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Old 03-29-2021, 07:22 PM   #1
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How long to install a basic solar system?

Hello!

I am new to the RV scene, and I have been calling around to see how much (and how long) would it take to install six 200W roof panels, 6 battleborn batteries and the Victron gear that goes along with that size of install with a single inverter (12v/3000/75A) - I have been getting bids from $2,000 to $4,000 for install depending on how much I do beforehand (Like screwing the panels to the roof and getting the wires down to the passthrough port)..

I just talked to a guy in Bend Oregon. He insists it is a 55 to 65 hour job, at $160 an hour, or $9,000!? I asked him about his fees and this was the reply "With as many of these installs under our belt, I can assure you this isn't a 2 day install. Well, technically it could be, if I had 4 people working on it full day with no interruptions. But the billable time would remain the same. The lowest the labor rate on a system like that, would be 45ish hours"

Am I out of touch on how difficult this install will be? 4 guys taking 10 hours? I cannot imaging what 3 of the guys will be doing when 1 guy is in the passthrough port leaving no room for anyone else.

I am in the Spokane Washington area, and I am willing to pay for a pro install, but I am also not wanting to get fleeced in the process. Anyone know of a decent installer? I am willing to travel since, well I can!- Cheers all!
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Old 03-29-2021, 07:27 PM   #2
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I would give these folks a call. They have a very good reputation. Pricey, perhaps, but well known, and they've been around for a while.
https://amsolar.com
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Old 03-29-2021, 08:10 PM   #3
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I did my own install, it takes time, more than you think. It is not a difficult job, just a time consuming one. I would say I easily have 40 hours into doing mine.

If you had a 4 person crew why would they all be working on the same part of the project the same time?

You would need to do all of the following things:
Mount 6 panels
Run wiring from panels to charge controller
Mount charge controller
Connect wiring from panels to controller
Connect wiring from controller to RV systems
Install and secure batteries
Wire batteries
Mount inverter/charger
Run wires from inverter to 12v system
Run wires from inverter to 120v system and depending on how you want it set up that can vary a lot
Need to build all of your cables/wiring
Mount and connect any switches, breakers, etc

How long do you think each of those items should take?
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Old 03-30-2021, 07:57 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nwcid View Post
I did my own install, it takes time, more than you think. It is not a difficult job, just a time consuming one. I would say I easily have 40 hours into doing mine.

If you had a 4 person crew why would they all be working on the same part of the project the same time?

You would need to do all of the following things:
Mount 6 panels
Run wiring from panels to charge controller
Mount charge controller
Connect wiring from panels to controller
Connect wiring from controller to RV systems
Install and secure batteries
Wire batteries
Mount inverter/charger
Run wires from inverter to 12v system
Run wires from inverter to 120v system and depending on how you want it set up that can vary a lot
Need to build all of your cables/wiring
Mount and connect any switches, breakers, etc

How long do you think each of those items should take?

I am not sure how long it takes, that is why I am asking for a real world answer? I am watching numerous youtube videos where a guy will say it is Monday morning! Let's start this project! Then hs is getting up on the roof to install panels. Then it speeds up and he is up there screwing the frames and putting down dicor and drilling through the roof and dropping wires. Then he talks to the camera a bit and talks about the other parts. Then it speeds up again, he is putting a backing board in his passthrough port and getting all the parts screwed to it. After a bit he says the hard part is done, tomorrow we will finish the wiring and be done! Then it is the next day *I think* and you see him running wires to the back of the panel, and the wiring the batteries and all the fuses, etc.. and it looks like it is midday still, and he is excited that it is all working and pulling in so many amps with the noon time sun.. Unless he cut together a weeks worth of videos to make it look like a day in a half, I don't know?
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Old 03-30-2021, 08:16 AM   #5
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My coach came with Solar Prep...so it already had two 6AWG wires from roof to basement.

I did the solar charge controller, switches and wiring in a day, basically, mounted the panels in a day...and wired panels to combiner in under a day. If you know where everything goes, and have all the materials and tools...it can be done in three days... if unfamiliar with the coach layout...time will be spent hunting for the best location to mount things...fabricating mounts, crimping terminals, etc... I think a lot depends on how elaborate the rail system is. We used AMSolar rocker feet...which basically requires mounting connectors to four corners of each panel...moving to roof...lifting and cleaning fiberglass roof surface...sticking down with supplied VHB tape...and sealing with dicor. It goes fast as compared with a custom rail system.
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Old 03-30-2021, 08:18 AM   #6
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I agree with the amount of time it takes to install a system of that size. I've done several of them. I would question it requiring 4 people though. With that said, there's allot to be said about the end result of the job, the cleanliness and professionalism of the job. Cables labeled, Proper wire coloring, proper wire sizing, breaker sizing, markings, etc.
As an electronics tech, there's nothing worse than troubleshooting electrical jobs that are simply sloppy and not professional.
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Old 03-30-2021, 08:29 AM   #7
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I have at least 30-40 hours installing panels running wire, mounting and
wiring up the controller/batteries etc. and programing and running tests. But it was just me by myself. A lot of my problem was having to order more things for the install I didn't know I needed. Most places I checked were at least double the cost of the Equipment in labor costs. AM Solar was the highest in their bid (but they also are the most experienced) . Whatever they say would be the top end. I decided to read up and do it myself so I had a clear understanding of how it went together (And save a ton of money)
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Old 03-30-2021, 09:34 AM   #8
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No idea how many hours a pro could take. There wasn't any part of the job I was uncomfortable doing so I did it myself. I used my wife and son to help get the panels to the roof and flip them after I had the Z brackets on. The rest I did on my own. I have three 300 watt and three 180 watt panels on the roof to make use of all the possible space while still leaving a way to walk end to end.

