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  • SunPower vs LG Quotes in North California

    Hi, I live in bay area, North California, and am looking for a 3.5kW solar system. Here are the best 2 quotes I received:

    1. SunPower, from SunPower Direct
    10 * X22-360-C-AC: 3.6kW total.
    $3.95/W before tax credit. Net Cost $2.77/W after tax credit.

    2. LG Neon R, from a reputable local installer
    10 * LG350Q1C-A5: 3.5kW total.
    10 * Enphase IQ 6+ micro inverter
    $3.42/W before tax credit. Net Cost $2.40/W after tax credit.

    I'm wondering if I should continue negotiating the price, or they seems about right.

    Note:
    I also quoted LG Neon 2 and Panasonic, they are about the same price as Neon R. I had a feeling that panel cost is no longer the major contributor here, but installation/labor cost is. Therefore choosing a cheaper panel will not save much, at least in bay area.

    To my surprise, SolarEdge+optimizer actually cost more than Enphase micro invertor, since my system is small.
    Last edited by zzzzyyyyxxxx; 05-04-2018, 01:51 AM.

  • #2
    Don't know about prices in your area but do know that equal (electrical) sized systems in the same location and same orientation will produce pretty much the same annual output for as long as you'll own a system. Sunpower is good stuff, but no better than other good equipment when correctly and professionally installed and worth no more than a few % premium in the upfront price.

    Doesn't mean much for NC prices but CA pricing for decent systems is --->>> ~~ $ 3.00 - $3.25/W for turnkey systems. Sunpower stuff w/micros is running about a buck/W+ more, +/- a bit.

    Unless you have shade, I'd skip the micros and price a string inverter system. Fewer things to go wrong. Usually less $$ as well.

    Unless there's more to the story:
    Sunpower system price = (($4.23*3,600) - 1,000)*.70 = $9,960 --->>> = $9,960/3,600W2.76/W

    LG system price = (($3.42*3,500)*.70) = $8,618 --->>> = $8,601/3,500W = $2.46/W.

    BTW, you do know that the tax credit is on balance of sale after all rebates ?

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post
      Don't know about prices in your area but do know that equal (electrical) sized systems in the same location and same orientation will produce pretty much the same annual output for as long as you'll own a system. Sunpower is good stuff, but no better than other good equipment when correctly and professionally installed and worth no more than a few % premium in the upfront price.

      Doesn't mean much for NC prices but CA pricing for decent systems is --->>> ~~ $ 3.00 - $3.25/W for turnkey systems. Sunpower stuff w/micros is running about a buck/W+ more, +/- a bit.

      Unless you have shade, I'd skip the micros and price a string inverter system. Fewer things to go wrong. Usually less $$ as well.

      Unless there's more to the story:
      Sunpower system price = (($4.23*3,600) - 1,000)*.70 = $9,960 --->>> = $9,960/3,600W2.76/W

      LG system price = (($3.42*3,500)*.70) = $8,618 --->>> = $8,601/3,500W = $2.46/W.

      BTW, you do know that the tax credit is on balance of sale after all rebates ?


      The funny thing is installer #2 quotes me $500 more for using string inverter, that's why I'm choosing micro inverter, despite the concern of reliability.

      About tax credit, the salesman for SunPower told me the tax credit can be before rebate. i.e., It's separate payment from SunPower after all work has been done (and will not be showing on the contract agreement).

      I do have questions here but haven't checked the tax rules yet. How about city permit / PG&E fee then? All the quotes (except one) I received put them in total cost and calculate tax credit with them. It seems like I should't get tax rebate on them neither...

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by zzzzyyyyxxxx View Post


        About tax credit, the salesman for SunPower told me the tax credit can be before rebate. i.e., It's separate payment from SunPower after all work has been done (and will not be showing on the contract agreement).
        ...
        He is a sales man. The code is such that all cash reimbursements are calculated first to prevent tax fraud. Otherwise installers would mark the price up $100,000 and the reimburse the money. Would be tax fraud.
        Last edited by ButchDeal; 05-15-2018, 09:15 AM.
        OutBack FP1 w/ CS6P-250P http://bit.ly/1Sg5VNH

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by ButchDeal View Post

          He is a sales man. The code is such that all clash reimbursements are calculated first to prevent tax fraud. Otherwise installers would mark the price up $100,000 and the reimburse the money. Would be tax fraud.
          I understood. Updated the main post.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by zzzzyyyyxxxx View Post
            Hi, I live in bay area, North California, and am looking for a 3.5kW solar system. Here are the best 2 quotes I received:

            1. SunPower, from SunPower Direct
            10 * X22-360-C-AC: 3.6kW total.
            $3.95/W before tax credit. Net Cost $2.77/W after tax credit.

            2. LG Neon R, from a reputable local installer
            10 * LG350Q1C-A5: 3.5kW total.
            10 * Enphase IQ 6+ micro inverter
            $3.42/W before tax credit. Net Cost $2.40/W after tax credit.

