Solar Generator - should we buy one?

13

Comments

  • sfsengsfseng Posts: 16Registered Users
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one? Requested Info Provided

    The Morningstar SS6 Solar Controller is certified to UL 1604. All the SS series controllers are so marked. I'll post a photo of the markings if you want.

    Bill's calculations are pretty close to actual test data. The solar panel connection cord is actually 12-3 and 50 ft. long. Actual charge time from low voltage shut down to 100% charge is 6 to 7 hours with the 90 watt panel. Charge time is 15 hours with Xantrex's built-in charger.

    Our lab run test criteria for the system is a calibrated 300 watt load for 1 hour before low voltage shut down. With our optional batteries the criteria for the test is 1 hour 40 minutes before low voltage shut down with the 300 watt load.

    We don't claim that the system will do any more than Xantrex does. Much of our advertising copy is taken word for word from Xantrex's web sight with their permission. If we didn't have their permission they would have sued us by now. You can see their advertising copy here:

    http://www.xantrex.com/web/id/218/p/1/pt/30/product.asp


    The spec. sheet for our PS 1800 system as requested by one member is attached as a .pdf.
  • dwhdwh Posts: 1,341Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?
    Windsun wrote: »
    Rick apparently felt that they should have a chance to reply to the opinions. That does not mean they are allowed to do any advertising - the same rules on advertising and links still apply. On the other hand, I agree with Rick that they should have a chance to reply.

    I agree as well. Shameless plugs should be ripped out by the roots, but reasoned response should be allowed - at least until it deteriorates into blubbering, yelling, threatening and name calling (I seem to have that effect on some people :D ).


    "D-" BBB rating? Holy cow! Would it be "slanderous" for me to say that that rating just plain sucks?


    fligurl's tiimely appearance and (first) post seems just a *bit* too convenient. I'm suspecting either a plant or a sock puppet.
  • SlappySlappy Posts: 251Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?
    dwh wrote: »

    "D-" BBB rating? Holy cow! Would it be "slanderous" for me to say that that rating just plain sucks?

    The D- is better than my school grades :blush:
    fligurl's tiimely appearance and (first) post seems just a *bit* too convenient. I'm suspecting either a plant or a sock puppet.

    The same go's for their U-tube video's:roll: most of the comments are like they are bowing down in front of the product and saying "O-master you are great"....lol
  • BB.BB. Posts: 27,446Super Moderators admin
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    Everyone, please avoid the "attack the poster" type stuff... At least from what I can see, I have no reason to believe that Flgurl is somebody other than who she says she is--and it is very possible somebody asked her to provide a positive reference.

    Thank you Dave,

    The UL 1604 standard, as I understand it, covers hazardous locations with flammable atmospheres. It does not cover electrical safety:
    1.9 These requirements do not cover explosion-proof, dust-ignition-proof, or intrinsically-safe methods of protection for electrical equipment or parts thereof. Such methods of protection are considered acceptable for Division 2 hazardous locations. The requirements are covered in other standards.

    1.10 A product that contains features, characteristics, components, materials, or systems new or different from those covered by the requirements in this standard, and that involves a risk of fire or of electric shock or injury to persons shall be evaluated using appropriate additional component and end-product requirements to maintain the level of safety as originally anticipated by the intent of this standard. A product whose features, characteristics, components, materials, or systems conflict with specific requirements or provisions of this standard does not comply with this standard. Revision of requirements shall be proposed and adopted in conformance with the methods employed for development, revision, and implementation of this standard.
    I am not saying that the charge controller cannot be used in this application--just that it does not appear to be rated as providing intrinsically-safe "isolation" from the battery bus by itself.

    My observations are just that--observations from publically available materials. There is a lot of proprietary communications between UL/NRTL's and their clients that we cannot see that may allow the Registration/Listing of products for specific applications.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • sfsengsfseng Posts: 16Registered Users
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one? Regarding the BBB rating

    If you will go here:

    http://www.bbb.org/chicago/business-reviews/fertilizers/solutions-from-science-in-thomson-il-88015668

    You will see that the BBB states "Reasons for this rating include:
    •BBB concerns with the industry in which this business operates"

    The industry that we are associated with is "Emergency Preparedness Products and Publications". People who are the consumers in this industry are refrerred to as "preppers" and/or "survivalists". There is a lot of political baggage associated with this movement. Organizations like the BBB don't like the politcal baggage this "industry" carries with it.

    Now if you'll exam the details of the actual complaints on this page you'll see that out of 12 complaints 11 are listed as resolved. One complaint is listed as administratively closed. If you click on "Detailed view" on that BBB page you'll see that BBB themselves list the rate of complaints resolved as over over 91%

    That is 12 complaints out of 10's of thousands of sales. So the main reason for the D- rating is that the BBB doesn't like our politics (that is, our national political views, not internal company politics or policies). They also don't like the fact that we refuse to apply for BBB accreditation. Our company views the BBB as an extortionist organization. If we paid their fees for accreditation I'll bet we wouldn't have a D- rating.

