Best place to buy solar panels??

NScooknetNScooknet New UserPosts: 30Solar Expert
I have only the meager beginnings of a solar power system, (two 15W panels, a cheap controller, and 3 marine deep cycle batteries) and I am now trying to figure out where is the best place to buy solar panels to upgrade my system.

I have spent the past week scouring ebay, the internet, and looking at many many suppliers, trying to weigh out the cost per watt that they deliver, and thus far I'm seeing about $2.00 - $3.00 per watt, including the shipping.

I'm in Canada, so I either have to buy Canadian, or factor in the cost of shipping and duty/import charges as well.

There are alot of Chinese suppliers whose prices are down around $2.00/watt, but then I have the import, duty and brokerage fees, as well as a long shipping time.

There are local Canadian suppliers who can supply panels around $2.75-$3.00 per watt, and there is a faster ship time, and no additional fees.

I'm wondering if anyone out there knows of a good trustworthy supplier that might be cheaper, while not delivering a crap quality product to my door, which I suspect the Chinese panels probably are.

Can anyone suggest anything to help me get a good deal?

I'm probably only going to be able to afford between $500.00 - $700.00 at this time, so I need to get the best watts per buck I can find.

Thanks!

Chris ;)
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Comments

  • icarusicarus Super Moderator Posts: 5,070Super Moderators
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

    How near the border are you? Have them drop shipped to a freight terminal or UPS store near the border, take a holiday and go down and pick them up. Then you have to pay HST, but no brokerage or duty that I am aware of.

    Pallet load or so and you might have to rent a truck or trailer, but still cheaper than having them shipped trans border.

    Tony
  • NScooknetNScooknet New User Posts: 30Solar Expert
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??
    icarus wrote: »
    How near the border are you? Have them drop shipped to a freight terminal or UPS store near the border, take a holiday and go down and pick them up. Then you have to pay HST, but no brokerage or duty that I am aware of.

    Pallet load or so and you might have to rent a truck or trailer, but still cheaper than having them shipped trans border.

    Tony

    Hi Tony, normally, that would be a good idea, but I live in Nova Scotia, so I'm pretty far from the border, also, I'm disabled, and have a hard time getting around, so I'm pretty much limited to things coming straight to my door.

    So, are these costs that I'm seeing average solar panel prices, or are there better deals out there?

    For example, there is a place in Vancouver that sells them on ebay for as follows:

    12V 220 WATT MONOCRYSTALLINE SOLAR PANEL V OC 21 V / V MP 17 V (2x ABOVE 100 W)

    Price: Original price US $609.00 Discounted price US $548.10

    Is this a good deal do you think?

    How powerful a solar panel could I get for around $500 -$700??

    Chris ;)
  • icarusicarus Super Moderator Posts: 5,070Super Moderators
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

    US prices start ~$1-2/watt, plus shipping.

    Tony
  • NScooknetNScooknet New User Posts: 30Solar Expert
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??
    icarus wrote: »
    US prices start ~$1-2/watt, plus shipping.

    Tony

    Can you suggest any specific suppliers??
  • westbranchwestbranch Not So New User Posts: 4,024Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

    check with our host http://www.solar-electric.com/
     
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  • BB.BB. Just some guy Posts: 24,203Super Moderators admin
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

    In general, the better pricing is in the >100 watt panels (and typically in the 200+ watt range). Small panels are, usually, much more expensive ($$/Watt as Tony said).

    And when you go >100 watt panels, there are few that are "native 12 volt panels" (Vmp in the ~17.5-18.5 volt range). With "non-battery" standard Vmp voltages (>>20 Vmp), then you should get a MPPT type solar charge controller too (much more expensive charge controller).

    So--Before you actually pay the money for any parts/panels/etc... Make sure you have everything "spec'ed" out so you don't find out that you have incompatible devices (and/or spend more money that you really wanted to).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • nielniel Solar Shotgun Posts: 10,309Solar Expert ✭✭
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

    depending on your disability you may need somebody to put those pvs up for you too. don't rule out checking on a local installer to see what the total package with labor might cost or give our host a call and see what kind of a price you can get with them sent to your door without installation.
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Old and in the Way Posts: 3,114Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??
    NScooknet wrote: »
    12V 220 WATT MONOCRYSTALLINE SOLAR PANEL V OC 21 V / V MP 17 V (2x ABOVE 100 W)
    price US $548.10[/U][/B]
    Chris ;)

    Hard to estimate what the duty etc would be for us state side, but I would imagine you have looked into the charge controler situation and want to just have a PWM charge controller and a 12 volt nominal, panel or panels. This is a good plan for starting out.

