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$4200 for a service panel upgrade?

sorka

Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2015
8,281
6,246
Merced, CA
So because I want to go whole home backup, my main service panel can't be used to shunt all 200 amps to a GW2 and then in turn to a 200 amp distribution panel. The reason is my main service has a max 100 amp breaker requirement.

So the upgrade will remove the existing panel and install a meter with a 200 amp line to a new 200 amp distribution panel which will be my main service panel. All the lines coming into the existing panel will have to be relocated. Fortunately the location of the new panel is a shorter distance for all existing loads except for a single 15 amp line which will have to be extended.

They haven't told me who the contractor will be but just got the preconstruction proposal which is $4200. Seems pretty steep for a panel upgrade that requires no trenching nor does it require upgrading the service line.
 

BrettS

Active Member
Mar 28, 2017
2,137
2,566
Orlando, FL
Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen people post here, that seems to be about average, I’ve seen panel upgrade quotes as low as $3K, but I’ve also seem them north of $5K or $6K
 

sorka

Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2015
8,281
6,246
Merced, CA
Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen people post here, that seems to be about average, I’ve seen panel upgrade quotes as low as $3K, but I’ve also seem them north of $5K or $6K

I would imagine those higher ones include service line upgrades too?
 

charlesj

Active Member
Oct 22, 2019
1,267
294
Monterey, CA
Do you have subpanels in house that run to the main panel?
I ask as I have a 200A main panel that had 2-100A breakers feeding 2 subpanels. The backup panel has 2-100A to feed the 2 subpanels
and the main panel has one 150A breaker. Passed inspection but had to haggle with Tesla designer to get that 150A breaker in there.
So, no replacement needed specially since have stucco walls outside.
 

sorka

Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2015
8,281
6,246
Merced, CA
Do you have subpanels in house that run to the main panel?
I ask as I have a 200A main panel that had 2-100A breakers feeding 2 subpanels. The backup panel has 2-100A to feed the 2 subpanels
and the main panel has one 150A breaker. Passed inspection but had to haggle with Tesla designer to get that 150A breaker in there.
So, no replacement needed specially since have stucco walls outside.

I have a 90 amp subpanel load. In fact, my total loads add up to WAY more than 200 amps which is allowed under Sec 220 for 200 amp service panels. But for panels less than that, the loads can't exceed the total panel rating.
 
Jun 22, 2017
527
338
Bay Area, California
@sorka $4200 is spot on.

Blind quote for a panel swap for a third party electrician ran $3600 (labor rates from 2019). Considering you will need new conductors pulled... at the raw material/wire cost of a few dollars per foot. $4200 sounds gracious considering 9% year-over-year escalation, and the PG&E (utility) interactions you are not involved in. This assumes your service is from an aerial pole which is straightforward easy (some backend PG&E engineering assessment) has no unknowns. If underground, there many costs risks due to blocked conduit by tree roots when PG&E pass a test mandrel thru. When test occurs there’s no power to the house; then, it’s hurry up dig, break concrete, trench, lay new conduit, etc. (<—that’s where that $10k figure shows up... PG&E will cover ~$1900 of that tho’)
 
Last edited:

sorka

Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2015
8,281
6,246
Merced, CA
@sorka $4600 is spot on.

Blind quote for a panel swap for a third party electrician ran $3600 (labor rates from 2019). Considering you will need new conductors pulled... at the raw material/wire cost of a few dollars per foot. $4600 sounds gracious considering 9% year-over-year escalation, and the PG&E (utility) interactions you are not involved in. This assumes your service is from an aerial pole which is straightforward easy (some backend PG&E engineering assessment) has no unknowns. If underground, there many costs risks due to blocked conduit by tree roots when PG&E pass a test mandrel thru. When test occurs there’s no power to the house; then, it’s hurry up dig, break concrete, trench, lay new conduit, etc. (<—that’s where that $10k figure shows up... PG&E will cover ~$1900 of that tho’)

So $4200 is a deal then ;)

The main service is underground but that won't be touched. A meter only panel will go in place of the existing panel.

The location of the new panel shortens all the loads except one, so they should only have to extend a single 15 amp circuit. The existing panel is in a corner where literally every conductor (except one) passes by what will be the new panel location. Not only that, the new panel location has great access from above in the attic.

Now what would suck is if they decide to just extend the conductors as they are in the panel and run some big ugly conduit to where the new panel will go. If they chose that, I'd just nix the entire thing then and there. But there's no way they'll do that. It would take way more time than going into the attic and pulling them from the old panel, cutting them shorter, and routing them into the header in the wall with the new panel.

But yea, that quote is blind given by a third party installer who has not been to my house.
 
Jun 22, 2017
527
338
Bay Area, California
@sorka Also, PG&E (utility) service conductors need to match the service panel. When you say 200A meter, it forces service upgrade to larger, and then forces test mandrel test.

Also, don’t fret with the shorter cables. I found out it is acceptable to splice to extend wires.
 

sorka

Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2015
8,281
6,246
Merced, CA
@sorka Also, PG&E (utility) service conductors need to match the service panel. When you say 200A meter, it forces service upgrade to larger, and then forces test mandrel test.