            I'm wondering if I should continue negotiating the price, or they seems about right.

            Note:
            I also quoted LG Neon 2 and Panasonic, they are about the same price as Neon R. I had a feeling that panel cost is no longer the major contributor here, but installation/labor cost is. Therefore choosing a cheaper panel will not save much, at least in bay area.

            To my surprise, SolarEdge+optimizer actually cost more than Enphase micro invertor, since my system is small.

            Hey! Can you tell me which installer in NorCal is giving you the $3.42/W rate fir the LG Nein R

            Comment


            • #7
              I'm in a similar situation - also in Northern CA. I got quotes from both Sunpower and a reputable local installer who wants to put on LG panels. I don't currently have an absolutely equivalent bid, but here's what I have:

              1. Sunpower from Sunpower Direct
              15 * X21, 350 watts
              $23,101 before tax credit

              2. Local installer
              16 * LG360W
              16 * SMA America microinverter
              $24,921 before tax credit

              I can currently get a $2,000 rebate from Sunpower because I know an employee. That is very attractive. However, I've been reading a bit about Sunpower on this forum and I now have concerns about:

              - whether their microinverters are a bad idea
              - whether it's a bad idea to get my system installed by the same folks who make it, because if they go out of business I am SOL, with neither an installer nor a manufacturer to turn to

              For context, I have a roof with no shade.

              It is more important to me to get a system I can trust than it is to save a few $.

              Thoughts?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by itw View Post
                I'm in a similar situation - also in Northern CA. I got quotes from both Sunpower and a reputable local installer who wants to put on LG panels. I don't currently have an absolutely equivalent bid, but here's what I have:

                1. Sunpower from Sunpower Direct
                15 * X21, 350 watts
                $23,101 before tax credit

                2. Local installer
                16 * LG360W
                16 * SMA America microinverter
                $24,921 before tax credit

                I can currently get a $2,000 rebate from Sunpower because I know an employee. That is very attractive. However, I've been reading a bit about Sunpower on this forum and I now have concerns about:

                - whether their microinverters are a bad idea
                - whether it's a bad idea to get my system installed by the same folks who make it, because if they go out of business I am SOL, with neither an installer nor a manufacturer to turn to

                For context, I have a roof with no shade.

                It is more important to me to get a system I can trust than it is to save a few $.

                Thoughts?
                Since you ask: Seems more of the usual Sunpower overpricing, but the LG price is too high as well. I paid $4.50/Watt for S.P. over 5 years ago.

                Panels are a commodity these days as are most other PV system components . Both of those are good equipment, but no better or more reliable than lots of others of equal quality and reliability. Unless you've got some unusual conditions, you've been quoted prices that are WAY too much. A system with quality components, installed by a competent local electrical contractor that's been around since way before solar can most likely put a system on your roof that will provide reliable service for as long as you're likely to own it for closer to $3.00 - $3.50/STC Watt - not the $4.30 - $4.40 or so that you're thinking about.

                Also, if your worried about reliability, string inverters have much less in the way of parts to fail and are simpler. Plus, with no shade, you have no need or advantage to micros.

                Get more quotes for other paneled systems using string inverters. You'll pay less and get equal or better quality and reliability.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thank you! I am also thinking I'll try using that $2,000 rebate from Sunpower as a reason to get a better deal from the local installer. Can't hurt to try.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by itw View Post
                    Thank you! I am also thinking I'll try using that $2,000 rebate from Sunpower as a reason to get a better deal from the local installer. Can't hurt to try.
                    Take this from a former peddler FWIW as you please or not: Suit yourself, but if you reveal any pricing or other financial info, you will never get a lower price than $0.01 lower than the one you reveal. That's why the price matching game is always to the vendor's benefit and buyers' detriment. One thing sellers always want to know is to know is where the competition is on price. Price matching gives it to them on a silver platter. Dumb move. You just gave away one of your negotiating advantages and got precisely squat in return. Buyers ignorantly and lazily do that for no reason other than lack of knowledge that it's a con. Try this: Set a price that's maybe 10% or whatever you think below what you feel is a good price and tell a vendor that's what you're ready to sign a deal for today/right now and see what happens. You can always come up in price and the vendor won't know exactly where they need to be (although if they're sharp, they probably have a pretty good idea where they need to be. If they don't know they may not be that competent and so maybe you might be better off not dealing with them).

                    Think about it from two perspectives. Your own, as in what real benefit do you gain by revealing price ?; and from the vendor's perspective: You are given something that, as a seller, you want and need, and that will will help you sell for the highest price available with no uncertainty.

                    Besides, you're getting screwed on price at $4+/W anyway. Before you start any negotiating, you can do much better by maybe a buck/STC watt and still get quality and reliability. Just get off the high priced panel wagon and educate yourself.