    If you seek out the details on each complaint you'll find that none of them relate to our solar products.

    This is why we stated earlier that we are not here trying to sell anything on this forum. We advertise in a completely different venue and the kind of folks who hang out in this forum are not the customers we are seeking. However, that does not mean we don't provide a good product. For the majority of our customers the portability is a bigger factor than the maximum system capacity.
  • SlappySlappy Posts: 251Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    My apology for the second half of my last statement, but the OP has a good idea for packaging a unit together and making it portable for the folks who just need it when the occasion arises.

    But on the picks it is showing a male end of a plug (twist lock) hanging from the charge controller, that is a common style of end, eventually somebody will end up plugging in a power cord to that? The OP should have used an anderson connector instead. (or something better than what is used) Well that is my thought, and no pun was intended, just thinking "safety" for the people who owns one. (Mistakes do happen) Maybe he/she will change that in the future? Or will the OP be kind enough to touch on "why" that type of end was used???
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Posts: 17,615Banned ✭✭
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    After reading the spec sheet, one can see that the unit is clearly not capable of living up to the hype. This doesn't mean there's anything wrong with it from functional point of view, just that it's not truly a very good solution to the power-outage problem it is claimed to solve. The battery is too small to provide any long-term use, and the panel is too small to charge even that battery in a reasonable time: 5-7 hours isn't reasonable when we know the average "good sun" equivalent is only 4. Couple this with the fact that, as Bill pointed out earlier, power outages usually occur when weather is bad and there is no sun, you have a recipe for disaster. Some unsuspecting consumer will believe the anecdotal hype, buy this thing, and still have to throw out all their food when it utterly fails to run the 'frige for even one day. It is also MSW, which many appliances (like refrigerators) don't run well on. It may not even be able to supply the start-up current they need, despite the claims of 3600 Watts surge (think what a sudden 300 Amp draw would do to that tiny battery).

    In my opinion, and it is only my opinion, this "solar generator" would not be a good choice for emergency back-up power. The same money would buy a small generator which would provide more consistent and reliable power, despite being noisy and requiring a fuel supply.

    Add the trouble the company has with representation and past performance and I'd stay away. It's a pity, because the basic idea is a good one.

    They're not the only one, though:
    http://www.canadiantire.ca/AST/browse/4/Auto/SolarPortablePower/BackupPower/PRD~0111818P/NOMA%252BBack-up%252BPower%252BSystem%25252C%252B1%25252C800W.jsp?locale=en

    It too makes exaggerated claims; "Will run a fridge, freezer, sump pump and 1000 W microwave, fish tank light and air pump, home alarm system and garage door" -Not all at once or for very long! It only has a 60 Amp/hr battery too.

    It all comes down to not being able to get enough power into a light enough, small enough package that would be suitable for home use.

    Note: CT sells over-priced solar panels too, including on one item they claim: "Works in all weather conditions, even on cloudy days." So you see Solutions From Science isn't the only company deliberately misleading the public through suspect advertising. Canadian Tire is a well-known retailer up here; a Canadian institution, in fact! :D
  • sfsengsfseng Posts: 16Registered Users
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    People here seem to be ignoring the fact that the claims about running refrigerators etc. come directly from the Xantrex advert. copy. So I guess Xantrex is lying and misleading their customers. If we are not reputable businesses for making those claims then Xantrex is not a reputable company either.

    The unit sold by Canadian Tire as a "NOMA" is the same Xantrex unit sold under the name "Duracell" and as the Xantrex "X-Power PowerSource 1800".

    So please if you are going to throw around accusations about sales claims lets all then at least recognize that those claims come directly from Xantrex. A link to the exact page where those claims are made on the Xantex website was provided by us in a previous post.

    And for those who have spent any time following this thread, I am working on getting the necessary permissions to reveal the nature (and proof) of our working relationship with Xantrex. The proof will be coming. I can say this however, within less than two months a new Xantrex product will be on the market and available exclusively from Solutions From Science.;)
  • mike95490mike95490 Posts: 7,654Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?
    sfseng wrote: »
    People here seem to be ignoring the fact that the claims about running refrigerators etc. come directly from the Xantrex advert. copy. So I guess Xantrex is lying and misleading their customers. If we are not reputable businesses for making those claims then Xantrex is not a reputable company either.

