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Tesla surprises with a $4800 bill on existing $5300 install contract

pgrovetom1

Member
Aug 27, 2019
59
7
Sonoma, CA
I'd like advice on how to handle on my installation billing surprise which is due to Tesla's incompetence and just plain carelessness in planning my Power Wall installation.

I'm struggling with problems from Tesla with the their design and installation of 3 Power Walls into my existing 15KW solar configuration. They want o charge me a surprise $4800 on top of an existing $5300 installation contract. That's $10,100 instead of the contracted $5300 and they just emailed me the bill like no big deal. Its crazy. They had photos, model numbers and all the details of my existing PG&E service installation. I asked for a site visit which was scheduled but on that day nobody came and they stood me up. My PG&E 200A Square D main service panel is located on a 4x6 post on a large concrete pad about 50 feet from my home with underground grid service wires. All the loads have breakers in this main service panel along with PG&E meter and a 200A main breaker. I have 2 solar systems. One is 10 years old and consists of 2 Sunny Boy 7000 US inverters each with about 5500W of actual power. A newer system is based on Enphase micro-inverters and is about 4000W of actual AC power. The 2 Sunny Boy inverters combined power is line side tapped into the Square D panel and the Enphase system is back-fed into a 30A breaker in the main panel.

The 3 Tesla Power Walls are sized to backup my home for an entire day of typical power use which can be recharged by the solar even in the winter as long as their is reasonable sun. Each Power Wall has about 13.5KWh or about 40KWh total of backup power. I'm located in Sonoma County CA and in the fire area where PG&E shuts off the grid when there is a fire risk. The Power Walls will allow me to time shift my solar power when selling to the grid and backup my home during most power outages.

Tesla did a 3 Power Wall design and the purchase and installation contract had $5300 for the complete install. This included rewiring all my existing home loads over to an equipment wall I built where the new equipment is located about 2 feet from my existing 4x6 post on a concrete pad. The 3 Power Walls, their Gateway ( computer controller and grid disconnect switch ), 3 new 200A panels for solar/PW, backed-up and non-backed-up loads. I have a well pump and a 50A pool circuit that will not be backed up.

This means the installation contract for $5300 involved connecting my existing Square D main panels 200A circuit over to their Gateway via about 10 feet of conduit to the new equipment wall. It also involves cutting into the conduits bringing my solar, home and other circuit conduits up the 4x6 into the the Square D panel. All the breakers will now be located in 2 new 200A panels ( a backed up and non-backed up ) installed near the Gateway on the equipment wall. A splice box would be mounted on the 4x6 post below the Square D panel where the conduits with all my circuits have been intercepted, cut and spliced to be re-routed. This will allow all my existing circuits to be spliced and routed back down the 4x6 over to the respective backed up or non backed up 200A panel.

This means my existing main panel will be relegated to either a meter only or meter plus 200A main disconnect with no service breakers configuration. Tesla would not share their circuit diagrams with me so I had no idea how all this would be wired. I had spoken with the actual designer who described it all to me. My understanding was they would use a 200A feed through lug in my existing panel for the 200A circuit to their Gateway. This is how a 200A sub-panel is tied into the main panel now. That would be removed. My description of how all my home and solar circuits would be re-routed to to my new equipment wall is from my imagination given its the only practical method. I hope my description is adequate.

So a few weeks ago, Tesla came to my home with one electrician and 2 helpers. They had scheduled one day. Upon arriving and seeing the complexity of my situation, they said this is not a one day job. I agreed and was surprised at the scheduling. I wasn't really surprised as I had pleaded with Tesla to come do a site visit and review the installation issues especially splicing and re-routing all my home wiring, the 200A feed and the size of the new equipment wall. I just couldn't get Tesla to understand that a site visit and reviewing these things is important. They scheduled a site visit but stood me up and never came. So the installation team showed up and as expected were surprised at Tesla's lack of preparation. So they looked at things and just started installing boxes on the new equipment wall. The equipment wall I built is two 4x6 PT posts set in 3 feet holes with concrete with 8 foot long 2x12 PT boards attached to the posts making an 8 foot tall by 8 foot wide wall. When I saw all the equipment they needed to install, I suggested I increase the wall with to 10 feet wide quickly before they begin mounting. They said it would work at 8x8 and just installed everything. They stopped work after installing all the equipment including the 3 Power walls and left.

Then I got a call a week later saying one of their electricians had some time and could he come finish the job. I explained this was more than an afternoon job but sure come on over. When the new electrician arrived, he looked at things and seemed stunned. He said this wasn't going to work and said my existing Square D panel would need to be removed and replaced and after standing there a few hours making a plan said Telsa would call me. They didn't call but rather sent me an invoice for another $4800 to replace my existing 200A panel with another. I was a bit shocked that they didn't speak with me and just upped the $5300 contract by $4800 to $10,100 due to their incompetence.

