect.
Ok, I did some research and I think you are correct that the generator and solar system can't work together, but not for the reason you stated. The reason is that the solar system, once it senses the 60 HZ power from the generator, will start operating and will possibly backfeed power into the generator which may damage it.

I saw this said on a couple of PV related sites, but more research is required to see if it is really true.
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Old 09-07-2020, 01:28 PM   #13
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Solar and generator do not play nice together and most solar controllers will detect the generator feed and automatically disconnect.
I assume this is because of frequency? Most smaller generators start about 62 cycles unloaded and sag to 58 cycles at 100% load.
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Old 09-07-2020, 02:12 PM   #14
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As someone said before, do not concern yourself too much with what others say. I just priced out a very similar job at $1,950.00 plus the permit and inspection fees and I do not know if I got the job. My material cost is about $700.00 dollars and I will gladly work for $1,200. for a days labor. My overhead is low and all my equipment and trucks are paid off. Before the Covid mess I heard people at the supply house bragging that would not leave home for less than $2,500.00. I tried to break the 2,000.00 ceiling but was loosing jobs which leads me to believe some people were rectally conversing. Yes, some electricians do get the big bucks but they advertise heavily and have nice new trucks. I found it interesting that some homeowners knew exactly how much the materials cost. So examine your overhead, expenses, clientele, image in the community. You do not want to be over charging someones grandma and be accused of ripping her off. You also don't need to make it a hobby.
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Old 09-08-2020, 06:33 AM   #15
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Solar and generator do not play nice together and most solar controllers will detect the generator feed and automatically disconnect.
Ok, I did some research and I think you are correct that the generator and solar system can't work together, but not for the reason you stated. The reason is that the solar system, once it senses the 60 HZ power from the generator, will start operating and will possibly backfeed power into the generator which may damage it.

I saw this said on a couple of PV related sites, but more research is required to see if it is really true.
I thought the system was designed so that the solar backfeeds the utility grid and therefore should only work in conjunction with the utility power. That’s why it’s line side tapped before the main. But I still don’t understand exactly how they sync up and work together.

Although I agree it would be nice to have the solar power available during an outage, seems like somethings wrong with that picture....all those panels on the roof and no power in the house.
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Old 09-08-2020, 06:40 AM   #16
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As someone said before, do not concern yourself too much with what others say. I just priced out a very similar job at $1,950.00 plus the permit and inspection fees and I do not know if I got the job. My material cost is about $700.00 dollars and I will gladly work for $1,200. for a days labor. My overhead is low and all my equipment and trucks are paid off. Before the Covid mess I heard people at the supply house bragging that would not leave home for less than $2,500.00. I tried to break the 2,000.00 ceiling but was loosing jobs which leads me to believe some people were rectally conversing. Yes, some electricians do get the big bucks but they advertise heavily and have nice new trucks. I found it interesting that some homeowners knew exactly how much the materials cost. So examine your overhead, expenses, clientele, image in the community. You do not want to be over charging someones grandma and be accused of ripping her off. You also don't need to make it a hobby.
Your numbers are almost exactly as mine were, but after CTshockhazzard’s comment I felt like I was leaving money on the table so I upped them and still got the job. My situation may be different than other electrician’s out there but the customer is still getting the same from either of us - a licensed and insured electrical contractor to do the job - so I feel like I should get as much as the other guys do, or at least be in the same ballpark.
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Old 09-08-2020, 06:43 AM   #17
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As someone said before, do not concern yourself too much with what others say. I just priced out a very similar job at $1,950.00 plus the permit and inspection fees and I do not know if I got the job. My material cost is about $700.00 dollars and I will gladly work for $1,200. for a days labor. My overhead is low and all my equipment and trucks are paid off. Before the Covid mess I heard people at the supply house bragging that would not leave home for less than $2,500.00. I tried to break the 2,000.00 ceiling but was loosing jobs which leads me to believe some people were rectally conversing. Yes, some electricians do get the big bucks but they advertise heavily and have nice new trucks. I found it interesting that some homeowners knew exactly how much the materials cost. So examine your overhead, expenses, clientele, image in the community. You do not want to be over charging someones grandma and be accused of ripping her off. You also don't need to make it a hobby.
And good luck getting that job, I’d be interested to see if anyone beats you out and does it for cheaper.
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Old 09-08-2020, 06:56 AM   #18
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Thanks, and thanks for your advise about the price too. I reprinted my quote with an additional $500 on it, but before I went to see the guy he called me and we agreed on a price over the phone, $400 more than I was going to originally ask for.
And did you get the work?
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Old 09-08-2020, 07:03 AM   #19
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And did you get the work?
Yes, I'll be doing the job for him in two weeks.
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Old 09-08-2020, 07:50 AM   #20
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I thought the system was designed so that the solar backfeeds the utility grid and therefore should only work in conjunction with the utility power. That’s why it’s line side tapped before the main. But I still don’t understand exactly how they sync up and work together.

Although I agree it would be nice to have the solar power available during an outage, seems like somethings wrong with that picture....all those panels on the roof and no power in the house.
Power has to be used as its made. Consumers try to drag the grid down from 60 hertz. Power company's try to boost the grid up to 60 hertz.

In a home you would need a minimum load that exceeds the max output of the solar panels or the generator will turn in to a motor. Also the voltage regulators will probably get into a fight so its just asking for trouble.

Add a bunch of batteries and bring the generator in to a solar controller that can convert it to dc before inverting it back to AC.
Then add a timing signal and you will end up with a very expensive off grid solution that saves you a few dollars as long as the power cut is during day light hours.
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