    Well, it doesn't excuse you either. I - as both an off grid user, and electronics engineer, just don't understand how the claims can be justified. I know how much power it takes to keep my energy star fridge going overnight, and what it takes to recharge in the AM. Has anyone in your company gone to xantrex, and asked them ? Sure, once a fridge is cold, it can flywheel thru the night and still be cold in the AM, but to do so repeatedly doesn't seem plausable.
    Mike
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • BB.BB. Posts: 27,446Super Moderators admin
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    From a 4 year old thread:
    Tony wrote: »
    ... I am also looking at solar, probably for the same reasons. I am also tech/elec challenged and am gathering infor SLOWLY!!

    I live in an apartment without a great deal of direct sunlight. I want to be able to run a PC, a few lights, a refrigerator and, and, if possible, short bursts from a microwave, possibly for a long term outage.

    The Xantrex 1500 suggests that a 40 W BP solar panel will do this, and more. It is pricey ($750 package), but portable (on wheels) and plug 'n play.

    1) Is this likely to be accurate?
    2) Is there a better (cost, efficiency, smaller, etc.) way to go?
    3) Is Xantrex acceptable?
    4) Will 80 W be better -(Duh!) The 40w plug 'n play package is appealing.
    5) Suggestions?

    And a few answers:
    Jim wrote: »
    The Xantrex 1500 Powerpack contains a 60 Ah AGM battery. Assuming that the battery is healthy and fully charged, that the ambient temperature is ~77 F, that discharge current from the battery is 3 A (C/20), a severe 80% discharge (48 Ah) and 90% inverter efficiency, it can supply 32 W at 120 VAC for ~16 hours, or ~518 Whr of energy.

    Heavier loads will reduce the battery’s useable capacity. Using my desktop PC (Dell 3000 w/ LCD monitor) as an example, it draws 130 W from a true sine wave inverter. Let’s make that 150 W from the Powerpack’s MSW inverter, and factoring in the inverter’s 90% efficiency estimate, that would be 167 W from the 12 V battery, or ~14 A. A healthy and fully charged 60 Ah AGM battery will sustain a 14 A load for ~3 hours before hitting a 20% SOC (80 % DOD).

    This type of discharge is severe and should not be done very often. A 50% max DOD is a good rule of thumb.

    So, I think the Powerpack could run a typical modern PC only for about three hours as a backup power source. You can run similar calculations for other small loads, but the battery in the Powerpack could not possibly sustain a typical fridge compressor’s start-up surge.

    Assuming a 40 W PV module, a small controller (i.e., a Morningstar SunSaver) and the equivalent of 5 hours per day of insolation, it would take ~4-5 days to recharge the Powerpack’s battery from an 80% discharge.

    And more:
    BB. wrote: »
    First, think about how long and what loads...

    PC on Internet--probably won't be any cable modems working more than a few hours after a major power failure... You may or may not have telephone/local ISP access... A laptop is a good choice--much less power than a desktop.

    Fridge--without lots of sun and panels, you are not going to be able to power it... Microwave, not without a couple good size batteries...
    wayne wrote: »
    It's very unfortunate that some suppliers are spreading wrong information like this. People believe it, purchase it and when it won't do as advertised, come to the conclusion that Solar won't work / is no good. I've talked, or should I say listened to people who have swallowed the line, bought similar systems, believing that it would run their full sized fridge for the next six weeks and are astonished when it will only do so for six minutes. If indeed it will even start the fridge, which by the way, tends to be one of the biggest energy pigs in the house.
    Check out the thread on "Chest Fridges.

    So, yes, we have been consistently hard on Xantrex too regarding the capability of these small battery/inverter-charger/UPS type systems.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • sfsengsfseng Posts: 16Registered Users
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    Mike- We don't claim that it will run a fridge all night. Only that it will run one long enough to get by unitil the unit can be charged up again and run the fridge again. Its only intended as an emergency or crisis situation solution on a short term basis. I have have seen it run my 18.0 cubic ft. GE fridge (Not energy star) for right around 3.0 hours. That's all Xantrex or we claim it will do. I have had customers tell me it has run their refrigerators for as long as 6 to 8 hours. And the one claim of 10 hours that was mentioned earlier. No, I can't substantiate those claims because I had no access to those situations for testing.

    But my own experience of 3 hours I'll stick too. That testing was done in my own kitchen. And thats all Xantrex or SFS claims.

    Both Xantrex and our company present on our websites runtime charts showing just how long various typical appliances will run on just the batteries through the inverter. All of these run times were determined by actual laboritory tests at Xantrex (many of them have been verified in our own tests at SFS). So just how is it that the claims are not possible.