So removing my panel and replacing it involves disconnecting the underground PG&E main wires and involves PG&E assistance. What does PG&E charge for this involvement? The new meter panel without breakers is at most $500 and I suspect Tesla pays their team about $150 an hour. How can it cost $4800 when we have a contract and they did not do the site visit I asked for and said photos were adequate. Its makes no sense. I nearly begged them to do a site visit and to consider the very issues that led their electrician to say they needed to replace my panel. Now I have to get Tesla to cover this or charge me a reasonable amount. Its ridiculous. I've has 3 Tesla customer contact people and the second was fired and they dropped me and I had to reach out and find someone to help.

I suggested they just convert my Square D panel to either a meter only or meter plus main 200A disconnect. If they convert my panel to a meter only, they could use the existing 200A lugs on the back of the meter to route the 200A service to their Gateway on the equipment wall ( 10 feet away) or to a new 200A disconnect only co-located and mounted a few inches away to the left of the existing main panel. This avoids PG&E involvement. Or they could use 200A Feed Through lugs in my panel and reuse its meter and 200A main disconnect. One of these approaches which reuse my main panel as a meter only or meter plus disconnect avoids disconnecting the underground PG&E wiring involved in a full panel change out. Are there any code issues with converting my panel to a meter only and using its existing lugs to wire to a co-located new main disconnect or to the Gateway and use its disconnect. Tesla's installation manual shows how to wire this meter only configuration on page 57 of 91. The link is below.

https://www.tesla.com/sites/default...erwall_2_AC_GW2_NA_EN_Installation_Manual.pdf

I hope I explained the background and situation sufficiently for someone code knowledgeable to help me with a code compliant method of down converting my Square D main panel to a meter only configuration and properly wiring to either a new nearby main disconnect or 10 feet away Gateway which has a 200A disconnect in it. Both of these fit the Tesla installation manual methods but I don't know if changing my panel to a simpler configuration such as meter has any code issues.

My home has a 200A panel inside my home and its connected to this main panel underground to feed through lugs in my panel. These 200A feed through lugs must be removed since this wiring must be intercepted and spliced over to the equipment wall. This means these existing lugs are no longer used. The Tesla designer I spoke with told me this was the method he was using to get the 200A main circuit over to the Gateway. But the second electrician said he couldn't do this which is what triggered all these issues. He did not tell me why. He did not seem to consider using my panel as a meter only but just jumped to replacing the whole panel. Does replacing a 200A panel with breakers to one with only a meter and main disconnect cost $4800? As I said before, its less than $1000 for both the new panel plus labor. But it does involve PG&E since the hot PG&E grid wires must be disconnected and reconnected. Does PG&E need to disconnect the power at the pole before changing the panel?

Any help with ideas for how to do this legally while re-using my existing panel would be greatly appreciated.

Tesla meter only configuration.JPG

20200619_091155.jpg
 

Vines

Active Member
Jul 20, 2018
1,873
2,197
Silicon Valley, CA
Main service panel uppgrades are a fact of life with the size of system you are talking about.

If your existing panel will not take a 200A subfeed or breaker on the bus there isn't anything else legal you can do to sensibly get whole home backup (barring 2 gateways). A possible (and poor) option is to downsize whole PGE feed to 100A only...with 3 powerwalls you will still have quite a bit of source, but it gets into complicated interactions.

Main service panels are strictly regulated, and you literally cannot change anything inside, without voiding the UL listing. In an area with high fire danger there is just no justification to doing this the wrong way. You must replace the service panel to do this right.

There could be a wrong way to do it but I don't recommend this. Many service panels today, especially center fed ones cannot take larger than a 100A breaker or lugs connection to them, and retain the listing.

$4800 bill is a surprise and it sucks you are having this experience. We just gave away a service upgrade because a designer made a similar mistake. It cost about the same, even for a simple one.

Post a picture of your old service panel and the sticker inside?
 
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wwhitney

Member
Nov 2, 2017
857
1,118
Berkeley, CA
I'm not sure I fully followed your text description, posting a one line diagram would be a much clearer way to communicate your existing system configuration. But:

My understanding was they would use a 200A feed through lug in my existing panel for the 200A circuit to their Gateway. This is how a 200A sub-panel is tied into the main panel now. [. . .] The Tesla designer I spoke with told me this was the method he was using to get the 200A main circuit over to the Gateway. But the second electrician said he couldn't do this which is what triggered all these issues.
If your 200A meter main has a 200A main breaker and 200A feed thru lugs, then code-wise, the designer is correct and the second electrician is wrong. There's no upside to replacing that meter main if it is good condition; remove all the other breakers from it, and it is effectively a 200A meter/disconnect.

