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Old 02-21-17, 09:27 AM   #1
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Default Reducing solar installation costs: ideas?

How do we reduce the installation costs for solar?

My adventure in solar panel distribution systems has me thinking about what the real costs of solar are.

As of today. You can buy the "stuff" for a solar install for less money than the install itself.

So in terms of creating value and increasing adoption of solar, how do you reduce the installation cost?

First idea: reduce the installers overhead.

One installer said to me, "can I get "just in time" delivery of the panels." This brings up the issue of overhead. If an installer is carrying all the costs of acquiring, storing, transporting the not insubstantial materials of a solar install. That's a lot of capital. Lot of soft costs.

Would it be better to have deliveries to the home owners in segments? Can you break up the install?

When you build a custom house. There can be delays while you wait for the electrician. Windows.

For solar installation would it be better to have specialists who show up with the racking. Or have the racking at the site. And just install racking. Then the panel installers show up the next day. Or a week later. Install panels. Someone runs the wires. Then the electrician shows up. A tradesman he's expensive. Can we reduce his time per job?

Engineering. Like home inpectors. Can we get a line of specialists who do "pre-install" inspections. Note sizes. Locations. Rafter types. Plug the data into an "app" and give the homeowner the results?

Can the roof engineering be standardized. Right now a roofing assessment and sign off can cost upwards of 700. Permits here in Canada aren't that bad. But ... I hear in other areas they're terrible.

Anyway. This is what ran through my head last night.

Thoughts? Ideas? Brilliant flashes of insight?

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Old 02-23-17, 12:22 AM   #2
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I had always thought that where possible the panels and racks should be assembled on the ground or in a shop and then simply lifted and mounted onto a roof. I understand that a small crane might be needed to do this. I believe it would be cost effective if used on a regular basis. Obviously the homework would still need to be done for accurate measurements, making sure the roof can handle the load, and mounting brackets and conduit runs. Same thing with whatever electronics that need to be installed. Build it on a panel in a shop and then just slap it on the wall at the installation site. I used to do this type of thing regularly on a small scale in previous jobs so I see no reason it can't be done on a residential home.

What this mainly does is it keeps people from needing as many tools for an installation and lessens both time wasted running back and forth to a truck to get those tools and lessens the manpower needed onsite. While I haven't performed a rigorous economic breakdown on this I know from past experience that this method saves money and time for installations if done properly.

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Old 02-23-17, 09:32 AM   #3
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Here are some of the tips I've received

* Experienced crews. (Lower callbacks. Saves time. Warranty.)
* Skip tricky installs.
* pre-engineer the product
* standardize (ex. bracing schematic to reinforce roof)
* improve distribution access to avoid multiple markups

* In the event of diy? what if your equipment requires service
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Old 02-23-17, 09:41 AM   #4
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Another popular tip

* change codes
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Old 02-23-17, 11:48 AM   #5
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Put the panels on their own stand, not on the roof.
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Old 02-23-17, 12:05 PM   #6
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Excellent point.

Ground mount are permit free in many areas around me.
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Old 02-23-17, 02:16 PM   #7
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I figure wood is probably cheaper than racks.
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Old 02-23-17, 11:12 PM   #8
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Google diy ground mounted solar panels
It might give you some ideas for ground mounts..

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Old 02-24-17, 07:36 AM   #9
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Yeah, those people must have a large home! My DIY solar arrays are tiny..
Mine are only used for Hotwater and battery charging (for back-up power).

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Old 02-25-17, 10:25 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oil pan 4 View Post
I figure wood is probably cheaper than racks.
:thumbsup:

Engineered racking does go together faster tho. I like the longevity too.

For my own build I used both. Metal rails for panel attachment and wood for structural attachment. Of course I also hung my panels off my shed roof with dock hinges to allow for seasonal adjustment.

Still: 6 winters. 100 km winds. Still no problem.
There are details and pictures of the structure and assembly here.

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