    One variable that does always throw a wrinkle into the hard numbers of calculations is that the batteries in this class of SEL batteries seem to vary a lot in capacity from batch to batch and even from battery to battery. We have tested batteries from many different manufacturers and observed these variances in all but the very most expensive brands. One of the most consistant brands that we have tested is Interstate batteries. Their batteries not only test consistently from battery to battery, but they almost always tested better than their AMP Hour rating would suggest. And no I don't sell Interstate Batteries. Some manufacturers are starting to produce batteries in this size that are claimed to be designed just for solar applications. But, those Interstate Batteries were just general purpose rechargables.
  • nielniel Posts: 10,311Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    sfseng
    i doubt xantrex had a 51ah battery on the inverter to run a refrigerator with and that would be your bright idea so don't bring xantrex in with your bs. the inverter can work on a refrig, but we here don't recommend msw inverters on anything that has an electric motor on it and it will need an ample amount of battery capacity to run most refrigs regardless.
    imho, those companies should review what you've done with their products on your marketing hype minimally as you are dragging their good names down the toilet. with you pushing all of this on this forum it may have a real backlash to you rather than letting the thread stay dead, as it should've been. i bet i know of at least 1 person dropping a line to both morningstar and xantrex already to recommend doing that review.
    we have every right to give our opinions, and many are professional opinions, and you or a company do not necessarily have a right to come here with links and phone numbers to your company under the guise of refuting opinions, of which you have not swayed anybody from what i see here. we are a tough crowd and although we make mistakes at times i believe how we viewed your system is accurate and we despise your hype. nobody would've cared if you made a good honest effort in portraying those products in that small system and just took the criticism to improve the system, but you are preying upon the public and using this forum in a bad way in my opinion and i know it's not just my opinion.

    as to fligurl's comments appearing, i too agree that it is too timely to be a coincidence. it's either that or the admittedly new to solar person that he/she is may not know of a bad application of a system due to hype when it is before them as they may be ignorant of the truth as most newbies are.
  • sfsengsfseng Posts: 16Registered Users
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    Niel,
    Look on Xantrex's own website, if you think its BS. They tested their own X-Power PowerSource 1800 UPS (with 51 Amp Hour batteries) running refrigerators. You can claim it won't work all you want. If you choose to believe it can't be done then your calling Xantrex's engineers lyers. As long as Xantrex claims on their website that their unit with 51 AH battery pack can run a refrigerator we have every right to bring Xantrex into it.

    Also we do appreciate criticisms that help improve the efficiency and safety of our products. When the new product we are introducing with Xantrex is revealed in a few weeks you will be surprised how many of your criticisms have already been corrected in that product. And this new product was actually in production before we ever entered this thread. The first shipment from Xantrex is actually on its way to us now. We wil be recieving it in a few days. With your permission Niel, as soon as I have an OK from our company to release the first photos and specs. I will do so here for your curiosity. I should be able to release those photos here before the product is introduced to the public, and that should prove that we do indeed have a cooperative relationship with Xantrex.
  • nielniel Posts: 10,311Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    i stand corrected as xantrex is making this claim and they do need to change this as it is misleading imho. shame on xantrex for this hyped claim, but it is no excuse for you to make the same hyped claim for you as an engineer do know better.
  • sfsengsfseng Posts: 16Registered Users
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    But, Niel as an engineer I have tested the fridg application personally. What more do you want. It works and it runs a fridg as long as we claim it does and thats OK with our "survivalist" minded customers.

    The reason Xantrex has worked with us is because we have become one of their largest customers in just 1 1/2 years selling these systems. If we didn't have satisfied customers we could'nt keep selling so many of these systems.

    What you just have to get over is that their is a real market out there for systems this size. That is why Xantrex has worked with us.

    We don't pretend to compete with whole house systems. We work in only a very narrow niche of the solar industry. But that narrow niche is a bigger market than many may have realized.
  • nielniel Posts: 10,311Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    ok so you did this frig test and i asked you before for the make and model number of the frig in question. details, we need details.

    i might add that even if the frig could run that it is not good practice to do so on such a small battery or msw inverter. run times as indicated once as 2hrs on and 2hrs off are pushing it for that battery and you might just as well have said just 2hrs run time as you won't be turning it back on after 2 hrs with a low soc on the battery (or at least you shouldn't be turning it back on) and possibly it being a dead battery at or before 2hrs. remember that this battery only has 51ah * 12v for 612wh. do those survivalists know that doing this could kill that battery in short order leaving them stranded and looking to buy another battery? just because the frig may run does not mean it is designed to do this repeatedly or long term as a properly designed small system may do for a larger load and/or longer run times.
  • sfsengsfseng Posts: 16Registered Users
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    OK, Niel, when I get home tonight I'll get the model number off my GE refrigerator and provide it to you tomorrow. I'm really not trying to hide any details at all. Ask anything you want and I'll get it to you if I can.

