SolarCity vs. others for installation?

SolarCity vs. others for installation?

SolarCity offered to install the NEMA 14-50 (the High Power Charger is backordered) for $750 and then come switch them for free when the HPC arrives.

Is that the best deal out there? Kind of bothers me that Tesla doesn't install these things for free if you're spending $100k on a car.

Did anyone here use another solution that is not SolarCity and do you have any recommendations?


jat | February 22, 2013

I think that is a reasonable price to do both installs, particularly if they are having to go any distance. I paid about $700 for the same service, just adding a breaker and running 35' of wire, and then coming back to install the HPWC when it arrives (if it was just the 14-50 outlet, I would have done it myself).

If you aren't running it very far at all, say 5' in an unfinished garage, you should be able to do it for $200 or so.

Tesla isn't in the electrical business, and if they were to contract with someone they would wind up just increasing the price of the car to cover their worst-case costs, so I definitely prefer it is left out. That was the case for my LEAF as well (and Nissan's vendor wanted $2800!).

lov2krz | February 22, 2013

Any qualified electrician can do the installation. My motto "get multiple bids" it can't hurt and you'll get the best price. Tesla does a good job of specifying the requirements. If you're electrician can read they can figure out what needs to be done.

I paid my electrician $225 for the NEMA 14-50 outlet, breaker and installation.

kingkoti | February 22, 2013

@ lov2krz - could you share your electrician contact, if you are in Bay area CA - Thanks

andyk | February 22, 2013

Thanks for the responses. I'll ask around a bit more. If anyone has a contact in LA that I should talk to please let me know!

jat | February 22, 2013

@andyk - note that if you are getting an HPWC installed, you will need to run much heavier cable rated for 100A (80A continuous), and it isn't cheap so it will depend mostly on the distance run.

KendallPB | February 22, 2013

I'm surprised they offered 14-50; they offered 6-50 to me (I think the HPWC uses the same wires as 6-50, but the 14-50 has a fourth wire or something?). Anyway, it depends on distance (and potentially other factors), like jat said. So other people quoting for a totally different situation may not be helpful.

That said, my final paperwork said $800 (originally estimated $1000, though at one point a very crazy route proposed by the junior guy had a much higher quote), so that seems reasonable to me. But if I didn't have the capacity (thank god the hot tub was hit by a tree our first year here and so we had capacity...), it would've been a lot more--not worth it, in our case. I forget how much but it sounded like that would've been a huge big deal.

FYI I was told I pay nothing till the final HPWC installation, and I haven't paid a dime yet; it should be the same for you, methinks, unless Solar City operates differently in different states? (I'm in MD.)

mlaiken | February 22, 2013

Not sure if anyone still needs a good electrician but I have an awesome guy that was very cheap and he does amazing work. He is licensed and has been working for us for years. His name is Jared and his company is called Elite Electric. He covers sacramento area but will work from Reno to the Bay Area and his number is 530-913-0411. He installed my Nema 14-50 for just $200 and it looks great and works perfectly. Just figured it might be useful for anyone looking to get an install.

inverts | February 22, 2013

How does the HPWC install work? I assume the HPWC is sent by TM prior to MS arrival at customer, right? Is it sent straight to final customer? or to care of SolarCity? I had been wondering about that, but as SolarCity is the approved/preferred installer, I assumed that this aspect of logistics is taken care of. Apparently that is not the case. Can someone fill in?

KendallPB | February 22, 2013

Prior to Model S arrival?! Oh, if only. ;-) They've been back ordered till recently; I got my car 2 weeks ago and have no HPWC yet, which is why Solar City installed a NEMA 6-50 outlet in the interim and Tesla gave me a free adapter for it.

From what I read on TMC, it sounds like the HPWC is sent to the customer (which makes sense!). So I expect to contact Solar City when that day arrives, and schedule the final install. If you use someone else, you would presumably contact whoever you used, and presumably you'd've arranged up front that there would be this extra step.

I'm not sure I'd call Solar City approved/preferred, BTW--any competent electrician will do, and Tesla has instructions--I'd call them Tesla's recommended installer perhaps?

Anyway, hopefully in the coming months, they'll catch up and the HPWC will come with or before the car, like you say. But right now, they're still catching up on orders.

jat | February 23, 2013

@inverts - people who got their cars in December still don't have the HPWC, so unless you aren't getting your car anytime soon, you should plan on other arrangements.

@KendalPB - I had a 14-50 outlet installed because I couldn't get confirmation that I would have a 6-50 adapter. As it turned out, I didn't get it for a couple of weeks after the car, so I would have been in an awkward position if I had gone with a 6-50 outlet. It cost me about $100 to run 3+G rather than 2+G, but it was worth it.

If you know you will have a 6-50 adapter, that is a better choice for an outlet that will soon be upgraded to an HPWC.

andyk | February 23, 2013

The electric box is literally next to the driveway so there shouldn't be much distance for them to run the cables. I'll make some inquiries before confirming with SolarCity.

They also said they are scheduling appointments for 3-4 weeks out and if Tesla doesn't let me down I should have my car delivered in 10-15 days.

Mocaptain | February 23, 2013

They should be installing the NEMA6-50 like KendallPB said. As Jat said, 3G wire is ideal. This way when you hook up the HPWC, they just have to swap out the breaker to a 100A, no rewiring. If they are suggesting a NEMA 14-50 and thinner gage wire, that should be a bit of a yellow flag. The 3G wire doesn't fit easy into the 6-50 outlet easy but its the best way to scale. I went with a electrician in the Boston area I knew had experience with high power chargers and happy I went that direction. Solar City was more expensive and also didn't offer some of the small fit and finish design this electrician provided. I may call back Solar City however when I add solar panels however as that option looked attractive and seems to be their strong suit.

jat | February 23, 2013

@Mocaptain - I was actually using 3G to refer to 3 conductors plus ground, as needed for the 14-50, rather than 2 conductors plus ground, which would be needed by the 6-50 and the HPWC. If you are sure you are getting the 6-50 adapter (my car didn't come with it and it took a few weeks to get it), then that would be the better choice. However, 14-50 is certain to come with the car.

@andyk - is the outlet going to be outside? If so, that will raise the cost up a good bit.

Mocaptain | February 23, 2013

@Jat - I thought you meant 3 gauge wire (3G) . 3 gauge wire is recommended for the HPWC. I heard of some people going to a thinner gauge wire and having to make some modifications or replacements due to distance from the box when upgrading to HPWC. Also I requested at 6-50 plug from the delivery specialist and he brought one with him when he arrived with my car. I also was given the 14-50 and a couple other plugs. Its amazing to me that some people are forced to pay for these plug where some of us get them for free.

georgefmoses | February 27, 2013

I'm also in the Boston area.
My circuit box is 130 ft from the garage.
Solar City quoted $800.
Can you send me your electrician's contact info?

rockyb | March 23, 2013

I just had my electrician install a 14-50 outlet in my garage in Potomac, MD. I purchased all materials myself (cable, outlet, plate, breakers, outlet box) and paid the electrcian $400 total for labor. The total run was about 120 feet and he had to do multiple drywall penetrations. The whole job took about 4 hours, and I am very pleased with his work. His name is Andrew and you can search for TNT Electric based in northern Virginia.

ginsbergr | March 24, 2013

I got a quote from solar for $1k and my electrician quoted $750. This is for all materials and labor. My electrical box is about 75ft from my garage on the other side of the house and they have to run through duct work and cement to get in the, I actually thought both prices were fair. This is for the 14-50 nemi. Am I missing anything?