$2000+ for a NEMA 14-50 installation??

$2000+ for a NEMA 14-50 installation??

I don't often work with electrical contractors, so the experience of getting an outlet installed while I wait for my Model S to be manufactured is a bit of a mystery to me. I'm in Montgomery County, Maryland. The contractor that SolarCity had contact me asked me to just send him some pictures of the installation location and measurements of the length of cable required. As far as I can see, the wire will have to go through two walls and possibly one floor, and run about 50ft total. But then again, I'm not an electrician! Based on my photos, he quoted a price of $2150 to SolarCity. I thought this was crazy, so I called another electrician who I found online, described the project to him, and he estimated $650 over the phone. I'm a little dissatisfied with this whole process, since most of my experience with home contractors has the contractor coming to the house for free to check out the site and provide an estimate. After all, there might be all kinds of difficulties in running the wire that I don't know about since I'm don't have their expertise. Do I need to keep looking for contractors? Is there any advantage to going specifically with the SolarCity recommendation? What's a good price for this job?

TeslaOR | July 3, 2013

Mine was a short run about 6 feet away from the panel. It only cost $495. That included replacing 4-5 breakers with skinnier ones to fit in the new 50A breaker.

joepruitt | July 3, 2013

I had a 14-50 installed in my garage. A new 50A fuse was put in, a line drawn across the top of the garage (about 50 feet), a line pulled down through the wall, and a 14-50 box installed near where I park the car. I believe I paid around $700 for it. Your cost depends on the time it takes to drill (if you are going through floors and walls) but $2k seems a bit high if there aren't any major hurdles they have to overcome to get the wiring done. If you are getting a quote for $2k, I'd get a few other quotes.


rochec | July 3, 2013

Sounds about right for an electrician, I think they just pick numbers out of thin air!

But having to run the copper that far will add quite a bit of cost, especially if you want to keep the amperage up to charge fast. Is your box really that far from where you park?

That said, go to Home Depot and have them put out a quote to electricians for you, you'll get very competitive bids and most will only be estimates until they can come up to look. They don't charge you trip fees (normally) either, so they'll come do an estimate for free.

I paid about $400 for mine, but that was only to run the wire about 3 feet.

Also, you can buy the breaker at Home Depot for $10 and probably save quite a bit on what an electrician would charge you for it. Just make sure you get the right kind for your box.

AlMc | July 3, 2013

IMHO the $2150 is way out of line. Even with a difficult installation a 50' 6 gauge wire with a 50amp breaker and Nema 14-50
outlet should be more in the 600-800 range.

I ran my own. It was lose to 50'. Went thru the floor and one wall. Material cost about $150 (max). So, if it is a 3-4 hour job
I think the local electrician quated you a fair price, even if over the phone.

cfOH | July 3, 2013

I'm right there in this stage of the process, too. I had to call 8 electricians to get 4 of them to call me back and just 3 of them are willing to come out and give me an estimate without a service charge. Business must be good for them right now. ;-)

Anyway, I've only gotten one complete estimate. Our panel is in our basement, so the feed will have to go through a wall (our foundation) to get into our attached garage. Total run will be about 50 (my guesstimate). Our panel does not need to be upgraded, so just a 50A breaker needs to be added. The rest of it is wire, conduit, the physical socket, and labor. My estimate was $540 total. This was in Cincinnati, which is probably cheaper than where you are. HTH.

cfOH | July 3, 2013

*about 50 FEET

AmpedRealtor | July 3, 2013

@ cybrown,

Here is my experience and what I ultimately decided… Solar City sent a contractor - Mr. Electric - over to my house to give me an estimate for either a 50A or 100A connection. It took them a week to get the numbers back to Solar City who then called me and quoted me (drum roll please)… $5,000 for even a 50A connection! They said I needed a new 300A panel, quoted surge suppressors and line filters on both sides of the connection, new grounds to the outdoor plumbing, permits, and a bunch of other nonsense.