    Look at our previous posts and you'll see that we stated they are not intended for "long term" repeated use. We said they are intended for "short term" emergency or crisis situation use. Recent huricane and earthquake disaster experience taught many people that they could not always depend on their gas generators in a crisis because the gas was either in short supply or not available at all. Our company donated some of our "solar generators" to the relief efforts in Haiti and they were much appreciated.

    You mentioned the problem of compressor starting current and I will tell you what our actual experience has been. On my refrigerator I never observed any inability of the PS 1800 to start the compressor motor at any time before the built in low voltage protection shuts off the inverter. (This occurs at 10.5 volts, audible alarm starts at 11.0 volts). Out of thousands of systems sold I was contacted by only three or four customers who ever did experience such a problem. In each case the customer was either trying to run a very old fridge /freezer or an untypically large one (like commercial sized). And in one other case someone was trying to run both a deep freeze and a standard fridge simultaneously. In each of those cases we either accepted the units back for a refund, the customer decided to keep the unit for other uses, or in one case we accepted the unit back in trade for a little larger system.

    When the PS 1800 experiences a load such as a motor with too high a starting current it automatically shuts down the inverter and gives an "overload" fault indication on its digital display, so neither the PS 1800 nor the applied load is damaged.

    We have experienced limited issues with starting pump motors. We have many customers who use these as back-ups for their residential sump pumps. Most pumps up to and including 1/2 HP sump pumps seem to work just fine. We have had reports from a couple of people that their 1/2 horse sump pumps wouldn’t start. We do know that they will not start 1/2 HP deep well pumps (no surprise with the high head), and we never recommend them for any deep well applications. In fact we highly recommend that they should only be used for sump pumps smaller than 1/2 HP. We also never recommend them for running any size 120 VAC air compressors.

    We also tell our customers that these "generators" are totally unsuited for powering room heaters or air conditioners of any size.

    When we are asked about using them for emergency lighting we alsways recommend the use of LEDs or compact fluorescent bulbs and tell them that a combined lighting load of 300 watts will only run for 1 hour to 1.75 hours depending on which batteries they choose. And just for the record these are "before the sale" recomendations. I would say that somewhere over 90% of our customers call us with questions before they actually buy.

    I don't ever want to be accused of trying to "sell" anything here because I'm really not. In fact I'm starting to enjoy this ongoing chat. If you are at all interested I can tell you a few of the interesting applications some of our customers do use these very small systems for. But I won't impose upon your time unless someone asks.
  • nielniel Posts: 10,311Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    you still skirt the main issue in that the small system is not meant to consistently run large appliances or provide power for long periods of time. i would never think of putting a 51ah battery to an 1800w inverter and if for a frig or anything with an electric motor i'd want a sine wave inverter. the small operational time period your system offers is moot in my eyes as just leaving the frig closed would suffice for many hours and just endure being without for a few hours. i think real survivalists don't need things like microwave ovens anyway. in fact we are survivalists to one degree or another here and we look more for reliability and ability to work properly for longer terms or one would be wasting one's money. i don't see the usefulness of your system at that much money to be spent.
    if i were to design a system to run things like microwave ovens and refrigerators i would firstly consider the requirement of the pure sine wave as msw does dump a lot of extra power to be wasted due to harmonics and this gets dissipated in the form of heat in many electric motors and often leading to a shortened life span of the appliance. next comes the wattage needed to operate all items thus creating a minimum capacity for the inverter. from there we need to figure the battery capacity needed to keep this going reliably without going below 50% dod for the time one needs it to operate and of course this all determines the controller, pv(s), wires, fuses, combiners/disconnects, etc if applicable for said specific needs. the pv, battery, and inverter on that system of yours is mismatched badly and is nearly useless to be practical imho. i would rather have a small generator than your system, but i believe the battery capacity should be upped in any case even if you need to re-enclose it all into a special enclosure to make it all fit and look right. a better ah that would still be at least at the 5% charging rate from that pv might be around 90-100ah and this means keeping the same pv and controller. it still is quite a bit to expect from a battery, even at 100ah, to run an 1800w inverter, but it is more practical to do this with a higher battery capacity and it is a step in the right direction.
    i think i'd have maybe 300-400w for an inverter at the most for the system i just reiterated, but i suppose 600w would work for shorter run times (like under 1 hour). 1800w is too high for the rest of the system no matter what.
  • sfsengsfseng Posts: 16Registered Users
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    Niel,
    We didn't mention microwave ovens, but they are one of the loads we tell our customers are not appropriate for this system. So that is something we can agree on. You and others keep bringing up the cost of the system. All I can say to that is look on the net for any other system this size that is completely assembled plug and play and very portable, see what it costs.

    And just for the sake of tempering this discussion a little, most of our customers don't buy this system for refrigerators or other similiar loads. Most of them are more concerned with running radios, small TVs, or other light electronic loads for short periods of time and they don't want something too difficult to lug around if they are on the move.