The diagram you posted shows a Backup Gateway 2 with internal load breakers, but I don't think Backup Gateway 2 is available yet in the US (maybe my info is old). But you can do something similar with Backup Gateway 1, it just requires a separate non-backed-up loads panel.

Cheers, Wayne
 

SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
9,050
9,777
SF Bay Area
Pricing for work on a new main panel seems inline with what I've come to expect at least in our area. Our combo meter/main panel 200A service on our stucco house wall had lost it's labeling over the years. When the plans for our solar/PWs were submitted to the City, the City pulled the house's Developer's plans and wouldn't approve the permit until we had a main panel upgrade done. They wanted to see a 225A busbar and end feed (ours was center fed and apparently didn't have the higher busbar rating which our City wanted to see for solar). Tesla worked up a quote for us for the work and it came in at $4500-4800 range. Don't have access to it at the moment but it was definitely in that ballpark. Tesla was willing to adjust it given the surprise nature of it and eat some labor I guess but because their guy who would do the work was booked out for a few months in our area, we asked about using our own electrican wanting to get the solar installed by end of March.

So our electrican gave us the following quote for the work:
*Remove existing 200A main panel and replace with new solar ready made panel with 225A rated copper bus. Connect all wiring and install all new circuit breakers...3750.
*Obtain permit from City...732.60 (permit fee, his travel time and the fact that this was his first permit with them in our area so he had to absorb a 102.00 business license tax that was passed on to us).
*Being a stucco wall, we also had to have him replace the moisture barrier and lath and patch the stucco...750.
Total came to 5232.60

This upgrade cost us more than if we had waited for Tesla to do the work and as it turns out just as our electrican was scheduled to come to start the job, our City/County shut down all work due to covid. Work on this was finally able to be done in May and finalized. I will say that the job took him I think 2-3 days to complete (including stucco) and the labor was rather extensive due to the stucco removal and replacement. We had a pretty large panel capacity that was nearly full and he had a lot of connections to make. Not thrilled about the extra cost (but the work would have had to been done anyway to get solar), but we got a new panel and new breakers out of the deal (equipment installed in 2004) and know that we won't have to worry about old breakers tripping.
 
Last edited:

bayareaever

Member
Jun 17, 2013
360
198
East Bay Area
I also have a 200 amp Square D panel and two solar systems (2+ 4.5 kw). I’m looking to remove the 4.5 kw because it is an old leased system and I need to replace the roof underneath. Once the new roof is up, I’m planning to install a Tesla 8 kw system with three PWs.

After reading this, I’m worried they might hit me with a panel upgrade too. Anyone have insight into this? Is there more technical information required to determine this?

I didn’t quite follow all the technical parts of the OP, but I don’t have long underground lines or anything else unusual so that’s good.

Pricing for work on a new main panel seems inline with what I've come to expect at least in our area. Our combo meter/main panel 200A service on our stucco house wall had lost it's labeling over the years. When the plans for our solar/PWs were submitted to the City, the City pulled the house's Developer's plans and wouldn't approve the permit until we had a main panel upgrade done. They wanted to see a 225A busbar and end feed (ours was center fed and apparently didn't have the higher busbar rating which our City wanted to see for solar). Tesla worked up a quote for us for the work and it came in at $4500-4800 range. Don't have access to it at the moment but it was definitely in that ballpark. Tesla was willing to adjust it given the surprise nature of it and eat some labor I guess but because their guy who would do the work was booked out for a few months in our area, we asked about using our own electrican wanting to get the solar installed by end of March.

So our electrican gave us the following quote for the work:
*Remove existing 200A main panel and replace with new solar ready made panel with 225A rated copper bus. Connect all wiring and install all new circuit breakers...3750.
*Obtain permit from City...732.60 (permit fee, his travel time and the fact that this was his first permit with them in our area so he had to absorb a 102.00 business license tax that was passed on to us).
*Being a stucco wall, we also had to have him replace the moisture barrier and lath and patch the stucco...750.
Total came to 5232.60

This upgrade cost us more than if we had waited for Tesla to do the work and as it turns out just as our electrican was scheduled to come to start the job, our City/County shut down all work due to covid. Work on this was finally able to be done in May and finalized. I will say that the job took him I think 2-3 days to complete (including stucco) and the labor was rather extensive due to the stucco removal and replacement. We had a pretty large panel capacity that was nearly full and he had a lot of connections to make. Not thrilled about the extra cost (but the work would have had to been done anyway to get solar), but we got a new panel and new breakers out of the deal (equipment installed in 2004) and know that we won't have to worry about old breakers tripping.
I
I'd like advice on how to handle on my installation billing surprise which is due to Tesla's incompetence and just plain carelessness in planning my Power Wall installation.