Also, don’t fret with the shorter cables. I found out it is acceptable to splice to extend wires.

Extending the wires would not be an option. There are 35 something of them and it would take a pretty large conduit and make future changes really difficult. If they don't pull the wires out of the old location and run them through the wall header to the new panel, then it's a deal killer. Fortunately, the header above the new location is not load bearing and it has enough attic space to stand over it. They'd only have to extend one wire. The rest of the conductors will be cut shorter since they'll all travel a shorter distance.

I'm not upgrading to a larger than 200 amp service. The panel upgrade is strictly for separating the meter from the panel since the gateway has to be in between them.

Had I had a service panel that could take a single 200 amp fuse, they'd just leave the old panel in place, but still need to pull the wires out and bring them to the new distribution panel.
 

ucmndd

Well-Known Member
Mar 10, 2016
7,037
13,823
California
I was quoted $1,800 for a panel upgrade in Madera county for similar reasons. Replacing an early 90s 200 amp service panel/meter combo with a new 200 amp panel with bigger bus bars and higher breaker allowances. Although that’s with a third party that is charging significantly more overall for the Powerwalls than Tesla does, so not an apples to apples comparison.
 

sorka

Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2015
8,281
6,246
Merced, CA
I was quoted $1,800 for a panel upgrade in Madera county for similar reasons. Replacing an early 90s 200 amp service panel/meter combo with a new 200 amp panel with bigger bus bars and higher breaker allowances. Although that’s with a third party that is charging significantly more overall for the Powerwalls than Tesla does, so not an apples to apples comparison.

Did that also include relocating all the loads or was that just upgrading the panel and keeping the loads on that one? I'd love to pay $1800 to upgrade my late 90s 200 amp panel.

And now that I think about it, had my existing panel already been good enough to run the 200 amps to a 200 amp subpanel, the fixed cost of installation from Tesla would have included relocating the loads already. So $1800 sounds great compared to $4200 :(
 

SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
9,205
10,073
SF Bay Area
Your pricing was in line (maybe lower) with what we were quoted from Tesla and the electrician we ended up hiring for our panel upgrade when Tesla's panel guy was booked way out longer than we wanted to wait. Actually our electrician ran just over $5K with permitting and such (including stucco work). We replaced a 200A/200A bus, center feed, main panel with a 200A/225A bus (for solar I believe), end feed, main panel that the City told Tesla during permit phase we would need. Silicon Valley area so pricing might be a bit higher here.
 

mkspeedr

Member
Jun 14, 2015
807
952
Santa Clara, CA
PG&E was/is the hold up for the approval. This is the Tesla response from March (see below). Tesla is now scheduled to do the panel upgrade and install in early Sept. This is crazy.

I apologize for the delayed response. We will need approval from PG&E before moving forward with the main panel upgrade and battery installation. At this time, we’ve sent the required payment to them in order for the review process to commence. Once this is complete, we can move forward with having the main panel upgrade scheduled.

However, the actual installation date for the batteries is estimated to be some time in the fall. We are working on getting additional installation teams up and running at this time.

Warm Regards,

Peterson Durias | Specialist, Tesla Experience
 

SoCal Dave

Member
Jul 30, 2020
421
317
California
I haven't done a service upgrade in 15 years, so I don't know the current rates. However, just looking at the work involved $4,800 seems on the high side for just upgrading the meter in place. Moving it to a new location would be significantly more.

A little time and material calc:
$200 - 200 AMP Service
$200 - 20 Breakers
$50 - Riser and wire
$100 - Misc parts
$500 - Permit
$1,200 - 8 hours install @ $150 / hour
$600 - 4 hours @ $150 / hour dealing with the inspector and the utility company
$2,850 - Total

I would say $3K - $4K seems fair. Beyond that seems like it would be excessive. You might want to get a few other quotes.
 
Jun 22, 2017
527
338
Bay Area, California
Considering that the blind quote was via Tesla. Tesla takes responsibility for the 3rd party electrician Tesla hires out. Less risk to homeowner sourcing another electrician. Let say there was someone on the forum that had the service panel upgrade/swap done on their own (slapped in a "solar-ready" service panel... misnomer for Powerwall applications btw), and ended up needing to redo it. I would take that into consideration as well, and at the minimum get the exact requirements from Tesla (in writing & in writing with the homeowner-sourced electrician that he/she will comply with).
 

sorka

Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2015
8,281
6,246
Merced, CA
PG&E was/is the hold up for the approval. This is the Tesla response from March (see below). Tesla is now scheduled to do the panel upgrade and install in early Sept. This is crazy.

I apologize for the delayed response. We will need approval from PG&E before moving forward with the main panel upgrade and battery installation. At this time, we’ve sent the required payment to them in order for the review process to commence. Once this is complete, we can move forward with having the main panel upgrade scheduled.

However, the actual installation date for the batteries is estimated to be some time in the fall. We are working on getting additional installation teams up and running at this time.

Warm Regards,

Peterson Durias | Specialist, Tesla Experience

So is it a pipe dream if Tesla thinks they're going to be able to do my panel upgrade before 10/16 given that Tesla just gave me the quote?
 

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