    You guys on this sight are smart enough to design a system that is this size and meets the portability requirements of our customers. (a "generator/battery pack" of no more than 60-70 lbs at most. And a solar panel of no more than about 35 lbs. for a total system weight of about 100 lbs.) So do it, and see what you have to charge for it to make a reasonable profit. Don't design it with a bare bones chassis. Design it with all the nice user diagnostic features and an attractive cabinet like the PS 1800. Don't forget:
    • labor costs for production, purchasing, accounting, engineering, sales, logistics, etc.
    • overhead of a production plant and warehouse (maintenance, claening, etc.)
    • plant utility bills
    • liability insurance
    • property insurance
    • marketing and advertising costs (we advertise via: mail, net, radio, and television)
    • shipping costs of all the parts to your warehouse
    • the cost of packaging materials designed to protect the product during shipping
    You will find that the cost per for such a system is much more than what it will cost you to just buy the parts and build one system for yourself. If you try to design a system with more power, or battery run time, you will end up with a system that does not meet the portability requirements.

    THe 1800 watt inverter gives the system the flexibility to run a larger load for a short period of time if desired or needed. Since the battery weight (again portability) is the major design limiting factor, the 1800 watt inverter adds some level of overhead room if needed in an emergency. But yes the user must be aware that this will deplete the charge very fast. For example, in a crisis situation, 12 minutes of run time for a 1000 watt microwave might be critical to boil just enough water to sterilize a needle or knife for an emergency medical procedure. In a last ditch crisis situation that 12 minutes could be very valuable. A 600 watt inverter would not allow that little battery to run the a 1000 watt microwave for twelve minutes, if it has proper overload shut-down protection for the inverter. What if no other power was available and one short run of a 110 volt winch could free someone trapped under rubble. Granted these may seem like unlikely scenarios, but if similair situations occur that inverter overhead could be priceless.
  • mike95490mike95490 Posts: 7,654Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?
    niel wrote: »
    ....
    i think i'd have maybe 300-400w for an inverter at the most for the system i just reiterated, but i suppose 600w would work for shorter run times (like under 1 hour). 1800w is too high for the rest of the system no matter what.

    Well, what's the starting load of an average fridge ? Some have reported a 300/600W suresine won't start a fridge.

    Maybe that's a market to look into for Xantrex -
    300-400W run, but huge 10 sec surge to start a fridge.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • SlappySlappy Posts: 251Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    I am assuming that this is the R&D, production plant and warehouse, that you are referring to..... http://www.youtube.com/user/solutionsfromscience#p/u/13/GyDEypQzf38 ...... best viewed w/out sound. :roll: and also a pick of out side the warehouse.... http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=815+W.+Main+St,+Thomson,+IL&sll=37.509726,-95.712891&sspn=30.848697,55.195312&ie=UTF8&view=map (use mouse wheel to get to street view)
  • KamalaKamala Posts: 452Solar Expert
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?
    sfseng wrote: »
    ... You guys on this sight [sic] are smart enough to design a system that is this size and meets the portability requirements of our customers. ...

    This maybe true but few here would consider it useful or even worthwhile.

    For the few and far between power outages that I experience in MN, I have a 750W MSW inverter duct taped to a 105AH AGM battery. That battery can sit for months with no load or no charge and be hefted from the garage to the living room, whenever needed, to provide power for a light and TV for the few hours while the power is out.

    After use, I just put the battery on the BatteryMinder and I'm good to go until the next outage. In this application, a solar panel for recharging is foolhardy and hype.

    Craig
  • BB.BB. Posts: 27,446Super Moderators admin
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    My two cents is to plan (as a minimum) like you are camping... Water, filtration/chlorine tabs, emergency shelter, fuel+stove, sleeping bags, battery powered lights/radio, food stock, personal protection if needed, etc....

    Other electric power (genset, battery, solar, inverter, etc.) is something to make life easier (for most people). Things that surprise (no power to open electric garage door--may be near impossible for a small framed / older person to operate by hand, etc.) a UPS type backup may be appropriate.

    If you need electric power for refrigeration for medication, CPAP machine, etc... Then real serious planning / action needs to be done.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • sfsengsfseng Posts: 16Registered Users
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    Slappy - In the video you are seeing only one small corner of the production floor, there are more workstations besides the one you see. That was just a convenient spot for videotaping. We also have expanded production into another building as well. The warehouse is a separate part of the facility. And our main offices are in a third building up the street. The photo you referred to shows the street our facility is on, but none of our buildings are visible in the photo.

    Kamala - If I was as mean spirited as some of those who criticized our system as an "abortion" I could go crazy demeaning a system that was described as an inverter "duct taped" to a battery. But if that suits your needs great! But what if the outage outlasts the charge on your battery, then that solar recharging option could be real handy. All you have to do is "duct tape" a solar charger to other side of your battery.