I'm struggling with problems from Tesla with the their design and installation of 3 Power Walls into my existing 15KW solar configuration. They want o charge me a surprise $4800 on top of an existing $5300 installation contract. That's $10,100 instead of the contracted $5300 and they just emailed me the bill like no big deal. Its crazy. They had photos, model numbers and all the details of my existing PG&E service installation. I asked for a site visit which was scheduled but on that day nobody came and they stood me up. My PG&E 200A Square D main service panel is located on a 4x6 post on a large concrete pad about 50 feet from my home with underground grid service wires. All the loads have breakers in this main service panel along with PG&E meter and a 200A main breaker. I have 2 solar systems. One is 10 years old and consists of 2 Sunny Boy 7000 US inverters each with about 5500W of actual power. A newer system is based on Enphase micro-inverters and is about 4000W of actual AC power. The 2 Sunny Boy inverters combined power is line side tapped into the Square D panel and the Enphase system is back-fed into a 30A breaker in the main panel.

The 3 Tesla Power Walls are sized to backup my home for an entire day of typical power use which can be recharged by the solar even in the winter as long as their is reasonable sun. Each Power Wall has about 13.5KWh or about 40KWh total of backup power. I'm located in Sonoma County CA and in the fire area where PG&E shuts off the grid when there is a fire risk. The Power Walls will allow me to time shift my solar power when selling to the grid and backup my home during most power outages.

Tesla did a 3 Power Wall design and the purchase and installation contract had $5300 for the complete install. This included rewiring all my existing home loads over to an equipment wall I built where the new equipment is located about 2 feet from my existing 4x6 post on a concrete pad. The 3 Power Walls, their Gateway ( computer controller and grid disconnect switch ), 3 new 200A panels for solar/PW, backed-up and non-backed-up loads. I have a well pump and a 50A pool circuit that will not be backed up.

This means the installation contract for $5300 involved connecting my existing Square D main panels 200A circuit over to their Gateway via about 10 feet of conduit to the new equipment wall. It also involves cutting into the conduits bringing my solar, home and other circuit conduits up the 4x6 into the the Square D panel. All the breakers will now be located in 2 new 200A panels ( a backed up and non-backed up ) installed near the Gateway on the equipment wall. A splice box would be mounted on the 4x6 post below the Square D panel where the conduits with all my circuits have been intercepted, cut and spliced to be re-routed. This will allow all my existing circuits to be spliced and routed back down the 4x6 over to the respective backed up or non backed up 200A panel.

This means my existing main panel will be relegated to either a meter only or meter plus 200A main disconnect with no service breakers configuration. Tesla would not share their circuit diagrams with me so I had no idea how all this would be wired. I had spoken with the actual designer who described it all to me. My understanding was they would use a 200A feed through lug in my existing panel for the 200A circuit to their Gateway. This is how a 200A sub-panel is tied into the main panel now. That would be removed. My description of how all my home and solar circuits would be re-routed to to my new equipment wall is from my imagination given its the only practical method. I hope my description is adequate.

So a few weeks ago, Tesla came to my home with one electrician and 2 helpers. They had scheduled one day. Upon arriving and seeing the complexity of my situation, they said this is not a one day job. I agreed and was surprised at the scheduling. I wasn't really surprised as I had pleaded with Tesla to come do a site visit and review the installation issues especially splicing and re-routing all my home wiring, the 200A feed and the size of the new equipment wall. I just couldn't get Tesla to understand that a site visit and reviewing these things is important. They scheduled a site visit but stood me up and never came. So the installation team showed up and as expected were surprised at Tesla's lack of preparation. So they looked at things and just started installing boxes on the new equipment wall. The equipment wall I built is two 4x6 PT posts set in 3 feet holes with concrete with 8 foot long 2x12 PT boards attached to the posts making an 8 foot tall by 8 foot wide wall. When I saw all the equipment they needed to install, I suggested I increase the wall with to 10 feet wide quickly before they begin mounting. They said it would work at 8x8 and just installed everything. They stopped work after installing all the equipment including the 3 Power walls and left.

Then I got a call a week later saying one of their electricians had some time and could he come finish the job. I explained this was more than an afternoon job but sure come on over. When the new electrician arrived, he looked at things and seemed stunned. He said this wasn't going to work and said my existing Square D panel would need to be removed and replaced and after standing there a few hours making a plan said Telsa would call me. They didn't call but rather sent me an invoice for another $4800 to replace my existing 200A panel with another. I was a bit shocked that they didn't speak with me and just upped the $5300 contract by $4800 to $10,100 due to their incompetence.

So removing my panel and replacing it involves disconnecting the underground PG&E main wires and involves PG&E assistance. What does PG&E charge for this involvement? The new meter panel without breakers is at most $500 and I suspect Tesla pays their team about $150 an hour. How can it cost $4800 when we have a contract and they did not do the site visit I asked for and said photos were adequate. Its makes no sense. I nearly begged them to do a site visit and to consider the very issues that led their electrician to say they needed to replace my panel. Now I have to get Tesla to cover this or charge me a reasonable amount. Its ridiculous. I've has 3 Tesla customer contact people and the second was fired and they dropped me and I had to reach out and find someone to help.