                    Take what you want of the above. Scrap the rest.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have a Sunpower quote for a 5 KW system for about $21K prior to rebate. I'd like to get it down to $3.50/watt if that is a decent price in the bay area. But that would be ~$4K drop. I might even be OK $3.75 per watt given the labor costs in the bay area. How do I get them there with a quality installer? OP - Can you please provide some guidance to the vendor you eventually selected.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by TJsport View Post
                        I have a Sunpower quote for a 5 KW system for about $21K prior to rebate. I'd like to get it down to $3.50/watt if that is a decent price in the bay area. But that would be ~$4K drop. I might even be OK $3.75 per watt given the labor costs in the bay area. How do I get them there with a quality installer? OP - Can you please provide some guidance to the vendor you eventually selected.
                        Another person who drank the Sunpower Kool-Aid.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Anyone have any thoughts on over-engineering ie. building more capacity than you can use.
                          The POCO limits us to 10kW to get 100% for net metering. I'm planning on using a 10kW inverter to keep us under that and not be downgraded. It has been suggested to overbuild by ~10% in terms of generating capacity so that even when the sun isn't at peak I'd still be making my 10kW.

                          Estimates for Sunpower E series are about $3.45/kW with a string inverter and about $3.30 with Panasonic panels. Competing quote from a less established installer is around $3.10/kW using Panasonic. We're in New England. High local power rates. Repayment after taxes is around 5-6a. difference being probably about 4 months of power consumption.

                          From what I'm reading it's most important to go with a trusted and experienced dealer/installer.
                          Many suggest that Sunpower are fine but not much better than other panels. Is this price difference within the accepted margin to go for the Sunpower or would people just save the 4%.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ay79
                            Anyone have any thoughts on over-engineering ie. building more capacity than you can use?
                            The POCO limits us to 10kW to get 100% for net metering. I'm planning on using a 10kW inverter to keep us under that and not be downgraded. It has been suggested to overbuild by ~10% in terms of generating capacity so that even when the sun isn't at peak I'd still be making my 10kW.

                            Estimates for Sunpower E series are about $3.45/kW with a string inverter and about $3.30 with Panasonic panels. Competing quote from a less established installer is around $3.10/kW using Panasonic. We're in New England. High local power rates.
                            I do not know what you mean by to get 100% for net metering. 10KW is substantial, I manage to heat
                            and cool the house with 15KW. If your inverter is limited to 10KW output, there are ways to increase total
                            energy collected. Common practice is to raise the panel DC rating perhaps 20% over the AC rating. Clouds
                            will often drop output to 10 or 25% of clear sky peak. With a simple string inverter system, adding more
                            strings can bring that up proportionately. But facing all those panels south will produce a clear sky peak
                            that will be lost to clipping at the inverter rating. The solution to THAT here is tilt those panels to the east
                            and the west to get more even power over the day, increased early and late but lowered mid day. See one
                            power curve here, but this generally only works with simple string systems, with a ground mount permitting
                            varied panel orientation. Your partners may not approve. Bruce Roe

                            NScurve.jpg

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ay79 View Post
                              Anyone have any thoughts on over-engineering ie. building more capacity than you can use.
                              The POCO limits us to 10kW to get 100% for net metering. I'm planning on using a 10kW inverter to keep us under that and not be downgraded. It has been suggested to overbuild by ~10% in terms of generating capacity so that even when the sun isn't at peak I'd still be making my 10kW.

                              Estimates for Sunpower E series are about $3.45/kW with a string inverter and about $3.30 with Panasonic panels. Competing quote from a less established installer is around $3.10/kW using Panasonic. We're in New England. High local power rates. Repayment after taxes is around 5-6a. difference being probably about 4 months of power consumption.

                              From what I'm reading it's most important to go with a trusted and experienced dealer/installer.
                              Many suggest that Sunpower are fine but not much better than other panels. Is this price difference within the accepted margin to go for the Sunpower or would people just save the 4%.
                              Since you seem to be asking:

                              What makes you think Sunpower is worth any premium in the first place ? They are, in the opinion of many informed folks, no better and no more fit for purpose than other quality panels, and less so given the premium paid for Sunpower for no real benefit.

                              Inverters are usually sized to the array. Learn that some clipping is probably acceptable from an economic standpoint, but oversizing an array relative to annual electrical load is not and usually hurts the economics.

                              Your $$/your choice, but know that there's more than a small chance, depending on assumptions/guesses about the future used, that a less than 100 % offset of annual load will be more long term cost effective than a 100% or greater offset. In spite of what solar peddlers and the green media will imply as a given and done deal (those sneaky devils), more PV generation capacity is not necessarily better from a long term economic standpoint.

                              On what you call overengineering: That's more like oversizing or building for excess generating capacity, not overengineering. Your money to spend, but if you're as concerned about cost effectiveness as you seem to write, why so much oversize ? Learn how your POCO rates are affected by usage (or lack of it via conservation) and something called LCOE or other life cycle costing method. Then learn how to optimize an array size for best (lowest) long term cost. Then find a system size and price/STC watt that minimizes that LCOE to meet the goal of supplying your long term electrical loads as you see fit.

                              Comment

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