    BB - your points are well taken, but again batteries for your radios only last so long, with the small solar system you can always recharge. Katrina was a perfect example of how long the aftermath of a disaster can affect a local population. What if a disaster occurs on a national scale?

    I'm glad you mentioned CPAP machines. We do not recommend the PS 1800 for medical devices due to the obvious liability issues. However, my brother and I both have sleep apnea. On a recent trip from Illinois to Washington DC he and I traveled and slept in my van. We used one PS 1800 to power both of our CPAP machines at night. It easily powered both machines for 7 1/2 hours. We recharged the unit during the day and it was ready to go again that night. Immediately upon returning from that trip my brother purchased a PS 1800 for himself.

    Now I think we can conclude from all the recent posts that as far as the merits of the system go we at SFS openly admit its shortcomings and limitations. But as far as suitability for the intended use, that really is up to the criteria of any particular individual as he perceives his own priorities in balancing the power capability vs. portability compromise. I won't spend any more time discussing the system size issue.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Posts: 17,615Banned ✭✭
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    Again, it's a marketing problem.
    The unit works. But it will not live up to the claims inferred by the company's own web site. And no, they are not excused from responsibility just because Xantrex and others make the same exaggerated claims.
    Would it run a refrigerator for 3 hours? In my estimation it just might. But that hardly makes it suitable for emergency power purposes. The recharge rate is also impractical for such an application.
    The one supportive client poster claimed hers was used for camping power. I'd say it would work very well in that application.
    So on the one hand you have SFS's website promoting this thing as a "secret power plant in your home" and implying it is a suitable emergency power system that can run all sorts of things, and then you have SFSeng stating they warn prospective customers of its unsuitability to provide any significant or critical power. That seems contradictory to me.

    As I said; marketing problem.

    Although I'm still a bit concerned about that plug connection on the DC input.
  • dwhdwh Posts: 1,341Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?
    sfseng wrote: »
    Kamala - If I was as mean spirited as some of those who criticized our system as an "abortion"

    <raises hand>
    That's me. I said it.


    TO CHARACTERIZE MY COMMENT AS "MEAN SPIRITED" IS SIMPLY *YET ANOTHER* EXAMPLE OF VERBAL SLEIGHT OF HAND.

    I said it based on the photos that I saw ON YOUR WEB SITE where I could PLAINLY SEE the SLOPPY DESIGN AND WORKMANSHIP. YOU posted those pictures - NOT ME.

    AND YOU KNOW IT - I quote you:

    "Please remember that photos used in adertising [sic] are often based on early prototypes and/or mockups of the actual products they represent. "

    http://forum.solar-electric.com/showpost.php?p=60759&postcount=33

    Well...okay. If it's a prototype or a MOCKUP (???) and it looks like a hack job and you don't want people to judge it based on WHAT THEY CAN SEE WITH THEIR OWN EYES - then don't use those images in your advertising. Wait for the proper artwork - like most of the rest of the business world does. Don't blame me if YOU publish pictures that make your product look like an abortion.

    That's right; I said it and I meant it and it had nothing whatsoever to do with "mean spirit".



    I notice that you have not attempted to characterize these other comments of mine as "mean spirited" (as they obviously are not):

    "So does the thing work?
    Well sure it works, but it's a really *tiny* system. There is NO POSSIBLE WAY that it can do what they imply it can.

    Can it run all the stuff they say it can?
    Absolutely it can run all that stuff...for a few minutes anyway. And then it's gonna take a LONG time to recharge it unless the power comes back on and you can recharge it from the wall plug."

    (Though, from reading your posts I now understand that while it will take a "LONG time" to recharge from the PV - it will actually take a "VERY LONG time" to recharge from the wall plug. My bad.)



    Dave...dude...

    Yes, the public is mind numbingly inundated by spin doctoring, public relations, advertising crapola, political correctness and other forms of "lies, damned lies and statistics".

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lies,_damned_lies,_and_statistics

    But that doesn't mean we are entirely unaware of attempts to use those techniques on us.


    In short - don't try to spin doctor or mis-characterize me or my words. I WILL call you on it.


    I should also clarify a point that seems to have been misunderstood. When I said that this was place where you could find real engineers, I wasn't talking about your own engineering qualifications or lack thereof; I was comparing this forum to others on the internet where people represent themselves as experts who are really not (false authority syndrome) - what I meant was that unlike many of those places, in THIS forum there are folks who actually ARE authorities...and thus not easily fooled.
  • dwhdwh Posts: 1,341Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    Drumroll please.

    So anyway, a few days back, I went to the Xantrex support site and filed a case. You can see that at the bottom. Today I got a reply. The reply was a bit unclear so I asked for clarification.