    I would suggest looking into 2 panels in the 100 watt range or 4 panels in the 50-60 watt range, while they will cost more up front, the shipping will be a lot cheaper, I think the 200 watt+ panels just about have to be shipped freight. While 50-60 watt panels can go standard UPS and 100 watt might as well.

    As to China made panels, The China made Ningbo panels I have are the best framed panels I've seen! and I own a few including some US made Evergreen.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, ForkLift battery. Off grid for @13 of last 14 years. 1000 watts being added to current CC, @2700 watts to be added with an additional CC.
  • NScooknetNScooknet New User Posts: 30Solar Expert
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

    What about a controller like this one:

    http://www.ebay.ca/itm/180675765312?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649

    Would this be a good scalable controller that I could later add a wind turbine to?

    What panels are compatible with a controller like this one?

    Chris :)
  • BB.BB. Just some guy Posts: 24,203Super Moderators admin
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

    That is a Coleman Air dump/diversion charge controller (the EBay link will not last long).

    Not a very good option for Solar Arrays... A very simple controller for Wind Turbine Dump Controller (there are other much better controllers--and ones that really meet their ratings--I don't think this one can--440 Amps is a huge amount of current and requires scary think (and expensive) copper cables. You also need to supply dump loads (resistive heater bank) for the controller.

    More or less, this is working backwards. Normally I would suggest:
    1. Define your loads (after lots of conservation)
    2. Define your battery bank and working voltage
    3. Define your inverter (if any)
    4. Define the array size (and mounting)
    5. Define the solar charge controller

    Then, once you have all of the above written down and rough paper specifications, we can go through and help you pick the hardware for your needs.

    The reason for 1-5 is that it is very difficult to scale off grid power systems much more than ~2x before you need to replace major components (inverter to support higher battery bank voltage, new battery bank, add lots of solar panels, etc.).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • icarusicarus Super Moderator Posts: 5,070Super Moderators
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

    Chris,

    Sorry, but if you are spooked by the price of PV and it;s installation, be very careful getting into small scale (home sized) wind. VERY FEW people are very happy a few years on with their wind installations. The irony of small scale wind is that if you have enough wind to make it useful, you have too much to keep the hardware in running shape. Wind turbines run in a harsh environment, and they have many moving parts, high off the ground. Small scale wind machines are subjected to all kinds of large loads due to gusting and disturbed air. Read all you can, here and else where about small scale wind before you consider spending a penny.

    Many here have rued the day they bought small scale wind, and wish they had invested in PV instead. Now days,, with PV as cheap as it is, small scale wind is a big loser. People get lured in by the adds for such items as the AirEx series. A few hundred bucks, and you get 500 watts. The reality is that if it ever put out 500 watts it would wear itself because it is spinning so fast.

    Just my advices,, worth exactly what you pay for it,

    Tony
  • NScooknetNScooknet New User Posts: 30Solar Expert
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

    Ok, lets set a goal then, one application, forget all the rest.

    In order to prioritize things in terms of survival, one must examine all the basic needs of a human being, and first and foremost, is water.

    We have a sandpoint well, very shallow, and currently has a nasty power gobbling AC well pump. My goal is to replace the pump with a 12V one that works better, and one that is more efficient, and can be run from the solar setup I'm trying to implement.

    The pump cannot be a submersible one and must be above ground, like the current jet pump is.

    It's a chicken and egg thing, I need to know what solar cells and charger I need in order to run a pump, and I also need to know what pump I can get that can be run by solar.

    I've purchased a 5.7GPH 65PSI Sureflo pump, but I have not hooked it up to see if it has enough power to lift the water from the well yet, I'm expecting it won't, and am considering a pump like this one if it doesn't, (if all else fails, the sureflow pump will still be good to pump from an above ground storage tank):
    http://www.solar-electric.com/iss-2920-12.html

    At the very least, I'd like the ability to pump water from the well to supply us in times of power outages, and at the very best scenario, I'd like to totally run this pump all the time, and not use the AC pump anymore.

    So, I'm trying to design a system around a pump that I do not have yet, and trying to buy a pump that can be run from a system I have not yet designed, see my dilemma?

