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  • Best place to buy solar panels??

    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

  • #2

    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

    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
    Please note, being a moderator does not add any weight to my opinions 300 watts Siemens/BP panels,plus a Sun 90,, making ~400. ~30 amps into Rogue MPT-3024, 450 ah of Trojan T-105, Morningstar ts300 inverter, a Tri-Metric meter.a collection of antique generators, plus 2 Honda eu-1000i's (also a BS2512 IX controller) and assorted other stuff!

    Comment


    • #3

      Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

      Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

      Originally posted by icarus View Post
      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

      Comment


      • #4

        Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

        Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

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

        Tony
        Please note, being a moderator does not add any weight to my opinions 300 watts Siemens/BP panels,plus a Sun 90,, making ~400. ~30 amps into Rogue MPT-3024, 450 ah of Trojan T-105, Morningstar ts300 inverter, a Tri-Metric meter.a collection of antique generators, plus 2 Honda eu-1000i's (also a BS2512 IX controller) and assorted other stuff!

        Comment


        • #5

          Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

          Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

          Originally posted by icarus View Post
          US prices start ~$1-2/watt, plus shipping.

          Tony
          Can you suggest any specific suppliers??

          Comment


          • #6

            Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

            Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

            check with our host http://www.solar-electric.com/
            100% Off Grid @ 51* 46' N lat 124* 44' W long

            New House system: coming - 2 arrays @ 2240W
            CL150&Epanel 2 @140 W 12v PVs , 24V C&D AT-15P AGM @ 950Ah
            + CL150 2@120W 12 V panels, 24V C&D AT-15P AGM @ 950Ah Linksys wet54g - WiFi bridge
            Cotek ST1500W inverter, TBS 30a-24v Omni-charger, Honda Eu3000is,

            Guest cabin system: 3 - 70W panels to BS 2000e CC, with 2 - 100 ah 12v SAFT wet NiCd's , 600W TSW Inverter

            Comment


            • #7

              Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

              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
              20x BP 4175B panels (replacement) + Xantrex GT 3.3 inverter for 3kW Grid Tied system + Honda eu2000i Inverter/Generator for emergency backup.

              Comment


              • #8

                Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

                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.
                NIEL

                Comment


                • #9

                  Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

                  Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

                  Originally posted by NScooknet View Post
                  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- 20 - 200W Evergreen blems, 2 Classic Lites, E-Panel, 2 Prosine 1800 watt inverters, 800AH 24V forklift Batt, up and running 1 Classic Lite and 14 Suntech 185W in spare room.
                  Experience with Pulse/Trace PC250 Power Center, Original Rouge CC, 80-4/5watt 6v panels, Odds and extras,

                  Comment


                  • #10

                    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

                    Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

                    What about a controller like this one:

                    http://www.ebay.ca/itm/180675765312?...84.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 :)

                    Comment


                    • #11

                      Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

                      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
                      20x BP 4175B panels (replacement) + Xantrex GT 3.3 inverter for 3kW Grid Tied system + Honda eu2000i Inverter/Generator for emergency backup.

                      Comment


                      • #12

                        Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

                        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
                        Please note, being a moderator does not add any weight to my opinions 300 watts Siemens/BP panels,plus a Sun 90,, making ~400. ~30 amps into Rogue MPT-3024, 450 ah of Trojan T-105, Morningstar ts300 inverter, a Tri-Metric meter.a collection of antique generators, plus 2 Honda eu-1000i's (also a BS2512 IX controller) and assorted other stuff!

                        Comment


                        • #13

                          Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

                          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 :)

                          Comment


                          • #14

                            Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

                            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
                            Please note, being a moderator does not add any weight to my opinions 300 watts Siemens/BP panels,plus a Sun 90,, making ~400. ~30 amps into Rogue MPT-3024, 450 ah of Trojan T-105, Morningstar ts300 inverter, a Tri-Metric meter.a collection of antique generators, plus 2 Honda eu-1000i's (also a BS2512 IX controller) and assorted other stuff!

                            Comment


                            • #15

                              Re: Best place to buy solar panels??

                              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
                              20x BP 4175B panels (replacement) + Xantrex GT 3.3 inverter for 3kW Grid Tied system + Honda eu2000i Inverter/Generator for emergency backup.

                              Comment

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