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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys, I'm having trouble getting electrical contractors to call me back to do the finishing touches on my project.

So, here in MN, it's completely legal to wire my solar PV system myself, which is what I've done, with a valid permit. DC and ground runs from the roof to inverter, AC and ground from the inverter back to the fused 60A safety switch and the 200A production meter.

The only thing I'm not allowed to do is the connection from the production meter to the mains (somewhere between the utility meter and the breaker box on the service entry), that has to be a "qualified electrician".

So I seem to be in a catch 22. I can't hook it up legally but I did the rest of the work legally... the people who are legal to hook it up either won't call me back or once they do say they won't work on it without even taking a look. I also have no problem with an electrician demanding that they inspect the rest of the AC circuit they are connecting, I mean, it is only 10 feet from the utility meter... how long could it possibly take them to visibly inspect that things are connected the way they would approve...

Anyone know qualified electricians in MN who are friendly towards home owners who have legally done some or most of the work themselves?

I'm going to also ask my inspector in the AM if he's got some recommendations as well, though they technically are supposed to be neutral.

After the past week of trying to get this setup, I'm starting to get quite frustrated.
 

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Sounds like it's a small job and they're taking on added liability. If you can't find anyone after a while and the inspector doesn't have anyone to suggest try upping the ante--offer twice their hourly rate or pay them for their time to confirm that everything looks good before connection, etc...

Also be careful to make communications cheerful but brief and to the point. Contractors (like all of us) love to talk sometimes, but be careful of wasting their time or sounding like you'll be frustrating to work for. Even the phrase "the finishing touches" sets off a little warning bell like you're not organized and you may be a headache. And don't necessarily expect a quick response time on a small non-emergency job.

It's about risk. Money offsets risk.
 

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I also have no problem with an electrician demanding that they inspect the rest of the AC circuit they are connecting, I mean, it is only 10 feet from the utility meter...
You had better offer them the ability to check anything they want to check on the entire solar system. Otherwise you are asking them to connect a black mystery box.

If you limit them to that 10ft demarcation, I don't think you will find anyone to do it for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
You had better offer them the ability to check anything they want to check on the entire solar system. Otherwise you are asking them to connect a black mystery box.

If you limit them to that 10ft demarcation, I don't think you will find anyone to do it for you.

Well, thats fine, I haven't limited anyone to anything. I'm just saying everything in-line with what they are doing is within 10 feet, it takes all of 5 minutes to pop open 2 panels and check the wiring. If they really want to trace 100ft of DC cabling through EMT and Flex metal conduit through the house and up through the garage and on to the roof, that's fine. Which again, only comes out to 2 boxes on the roof. It doesn't take that long.
 

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The problem is once they touch the system, they own it including everything you did. That means a competent electrician will need to open up everything, inspect or redo every connection , wire device etc in the system a determine every thing is done to his satisfaction as well as meeting code etc. it's time you will need to pay for. Some of these guys may have been burned by DIY in the past and may just not feel the risk is worth the fee they can charge.
 

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Hey guys, I'm having trouble getting electrical contractors to call me back to do the finishing touches on my project.

So, here in MN, it's completely legal to wire my solar PV system myself, which is what I've done, with a valid permit. DC and ground runs from the roof to inverter, AC and ground from the inverter back to the fused 60A safety switch and the 200A production meter.

The only thing I'm not allowed to do is the connection from the production meter to the mains (somewhere between the utility meter and the breaker box on the service entry), that has to be a "qualified electrician".

So I seem to be in a catch 22. I can't hook it up legally but I did the rest of the work legally... the people who are legal to hook it up either won't call me back or once they do say they won't work on it without even taking a look. I also have no problem with an electrician demanding that they inspect the rest of the AC circuit they are connecting, I mean, it is only 10 feet from the utility meter... how long could it possibly take them to visibly inspect that things are connected the way they would approve...

Anyone know qualified electricians in MN who are friendly towards home owners who have legally done some or most of the work themselves?

I'm going to also ask my inspector in the AM if he's got some recommendations as well, though they technically are supposed to be neutral.

After the past week of trying to get this setup, I'm starting to get quite frustrated.
You should have contacted an electrician before you started the work. I will work with DIYers, but I have to be in on the project from day one so that I can supervise the installation done by the homeowner.

Put an ad on CraigsList. You may find someone hungry enough to take on the risk.
 

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The problem is once they touch the system, they own it including everything you did. That means a competent electrician will need to open up everything, inspect or redo every connection , wire device etc in the system a determine every thing is done to his satisfaction as well as meeting code etc. it's time you will need to pay for. Some of these guys may have been burned by DIY in the past and may just not feel the risk is worth the fee they can charge.
Bingo.
 

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The best thing to do at this point is to tell the electrician that you agree to let them takeover the job from here on out. It's almost impossible to get an electrician to "help you out" or "come in as needed" unless they are rookies or stupid...or both. This is because of the liability issues addressed above.

At our company the rule is that we will take this type of job if the customer will pay us to inspect the entire system, fix any problems, and finish out the work to completion.

Your not the ideal client for an electrician so be extra sweet when you call and tell them you are willing to pay them for the time it takes them to go through a safety inspection on the existing work. This may be more than the actual work you have remaining.
 
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