    With the pump info I've provided, what solar panel and charger would you recommend to run this pump, even if just for emergency purposes?

    Thanks.

    Chris :)
  • icarusicarus Super Moderator Posts: 5,070Super Moderators
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

    The shurflos will only pull water a few feet, they will push water into ~50 psi, or over 100'

    Tony
  • BB.BB. Just some guy Posts: 24,203Super Moderators admin
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

    Do you know the diameter of your well? I am guessing that installing a submersible pump would mean pulling out the jet pump piping.

    Jet pumps tend not to be very energy efficient--but they are inexpensive and relatively reliable.

    For your pumping needs--A "typical" 12 volt pump is more for internal home needs (maybe 40 gallons or so per per per day type thing).

    If this also supplies outside water to your yard, garden, and such... I am not sure a simple 12 volt pump is the best idea (brush replacement, diaphragm, etc.).

    Can you drive another sand point for a submersible 12 volt pump?

    As an example, say your pump runs on 12 volts and 10 amps at 5gpm. And you have three people for 120 gallons per day... The math might look like:
    • 120 gpd / 5 gpm = 24 minutes run time = 0.4 hours per day
    • 0.4 hours per day * 12 volts * 10 amps = 48 Watt*Hours per day
    Assuming you have a minimum of 4 hours of sun per day (winter will be as low as 2 hours per day for some places):
    • 48 watt*hours * 1/0.77 panel+charger eff * 0.80 batt eff * 1/4 hours of sun per day = 19.4 watt solar panel minimum
    Battery wise, 1-3 days of "no sun" power and 50% maximum discharge for longer life--picking 2 days and 50% max discharge:
    • 48 WH * 1/12 volt battery bank * 2 days no sun * 1/0.50 max discharge = 16 AH 12 volt battery bank
    Now, I do not like to run a battery too hard... For a flooded cell, I would recommend a 1/8 maximum continuous discharge rate. For a 10 amp load:
    • 10 amps * 8 hour discharge = 80 AH (an AGM battery can be smaller)
    With a battery, we should meet the 5-13% rate of charge with the solar panels:
    • 80 AH * 14.5 volts charging * 1/0.77 panel+charger eff * 0.05 rate of charge = 75 watt minimum solar panel
    • 80 AH * 14.5 volts charging * 1/0.77 panel+charger eff * 0.10 rate of charge = 150 watt "nominal" solar panel
    • 80 AH * 14.5 volts charging * 1/0.77 panel+charger eff * 0.13 rate of charge = 196 watt "cost effective maximum" solar panel
    Now, this is a "larger system" because of the relatively heavy current required to run the pump (the small amount of runtime per day does not need this large of solar array/battery bank otherwise).

    Anyway, say 135 watt panel, minimum of 4 hours per day, 0.52 end to end efficiency running a small 85% efficient inverter would, roughly provide a minimum of:
    • 135 watts * 0.52 system efficiency * 4 hours of sun per day = 281 Watt*Hours per day 48 WH for pump, balance for lighting, radio, etc.).
    That will work for (on average), around 9 months of the year (more in summer, less than 280 WH per day for 3 months of winter).

    If you were to do the same thing with a 1/2 horse power jet pump--the system would have to be much larger.

    Anyway--again just based on what people say here--You can live a fairly nominal life at 1,000 WH (1kWH) per day, and even run a refrigerator + washing machine on ~3.3 kWH per day.

    There is no right or wrong answer here--Energy usage is a highly personal choice and understanding your needs will help to design a system that will help the system meet them (no surprises).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • NScooknetNScooknet New User Posts: 30Solar Expert
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??
    BB. wrote: »
    Do you know the diameter of your well? I am guessing that installing a submersible pump would mean pulling out the jet pump piping.

    Jet pumps tend not to be very energy efficient--but they are inexpensive and relatively reliable.

    For your pumping needs--A "typical" 12 volt pump is more for internal home needs (maybe 40 gallons or so per per per day type thing).

    If this also supplies outside water to your yard, garden, and such... I am not sure a simple 12 volt pump is the best idea (brush replacement, diaphragm, etc.).

    Can you drive another sand point for a submersible 12 volt pump?