By comparison, I had two electricians (including the ones who originally installed my 14k PV system) come out and they each quoted $300-$600 for either a 50A or a 100A, with the caveat that if I go with the 100A HPWC connection that I may have to dial it down to a lower current if I'm expecting to be running my house near max load (i.e., turn on everything in the house). No new panel required, both electricians said my breakers could be consolidated to provide room for another, dedicated breaker.

When I asked the Solar City guy about the huge HUGE price differential, his explanation was simply that the price they quote includes all of the necessary components and upgrades to make the installation safe for the car and to remain in compliance with all safety ordinances. He said that "cost reduction" is not a factor in their estimates because most who buy Model S will not quibble over installing a proper connection. In my case, paying Solar City 10x what two electricians quoted me is more than what I would call a "quibble". I figure that Solar City wants to make money and so does Mr. Electric, and the estimate reflects that.

I told Solar City that I'll take my chances with my own electrician.

AmpedRealtor | July 3, 2013

I forgot to add… based on the comments from the guy at Solar City, they have no qualms about providing such a ridiculous estimate because they feel Model S owners can afford it. Whatever! LOL

gt1485a | July 3, 2013

I ran 50' of 6 ga MC which cost me $168 at my companies rate. The outlet was $11 off amazon. ~$25 for the breaker. Rest would be labor, it took me ~3 hours so at $150/hr so ~$560.

AlMc | July 3, 2013

It appears that both on the threads here and at TMC that Solar City quotes are usually AT LEAST 2x the going electrical contractor rate.

Has anyone gotten a lower quote from Solar city versus a local

ramtaz | July 3, 2013

It better include the solar panels for that price!

MarkV | July 3, 2013

Another nail in the Solar City coffin. They are way out of line on price. Go with your independent which is about twice the material cost and in line with normal construction costs. Another independent quote or two may give you even more confidence in your selection. Throw out the low and the high bids and choose the contractor that makes you feel most comfortable/confident.

Bubba2000 | July 3, 2013

I would go with Home Depot as rochec suggested. Get at least 3 quotes. $650 sounds about right if it includes the breaker, wiring and socket. The challenge will getting through those walls and floor with a fishing wire.

I am waiting for the HPWC. My breaker box is in garage, so it is a short rim.

petero | July 3, 2013

cy. Call a couple of independent electricians to come over and give you a quote. Quotes are free and they have to see everything, including the panel, etc.

gasnomo | July 3, 2013

Get a local guy to do it, the price should be wholly dependent on the length of the run, as the copper in that thick a gauge wire is expensive and the most expensive part of the hardware for the job (unless you need to install a new panel b/c your panel is completely full). My run for my HPWC was about 20ft and my install was $500 (NY).

alohasara | July 3, 2013

I've actually had the opposite experience, ending up wishing I had used Solar City. Overall, my install of the HPWC has been ongoing for almost 2.5 months now. I've had the car for a month and am stuck charging with 110 because the installation is still not done.

I called Solar City first. They told me they couldn't come out for at least a week, but asked me to send them pictures of my current setup and the location where I want to install the HPWC. I did and they called me back and informed me that my very old electrical panel would need to be upgraded. They quoted me $3800 to upgrade the existing panel from 100 A to 200 A, install an EV Submeter and install the HPWC with about a 20' run.

The quote seemed high to me so I called around. Most electricians would not even give a quote without me paying them $150. The ones that did came in even higher, close to $5500. Finally, one of them came with a quote for $3400 so, I signed on the dotted line.

Within the week, they upgraded me existing panel. It was all downhill after that. First, they installed a 14-50 NEMA rather than the HPWC, claiming that's not what I asked for (mind you, I handed him the Tesla documentation of how to install the HPWC when he came to do the quote). They then, plugged the 40A NEMA run into the HPWC and called the inspector who failed it since it should be 80A. Then, they told me they would put back the NEMA, call the inspector, and then after it passes, change it back to the HPWC. I told them they needed to do it RIGHT, so that it passes inspection properly, then they demanded more money to do the job they were originally asked to do.