I suggested they just convert my Square D panel to either a meter only or meter plus main 200A disconnect. If they convert my panel to a meter only, they could use the existing 200A lugs on the back of the meter to route the 200A service to their Gateway on the equipment wall ( 10 feet away) or to a new 200A disconnect only co-located and mounted a few inches away to the left of the existing main panel. This avoids PG&E involvement. Or they could use 200A Feed Through lugs in my panel and reuse its meter and 200A main disconnect. One of these approaches which reuse my main panel as a meter only or meter plus disconnect avoids disconnecting the underground PG&E wiring involved in a full panel change out. Are there any code issues with converting my panel to a meter only and using its existing lugs to wire to a co-located new main disconnect or to the Gateway and use its disconnect. Tesla's installation manual shows how to wire this meter only configuration on page 57 of 91. The link is below.

https://www.tesla.com/sites/default...erwall_2_AC_GW2_NA_EN_Installation_Manual.pdf

I hope I explained the background and situation sufficiently for someone code knowledgeable to help me with a code compliant method of down converting my Square D main panel to a meter only configuration and properly wiring to either a new nearby main disconnect or 10 feet away Gateway which has a 200A disconnect in it. Both of these fit the Tesla installation manual methods but I don't know if changing my panel to a simpler configuration such as meter has any code issues.

My home has a 200A panel inside my home and its connected to this main panel underground to feed through lugs in my panel. These 200A feed through lugs must be removed since this wiring must be intercepted and spliced over to the equipment wall. This means these existing lugs are no longer used. The Tesla designer I spoke with told me this was the method he was using to get the 200A main circuit over to the Gateway. But the second electrician said he couldn't do this which is what triggered all these issues. He did not tell me why. He did not seem to consider using my panel as a meter only but just jumped to replacing the whole panel. Does replacing a 200A panel with breakers to one with only a meter and main disconnect cost $4800? As I said before, its less than $1000 for both the new panel plus labor. But it does involve PG&E since the hot PG&E grid wires must be disconnected and reconnected. Does PG&E need to disconnect the power at the pole before changing the panel?

Any help with ideas for how to do this legally while re-using my existing panel would be greatly appreciated.

View attachment 557185

View attachment 557188
 

BrettS

Active Member
Mar 28, 2017
2,109
2,512
Orlando, FL
If your 200A meter main has a 200A main breaker and 200A feed thru lugs, then code-wise, the designer is correct and the second electrician is wrong. There's no upside to replacing that meter main if it is good condition; remove all the other breakers from it, and it is effectively a 200A meter/disconnect.

This is exactly how Tesla installed my system. I have a 200A meter main that had a 200A main breaker, a few breakers for things like my heat pump and irrigation pump that are outside near the main panel, and 200A feed through lugs that fed another 200A panel in the garage where most of my circuits are. They took all the breakers out of the main and left the 200A main breaker, then used the feed through lugs to connect to the gateway. The 200A main breaker is my service disconnect.
 

SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
9,050
9,777
SF Bay Area
I also have a 200 amp Square D panel and two solar systems (2+ 4.5 kw). I’m looking to remove the 4.5 kw because it is an old leased system and I need to replace the roof underneath. Once the new roof is up, I’m planning to install a Tesla 8 kw system with three PWs.

After reading this, I’m worried they might hit me with a panel upgrade too. Anyone have insight into this? Is there more technical information required to determine this?

I didn’t quite follow all the technical parts of the OP, but I don’t have long underground lines or anything else unusual so that’s good.

I believe your building department should be able to look up your panel info for you and say if it will need to be upgraded. As I mentioned in our case the 200A service was fine but for the solar (we went with a medium system, 315 panels) they wanted to have a 225A busbar (ours did not) and they wanted an end feed (and ours was center fed).

Have you put down a deposit yet or just in the early consideration stage?
 

Vines

Active Member
Jul 20, 2018
1,873
2,197
Silicon Valley, CA
I also have a 200 amp Square D panel and two solar systems (2+ 4.5 kw). I’m looking to remove the 4.5 kw because it is an old leased system and I need to replace the roof underneath. Once the new roof is up, I’m planning to install a Tesla 8 kw system with three PWs.

After reading this, I’m worried they might hit me with a panel upgrade too. Anyone have insight into this? Is there more technical information required to determine this?

I didn’t quite follow all the technical parts of the OP, but I don’t have long underground lines or anything else unusual so that’s good.