I put in an AMSolar roof top combiner box and ran four 6 AWG cables down to the pass through storage area. I also put in a conduit between the pass through storage area and the cabinets with the factory installed 120 volt circuit breaker. This was used for the inverter/charger connection to the trailer 120 volt system.

There was a lot of hours laying in the pass through storage area installing 1/2 thick plywood to support all the components and more time mounting everything and wiring everything. My system is about 3 years old and I am glad I did it myself because I fully understand all of the system.

I installed seven 100 amp-hour Battle Born batteries to maximize the amount of air conditioning run time after the sun gets too low for solar.
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Old 03-30-2021, 09:42 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mescuba4 View Post
I would question it requiring 4 people though.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivel501s View Post
Hello!

I can assure you this isn't a 2 day install. Well, technically it could be, if I had 4 people working on it full day with no interruptions.
He did not say it would take 4 guys. He said it would take 4 if he wanted it done faster. 40 hour of work is 40 hours for 1 person. In theory if you have 4 people then would take 10 hours to complete 40 job hours.
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Old 03-31-2021, 12:57 AM   #10
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There is zero chance I'd pay $9K to install Solar on my RV. I wouldn't pay $2K. I did all my install myself (portable system). I took my time and I'd estimate 12 to 16 hours. My charge controller is mounted to a piece of plywood that is hinged right at my access door. It folds down and I have complete access to the charge controller and wire connections. If folds up a secures to the top of my storage area so it is out of the way. The hardest thing was configuring the wire loops to allow the hinge to function. The next biggest pain was adding terminals to the wires (I soldered everything). All the install stuff is easy. Getting wires to the roof is typically done through the refrigerator vent from what I can tell. I second the the idea that ordering things takes time and interrupts the work flow.
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Old 03-31-2021, 08:24 AM   #11
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I reread your post..and yes, with adding the batteries, inverter, and if adding battery monitors, Cerbo GX or Venus GX...you are into the job for as many hours as they quoted. It’s time consuming. The battery swap alone is half a day...plus time to clean and repaint any acid spills...usually refabricate all the proper length jumpers, etc...
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Old 04-12-2021, 12:31 PM   #12
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For reference, I am aware of a company out of FL that does solar installs. They have a flat rate, of $3800, for installs, assuming a 32 hour process. Anything over 32 hours is discussed with the customer and charged hourly.

greatoutdoorssolar

It seems the timeframe may be a bit out of line, though who can be sure?
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Old 04-12-2021, 01:18 PM   #13
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I have done several where I helped the owner install the system. They have all taken two days. I would say that yours would take 3 days because of the number of batteries. I think swapping out the batteries would take most of a day unless it is a direct physical swap. If your battery tray can hold the 6 batteries it isn't going to take that extra day.

Before the install, it may take a day or more to plan the install, that also has to be included when you are paying someone to do it.
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Old 04-18-2021, 10:25 PM   #14
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It takes two people two days. I’ve done it three times now. I just put up 5 315w panels today with one other person and we spent about 4 hours installing the panels and running the wire from the roof to the battery bay, and did not use the the factory solar prep (another story, but in a word, useless).

So add another 8 hours for two people to install the inverter, batteries, and controllers, and a few more for programming, testing and misc, and you have two 8 hour days for 2 people who are competent and mildly industrious - the job can easily be handled in 32 person hours.

But of course that wouldn’t pay the bills if we were running a shop so like all contractors, I’d double that, charge a ridiculous hourly rate and smile all the way to the bank. $160/hour - yeah right like all four people are costing him that - more like $30/hr plus WC and maybe some marginal bennies. Just sayin....

Pic is my 5 315w panels - dirty because they’ve been stored in my garage since last June when I sold the Bay Star. This is the third coach they’ve been on. I made the mounts during the install so that’s part of the time involved. If I have a bin full of panel mounts it would have been about an hour less. If I used the factory solar prep, another hour could have been shaved off but this is a residential system.

What year, make, model coach are you working on?
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