    As an example, say your pump runs on 12 volts and 10 amps at 5gpm. And you have three people for 120 gallons per day... The math might look like:
    • 120 gpd / 5 gpm = 24 minutes run time = 0.4 hours per day
    • 0.4 hours per day * 12 volts * 10 amps = 48 Watt*Hours per day
    Assuming you have a minimum of 4 hours of sun per day (winter will be as low as 2 hours per day for some places):
    • 48 watt*hours * 1/0.77 panel+charger eff * 0.80 batt eff * 1/4 hours of sun per day = 19.4 watt solar panel minimum
    Battery wise, 1-3 days of "no sun" power and 50% maximum discharge for longer life--picking 2 days and 50% max discharge:
    • 48 WH * 1/12 volt battery bank * 2 days no sun * 1/0.50 max discharge = 16 AH 12 volt battery bank
    Now, I do not like to run a battery too hard... For a flooded cell, I would recommend a 1/8 maximum continuous discharge rate. For a 10 amp load:
    • 10 amps * 8 hour discharge = 80 AH (an AGM battery can be smaller)
    With a battery, we should meet the 5-13% rate of charge with the solar panels:
    • 80 AH * 14.5 volts charging * 1/0.77 panel+charger eff * 0.05 rate of charge = 75 watt minimum solar panel
    • 80 AH * 14.5 volts charging * 1/0.77 panel+charger eff * 0.10 rate of charge = 150 watt "nominal" solar panel
    • 80 AH * 14.5 volts charging * 1/0.77 panel+charger eff * 0.13 rate of charge = 196 watt "cost effective maximum" solar panel
    Now, this is a "larger system" because of the relatively heavy current required to run the pump (the small amount of runtime per day does not need this large of solar array/battery bank otherwise).

    Anyway, say 135 watt panel, minimum of 4 hours per day, 0.52 end to end efficiency running a small 85% efficient inverter would, roughly provide a minimum of:
    • 135 watts * 0.52 system efficiency * 4 hours of sun per day = 281 Watt*Hours per day 48 WH for pump, balance for lighting, radio, etc.).
    That will work for (on average), around 9 months of the year (more in summer, less than 280 WH per day for 3 months of winter).

    If you were to do the same thing with a 1/2 horse power jet pump--the system would have to be much larger.

    Anyway--again just based on what people say here--You can live a fairly nominal life at 1,000 WH (1kWH) per day, and even run a refrigerator + washing machine on ~3.3 kWH per day.

    There is no right or wrong answer here--Energy usage is a highly personal choice and understanding your needs will help to design a system that will help the system meet them (no surprises).

    -Bill

    Wow, those are alot of calculations Bill!

    Thanks for spending the time doing that for me.

    Those numbers actually don't look so bad, and tell me that with a couple hundred watts of solar panels, one can get enough power to actually be useful.

    I really can't get my landlord to alter anything for me, we were lucky to get a new roof when it started leaking last summer, and it was a chore to get our water heater replaced the other day when it blew up...lol.

    That actually woke me up a bit as to how much I need some kind of backup water system, just going overnight with the well pump shut off so water didn't flood the house was a good "dry run" (pardon the pun) as to how it is when the power goes out and no well pump can be run to give us water to even flush a toilet, gross!

    Even though I was already making motions to ensure water is available in times of an outage, losing the water for a day made it crystal clear that something needs to be done.

    I have no idea how deep the sand point is, or even where exactly it is, and neither does the landlord...lol, all we know is that there is a pipe coming out of the floor in the back room. I was hoping to simply have a diversion valve to a 12V pump that I could switch on the fly to at least get cold water into the house faucets and the toilet tank.

    If I had the means (space, money, resources) to install some kind of above ground water storage tank, I'd do that, and use the sureflo pump to pump out of that, but again, there's just no place to put it.

    Even if I put a storage tank outside the house and ran a line into the house, the water would freeze solid, it's -17C outside right now!

    So, if I was to purchase say a 200W - 250W 12V solar panel, and a couple new deep cycle marine batteries like the one I already have (4 or 5 of these batteries), and of course a better controller, do you think it would be sufficient to run this pump:

    http://www.solar-electric.com/iss-2920-12.html

    I'm sure the sandpoint well is not more than 10 feet deep, and the pump would not be running continuously , only when water is needed for certain things.

    Whether or not the pump is sufficient in performance to actually draw water is a whole other thread, so maybe lets just concentrate on if the electrical aspect of this would work to begin with. If it didn't work out, the solar would not go to waste and could be used for other things for sure.