I

Depends on if you need whole home backup and what the guts of your service panel look like. If you take a good picture of the sticker and the breakers, I might be able to let you know what I see.
 

wwhitney

Member
Nov 2, 2017
857
1,118
Berkeley, CA
I believe your building department should be able to look up your panel info for you and say if it will need to be upgraded. As I mentioned in our case the 200A service was fine but for the solar (we went with a medium system, 315 panels) they wanted to have a 225A busbar (ours did not) and they wanted an end feed (and ours was center fed).
For the record, the California Electrical Code doesn't require any of that. So the local building department may have wanted that, but legally, there weren't allowed to require it. Of course, they unfortunately could still may things difficult enough for you that complying would be the path of least trouble.

Cheers, Wayne
 

bayareaever

Member
Jun 17, 2013
360
198
East Bay Area
Depends on if you need whole home backup and what the guts of your service panel look like. If you take a good picture of the sticker and the breakers, I might be able to let you know what I see.

Thanks for the offer. I am hoping to back up everything, but the car charger is really optional because we also have 110v in the garage. We don’t have a spa anymore. Also, I’m planning to add a ~3 ton heat pump wired to the sub-panel before the new solar/pw, which is why I probably will need 3 PWs.
 

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bayareaever

Member
Jun 17, 2013
360
198
East Bay Area
I believe your building department should be able to look up your panel info for you and say if it will need to be upgraded. As I mentioned in our case the 200A service was fine but for the solar (we went with a medium system, 315 panels) they wanted to have a 225A busbar (ours did not) and they wanted an end feed (and ours was center fed).

Have you put down a deposit yet or just in the early consideration stage?

I haven’t put down a deposit yet but I will be shortly. I have in the past, without following through with the order, and they didn’t say anything about a panel upgrade.

The issue that the OP brings up is that Tesla avoids site visits until install time to cut costs, etc., but then customers are more likely to get surprised with up charges when the install is more complicated then they realize.
 

SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
9,050
9,777
SF Bay Area
We were debating asking for an inspection (think it was $100 to have them come out as opposed to submitting photos and providing info). I’m sure it was our City who wanted the upgrade. Otherwise this would have been a fairly simple install for them with no backup and one inverter and they’d be done and on to the next job. As it was it delayed both them and us and we could have cancelled after they put in considerable time and permit fees. I don’t see it as TE wanting to run up costs for the homeowner beyond the contract I guess is my point.

Since you think an upgrade could be a possibility in your case, ask them what would trigger one being needed.
 

SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
9,050
9,777
SF Bay Area
For the record, the California Electrical Code doesn't require any of that. So the local building department may have wanted that, but legally, there weren't allowed to require it. Of course, they unfortunately could still may things difficult enough for you that complying would be the path of least trouble.

Cheers, Wayne

Could it have been some city thing? Point of reference, the TE person working in their permit section for this area we were told has been doing permit work with various Bay area cities for six years and our city was the first time where TE was told they couldn’t amend the permit but instead had to file another one — this was for an additional PW.

Actually my husband considered going down to the building debt to inquire about the need for the panel upgrade. We decided not to pursue understanding why, just wanted our inspection to go smoothly. I know from when we had work done previously, the electrician at that time said one city can be fine with how something is done but the next town over takes a different interpretation and will fail you. We were having a gas line run to our bbq and the guys ran a flexible line which other cities had changed over to. Well come inspection time our contractor failed inspection and was made to remove it and rerun the line with a yellow plastic line that had been used for years.
 

wwhitney

Member
Nov 2, 2017
857
1,118
Berkeley, CA
Could it have been some city thing?.
It's definitely a city thing, but it's a "this is an extra thing we want, don't argue" rather than a "we've legally adopted the measures required to impose these additional requirements on top of the usual State of California requirements." Just an FYI for any future dealings, it doesn't matter for you now for the Powerwall install.

Cheers, Wayne
 

pgrovetom1

Member
Aug 27, 2019
59
7
Sonoma, CA
My main panel is a Square D SC2040M200C
SC2040M200C : SC2040M200C_DATASHEET | Schneider Electric

This panel costs $149 at Lowes
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Square-D-2...-Main-Breaker-Meter-Combo-Load-Center/1006521

Here is a photo of it showing the 200A main breakers in the 4 center top to bottom positions on the bus and the 200A feed through lug at the top 4 position.

SquareD.SC2040M200C panel.png

Here are closeups of the 200A main breakers which are connected to the 4 lugs on the back of the meter in the left bay.

200AMainBreakers.jpg

And here is a photo of the 200A feed through lugs at the top of the bus.

Feed Through Lug.jpg

In my situation, I wanted to reuse the feed through lugs currently feeding a 200A sub-panel in my home as the 200A feed to the Gateway located over on the equipment wall.

All the breakers will be removed and the Square D panel cleaned up. The only things in the right bay would be the 4 position 200A main disconnect breakers and the Feed Through Lugs. I would want to see the Feed Through Lugs moved to adjacent to the Disconnect breakers to minimize bus length.