Finally, they did the work, but threw all the conduit they removed into my backyard, ripped down the cable wires to make room, and left them hanging, and delayed calling the inspector back for another week.

From my point of view, I'm guessing if I'd gone with Solar City, they would have done the job right the first time, saving me a LOT of time and frustration and allowing me to actually drive my brand new car rather than using it has a very pretty lawn ornament...

jat | July 3, 2013

Likewise for me - when I bought the LEAF, they sent their preferred electrician for a quote, and they told me $2700 (including the Aerovironment EVSE). Instead, I bought the EVSE online for $620, $80 of parts at Home Depot, and spent an hour doing it myself (I have a subpanel in the garage so it was easy and I could cut it off at the main panel).

When I bought the Model S, Solar City isn't in Georgia, but they had partner who came out and quoted $2k (and took forever to do it), so I went with someone else to do the HPWC install for $750, which included a temporary 14-50 outlet until the HPWC arrived.

lightbody_s | July 3, 2013

I had a similar experience (there is a recent thread on this topic). SolarCity referred Mr. Electric, who quoted $1100 - $1200. I got it done for ~$430 from a local electrician.

justineet | July 3, 2013

@cybrown....2000 I believe is out of line even for 50ft....that kind of number in my opinion is only justified if you have to change your meter in order to satisfy amperage requirement which is the case sometimes with older meters...

kpmckinsey | July 3, 2013

I had a 14-50 line added in both Nor Cal and Florida, both about 30'. Included 50A breaker, conduit, cable, outlet box, outlet conn and labor (across ceiling and down wall). Nor Cal cost $750, FL cost $300. Both by licensed electricians.

mikefa | July 3, 2013

I also had a similar bad experience. Solar City referred Mr. Electric and they quoted $1400-$1500 to run 50 ft of 6 gauge cable (4-wires) through 1 wall and going around 3 corner bends to install a surface mount outlet on my carport wall. So, i went to Lowe's and purchased 60 feet of cable, 25 feet of 3/4"-diameter conduit, a bag conduit clamps, a surface mount Nema 14-50 outlet and then hired a local electrician through Craig's List and the whole job including material and labor was less than $450. If you are buying the cable yourself from Lowe's or Home Deopt, be sure you buy at least 15%-20% longer than you need because the cable is very THICK and very difficult to work with when bending around post corners. Be sure the cable exiting the breaker box is inside a conduit, and the cable from ceiling to the Nema 14-50 is also inside a conduit.

cybrown | July 3, 2013

For the record, the original $2k+ quote came from Mr. Electric also. Sounds like SolarCity needs to refer someone who isn't a scam artist.

FranknWC | July 3, 2013

Anyone have experience with the GE charger? We saw one at HomeDepot tonight and it claimed 25 kWh when the Tesla charger is 20kWh. What is the difference between the charger and a 240 plug? Is it just aesthetics?
Thanks for any information.

David Trushin | July 3, 2013

I think that solar city actually does not operate in states other than CA, somewhere in new england and some midwestern state (not Illinois). The rest of the "solar city" electricians are just independent contractors so that Tesla owners can call them. Probably the same problem with them as with the car shippers.

The installation ought to be about $15 a foot with extras for special situations.

FranknWC | July 3, 2013

Anyone have experience with the GE charger? We saw one at HomeDepot tonight and it claimed 25 kWh when the Tesla charger is 20kWh. What is the difference between the charger and a 240 plug? Is it just aesthetics?
Thanks for any information.

CalabasasKid | July 3, 2013

Is anyone surprised? It's Solar City we're talking about after all. The same company that leases you a solar system without ever giving you a definitive residual price (aka purchase cost at lease conclusion), then they bill the federal govt for the 30% tax credit based on the retail value of the system as opposed to what it costs them thereby getting about HALF of the system cost subsidized by Uncle Obama ( essentially all of us) and then they lease you the system all while collecting whatever rebate they can skim off of your local utility as well.
They've got quite a racket going on. And you want them to install your HPWC? Good luck.

cfOH | July 3, 2013

@CalabasasKid: Thank you so much for injecting political issues into this discussion of electrical wiring; we were running dangerously low on partisanship and vitriole.