    What do you think??

    Chris :)
  • BB.BB. Just some guy Posts: 24,203Super Moderators admin
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

    I am no pump expert--But I would suggest that you look very closely at your well (once you can find it). Drawing water is very difficult in the best of times, add a filter and a standard pump, you will be spending more time fighting the system than using it (in my humble opinion). Driving a new well may not be the worst thing to do anyway. Having backups for your basic needs is important (and few of us "in the big city" can even do that. City water and city sewer...

    If you cannot put a pump in well--Then, perhaps a generator (propane stores well, Yamaha makes some nice propane units, and there are companies that will convert Hondas and other brands) driving your existing well pump and several hundred gallon "black tank" (or inside somewhere to keep the sun off of the water) would work well. Run the genset once a day, and use the small solar system for DC pump and a few lights.

    Big issue with gensets is you can get a big/noisy one very cheaply... But end up feeding it a 1/2 gallon per hour to even light up 1 LED lamp. I am a big believer to get the smallest genset that will support the loads you need. A 1,600 watt Honda eu2000i will drive a small well pump and still supply a 400 watt load for ~9 hours on 1 gallon of gasoline (think of running the fridge/freezer 4 hours in morning and 4 hours at night type thing). A gallon or two of gasoline per day--Storing/siphoning from your car 10-20 gallons will keep you going until you can think of something else (I used gasoline because I can use it in my car if I have to evacuate too, as well as in a camp stove for cooking/boiling water for drinking/washing).

    More or less, at least for short term emergencies--I use the camping model and just need enough fuel for water/cooking/cleaning. In an area with freezing weather, keeping the furnace it your home may be very important too.

    Batteries are the heart of your system and you can read about them here:

    Deep Cycle Battery FAQ
    www.batteryfaq.org

    Once you have a handle on them--then you design the system around the battery bank to keep the batteries "happy". If not, one excursion to "dead" can kill your very expensive battery bank.

    Marine batteries (and car batteries) are not very good for deep cycling. AGM are very good and virtually no maintenance. But they cost 2x as much and may only last 1/2 as long as and equivalent cost flooded cell bank (which needs cleaning and distilled water pretty much every month or two).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • icarusicarus Super Moderator Posts: 5,070Super Moderators
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

    Chris,

    Might I make the friendly suggestion, that before you do anything, in an attempt to avoid the single most expensive mistake of the off grid world, that is "Ready, FIRE, aim", that you start from scratch, and define clearly what it is that you are trying to do, in total with your potential system.

    You are asking questions in a number of threads, that are leading to potential conclusions that are potentially not well meshed with one another. For example, is your primary goal to save money? Or provide emergency power (and water) (How much and for how long?) Is your goal to be "green"(er)? All these may have very different solutions, and my suggestion is that to by any hardware, to make any choices without considering the bigger question(s) is risking wasting time,,and potentially significant amounts of money.

    Good luck and keep in touch,

    Tony
  • NScooknetNScooknet New User Posts: 30Solar Expert
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

    This is the battery I'm currently using:

    http://www.canadiantire.ca/AST/browse/5/SportsRec/Marine/MarineBatteries/PRD~0102799P/MotoMaster+Nautilus+Group+27+Starting+and+Deep+Cycle+Battery.jsp?locale=en

    I'm guessing that this AGM one would be a better choice?:

    http://www.canadiantire.ca/AST/browse/5/SportsRec/Marine/MarineBatteries/PRD~0103190P/MotoMaster+Nautilus+Group+31+AGM+Deep+Cycle.jsp?locale=en


    This is the one they recommend for use with solar power, but nobody at Canadian tire could tell me the difference between this and a marine battery...lol:

    http://www.canadiantire.ca/AST/browse/Green/EnergyConservation/RenewableEnergy/PRD~0111879P/12V+Eliminator+Renewable+Energy+Deep+Cycle+Battery.jsp?locale=en

    Is it worth the extra money to buy the eliminator one?

    Chris :)
  • NScooknetNScooknet New User Posts: 30Solar Expert
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??
    icarus wrote: »
    Chris,

    Might I make the friendly suggestion, that before you do anything, in an attempt to avoid the single most expensive mistake of the off grid world, that is "Ready, FIRE, aim", that you start from scratch, and define clearly what it is that you are trying to do, in total with your potential system.