The Feed Through Lugs wires can be routed out the top and over to the equipment wall with some kind of bridge to carry the conduit.

All the wires for the breakers would be removed and the bottom holes plugged. This is because the service wires will be intercepted below the Square D panel in a splice box and then the spliced wires routed down to the concrete pad and over to the equipment wall. Then they would either route to the backup 200A panel or non-back up panel. The 3 solar sections and 3 PWs would be routed to the 200A generation panel.

I've enclosed the photos to show the existing whole panel, Feed Through Lugs and 200A main disconnect so the space can be seen for routing the rather large wires required for the 200A circuit to the Gateway.

I would hope both the feed through lugs and 200A disconnect breakers would be replaced with new ones and everything cleaned up. If the feed through wires are routed out the top or bottom there is plenty of room given all the breakers and wires are gone. I just don't see the problem.
 
Last edited:

BrettS

Active Member
Mar 28, 2017
2,109
2,512
Orlando, FL
For what it’s worth, what you were wanting done is pretty much exactly what they did do at my house. Here is my main panel after they finished:

19D198A4-9A48-4525-A71A-EC85CED774CC.jpeg


There were several breakers in there that got moved to the critical loads panel, then they put in blanks to cover the spots where the breakers were. The main 200A breaker is all that’s left and that’s now my service disconnect. They added the two conduits going to the gateway that you can barely see on the right.

DA8030EE-63B1-4230-A6FA-248C75E30793.jpeg


Inside the panel you can see where they extended the wires that were feeding the 200A sub panel in the garage, they now go out the conduit on the top right, pass through the gateway and get connected to feed through lugs in the critical loads panel.

At the bottom, it’s a little hard to see, but there are feed through lugs at the bottom of the bus bars and those are connected to the gateway through the conduit on the bottom right. In the top left you can see one of the circuits that was also extended to connect to the critical loads panel. The other circuits were originally felt through the bottom of that panel (you can see where they plugged those holes) and they were rerouted to feed into the bottom of the critical loads panel.

I don’t know why your electrician was refusing to do that. Of course we’re in different locations, so it’s possible that there’s some weird code thing where you are.
 
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wwhitney

Member
Nov 2, 2017
857
1,118
Berkeley, CA
This is because the service wires will be intercepted below the Square D panel in a splice box and then the spliced wires routed down to the concrete pad and over to the equipment wall. . . .
I would hope both the feed through lugs and 200A disconnect breakers would be replaced with new ones and everything cleaned up.
Your basic plan seems sounds. Just a couple small points FYI:

- Service wires are just the wires upstream of your main breaker. The wires you are talking about intercepting are feeders.
- If it's good condition, there's no real upside to replacing the main breaker, and replacing it would be somewhere between a bit of trouble to a lot of trouble, depending on the details of the panel construction.

Cheers, Wayne
 

Vines

Active Member
Jul 20, 2018
1,873
2,197
Silicon Valley, CA
Looking at a service panel and thinking "Mine is like this so yours must be..." will get you into trouble.

Its even bigger trouble because many folks do not know whats right, so think something working and hasnt failed, is safe.

Because most residences don't have any loads over 100A continuous there are rarely any case of melted busbars either, even when someone does something non compliant. Everyone should do what they feel is right for their own level of safety.

I personally will not allow a non listed connection to a MSP. We simply have too much work to do things that are questionable. If your panel says 100A max, I design partial home backup with the 100% rule.

Interesting things about 200A Center fed panels.
Most often they are really a pair of 100A bus bars connected to a pair of 100A ganged breakers functioning as the 200A main breaker. This overall makes a 200A panel, but no 200A connection is possible on the distribution side.
Just because a breaker or subfeed lug fits does not mean it is rated for what you are doing with it.

Most people think "If the breaker fits it works right?" Actually no, the breakers allowed in a main panel are labeled on the sticker. There are cases where a 225A set of lugs will work and be safe and there are cases where it will fit but not be a safe 225A connection to the bus.

Some jurisdictions will allow quite a bit of leeway here, mostly because its not something they don't realize is an issue.

Here is another example of a great 200A MSP - SC3040M200F Series M02. Its a 225 A service that will take a 200A breaker on the bus.
The one @BrettS is showing could be rated for this lugs, from the copper buss I suspect its one of the nicer versions. Only the sticker will tell.

The service of @bayareaever will certainly take a 100A max breaker on the bus so likely this will end up being a partial home backup, using the 100% rule. Whole home backup would be tough in this case, regardless of the PW quantity, unless you were willing to go to a 100A max service

The service of @pgrovetom1 looks to be questionable as to whether that 225A subfeed lugs is compliant. If you posted a pic of the sticker it would be clear. Looks to say 100A max breaker on the top left.
 