    The clear and unambiguous answer is below.




    Hi (my (dwh's) real name removed),
    No they are not authorized, thanks!
    Jeff

    Original Message
    From: (my (dwh's) real email address removed)
    Sent: 7/15/2010 4:18 PM
    To: [email protected]
    Subject: Re: Case Number (00161428) [ref:00D3Wjr.5008BR1ce:ref]

    Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for your reply. I need clarification. The reason I ask is because
    Solutions From Science claims to be *authorized by Xantrex* to perform
    the mod.

    So, the question is:

    Is the Solutions From Science mod "authorized" or not?

    Thanks again,

    (my (dwh's) real name removed)

    On 7/15/2010 4:11 PM, Jeff Chen wrote:
    > > Dear (my (dwh's) real name removed),
    > > Any unauthorized third party modifications to our products will void the warranty. Thanks!
    > > Best Regards,
    > >
    > > For all correspondence regarding this issue, please leave the ID number [ref:00D3Wjr.5008BR1ce:ref] in the subject line or body of the email.
    > >
    > > Jeff Chen
    > > Customer Service
    > > Xantrex Technology Inc.
    > > Email: [email protected]
    > > Website: www.xantrex.com
    > > t: (408) 987-6030 / (800) 670-0707
    > > f: (604) 420-2145
    > >
    > > Confidentiality Notice: This e-mail message, including any attachments, is for the sole use of any recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply e-mail and destroy all copies of the original message.
    > >
    > >
    > > Case number: 00161428
    > >
    > > Case Subject: Pre-Sales Question - Xpower 1800
    > >
    > > Description: There is a company, Solutions From Science, selling a product which appears to be an Xpower 1800 with a solar charge controller added onto the side and a portable solar panel connected to that charge controller.
    > >
    > > My question is this: Do these modifications that they make to your product void the warranty in any way?
    > >
    > > I.e., if I buy this product from them, and the Xpower unit fails, will Xantrex cover the failure?
    > >
    > >

    [EDIT: I have been contacted by Xantrex and they verified the claims made by Solutions From Science. They are an authorized reseller and Xantrex is working with them on the products that SFS offers.]
  • KamalaKamala Posts: 452Solar Expert
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?
    sfseng wrote: »
    ... Kamala - If I was as mean spirited as some of those who criticized our system as an "abortion" I could go crazy demeaning a system that was described as an inverter "duct taped" to a battery. ...

    Yes, you could "go crazy demeaning" my battery/inverter "device." But since it employs duct tape, why would you? :-)

    One difference between us is that my system is not for sale, nor is it marketed and consequently I make no claims regarding it's suitability to any application in which the public may wish to employ it.

    It does work very well for me. I have used it once in five years for about an hour and a half to power a TV (weather & news) and floor lamp. It is relatively cheap, reasonably convenient and very simple. Adding a solar panel would severely diminish all of those valuable attributes.

    We are very fortunate to have such reliable grid power. During the 30 years that we have lived here I can recall only one occasion when the power was out for more than a day. We did have to throw out some food, the value of which I am confident was less than the price of your "secret power plant." We were never in danger of starving, freezing, dehydrating or living in unsanitary conditions.

    I should point out that I am typing about our non-solar grid tied home, not the solar camper.

    K
  • nielniel Posts: 10,311Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    another load of crap with no backing is the operation of 2 cpap machines for 7.5hrs during the night. you are defying the capability of the supplied battery. we have had mentions of powering cpap machines here with many of these machines at about 1a at 125vac. which equates to about 125w. even if at half that power over 7.5hrs you are using 937.5wh for the 2 machines and add to that the extra draw for the inverter operation and the extra inefficiency of the msw inverter type and this seems to become one big fat lie from a battery that has 12v x 51a = 612wh. btw, it is still detrimental to any fla or agm battery to deplete them to the point of being dead and you advocate killing the battery all of the time in order to express standard abilities and uses of this system.
    you are still hyping the abilities of this system littered with convenient omissions of fact for sales purposes and imho still deserve the axe. you have had ample time to defend yourself here and you are only getting into deeper dodo every time you do dodo.

    also of note is the lack of refrigerator specs i had to ask for again and he did say he said he was going to provide them.

    hey rick,
    at what point are we allowed to dump this load or is it your wish to litter the forum with this kind of crap?
  • SlappySlappy Posts: 251Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    check this article out back in 2009 http://www.freepressindex.com/news-solutions-from-science-4924.html ....it actually states that you can dump your gas heat, and wood burning fireplace, and have this "solar generator" to heat your home....read the whole thing, but pay attention to paragraph 3, I really got a good laugh out of this, I have to say that it is BS at its finest :grr
This discussion has been closed.