    You are asking questions in a number of threads, that are leading to potential conclusions that are potentially not well meshed with one another. For example, is your primary goal to save money? Or provide emergency power (and water) (How much and for how long?) Is your goal to be "green"(er)? All these may have very different solutions, and my suggestion is that to by any hardware, to make any choices without considering the bigger question(s) is risking wasting time,,and potentially significant amounts of money.

    Good luck and keep in touch,

    Tony


    Hi Tony, sorry about the multiple thread thing, it started off with specific subjects to make it less confusing for anyone replying, but then I got lead into the discussions...lol.

    OK, starting from scratch.

    My purpose and goal is to simply have emergency capabilities, mostly water from a solar powered pump if possible. If I could use any additional excess power generated for things like LED lighting, then that's great, if not, then that's OK too.

    I "assumed" that if I bought a beefy enough controller, that all there was to upgrading my system to provide more and more power as I could afford it, would be to add more panels, and more batteries, as my limited budget permitted.

    Believe me, I would love to throw down thousands of dollars and go off the grid, but that's just not a reality for me at this time, especially since I rent. that's the other thing, the system I want to implement must be portable, as I'm not going to live here forever. Once I buy my own home, the game changes, and my goals for solar power will change.

    It would be nice to have the pump running permanently on solar alone, but the real point of it at this point is to have emergency water if the power goes out.

    I know that it's difficult to give advice to a "moving target", I know I'm all over the place with this, but that's my point, where to start with what I can afford, and whether I should at all. To me, there just is no options because I must be able to somehow get water to my wife and baby if the lights go out, for a day, for a week, or a year, for whatever happens I'd like to be ready for that. There's only so much water I could store in a reservoir tank, but unlimited in the ground around me.

    I have seen many small solar setups that are dedicated to pumping well water, and they are not large elaborate systems, just a couple panels on a stand, a controller, and a pump, the only challenge I have is that most of those systems draw water from a lake stream or pond, while I'm trying to suck it out of a sand point well. It can't be that much different just because I can't use a submersible pump can it?

    I'll only post in this thread now to simplify things, sorry again for that!

    Chris :)
  • icarusicarus Super Moderator Posts: 5,070Super Moderators
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

    Don't misunderstand me,, feel free to post as many questions as you have in the proper threads,, my point was to get you to think about what it is you were trying to achieve. The simple fact is that off grid solar comes at about twice the price of grid tie solar, at half the efficiency, so if you have the grid available, grid tie solar is very much more bang for your buck. Pumping water from solar is usually done by people who have no grid power, since it is so much more expensive.

    Like I said before, a simple genny set up is FAR AND AWAY a much cheaper for emergencies than a battery based PV system. Like I said before, if you are truly worried about "end of the world" scenarios, than your choices are driven by much more than money. The other simple fact is, the N.American grid is pretty robust, and long outages are rare, though they do happen. Unless you grid is very unreliable, you really have to consider that your emergency money is better spent on a good, quiet, fuel efficient generator.

    Just for example, we live off grid, since the nearest grid power is 100kms away. We have 400 watts of PV, into 450 ah of batteries. This allows us to use ~500-800 watt/hours a day. We still need to run the genny occasionally to charge the batteries, and run the shop. 800 watt/hours of power is about 1/10-1/20th of the average household use so in a "normal" house we would need 4000 watts of PV minimum. Our 400 watt system probably cost ~ $2500, with $500 worth of batteries that need replacement every 5-10 years,,, all making for very expensive electricity. Grid power at ~$.15/kwh is a real bargain when it gets right down to it.

    Just food for thought,

    Tony
  • westbranchwestbranch Not So New User Posts: 4,024Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??
    NScooknet wrote: »
    when the power goes out and no well pump can be run to give us water to even flush a toilet, gross!

    I have no idea how deep the sand point is, or even where exactly it is, and neither does the landlord...lol, all we know is that there is a pipe coming out of the floor in the back room. I was hoping to simply have a diversion valve to a 12V pump that I could switch on the fly to at least get cold water into the house faucets and the toilet tank.

    I'm sure the sandpoint well is not more than 10 feet deep, and the pump would not be running continuously , only when water is needed for certain things.

    Whether or not the pump is sufficient in performance to actually draw water is a whole other thread, so maybe lets just concentrate on if the electrical aspect of this would work to begin with.

