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$5500 main panel upgrade??

bayareaever

Member
Jun 17, 2013
283
135
East Bay Area
I have a pending solar roof+ 3 PW install pending in the SF Bay Area.

The main hold up to scheduling install at this point is me agreeing to a $5500 main panel upgrade charge. This was added after the initial site survey.

My advisor has yet to tell me why it needs upgrading. It is 8 years old, 200 amp service. He mentioned clearance from the gas main, but that was never an issue previously and it’s 4 feet from the gas main, which should be sufficient afaik.

Even if does need upgrading, the price seems steep. My local electrician mentioned a few months ago pandemic related parts supply issues, so maybe that’s a factor.

I don’t want to unnecessarily hold up the install. any advice is appreciated.
 

wwhitney

Member
Nov 2, 2017
764
918
Berkeley, CA
Don't just agree without an explanation. Wait to hear from Tesla. Or post the make and model of your meter/main and a picture, maybe we can figure out if there's a real issue. [A one line diagram of the proposed installation would be nice, but I doubt Tesla has shared that with you.]

Cheers, Wayne
 
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Ampster

Active Member
Oct 5, 2012
1,675
432
Sonoma, California
Is it an increase in the size of service or just a panel with a bigger busbar capacity?.Have they considered a line side tap? I agree with Wayne that you need an explanation including a definition of the issue and alternate solutions.
 

funkadelic

Member
Oct 24, 2018
29
25
Fremont, CA
there are certain requirements for distance from the gas main (typically 3', so you're good there), but you should probably check with your city if there are any requirements, when going solar, on the placement of the service panel? if you already have 200 amp service and space for the breakers needed by the solar & PWs, then it sounds crappy that you'd be paying to basically have the panel moved farther from the gas main.

we upgraded to 200 amp service about 5 years back and it was about $4000. we did have it moved farther away from the gas main (the old one was literally a few feet above it, which was typical of the ~60 year old homes in our neighborhood)
 

bayareaever

Member
Jun 17, 2013
283
135
East Bay Area
Thanks for the replies. I’ve gotten no explanation except ‘in order to safely connect PWs’. There are only two empty slots currently (after solar is connected), so maybe 3 empties are required because there are 3 PWs. I suppose that would make sense but the price still seems high.
 

bayareaever

Member
Jun 17, 2013
283
135
East Bay Area
More specifically:


Main Panel Upgrade

Your main electrical panel will need to be upgraded to ensure that your home electrical configuration remains up to code when we install Powerwall.
 

Ampster

Active Member
Oct 5, 2012
1,675
432
Sonoma, California
Again I agree about needing to know the specific code issue which is needing to be addressed. Breaker slots can be solved when they add critical loads panel. Busbar size can be adressed with several alternatives.
 

bayareaever

Member
Jun 17, 2013
283
135
East Bay Area
Again I agree about needing to know the specific code issue which is needing to be addressed. Breaker slots can be solved when they add critical loads panel. Busbar size can be adressed with several alternatives.

I’m definitely going to ask for more specifics before agreeing to price.

it’s a whole home back-up so no critical loads panel. I’m a mistaken? In that case, the empty slots could be an issue?
 

bmah

Moderator, Model S/X, California Forums
Mar 17, 2015
3,880
6,952
Lafayette, CA, USA
Thanks for the replies. I’ve gotten no explanation except ‘in order to safely connect PWs’. There are only two empty slots currently (after solar is connected), so maybe 3 empties are required because there are 3 PWs. I suppose that would make sense but the price still seems high.

The number of Powerwalls vs. number of empty breaker slots doesn't matter because the Powerwall batteries connect to the Tesla Energy Gateway (TEG), which is a required part of every Powerwall installation. They don't connect directly to your main panel / subpanel.

Bruce.
 

holeydonut

Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
968
586
East Bay NorCal
Yeah, I think we'll need to see your main panel to estimate if $5,500 is fair.

I had to get a new main panel replacement. Aside from the absolute BS that PG&E hit me with regarding the safe distance from the riser, the other issues that would have impacted the costs were...

My old main panel was "MLO" (main lug only) and had two breakers that fed load centers elsewhere. When I was getting a quote from Tesla, they indicated that they couldn't put Powerwalls on any system with an MLO main panel. And since they had to do some extra steps to get things to work by moving breakers around, they wanted $5,000 or so to replace my main panel as well.

My old main panel was much shorter than a new panel of the same amperage rating. It took someone about 2 hours to extend the aperture in the wall so the new main panel could fit. Then another 2 hours for an exterior/stucco person to repair and paint. The $5,000 estimate from Tesla included all the extra labor.

Interestingly enough, Sunrun did my project without charging for the MSP. But I paid for the MSP in other ways... when PG&E just kicked me in the nuts real hard.
 
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Merrill

Merrill
Jan 23, 2013
3,697
1,258
Sonoma, California
The company that did my 2 Powerwalls said my MSP needed to be upgraded because it was an 41 year old Zinsco. I was going to replace it anyway so had no problem with getting a new panel. The cost was around $4000.
 

Vines

Active Member
Jul 20, 2018
1,828
2,101
Silicon Valley, CA
I have a pending solar roof+ 3 PW install pending in the SF Bay Area.

The main hold up to scheduling install at this point is me agreeing to a $5500 main panel upgrade charge. This was added after the initial site survey.

My advisor has yet to tell me why it needs upgrading. It is 8 years old, 200 amp service. He mentioned clearance from the gas main, but that was never an issue previously and it’s 4 feet from the gas main, which should be sufficient afaik.

Even if does need upgrading, the price seems steep. My local electrician mentioned a few months ago pandemic related parts supply issues, so maybe that’s a factor.

I don’t want to unnecessarily hold up the install. any advice is appreciated.

With hole home backup it is common to need a MPU. Many cannot safely pass 200A from the distribution bus, through breakers or subfeed lugs.

Take some pictures of the main panel with the lid open, and the sticker inside it and it'll be clear if you want advice.

$5500 MPU upgrade is steep IMO, but Tesla otherwise has super cheap pricing so it might be acceptable to you overall. Other firms will apply for large scale SGIP for you so $7-8k rebates offset the higher 3rd party price.
 

holeydonut

Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
968
586
East Bay NorCal
Did your installer not advise you on this, or did you submit your own application by getting your own developer key?


Sunrun said they weren’t comfortable with me submitting under my own developer key so they submitted for me under Sunrun’s key.

I asked them about the “peak annual demand” field in their app since they put 2 Kw. They said they always submit with 2 Kw without issue.

Whereas in my application I was going to put 15 Kw and checked the box saying I was sizing for future demand (future EV).
 
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