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pgrovetom1

Member
Aug 27, 2019
59
7
Sonoma, CA
Thanks this really helps. In my case all of the feeder wires that come up the conduits below are being intercepted before they reach the panel, spliced and sent back over to the backed up or non backed up new panels. That means there will be no feeder wires in the right half of my panel.

The 4 wires coming over from the meter in the utility side go directly to one of the four breaker positions on the 200A main disconnect. The other side of those breakers powers the bus bar. But the only thing connected to that bus bar is the 200A feed through lugs. So the right side of my panel box is nearly empty. The bus bar only carries the current flowing to and from PG&E.

The Feeder side of the feed through lugs wires can exit the box either below going down conduit to the concrete or out the top carried in conduit on a bridge built from the top of the 4x6 to the equipment wall. I'm not sure of the code issues surrounding a flying conduit bridge ( easiest) or just going down ( hardest and most crowded) trying to avoid the many conduits going up and down to the splice box. Depending on where the 200A feeder exists, the feed through lugs can be moved above or below the disconnect which is in the center to minimize resistance to the breakers.

The second electrician did make a comment about space for the feed in lugs ( which are already there) but I don't know if he realized all the breakers and their wiring would be gone. Then I notice Tesla applied for a permit change with my County building department. So now the building department will think Tesla did this for a good reason. An inspector would probably balk if they decided to back down to the original approach after all this. Inspectors have a lot of leeway to accept or reject something. I suspect it would be an uphill battle now that Tesla did this. Of course they did it without my permission or even knowledge of what they wanted to do or its cost. I learned that in a cold email with a bill.

Thanks for the help. It really helps as I now have to argue with Tesla and want to be on firm ground. The whole process has been ridiculous. One of these days I'm going to describe all the craziness I've experienced with Tesla. They certainly are a visionary company with very nice products. But there ability to deliver it to customers is a disaster. I've had 3 customer interface people and non of them understood the product. The second one was fired and Tesla forgot about me. I had to push and push. They lost track of what was being backed up and what was not. Three to our people at Tesla told me I had to decide if my well pump was backed up. I told each the answer had always been no. This "well backup" debacle went on for a few weeks until out of sheer embarrassment around the mysterious well issue, they hooked me up with the actual designer on my system.

The designer was smart but they had lost the plan of what was backed up and what was not. So once on the phone, he asked me if he could back up my well. I said of course if you want to as I was worried about a 3HP motor being started by 3 PWs. He said it wasn't about the inrush current issues but that it was the only non backed up load and if it could be backed up, he could eliminate an entire 200A panel. I reminded him I have a 50A pool circuit with five 1 HP motors so the well was not the only non backed up load. He was shocked and a bit embarrassed as that was what was given to him.

He quickly added back in the panel and said it would be complete that afternoon. I asked if I could get a copy of the wiring diagram once its done to be sure there are aren't other gotchas. He said of course. But when I asked my new customer interface person and explained why, he said I cannot have it. I pointed out the issues surrounding my panel being on a 4x6 post and the equipment wall I had built. I brought up the very issues that led to this new panel. I was also concerned if the wall was large enough. I don't think he had a clue about the product or its installation. So I asked for a site visit to show them these issues. It was scheduled for a Saturday morning and I waited and waited and nobody showed. They wasted an entire Saturday for me and nobody even called.

I asked again about the inter-4x6 panel <-> equipment wall wiring and sizing issues and was told the installation people said the photos and other things I provide were adequate. I asked about my panel and about the equipment wall size. They said it was ok. So now they are adding more stuff and the panel wiring on the feeder side and main disconnect side both went sideways. That's just the 10 minute version. After all that, its their problem not mine. They should have done things correctly and maybe my contract would have been more but I bet it wouldn't be $10,100. We will see what happens now. Any bets?

thanks



For what it’s worth, what you were wanting done is pretty much exactly what they did do at my house. Here is my main panel after they finished:

View attachment 557620

There were several breakers in there that got moved to the critical loads panel, then they put in blanks to cover the spots where the breakers were. The main 200A breaker is all that’s left and that’s now my service disconnect. They added the two conduits going to the gateway that you can barely see on the right.

View attachment 557621

Inside the panel you can see where they extended the wires that were feeding the 200A sub panel in the garage, they now go out the conduit on the top right, pass through the gateway and get connected to feed through lugs in the critical loads panel.

At the bottom, it’s a little hard to see, but there are feed through lugs at the bottom of the bus bars and those are connected to the gateway through the conduit on the bottom right. In the top left you can see one of the circuits that was also extended to connect to the critical loads panel. The other circuits were originally felt through the bottom of that panel (you can see where they plugged those holes) and they were rerouted to feed into the bottom of the critical loads panel.

I don’t know why your electrician was refusing to do that. Of course we’re in different locations, so it’s possible that there’s some weird code thing where you are.
 

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