    Chris :)


    Chris, I think you need to regroup a bit.
    With all the unknowns about the well, I would investigate what it will take to power the existing pump. It should be possible to run it with PV and an inverter cheaper and, more importantly for you it sounds, reliably, than experimenting with a DC pump.

    I agree with tony that the small gen is probably the cheapest way to go to start.
    HTH
     
    CL 647 asleep  24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL 4592  175A E-Panel WBjr, 2 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM + 4s 140W 
    Linksys Wet54g WiFi Bridge ,  ASUS RTN10 router, Hughes Sat Modem
    Omnicharge 3024, Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,
    1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, Eu3000i & 1000i Gens,
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada




  • NScooknetNScooknet New User Posts: 30Solar Expert
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

    Since we are now talking about generators, what do you think about this one, it's only 68dB, and half price.

    Is it junk, or ok for the money? I know it's no Honda!

    http://www.canadiantire.ca/browse/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524442802445&bmUID=1329072740182
  • icarusicarus Super Moderator Posts: 5,070Super Moderators
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

    In short, your get what you pay for! Cheap gennies,,,are just that , cheap gennies! Unless you never need it, I would save your money and get a good one. Even the Honda Clones are know to have real problems. Define your use, and buy the tool that fits the job best!

    Tony
  • BB.BB. Just some guy Posts: 24,203Super Moderators admin
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

    Somebody here had a Champion--and the were pretty happy with it (as far as I recall).

    Note that with larger genset, comes lots of fuel consumption.
    • 15L for 10 hours at 50% (3kW or 1.5kW for 10 hours)

    If you need 1.5 kW -- then that is not a bad deal...

    However, if you are running a minimum load, 400 watts is usually enough to run a fridge and a few lights, TV, etc...

    A Honda eu2000i will run 400 watts for ~9+ hours on 1.1 gallons of fuel... Vs the 4 gallons to run the larger genset for 10 hours... (most standard AC generators do not use much less fuel when operating at less than 50% output).

    The Honda is also much quieter... Around 53 db at 400 watts (or 58 db at 1,600 watts). Somebody wrote in the review that the Champion is 68 db (actually not bad).

    This is not a Honda eu family clone.. There are others, for example the Honeywell clone--When it worked, it worked well. But after awhile many folks could barely get them started.

    It certainly is not a bad idea to have a large/inexpensive genset for power tools/240 VAC well pumps, etc... And use a small eu2000/1000i (1,600 watt / 900 watt) for daily use.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Old and in the Way Posts: 3,114Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

    I remember reading back that you have some restrictions/handicap? If you have a sand point well in a back room and the draw is 10' why not go old school and get a hand pump?
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, ForkLift battery. Off grid for @13 of last 14 years. 1000 watts being added to current CC, @2700 watts to be added with an additional CC.
  • NScooknetNScooknet New User Posts: 30Solar Expert
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??
    Photowhit wrote: »
    I remember reading back that you have some restrictions/handicap? If you have a sand point well in a back room and the draw is 10' why not go old school and get a hand pump?

    It's funny you mention that, I've been considering it, and for the $45 bucks it costs for a hand pump, it's a cheap alternative.

    Home hardware sells those old fashioned pump type, looks like it was mad back in the 1800's.

    My "handicap" is a brain injury and a severe chronic pain syndrome, got booted in the head by a horse a few years back...lol. I highly suggest to avoid the hoof end of a horse at all cost...haha.

    I'm able to do "some" of the stuff I used to, I'm just limited to the amount of physical exertion I can handle without pain killers.

    I'm sure I could handle mounting a solar panel on the front of the house and stringing the cable up, I just wouldn't feel comfortable up on a steep roof.

    Oh, BTW, I went to Canadian tire and bought that $299 Champion generator today, what can it hurt for 300 bucks, not that much of an investment if it doesn't work out.

    In the mean time, I still want to at least get one decent solar panel, a "real" AGM deep cycle battery, and a proper controller.

    Thanks!

    Chris ;)
  • NScooknetNScooknet New User Posts: 30Solar Expert
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

    I've been shopping around for some solar panels, and happened across this auction on ebay.

    They are in Canada, have free shipping, and it not only has the panels, but a controller and cabled for hookup.

    I don't need anything fancy, but don't want to buy junk either.