Brian H | July 3, 2013

The GE is an external charger, delivering DC to the car. The TM chargers are internal, and take AC. Different setup.

khoit8915 | July 3, 2013

Get multiple quotes, you will likely find a decent electrician who does a good job with reasonable price. Now with Tesla becomes so popular, electrician guys tend to recommend panel upgrading to make more money because they think we are filthy rich people.(and also stupid like them)

I got my 240 volt outlet with 50ft conduit for $600. It works well. No problem at all. The other quotes I got were $2400, $1600 and even $6000. These guys recommend upgrade my 200Amp panel to 400Amp or install a sub panel which I don't need.

The bottom line is go for simple solution. Don't upgrade if you don't need to.

khoit8915 | July 3, 2013

By the way, if you are in Southern California, contact Johnny Electric who Quotes me for about $600. Forget about Solar City, they prob subcontract with local electricians anyway.

ian | July 3, 2013

@BrianH - Are you looking at a different GE charger? The 3 or 4 I see on the US site are all 30amp Level 2 "chargers".

Ah I see what you're trying to do for fneal. Here let me try in a few more words. ;-)

@fneal - No the connector or "charger" as some might call it (the charger or chargers are actually in the car) that comes with the S also called the UMC (Universal Mobile Connector) is good for up to 40 amps. While the HPWC (High Power Wall Connector) is good for up to 80 amps if you also have the second charger (aka Twin Chargers) installed in the car.

Bottom line is that a NEMA 14-50 outlet will provide more juice than one of those 30amp GE "chargers". I don't see one that says it privides 25kw. Can you provide a link?


Colasec | July 3, 2013

I paid $450 for a NEMA 14-50 with about a 20' run from the panel, all parts and labor included, in SoCal. Check out Rob Sheets, "Your Electrician" (*not* the same as "Sheets Electric").

RDot | July 3, 2013

I only had to pay $150 lol....had a local electrician do it very easy job he said so don't get ripped off by solar city!!!!

mtom007 | July 4, 2013

I paid $120.. 40Amps.

shamrockceo | July 4, 2013

Interesting that Elon Musk is the Chairman of Solar City, and his cousins founded the company. With the price gouging going on over at Solar City, it sort of makes me wonder just how much I overpaid for my Model S. :-/

erickitain | July 4, 2013

The cost of the eectrical cable is expensive as I found out when I wanted to purchase an extension cord that would work with the NEMA 14-50 plug. I am in NY and got a quote from a pvt electrician and it was $50 less than Solarcity"s $599 quote. My basement box was only 10ft from my garage location. I went with solarcity because I wanted to have no excuses if there was a problem.

yobigd20 | July 4, 2013

$350 for 50amp breaker and 100ft run of 6/3 to NEMA 14-50

Tylyoung | July 4, 2013

AZ. $400.00 via Solar City for a NE-MA 14-50 (Solar City employees)...under pavers and up interior drywall.

other info:

5.4kw solar system provides 3/4 more kwh than I use in a 600 mile month. Truely energizing my MS for $0.00.... I'm riding on sunlight, pretty awesome!

Long distance travel... I'm waitng for a few more SCS's so that travel between Phoenix East Vally AZ and Seattle WA will be a breeze! Hopefully by the end of 2014 travel to/from the New England area will be on the SCS superchaged highway too!

BTW... You are gonna love your MS!! Enjoy it when it arrives!

sfste | July 6, 2013

$2700 quote from Solar City for a 115' run for the NEMA 14-50. Local electrician did it for $550. For the mathematicians out there, we are talking a factor of FIVE difference.. surreal.


ian.a.brown112358 | July 6, 2013

My friend has some experience doing electrical work. He put mine in for free. It took one hour and cost $20 of parts (14-50 outlet, 50 amp breaker and 10 ft wire).

Another friend installed one in his one home for the same cost.

That price sounds insane.