    What do you think? Is this worth while?

    http://www.ebay.ca/itm/Solar-Panel-KIT-250W-Watt-2-125W-mono-12V-MC4-RV-/300561764005?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_2&hash=item45fae08ea5

    Thanks!
    Chris :)
  • nielniel Solar Shotgun Posts: 10,309Solar Expert ✭✭
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

    chris,
    first let me say that we do frown on links like this to ebay as they soon disappear leaving those reading the thread some time later wondering what was being referred to. now i can't say for sure what or where is the best place for you to purchase in canada, but that could be highly opinionated on a personal level. it's really up to you to research options and decide who is the best you would like to go with. your question maybe should've been who all deals with solar up there so you can make a choice.

    this type of thread can be very iffy for us moderators as we are moderating a forum for a u s company that does sell to canadians. now i'm sure our host does not mind you trying to make up your mind, but should it become a thread of many competitors' products and links initiated by you? is this being fair to our host? might it have been better if you had asked who it is other canadians thought had a system or equipment available that could make up a system with specs you would require and from there you make up your mind on it? the "what do you think of" was a marketing ploy that has been used here in the past and i'm going to ask you to stop doing this. although i am being lenient, other moderators and even naws itself could act further if they deem it necessary, thus overriding my leniency and can be anywhere from deleting links to bans up to being permanent.
  • NScooknetNScooknet New User Posts: 30Solar Expert
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??
    niel wrote: »
    chris,
    first let me say that we do frown on links like this to ebay as they soon disappear leaving those reading the thread some time later wondering what was being referred to. now i can't say for sure what or where is the best place for you to purchase in canada, but that could be highly opinionated on a personal level. it's really up to you to research options and decide who is the best you would like to go with. your question maybe should've been who all deals with solar up there so you can make a choice.

    this type of thread can be very iffy for us moderators as we are moderating a forum for a u s company that does sell to canadians. now i'm sure our host does not mind you trying to make up your mind, but should it become a thread of many competitors' products and links initiated by you? is this being fair to our host? might it have been better if you had asked who it is other canadians thought had a system or equipment available that could make up a system with specs you would require and from there you make up your mind on it? the "what do you think of" was a marketing ploy that has been used here in the past and i'm going to ask you to stop doing this. although i am being lenient, other moderators and even naws itself could act further if they deem it necessary, thus overriding my leniency and can be anywhere from deleting links to bans up to being permanent.


    Wow,

    I had no idea this was all so political.

    Let me first start off by apologizing for offending anyone, it was not my intent. It is very difficult for me to be sensitive to other people's views and opinions when I don't know what they are, so thank you for clarifying for me. i don't need a warning about things like this, but rather to be told what the guidelines for use of this forum are. Now that I know this, I will not repeat offend.

    Whenever money is involved, there is always a whole paradigm shift, I was not thinking of the whole business end of things, I was just assuming that sine everyone here buys these products, that they could offer guidance for purchasing if I showed my intent on what I was considering purchasing.

    I understand the host fully for wanting to keep their best interest at heart, because that's exactly what I'm trying to do also.

    I had not understood fully that the host of this forum was also a seller of these products, I guess I just didn't see the connection, as I arrived at this forum via a search engine, rather than a link on their site.

    I'm sure if I get into the whole Canada/US thing I'll be sure to offend someone, which is not my intent, in fact, I can assure you that my intent is totally pure, and that there is no "ploy" or anything going on here other than just a guy who is overwhelmed with choices, and looking for guidance for those he respects and knows have been there themselves.

    I'll be sure to be careful how I word things, and how I post, I don't want to make enemies or tick anyone off, I'm here to meet like minded people who can lend a helpful hand, which you all have done thus far, so thank you for that.

    Incidentally, I'm not apposed at all to purchasing from the site host, I was just weighing out my options.

    Thanks for clarifying all this and for understanding my nativity in the matter at hand.

    Chris :)
  • westbranchwestbranch Not So New User Posts: 4,024Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

    RE the package... Chris I would look for brand name items that can be verified for performance and user satisfaction, not saying the pack is bad or good but without a 'name' to look up it is impossible to accurately comment or ??? Look up a more local supplier.
     
    CL 647 asleep  24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL 4592  175A E-Panel WBjr, 2 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM + 4s 140W 
    Linksys Wet54g WiFi Bridge ,  ASUS RTN10 router, Hughes Sat Modem
    Omnicharge 3024, Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,
    1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, Eu3000i & 1000i Gens,
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada




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